Chicago-based writer Amalie Drury is the Chicago editor for PureWow, an online lifestyle publication for professional women. For PureWow, Drury conceptualizes, writes or assigns, and edits daily stories about fashion, beauty, home design, health, food and travel. CAR Editor (and Drury's husband) JC Steinbrunner asked for her expectations when working with freelance writers to publish digital stories on tight deadlines. Drury's edited advice is below.
The difference between writing for online and print is that online deadlines are more serious. The voice is snappier. There is very little leeway in schedules. If an editor asks for something by a certain time, they mean it. You have to say a lot in a little space. Readers' eyeballs are finicky; they can’t stick with a story for very long.
The biggest mistake a freelancer can make when pitching a story is regurgitating a pitch that a PR person sent them. They also sent that pitch to me. If you are on a PR list, assume the editor is. If you send that info to an editor, it’s not new.
Take the time to read the publication so you know what we need.
Also, don’t be so general with a pitch that I have to work to dig up a story. Be specific. Instead of saying “I want to pitch you a story about fall fitness fashion trends,” tell me what those trends are, back it up with links, send me products you want to write about, and tell me why it’s different from last year’s fashion. Take the time to read the publication so you know what we need.
If you can’t adapt, the editor will eventually drop you.
If you are working with an editor who doesn’t have time to go back and forth with you on revisions, read the published version and keep track of the changes. Try to absorb or learn from the differences between what you turned in and what got published. Was your lede too long? Did your editor make your copy get to the point faster? Did you spend too much time on a detail? Was the voice too juvenile or esoteric? If you can’t adapt, the editor will eventually drop you.
If I write you back with a few questions about your story and you don’t respond within a few hours, you make my life difficult. Editors get anxious because of their tight publishing schedule. Stick to the word count. You might think you are doing me a favor sending me 500 words when I ask for 250, but it’s a lot more work. Some writers don’t know how to condense. As an editor I have to be more ruthless with your work and others' work.
Include logistical details with your work. Always include address, phone, ticket price or website when writing about people and places.
The mark of a professional writer is that she turns in her story on time. She pitches ideas that save me time: the pitch really works for our brand and is perfectly good to use without a lot of tweaking. Be a good communicator.
Amalie Drury studied English at the University of Louisville. She is the Chicago editor of PureWow.com. Drury was a senior editor for Modern Luxury and currently contributes regularly to numerous publications, including the Chicago Tribune, Chicago magazine, CS, and Red Tricycle.