Wayne E. Pollard's No B.S. Blog for Writers

Writing Advice Without the B.S.

Archive for August 2011

Don’t Call the Editor About Your Query: B.S.!-Part 2

with 4 comments

The general rule, “Don’t call the editor,” is B.S. Previously, I told you that it’s okay to call an editor if you know your story is great, if you have some bylines under your belt, and if you are comfortable with pitching over the phone.

Here’s another time when you should definitely call the editor: when your piece is time-sensitive.

If you have a piece that is time-sensitive, you must let the editor know this in your query. Ask the editor to please reply by the end of the day, week, etc. And, you should leave a message for the editor, too.  

Then, if you don’t hear from the editor, CALL! 

If the editor picks up, ask if she’s made a decision about your pitch. And if she hasn’t, stress that your piece is time-sensitive and that you’d appreciate it if she could let you know by fill in the blank because if she isn’t interested, you’d like to pitch it to another publication. 

And if you can’t reach the editor, you can leave this message with the editor’s assistant.

I’ve found that editors understand that some pieces are time-sensitive. A few years ago, I wrote a time-sensitive piece about Starbucks vs. McDonalds after reading a news article about the rivalry. I first submitted the piece to Harper’s. I knew that if I waited a too long for a reply, my piece would no longer be relevant. So, I called the editor’s assitant after less than 24 hours and explained that the piece was time-sensitive and that if the magazine wasn’t interested, I’d pitch it to another publication. The editor got back to me; he decided to pass on the piece. I then pitched that piece to the blog editor at The Huffington and he liked it. I was able to get the piece, Trading Down to McDonalds? McNot!  posted on The Huffington Post before the news went cold. (If you read the piece, you’ll see that the original news item that inspired my piece was published on 3/12 and that my piece was posted on 3/13.) 

So, don’t sit and wait for the editor to reply if your story is time-sensitive. CALL!


Written by Wayne

August 9, 2011 at 12:01 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Advice on Growing Site Traffic from Someone Who Has a Platform and Writes for a Publication that Already Gets Traffic: B.S.!

with 4 comments

I just read a piece with advice on growing traffic to your website. It was written by the editor of a leading magazine. A magazine that already generates significant traffic. And the site has a link to her blog. I know that the editor is only trying to help readers, but her advice on how to grow your site’s traffic is B.S. Why?

 She is blogging for a site that already gets traffic!!!

Now this editor does have a personal site that is separate from her publication’s blog, but guess what… the publication’s blog has a static link to her personal blog! And, even without that link, people would still go to her site because she has a platform! She is the editor of a leading magazine!!

This type of advice can be very frustrating. Why? You’re doing everything the person said to do and you’re still only getting fifty views a day and you’re wondering why.

Generating traffic from scratch when you’re unknown is THE hard part. If you follow advice given to you by someone who has a platform and whose site is already getting tons of traffic, you will only get disappointed.

A person with a platform advising you on how to get traffic to your site, without first telling you how to build your platform, is full of B.S. Okay… Maybe I shouldn’t say that she is full of B.S., but her advice is.   

And when you’re blogging on a site that gets traffic, to get your share of the traffic, all you have to do is come up with a title that gets people’s attention. I know because I blogged on The Huffington Post and Chief Marketer’s Big Fat Marketing Blog. When I started my own blogs, if I had expected to get the same traffic I was getting on those sites, I would have been depressed. Let me put it this way…

If a site is getting tons of traffic and you create a blog for your cat on that site, people will click on it just to see what it’s about. Now if people find your cat’s blog entertaining, your cat will continue to get tons of traffic. And if you then open a Twitter account for your cat, people will follow her. And if you make a fan page for your cat, people will “like” her. Why?

Because the hard part, generating traffic to the site, was handled!

Do you understand what I’m saying? Does this make sense?

