Blog by Toby Welch

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Editors on Writer’s CVs

Magazine editors share their thoughts on writer's CVs:

Jim Adair, editor of REM - The Real Estate Magazine - “I’ll take a look at a CV because I’m interested in the writer’s background and qualifications to write the story, but the query is what’s important. Most of the pitches I receive do not include a detailed CV.” Adair shares what he is most interested in seeing when he receives a CV, “I want to know if they’ve written about the topic before, and where their work has appeared. If it’s a new writer, the writing samples they provide are the most important thing that determines whether I’ll accept the query or pass on it.”

Steven Sandor, editor of Avenue magazine’s Edmonton edition - “I want to see past relevant work. Way too often I see CVs that list the fact that a writer won employee of the month back in May 1998 at Randy River at the mall. I really don’t care about your retail experience or the fact that you waited tables. Only experience relevant to your writing, please. In fact, cramming too much hurts your chances — it makes me wonder if you are really a full-time writer or if it’s only a sideline. So, keep it to the magazines, newspapers and journals for which you have written (or edited). Don’t kill me with other job experience that has nothing to do with pitching a magazine.”

Evan Osenton, the editor of Alberta Views, says that a CV definitely influences whether or not he accepts a query. “In addition to telling me the writer’s subject, thesis, purpose and proposed approach to a story, a pitch letter should clearly show why I should assign the story to this writer, now. But a writer can only say so much in a pitch letter. If a pitch interests me, the CV often seals the deal.” What Osenton likes to see most in a CV is the writer’s previous writing (published and non-), work experience (even if seemingly unrelated to the pitch), educational background (ditto), and professional interests.

Caitlynn Cummings, managing editor of filling Station - “As we are a literary magazine, our submission process may be a bit different from those of other magazines. We don’t normally receive queries so much as finished pieces. Once we receive a submission — be it poetry, fiction, drama, art, or nonfiction — our editors and collective read it and decide whether it should be published. For filling Station it is about the piece, not the author or his/her CV. We require a biography submitted alongside pieces simply for ease of production if we accept the piece.”

Jill Sawyer, editor of Galleries West Magazine - “When a writer approaches me for the first time, I’m more interested in the idea than the CV - all the usual assessments of a good query - does it fit our magazine, how well-crafted is it, originality, and a sense that the writer has access to the subject proposed. Second, I want to know about the writer’s published work, and how well it fits with the work in our magazine (has the writer written editorial for magazines, is the writer familiar with the arts and/or other soft feature subjects). If there is a CV, I would likely look at a list of past publications, more so than past jobs or education.”

Carole Deavey, editor of Living Safety - “I usually don’t receive CVs with writer queries. The writers usually include sample of articles they have written and this is how I base my decision.”

Michael Ganley, editor of Alberta Venture - “I would expect to see a CV from a writer I haven’t worked with before, and would review it to see where they’ve done their training and where they’ve been published. But much more important would be the quality of the pitch and the writing samples. The pitch needs to demonstrate that the writer knows my magazine and my audience and has given some thought to the story idea, and the samples give me an idea of their research, reporting and writing skills.”

Use your CV to keep your writing journey moving forward!