I had one of those nice commissions on Friday afternoon: one that came out of the blue, when I least expected it. Except, the more I thought about it, the more I realised that this was not completely out of the blue. I had done something to generate it.
The commission was from the editor of Outdoor Photography magazine, Steve Watkins, who wanted 650 words to accompany a couple of images I’d offered him several months ago for a specific slot within the magazine, called Viewpoints. (One of the photographs accompanies this blog.) Here, photographers send in images of places that would be of interest to other outdoor photographers, so they can visit those places and (hopefully) capture some awe-inspiring photos.
The Viewpoint section within the magazine comprises two 650-word pieces with accompanying photographs, and then there are also 8 smaller pieces, each with one photograph and 50 words. All ten of these submissions are provided by ten different photographers. So, it’s a great slot to target, because the editor is looking for ten different contributions every four weeks (yes, Outdoor Photography is published four-weekly, not monthly, so that’s 13 times a year, or 130 opportunities in this one section of the magazine every year!).
I’ve always liked this slot as a reader, and so I made a conscious decision to submit something to the editor for this slot on a regular basis. And this ploy has worked: the editor has used three of my photographs for the smaller 50-word slots over the last couple of years. However, last Friday’s commission was the first time I’ve been asked to do the bigger 650-word slot (which also pays considerably more!).
As a writer, the larger, 650-word, slot is the one I’ve always wanted, and as a photographer I prefer this slot because the photos are printed bigger than the other viewpoints. So, after making regular submissions over the past few years, I’ve been rewarded with the opportunity that I was looking for.
If there’s a slot, or a magazine, you’d like to see your words in, then, obviously, you need to submit something to it. However, if the first submission fails, don’t give up. Keep submitting. And if the editor uses your submission, but not in the way you’d thought, then go with it, and continue submitting for the slot you want. The editor will spot your tenacity and remember you for it.
Even though I’ve achieved the commission for the slot I was targeting, I shall continue making submissions to this slot in the future. After all, if I’ve done it once, I can do it again! So, make a commitment to submit regularly. It may take you several years but determination is a major ingredient in the recipe of success. And my commission would not have happened, if I hadn’t sent something off in the first place.