Last week I blogged about sowing your seeds continuously, and those who do will be rewarded when a seed suddenly flowers unexpectedly. A couple of days ago, one of my students, Dave, wrote to update me of his efforts. For those of you who follow regularly, Dave is my student who regularly submits jokes to That's Life's 'Rude Jokes of the Week' slot. He's just seen his 60th in print (yes, 60 jokes at £15 a time totals £900 - so he's laughing all the way to the bank.) He definitely knows where to sow his humorous seeds anyway!
However, Dave has also been submitting articles to a variety of magazines, including one of the railway publications. He's been sending work in on spec, and the editor has liked what Dave has written, asking him to continue sending in material.
When he spoke to another member of the editorial team a few days ago, they told him that the editorial staff were due to get together some time this month to plan out the issues for the coming year. At first Dave considered this to be bad news - if they knew what they wanted for the next 12 issues, any ideas he had might not fit in.
However, when a magazine plans out the future, they don't decide at that one meeting what is going to be on every page of every issue for the next 12 months. They tend to plan a theme, identifying specific ideas for some specific pages within the magazine. Effectively, they create an editorial calendar, which is often used by the advertising department to sell advertising space. (If an issue is going to be focusing on Railway holidays, then the advertising department will approach holiday companies that offer railway holidays inviting them to advertise in this specific issue.)
But, now that Dave has a relationship with the staff at this magazine, he's in a position where he could ask for a copy of the editorial calendar when it's been created. That way, he can 'twist' his ideas to fit the theme of a specific issue. By approaching the editor by email with an idea (and remember, the editorial staff now know him), his chances of success are greater, if he's pitching an article idea on a topic that the magazine wants to cover.
Sometimes a relationship with a customer (yes, the magazines and publishers are your customers - and remember - the customer is always right!) needs some careful handling. But nurture it correctly and it could blossom into a rewarding relationship.