If you want advice on how to grow your traffic, take it from someone who was actually in your current situation. If you’re an unknown and you’re getting ten visits a day, get advice from someone who was unknown, didn’t have a platform, and still grew her site traffic from ten to 10,000. Don’t get advice from someone who has a platform and who writes for a site that is already drawing thousands of readers.

While the person may mean well, the advice is B.S.

Written by Wayne

August 5, 2011 at 12:01 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

Think Like an Editor: B.S.!

with 3 comments

I recently read a tip for freelancers that said you should put yourself in the editor’s shoes when submitting a query.


I don’t know how an editor thinks… but I have a pretty good feel for how my target publication’s readers think. How? I put myself in the readers’ shoes. Do this, and you will get more of your pieces published.

Know why readers will stop and read your article. For example, when I pitched my article, “Confessions of a Software Salesman” to an editor at CIO magazine, I explained that my article will help her readers (IT executives who buy software) save hundreds of thousands of dollars.

To think like the readers, you have to do more than just read the submission guidelines; you need to check out the one thing that writers often overlook: the publication’s media kit. You’ll find it in the Advertising Info section on the publication’s web site. You’re looking for the demographic info about the readers, information that will help you better understand them. Then, in your query or pitch, tell the editor exactly why his readers will want to read your article and use the stats from the media kit to support your claim. Say something like, “My article will appeal to working mothers between ages 35 and 50 and according to your media kit, 75% of your readers fall into this category.”

You get the idea.

Think like the reader.

Written by Wayne

August 4, 2011 at 12:01 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Don’t Call an Editor About Your Query: B.S.!

with 9 comments

I was reading a list of tips for freelance writers when I came across this common tip. Writers are often told not to call an editor about a query or to at least wait a month or so before calling to follow up. This advice usually comes from editors. You know what I say?


I say, if you already have some bylines and you’re comfortable with pitching a story idea, call the editor and pitch the idea before you send the query letter. In many cases, the editor can tell you, right then, if she wants the article. Then, the editor will be expecting your query letter.

This is exactly how I got published in The New York Times, The Village Voice, Writer’s Digest, and many other publications. And, it is how I’ve helped most of my clients get published.

When you call the editor, you need to give your pitch in under fifteen seconds.

That’s right. Fifteen seconds.

During the fifteen seconds, you must state your name, two or three places where you’ve been published, your article’s title or subject, and you must say that you know the editor hasn’t published anything like it in the past three years. (This means you must do your research!)

Then pause and wait for the reply.

If the editor says she likes the idea, ask for the word count and deadline. And send a follow up email that confirms what was discussed.

And if the editor says she is on deadline and can’t talk, apologize and say you’ll send an email.  

Do this if you have some bylines under your belt, if you know you have a good story, and if you’re comfortable with pitching story ideas over the phone.

Practice your pitch. Say it until you’re comfortable. When I call editors, I say, “Hi. My name is Wayne Pollard. My work’s been published in The New York Times, The Village Voice and Writer’s Digest. I’m calling you because I’d like to submit an article called….”

Fifteen seconds.

You’re probably thinking that this only works for me because of where my work’s been published.


I used this method when I had only one magazine article under my belt and it helped me get a gig as a stringer for the business section of a Gannett-owned newspaper.  

The editor just needs to know that you can actually write. So, put your best foot forward when you decide which publications to mention.

If you’re trying to get a piece in your local community paper, then mentioning that you’ve had pieces in your college’s paper might be fine. However, if you’re pitching a piece to a national publicatioin, you must have something other than a byline in your college paper or an unknown blog. If you don’t have the bylines, your article idea needs to be great and you must be able to convince the editor that you’re the only person who can write the article.

When you use this method, you cut days or even weeks of waiting for a reply. Trust me; it’s better to get a quick rejection over the phone than to get a rejection after waiting a month for a reply.

A good story is a good story. And if your story is good, the editor will be glad to get your call.

Have you ever pitched an idea to an editor? Tell me about your experience.

Written by Wayne

August 2, 2011 at 11:58 pm

Posted in Uncategorized