Linda Formichelli has written for more than 120 magazines and is the co-author of The Renegade
Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success and The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock.
She also teaches an e-course on breaking into magazines and offers e-books on writing topics, including Editors Unleashed:
Magazine Editors Growl About Their Writer Peeves.
BERYL: You say you wear more hats than my old
aunt Millie. Give us a thumbnail sketch of what makes up Linda Formichelli's professional life.
Well, I'm a big proponent of diversifying, so I do all kinds of writing and writing-related work: magazine
articles, books, corporate writing, e-courses on getting published in magazines, and e-mentoring.
I see that a lot of these questions have to do with my full plate, so let me preface them by saying that the amount I do of
each type of work varies. I don't go full-out on all these things! For example, I do only the rare copywriting gig these
days, though I'd like to get back into it. And just six months ago I was doing mostly health writing, and now I'm
doing more articles on business and marketing. It's always in flux.
What was the first hat you put on? How did you break into that field?
It was magazine writing. I got my master's
degree in Slavic linguistics, but then discovered that there wasn't much call for Slavic linguists in the job market (who
knew?), so after grad school I thought I'd try a career in publishing. I went on several informational interviews, where
I interviewed publishing execs to find out if this was the career for me. It wasn't, but I thought that my experiences
in informational interviewing would make a great article for a career magazine. I got a copy of Writer's Market and a book on writing query letters, wrote up my
very first query, and sent it to several pubs (which I had never actually read). The article idea sold to EEO Bimonthly magazine for $500!
A mini rant: When I think about that, I'm amazed at the number of writers out there now busting their butts
writing keyword articles for five bucks a pop to get experience or clips. Don't be taken in by website owners and editors
who say you have to write for free or cheap to break in! If I got $500 for my very first article -- ten years ago, with a
1200-baud modem and no clue -- other writers should be able to break into paying magazines without writing keyword articles
(which no print magazine editor takes seriously as a clip anyway) for free or peanuts. I understand that the industry changes,
but there are still tons and tons of respectable, paying magazines out there. Some writers insist that they can pound out
a $5 article in ten minutes, but really, (1) is that your best work? and (2) if you can write a $5 article in 10 minutes,
you can probably create a $500 article in two hours (which is what I do in some cases). That's more than four dollars
per minute. Rant over.
of our readers may be doing well in one or two areas, but have a real itch to try something else. However, when they start
to consider adding another dimension an old adage, “Don't spread yourself too thin” may run through their
minds. How can they identify if it is too much?
I think it's different for every person -- and believe me, you'll know when it's too much! For me, when
I want to do more of a thing, I naturally tend to cut down on others. For example, after my career got off the ground, I decided
to concentrate on magazines, so I naturally stopped marketing myself as a corporate writer.
Several months ago I wanted to do more business articles, so as
I got caught up in that I let up on querying the health and women's markets. It's great to be a freelancer because
you can do that. You can test the waters instead of having to do everything full out.