ASJA offers so many opportunities for members to connect with potential clients and with each other, which hopefully lands us all more work. Share your success stories with us! Contact [email protected]
Member Name: Beverly Gray, Santa Monica, California
Success Story: Published “When Apollo Went to Japan,” featured in the April issue of Smithsonian’s Air & Space Magazine. The piece (which includes a 50-year-old picture of me in a miniskirt) is a reminiscence about my stint as a guide in the U.S. Pavilion at Expo ’70, Osaka, explaining the U.S. space program to Japanese visitors.
How I Landed the Gig: It all started when I signed up for ASJA’s Washington D.C. regional conference in November 2019. When I learned that a representative of Air & Space Magazine would be participating in Client Connections, I realized I had a story that was a perfect fit. At my appointment, I began by pulling out that old photo of me explaining the Apollo 8 command module to a cluster of rapt Japanese, and went on from there. I came home with the assignment, and the article itself was accepted the same day I sent it in, a record for the magazine and for me.
Comments: I have been a member since my first book was published twenty years ago. My ASJA friendships continue to inspire me to take my professional goals to a higher level. I would never have written this article if Client Connections had not provided an irresistible opportunity I had never before considered.
Member Name: Dawn Reiss, Chicago
Success Story: Landscape Architecture magazine, among others
How I Landed the Gig: I’m old school. I love pitching over the phone and in-person because if you’ve got a well-researched story idea you can always tweak the angle based on the editor’s initial response. This has worked multiple times, at various ASJA conferences and on the phone with Virtual Client Connections. The key: be prepared for the two-minute drill. Quickly introduce yourself, think of a catchy headline that would fit the publication coupled with a specific section and an angle that is right for the readership. Most recently this happened with a Virtual Pitch Slam session for Landscape Architecture. Jennifer Reut, the senior editor liked the pitch, accepted the story idea and ended up giving it more space and money once I did the reporting.
Net results: $3,000+
Comments: The friendships, work connections, VPSs and conferences have been invaluable. Thanks to meeting at ASJA’s annual conference, Megy Karydes and I started a writer accountability group in Chicago with other writers from ASJA. We’ve collectively grown our businesses by helping each other.
Member Name: Margie Goldsmith, NYC
Success Story: Became a Lifestyle (culture and travel) contributor to Forbes.com
How I Landed the Gig: Pitched during Client Connections at the ASJA Conference
Net results: $1,000+
Comments: I have been a member of ASJA since I began freelance writing almost 20 years ago. Joining ASJA was the smartest decisions I’ve ever made. Not only are the yearly conferences extremely useful, but I’ve made many wonderful writer friends through ASJA. Over the years, thanks to pitching editors during Client Connections (including one editor I followed into the ladies room, pitched, and placed the story), I have landed many assignments and contributing writer gigs.
Member Name: Eustacia Huen, New York City & Hong Kong
Success Story: Broke into The Washington Post, Popular Science and Realtor.com
How I Landed the Gigs: Pitching tips from mentors at the ASJA Conference for WaPo; Virtual Client Connection for PopSci; Client Connections 2019 for Realtor.com
Net results: $1,000+
Comments: ASJA is one of the best investments for my career. As a writer from Hong Kong, building a business in the U.S. hasn’t been easy. Thanks to ASJA, plus many of the writers, editors and members involved, I’ve found more direction and passion in my work. Beyond new connections and gigs, I’m especially grateful to my mentors—Lynn Freehill-Maye and Kate Morgan—for sharing their pitching tips.
Member name: Poornima Apte, Boston, Mass.
Success story: Found two new editors to work with at ASJA conference May 2019 and a cool new gig through a fellow writer.
How I landed the gigs: I had Client Connections set up with Allan Richter of Discover Life magazine. My notes said that they were in the health and wellness space so I prepared accordingly. But when it was time to pitch, Allan said he was looking for cool restaurants/places to cover in new cities. That very morning I had read, in the Washington Post, about this new fast casual restaurant in Boston that was manned by robots. I pitched it immediately and landed an assignment. I also met Kira Peikoff through Client Connections that same year and pitched her a profile, that became my first assignment for Leaps Magazine.
