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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

From Contributor to Contributing Editor: Making the Jump

If you read my blog, you already know that I'm all about relationships, especially when it comes to my clients. I've worked with most of my current clients for years, many for nearly a decade. In addition to less formal arrangements, I've been a contributing editor at a number of magazines, and am currently a CE at Complete Woman, For the Bride, and The Writer.

What about you? If you're already writing for a publication, why not take the next step and become a contributing editor, or a freelancer with a recognized ongoing relationship with a magazine?

Contributing editor relationships vary. Some CEs have an agreement to write a certain number of stories for a certain amount of money each month; some write as many pieces as the editor needs for that issue; and others receive a retainer regardless of what they produce that month.

If you’re going to approach a market about becoming a CE, you should already have a good relationship with the publication. Consider the benefits to the editor about making you a CE so that you can make a strong argument in your favor. For example, as a CE, you’ll always be available for assignments, which will save them time and the hassle of looking for other writers. If you’ll come up with ideas for the editors, show how this will benefit her as well.

Whether you receive a retainer or are paid per story, there’s another plus to becoming a contributing editor. CE gigs tend to be a little more stable than simply writing for a magazine as a freelancer. In theory at least, you're more likely to get work from an editor before another writer does.

One drawback? As a CE, the magazine you work for may ask you not to write for its competitors. That’s the possible tradeoff to the relationship, but for most writers, it’s worth it. If you want the opportunity for steady work, a higher profile, and possibly extra cash, take a closer look at the markets you write for regularly—a contributing editor gig may be waiting to be discovered.