Archive for December 14th, 2009

The Scoop on Writing Profile Articles: To Submission and Beyond

By Lori RussellLori Russell
You’ve researched and interviewed, polished and proofed. Your profile article is finally ready to submit. Or is it?
Professionalism is in the details. Make sure yours measure up. Before you hit the send button, make sure that your manuscript and your email note to your editor reflect the professional writer that you are.
Start by rechecking the publication’s writer’s guidelines and any notes or emails from your editor. Is your document in the style and form requested? If you are sending photos, are you using the preferred method and file type? Have you spelled the editor’s name and publication correctly and used his/her correct title in your email? Do you need to submit additional information to get paid? In a brief email note to which I attach my manuscript, I always thank the editor for the opportunity to write for the publication and include a brief “contact me if there is anything else you need” line at the end.
No matter how well written and insightful your profile article is, your editor may contact you with additional questions or requested changes. Despite whether you agree or disagree with the request, take notes during the phone call. Reread the email. Then, follow your editor’s instructions as literally as possible. 
Do not change things that were not mentioned or spin out a completely new draft-unless the editor requests it. Even if you are already on to your next writing project, get the changes back to your editor as quickly as possible. 
Before you move on to your next query or assignment, be sure to thank the subject of your profile if you have not already. If you are able, let her know when the article is expected to appear in print.
Your subject has given you time and the opportunity to write about her. Do a good job and she will welcome the opportunity to speak with you again. Remember, your subject can act as an “expert” if you reslant your topic in the future as a how-to, list or feature article. An anecdote that she shared in the interview may not make it into the profile you are writing today, but it may make a great lede for a profile for another publication. 
Make sure to keep a printed copy of your submitted article (with any changes your editor requested) as well as an electronic backup copy. I keep all my notes, drafts, etc. together in a file on my computer, on a flash drive, and in a manila folder in my file cabinet so that I can refer to them for future articles and for tax purposes.
Once your article is published, put a copy in your article folder and in your “clips” file. If the publication has an online presence, ask how you can link to the site or request a PDF version of the article. Published clips are a great addition to your portfolio and an essential piece of your marketing toolkit when approaching new editors with a query.
Lori Russell has written profiles about people, their passions and their places for more than a decade. Her nonfiction articles have been published online and in magazines and newspapers around the country. She is a contributing editor for Columbia Gorge Magazine, a regular contributor to Ruralite Magazine and has co-written the “In the Spotlight’ column for WOTR for the past two years. She is currently enjoying a writing residency teaching memoir writing to high school students through Columbia Gorge Arts in Education, an organization that brings professional writers and artists to the public schools.


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