Freelance Blog + writing

5 Tricks for Tracking Down an Editor

Most writing books and blogs will tell you that you should address your query letter to a specific person, rather than opening generically with "Dear Editor." That's all well and good, but sometimes it's hard to find an editor's name, much less their email addy.
With magazines, the name ares usually listed on the masthead, but sometimes the masthead is outdated by the time the mag hits newstands. And websites, even those with good content, often omit the editor's name or contact info to shield them from spam.But that doesn't mean it's impossible. Here are some strategies for sleuthing out an editor's info:

  1. Search the site (and beyond). First stop on a publication's website should be any pages labeled "About us," "Contact us," or "Our team." Often one of these pages will lead you to an editor's name and potentially their email address. If not, check out the site map to see if that information might be buried. Also try searching through the website's internal search feature and on Google (sometimes their own search function is buggy, so definitely try Googling with "XXXX monthly" AND editor). MediaBistro's Revolving Door is another place to check. And if the website or publication is put out by a custom publisher or parent company, you should check out the main website, too.
  2. Try LinkedIn. Next try an advanced search on LinkedIn. Here you can search for people based on their job title (editor, content manager, etc) and company name (be sure you're searching for people who are currently in that job), but don't ask them to join your network at this stage. Once you have a name, you can usually figure out the email address based on common email formulas, but some editors will find it a little too forward if you ask to connect with them before you've worked together (then again, some won't).
  3. Pick up the phone. If you can find a phone number somewhere on the website, you could try calling the main number and ask who handles freelance queries. Then confirm the spelling of their name and ask how they prefer to recieve queries. Most of the time you'll talk to a receptionist or editorial assistant, but you should be ready with a few ideas in case the right person actually answers the phone.
  4. Ask around. If steps 1-3 have failed, then you can always call on your network of freelancers for help. Ideally, you might know someone who already writes for the publication and ask them who to contact (they may even let you use their name, but always ask first). I've done this on more than one occasion. Alternatively, you could post on a writer's forum or even use Twitter. Be sure to thank anyone who gives you suggestions and make it clear that you'll gladly reciprocate if they ever need help.
  5. When all else fails, use the online contact form. I hate contact forms, because it feels like my message is going into a giant black hole in cyberspace. I hate the open-sidedness and the lack of transparency. But sometimes I do get a response. So it's possible that your message will get forwarded to the right person and land you an assignment, too.

What about you? Any secrets that you've used to find an editor's name or email address?

Flickr photo courtesy of jakebouma

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5 Tricks for Tracking Down an Editor + writing