Net results: Since that first robot restaurant assignment, I have written two more articles for Discover Life magazine. One of those was where the editor reached out to me with an assignment. I enjoy working with the team and the topics, while outside my usual engineering beat, are super fun.
I have written two articles for Leaps Magazine and hope to contribute more.
I should add that I met Melanie Padgett Powers during my first ASJA and she introduced me to an engineering client who has been one of my biggest sources of income since. I am eternally grateful to Mel for this.
Comment about ASJA: While I appreciate the assignments I received, and the editor contacts I made at Client Connections, the biggest value of ASJA to me, lies in connections with fellow writers. It's rejuvenating to hear from them and meet annually in New York. My accountability buddy, Lisa Rabasca Roepe, convinced me to join ASJA, and I have enjoyed being a part of the organization.
Member name: Claire Zulkey, Evanston, IL
Success story: First book length ghostwriting job published by Da Capo Press in April 2019
How I landed the gig: In summer 2018 member Kelly K. James sent out a group email to some writers. Her agent was looking for a writer who covers education, humor and parenting for a book by a Kentucky elementary school principal with a popular Youtube following. I expressed interest informally and then applied for the job. It may have helped that I have children in elementary school so I was certainly keen to hear the author’s wisdom. I had only ghostwritten short pieces prior to that. I got the gig, which had a much shorter turnaround time than I expected: 40,000 words between the fourth of July and Labor Day, but I was hungry for the opportunity and signed on. The agent, Katherine Latshaw for Folio Lit, waived any cut this time around but would take on in the future should she represent me again.
Net results: A $20,000 fee, plus the author covered my transcription fees, which was a lifesaver in turning the book around quickly.
Comment about ASJA: I had been friendly and in a small writing group with Kelly for a few years prior but I think we truly bonded during ASJA 2018. We ended up sitting next to each other on the flight from Chicago to New York—first class, baby! That was my first time to the New York conference and she gave me tips about getting the most from the conference, and we shared a cab from the hotel to the airport afterwards, where she read my tarot cards. Maybe something in the reading was auspicious enough for her to keep me in mind when the gig came around. Nearly all of my best/favorite jobs as a freelancer have come through my networks, and this was no different.
Member name: Ellen Sheng, NYC area
Success story: I got work from WSJ Custom Studios, writing advertorials for several large companies. I used to work at Dow Jones, so although the work was different, it was also a little like coming home. I loved all the assignments and learned so much from the editors, who were all fantastic.
How I landed the gig: I met an editor at Client Connections at the New York conference.
Net results: Tens of thousands of dollars.
Comment about ASJA: I'm really thankful to ASJA for helping boost my career. I had just moved back to New York after living and working in Hong Kong for eight years. The first year was rough — I had to find all new clients, redefine my niche, find people, find publications and so on. ASJA helped me learn about the market, identify trends and got me work to boot! I've also gotten bylines in Fast Company and Scientific American and found work at a number of agencies thanks to ASJA. The cost of my membership and attendance at conferences has more than paid off.
Member name: Diane Daniel, The Netherlands (and a little Florida)
Success story: Regular writing for American Heart Association (AHA) website
How I landed the gig: Virtual Client Connections had a slot with the content editor at the AHA, which uses a lot of freelance for its website. I was interested because I enjoy writing about health/fitness, the pay was decent and I figured it had potential as an ongoing gig. The few slots available were taken within seconds – I was three seconds too late. Later I emailed the writers who had snagged appointments, got some insight from them, along with the editor’s contact info, and pitched her. It took many, many, many follow-ups for her to connect me with the editor who handles “Stories from the Heart,” the site’s weekly profiles of people affected by heart disease or stroke.
