By Annette Stevens
“Haywards Heath Matters” is a relatively new and upcoming publication. Could you tell us a little bit about how you became involved/the editor?
Hibu (formerly Yell Group) launched 27 community magazines around the UK last year. I came on board at the start of the project to help launch new magazines and am running our three Sussex titles, including Haywards Heath Matters, until our locally-based editor takes over.
Is editing your full time job?
What does your job as an editor entail?
A lot of multi-tasking – sourcing interesting local stories and photos, talking to our contributors (most of the content in our magazines is written by people who live in the local community rather than professional journalists and writers), interviewing and writing some features myself, editing and cutting copy to fit space on the page and ensuring the final product looks great and people want to read it.
Were you interested in journalism whilst growing up?
As a teenager, in the days before internet, I used to spend hours every week reading the papers. Despite my love of news, it didn’t occur to me that journalism could be a career option. It wasn’t until my early 20s that I decided I really wanted to be a journalist.
How can freelancers make their pitch stand out?
Tailor your pitch to the publication and explain why your story would appeal to readers. Don’t pick up the phone or email a pitch until you can sum up your story idea in a few sentences. Editors tend to be busy people and you need to grab their attention.
What is your stance on unpaid internships?
A short-term work placement can be a great way to gain experience in the industry, build up your portfolio and meet potential contacts, but long internships often don’t pay off.
What are your handbag essentials for a day at the office?
Notepad and pen (I’m old fashioned that way), phone and hands-free kit, and bareMinerals blush (brings colour back to my face in the depths of winter).
Is social media important in editing?
I find social media useful for story ideas, keeping in touch and making new contacts and for tracking down people I want to interview whose phone numbers and email addresses I can’t find through an internet search.
Do you have any previous experience in publishing?
I’m half Australian and spent several years working in Sydney as a writer and sub for national and local magazines and weeklies, I also worked as a journalist at the Press Association for five years before going freelance in 2010.
Do you have any tips for wannabe writers?
As a former freelancer, I know how disheartening it can be when your pitches or stories are rejected. But try to pluck up the courage to ask the editor why he or she knocked you back. Take their advice on board and move on to the next idea.