Advice to New Poker Writers Part 2: Don't Wait To Be Asked

I mentioned in my previous blog that 'poker writer' did not exist as a vocation when I first started, and I had to make it up as I went along. Because there was no career path laid out for me and I had to use my own initiative; which means I am very hard on people who don't follow my next tip. In my opinion, if the only tip a new poker writer follows is this one, then they will have no problems finding work. 

The biggest mistake new writers make is asking for work, and then hoping for the best. What I mean is asking if there is any work available from an editor, and asking if they can have that work, without making a good case for getting it. I cannot count the amount of new writers have come to me with no examples of their own work, and in some cases, they have never even written a paragraph of a poker article in their life. 

Editors get loads of emails every week from new writers saying essentially 'I want to be a writer, do you have any work?' with no evidence of what they are capable of. I almost always ignore these emails, and I am pretty certain most of my peers do too. It is like going to a job interview without a CV, or without suitable work experience (Or even a suit). 

An editor will have a team of reliable experienced writers they can call upon if any work needed doing, so they are never going to take a risk on an unproven poker writer because they asked nicely. Especially because getting that new guy on board often means having to set them up on some sort of HR/payroll system. 

So the first piece of advice is: actually have something, ANYTHING, to show them that you actually are capable of writing poker articles. 

The second piece of advice is, don't wait to be offered work, offer them work. Tell them your ideas for content, tell them who you can get for an interview, tell them about a breaking news story that you have the lowdown on and could report on (If you are struggling for ideas, that's coming in a future blog). You make the process monumentally easier for an editor when they realise that they can put their feet up and don't have to hold your hand. 

But the biggest piece of advice, one that will really get your foot in the door - do the work first before contacting them. 

There is nothing, NOTHING, stopping you from turning your ideas into articles before you contact an editor. If you have an idea for a poker article, just do it. If you can get an interview with Jason Mercier, don't waste that opportunity, do it now, worry where it will go later. You have just made an editor's life so much easier than 90% of your peers, because the piece is ready to be published, all they have to do is approve it, and they can use it right away, and if they don't, you can send it to someone else instead. 

This is not just new guys that make this error. It pains me to say it, but I know some very talented experienced poker writers, much better writers than I could ever hope to be, who wait around for permission to write something. It really frustrates me when really good writers, often good friends, send me an email simply 'know of any work going mate?' and make no further effort to find work than that. 

I don't think I am a spectacular writer, but the one thing I have always had is enthusiasm. As a writer, I have always thrown hundreds of ideas at editors, and when I get an idea for an article I always write it first before finding a home for it. As an editor, I do not have the time to give people work who wont help themselves by meeting me half way, but will always try my best to reward enthusiasm.

More coming very soon......

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swampsterjy said...

i'd add a couple of points.

1. Be original. I got sent a few ideas recently that were along the lines of 'How not to go broke playing A-K' and 'an interview with Liz Lieu'. I thought i'd gone back in time to 2005.

2. If you send examples of your work to an editor, make sure you include an interview (preferably someone prominent, but someone at the top of their game but not well-known is just as good.) It shows you have the confidence to approach pros (you'd be surprised how shy novice poker writers can be). Just don't do Liz Lieu.

Barry Carter said...

Damn, that's two articles I just wrote I can throw in the bin

swampsterjy said...

ah yeah, it was you. I thought i recognised the email address

Muhammad Amir said...

I am very hard on people who don't follow my next Betting 411 tip. In my opinion, if the only tip a new poker writer follows is this one, then they will have no problems finding work.

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