Net results: In half a year of writing “Stories from the Heart,” in 2018, I made close to $6,000. I expect/hope that the work will continue to flow in 2019. I also find the work meaningful, have learned a lot about heart disease and stroke, and truly enjoy and appreciate my editor.
Comment about ASJA: When I moved to the Netherlands in 2014, I let my membership lapse because so much of ASJA seemed to revolve around in-person contact and the annual conference. But as I started catching wind of all the new membership benefits offered online, I readily renewed. Virtual Client Connections is a perfect example of those offerings. (I also love listening to recordings of Pitch Slams.) Also, I am super thankful for the generosity of those writers I reached out to who shared their VCC intel. The combination of ASJA programs with ASJA people (both the volunteers running those programs and the membership in general) is a recipe for success!
Member name: Nicole Slaughter Graham, St. Petersburg, FL
Success story: Broke into The New York Times
How I landed the gig: I'd attended the ASJA 2018 conference in NYC on a whim. I didn't plan to attend because I didn't think my business had made enough money at the time to justify the expense, but I went anyway. One of the sessions I attended was on writing for The New York Times. The session's speaker had actionable advice that I was able to easily implement into my research and pitching process. While at the conference, I also made a friend who writes for the Times pretty regularly. Before pitching, I sought out her guidance, and she gave me some great information and useful advice. I submitted a pitch to the editor of The New York Times' Well section. After some back and forth and reshaping of the pitch, she accepted.
Net results: The Well section pays a flat fee of $1000.
Comment about ASJA: Going to the conference literally changed the trajectory of my career this year. After my New York Times piece came out, I was asked to speak on three radio shows, and two editors have reached out to me to write for their sites. Without ASJA, these things wouldn't have happened. The best part though is that through ASJA, I've made a few dear friends in the field-- women that understand the freelance life and are generous with their time and advice.
Member name: Julissa Treviño, Fort Worth, TX
Success story: Broke into a new market.
How I landed the gig: At the ASJA regional conference in Austin (February 2018), I met Texas Journey editor and panelist Jim Benning. Jim said he was open to pitches from new writers, so after his panel, I went up to introduce myself, and he gave me his business card. We ended up connecting shortly after, and after he saw my clips, we briefly spoke on the phone about what he was looking for in pitches. After some back and forth, he accepted two pitches.
Net results: Texas Journey pays $1 a word, and I had landed two assignments -- one at 150 words and the other at 500 words.
Comment about ASJA: I attended the conference before I even became an ASJA member. The fact that I met an editor at the conference and landed two assignments with a new publication showed me that the membership was worth it.
Member name: Vince Guerrieri, Elyria, Ohio
Success story: Wrote my first piece for CityLab
How I landed the gig: Made contact with the editor in an ASJA Virtual Pitch Slam.
Net result: $300
Comment about ASJA: Joining ASJA has put me in touch with plenty of editors and agents, which has paid off, as well as meeting a community of other writers and forming relationships with them too.
Member name: Bethany Bradsher, Greenville, NC
Success Story: Signed with my first literary agent
Comments about ASJA: I have never attended the NYC conference and wasn’t planning to this year, but then I received an e-mail promoting the presence of a bunch of agents at Client Connections. I had the seeds of a book proposal that I’d been putting off, but I decided to register for the conference, enter the CC lottery and put the pedal to the metal on my proposal.
I finished the proposal Thursday night, headed to NYC early Friday morning, made copies of said proposal at the Sheraton and went to meetings with seven agents. They were all positive, and even the agents who declined my project were kind and helpful. A week later, I signed with John Willig and I feel great about our partnership.
I have no doubt that this wouldn't have happened without Client Connections and a few sleepless nights on my part. Thanks tons!
Member name: Milly Dawson, Maitland, FL
Success Story: Broke into PBS’ NextAvenue
How I landed the gig: I participated in the ASJA Virtual Pitch Slam with NextAvenue editor Richard Eisenberg. I pitched an essay I had already written and really wanted to place. It concerns mental health issues I’ve faced in my family. He liked the idea and told me to send it to health editor Emily Gurnon.
