Sunday, October 26, 2008

PWAC Meeting a Great Success for Writers and Editors

PWAC Meeting a Great Success for Writers and Editors
by Nadine Hogan

These questions—the best way to get an editor’s attention, the smart time to query ideas, how much attention do our emails get, and when is it appropriate to follow-up if we haven’t heard anything back—were answered at the latest meeting of the Ottawa Chapter of PWAC.

On October 18, it was the writers who had the floor, and we had the chance to pick the brains of four of Ottawa’s editors in the magazine industry.

New on the scene are Ashley McConnell & Justyna Baraniecki, creators of the newly released on-line magazine, The Dinner Jacket <>. This publication was born from their desire to bring together a collection that has a local focus with an international reach. The heart of this magazine covers local events in the music, food, art, film, and fashion scenes.

The beauty of this project, beyond the visual creativity that jumps off the pages, is that these editors are anxious to work with contributors who are also passionate about what they do. They meet with everyone who contacts them to discuss ideas and access a potential fit with the magazine. They are open to all ideas, and encourage their contributors to express themselves.

From edgy fashion to the modern home, Kristin Harold, editor of Ottawa At Home <>, spoke to the group. Started in 2003, it's a lifestyles magazine that celebrates home, food, and living in Ottawa. Having recently undergone quite a change—bringing about a cleaner, modernized look—this magazine is steadily gaining appeal.

Kristin Harold
Kristin usually works with about seven or eight freelance writers, and admits that while she likes to use people she has worked well with in the past, she encourages new queries all the time. If you are going to query, be sure to remember that this magazine works with a lead time of about four months. Furthermore, Kristin assured the writers that if they don’t hear back from her, not to give up. She may not use your idea at first, but there is ample potential.

Up next, we heard from Allyson Bycraft, the editor of FoodMODE Magazine <>, an Ottawa-based magazine that portrays the culture of food and beverages. In its first year, the mandate of FoodMODE is to re-connect people with food from a local, organic perspective. They like to keep things community focused, whether it's buying local, interviewing chefs in neighbourhood restaurants, or profiling particular areas of Ottawa and what they have to offer.

Sue Bowness (L) Vice-President, PWAC Ottawa, and Allyson Bycraft

Allyson was very open and encouraging, asking for writers who write passionately. She is very interested in people who can put a unique spin on something otherwise unrelated to incorporate the food/beverage side of things. She openly admitted that they currently have more ideas than writers, and once you start working with them, they are quick to use writers they worked well with in past issues.

Overall, this morning was a great success for writers and editors alike. It was fantastic to hear feedback on the questions we all have, but even more so, it was great to gain insight into the editor’s perspective.

Some take-away tips:
  • Query ahead of time, most magazines are working three, four, even six months in advance.
  • Ensure your material is in perfect condition: edit, and edit some more.
  • Keep in contact. Just because you haven’t heard back that doesn’t mean they are not interested. Even if one idea doesn’t fit, there is future potential.
  • Be creative. Submit unique ideas.
  • Editors like working with writers they can trust and depend on. Make a good impression, and your working relationship can only grow.
  • Don’t give up!
(photo credits: M. Lapointe, CD)

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,