It’s Good To Be A New Writer: Breaking The Myth That Experience Is Everything
Posted on 09/26/2013 Evan Swensen
There’s a rumor out there in the publishing world that an editor won’t even look at the work of a new writer. It might be true for certain types of writing, but after interviewing hundreds of editors, I’ve found that most are more open to new writers than you might think.
And there are a few major benefits to being a new writer too. So before you spend too much time trying to work out how you can appear to be a published professional writer when you’re not, consider taking advantage of your current position as a newcomer.
What are the advantages? Here are four positive points of being a new writer that will help you get work – and they all come direct from editors.
1. It’s Easier to Impress
“I really don’t mind new writers at all. If you’re new and act professionally, I’m usually willing to give you a go. I’d suggest that new writers just be honest about who they are.
If I get a fairly good article by a new writer, I’ll be impressed. To me, that’s my chance to discover new talent. That’s when I’ll contact the writer and try to help them. If I get a fairly good article by a new writer pretending to be an experienced writer, I will probably just issue a standard rejection.” -Evelyn, Magazine Editor
If you claim to be a professional and experienced writer, an editor is likely to expect a lot. That means it will take a lot to really impress them. Even a good article might not be enough to get their attention. But if you tell the truth and admit that you’re a new writer, it takes a lot less to impress. A new writer with a professional approach is something special – just sending a professional quality submission might even be enough to impress.
2. There’s Room to Grow
“When I get a good article from a new writer, I’m always very happy. Why? Because new writers with the right skills and attitude are wonderful for our magazine. They can be shaped to suit our style, they listen to instructions, they usually have a positive attitude. That’s the kind of writer I like to take on and mentor.” –Stephanie, Magazine Editor
If an editor knows that you’re a new writer, you’re giving them the chance to spot new talent. If you’re new and right for their publication, you might be taken in and mentored until you suit their style.
The same isn’t likely to happen if the editor thinks that you’re experienced. Instead of looking at your work and thinking that it shows potential, they’ll be assuming it’s the best that you can do.
3. Anything Else, And You Risk Losing Their Interest
“I would tell writers to be careful if they’re going to exaggerate. I know everyone does it on resumes. But if someone claims to have been a writer for twenty years and is pitching my low-paying mag, I’m going to wonder two things. First, I’m going to wonder if they’re lying. Second, I’m going to wonder why they’re not working for a higher paying magazine if they really have that much experience. If they’re not lying, then I have to assume that they’re just a bad writer. Either way, it doesn’t look good for them.” – Danielle, Magazine Editor
If you’re a new writer, you need to be targeting the right kinds of markets. And if you are targeting small markets, claiming years of experience is only going to make editors suspicious.
4. Attitude Matters
“It’s simple. Many seasoned writers pitching me have a bit of an attitude, a hint of suspicion, and often a streak of boredom. Fresh writers pitching me tend to have nothing but positive energy and enthusiasm. I’ll take the enthusiastic writer, please.” –Sam, Editor
If you can’t go in with experience, go in with enthusiasm. That might be the big advantage that gets you the job.
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