Gigging a Gig! Journalists, for what it’s worth


(As you know if you’ve been hanging around here for a bit, there is almost no kind of writing or editing I haven’t done over the years, with the exception of erotica and other icky or brutalizing stuff.  So this is the deep voice of experience responding to a plea for help.)


Perhaps it will be useful to others too.

Short, but to the point.

It works!


tortured writer

delete, revise, reprise …


“I am a feature writer for newspapers and magazines and I want to branch out to write for businesses and organizations. I am finding out about skills such as Search Engine Optimization and I’m wondering if anyone has done anyone who has done any PR writing knows of any other skills that would be helpful to acquire? Also, anyone who writes for business/non-profits – how do you reach out to potential clients?”

REPLY–(from moi)

Skills you learn on the job.  If you have a hot story idea and some clips to prove you’re legit, don’t be shy! Pick up the phone and just call editors. CALL THEM! If you exude enough confidence, they’ll put you through. Then you have less than 60 secs to pitch and convince them, so make it good. Do your homework on the mag or journal or newspaper. Prove you know their publication and know what they need to sell copies/get subs etc. I’ve gotten the editors of Forbes, the LA Times Book Review., Vanity Fair and the NYT, etc. on the line this way.

All editors need hot stories, skills (other than brilliant writing ability) can be tapped from staffers.

Not everything pans out, some eds are quirky and want tweets or smoke signals, or referrals, but if your pitch is irresistible (it must be true, do not stretch the facts!), you have introduced yourself and now have a new valuable connection you can call again.

Go for voice communication over texts, tweets or email,  if at all possible.

Sound knowledgeable, intelligent, articulate–and in a hurry.  Other editors are just dying to have a crack at this piece of yours!  No time to spare!


Don’t leave a message unless it is so compelling, shocking and newsworthy the editor HAS to call you back.

You can do it, so prep thoroughly and make the calls.  Good luck.

About Margaret Jean Langstaff

A lifelong critical reader with literary tastes, a novelist, short story writer, essayist, book critic, and professional book editor for many years. A consultant to publishers and authors, providing manuscript critiques and a full range of editorial services. A friend and supporter of all other readers and writers. A collector of signed modern first editions. Animal lover and tree hugger. Follow me on Twitter @LangstaffEditor
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4 Responses to Gigging a Gig! Journalists, for what it’s worth

  1. One more very important thing: a stunning book review or article in a major newspaper, mag or journal goes a long way in getting book publishers’ attention for your writing and could result in a contract. Yes, blogs are great modes of self-expression, but they of uneven quality, do not have the cache of appearing in say, THE ATLANTIC, SLATE, VANITY FAIR, or THE NEW YORKER. A clip from such as those goes a long way in establishing reputations. Just the way the world works. Not necessarily fair or kind, but to be in the game, you have to play by the rules.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. dgkaye says:

    I love your style Margaret, not to mention your wit! Quite an interesting query, to say the least. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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