It’s not enough to research and write a great query. If you want an assignment, you have to send that query to the editor who has the power to assign it.
Tracking down the right editor (and their contact information) can feel like Mission: Impossible.
Here are a few tricks to make it easier:
Read the masthead: It’s not just the editors whose names are listed here. Most mastheads also list advertising and administrative contacts, often with email addresses. You can bet that if Susie Jones, the director of advertising, is sjones@ABCmag.com, the editor, Paula Pierce, is ppierce@ABCmag.com.
Use your research skills: A good reporter has good research skills, right? Put them to use on Google. By looking at the masthead of Redbook magazine, you’ll learn it’s published by Hearst. Google “Hearst” “publisher” “advertising” and “email” turns up a contact in the ad department whose email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ask colleagues: Freelancers are a generous bunch. If you want to pitch a magazine and can’t find the email address, just ask. Members of websites like FreelanceSuccess.com are happy to oblige.
Subscribe to media sites: Websites like FreelanceSuccess.com, MediaBistro.com and Mastheads.org provide email formulas and editor contact information to their members. It’s worth the investment to subscribe to at least one site.
Pick up the phone: If no amount of Googling turns up an email formula, pick up the phone. Contact numbers are always listed on the masthead or magazine website. When the receptionist answers, keep it simple: “I’d like to email Jane Smith. Can you confirm her email address for me?” Chances are, you’ll have the right email within minutes. Be prepared! If the receptionist transfers you to Jane Smith, you should be ready to talk about your idea.
Avoid general submission addresses: Yes, Writer’s Market is full of suggestions for sending queries to submissions@ABCmag.com. You can bet that editors are too busy taming their personal inboxes to pay much attention to a generic email address.
Stick to email: With very few exceptions, editors want to receive queries via email. Even though some writers guidelines and listings in Writer’s Market tell you to snail mail queries, ignore the advice. I believe it’s a trick to keep new writers from being successful.
Do you have creative suggestions for tracking down an editor’s contact information?