Net result: Enormous satisfaction. The topic is very important to me. The fee is low ($200), but I had worked on this essay for months and circulated it to four or five other markets before succeeding with NextAvenue.
Comments about ASJA: This essay would not have happened without ASJA. A friend I met through ASJA's formal find-a-buddy program, Agata Blaszczak-Boxe, told me to write the essay. Another member, Beth Levine, did a serious revision of the essay after my initial efforts to place it garnered only polite rejections. She made it so much stronger and better. Then there was the help of the VCC organizers, of course.
Member name: Dara Chadwick
Success story: Developing a specialty in writing about cancer and oncology
How I landed the gig: Client Connections
Net result: More than $10,000 in the last three years
Comment about ASJA: I’ve written about health and wellness for consumer magazines, and I have a background in public health communications. I landed Client Connections appointments with editors of two different magazines for people with cancer and have since done work for both. There’s nothing like the chance to meet with editors face to face to help build strong relationships. The relationships I’ve made through ASJA — both with clients and with my colleagues — are instrumental to the work I’ve been able to do.
Member Name: Kristin Baird Rattini, Foristell, MO
Success Stories: Breaking into Costco Connection Magazine, Discover Magazine and Planning Magazine
How I landed the gigs: The first two through Virtual Pitch Slams and the third by volunteering as a host for Virtual Client Connections.
Net results: $2710
Comment: I can’t say enough about the editor networking opportunities that ASJA provides. In particular, the Virtual Pitch Slam with Costco Connection helped me break through on an account I’d queried for a couple of years. I'm now working on my second Member Connections story. I’m optimistic that the positive feedback I received during the Food Pitch Slam and Client Connections at the ASJA Conference will lead to even more work!
Member name: Jen Reeder
Success story: Family Circle assignment for the “Pets” section
How I landed the gig: 2016 Client Connections meeting
Net result: $2/word assignment that has helped open doors for assignments about pets with other general interest publications. For instance, last week I wrote a cover story for Today.com.
Comments about ASJA: I love the chance to connect with editors as well as writers through ASJA. The conference is terrific, of course. I’m also a big fan of the Special Interest Groups – Lynn Freehill-Maye led a fantastic pitching SIG, and Michele Hollow facilitated a fun one for animal writers. When SIG wrangler (and phenomenal writer) Kate Silver was a door bouncer at Client Connections in 2016, I noticed her name tag and introduced myself. Since then, she’s sent me leads, story ideas, advice and even interviewed me about travel with dogs for The Washington Post. Everyone I’ve met has been so gracious and supportive. Cheers!
Member name: Daryn Kagan
Success story: 1,000 word article on how to earn frequent flyer miles without flying for NextAvenue.org.
How I landed the gig: I participated in my first ASJA Virtual Pitch Slam with NextAvenue editor Richard Eisenberg. It actually sounded like he turned down my pitch on the call. I chalked it up to a good learning experience. Much to my delight, he reached out a couple weeks later saying they wanted to buy my piece.
Net result: $350. The article ran on the homepage of NextAvenue.org as "Editor's Pick." It has since been picked up and republished in full by Forbes.com and MarketWatch.com. Each of the posts included embedded links to my website, DarynKagan.com, which has brought record traffic days to my site.
Comments about ASJA: I first learned about ASJA when I was asked to appear on a conference panel. I was then encouraged to apply to join. Honestly, I was hesitant due to the high fees. My friend, Melanie Levs, assured me I would make up those fees in one assignment. She was right. I've more than made back the fees through a number of assignments that have come as direct links to ASJA.
Member name: Ronni Gordon
Success story: Assignment from MedShadow Foundation
How I landed the gig: Met Jonathan Block at Client Connections at ASJA 2017 in New York and pitched a story idea stemming from my own experience and found that it overlapped with the foundation’s interests.
Net result: $500 with the potential for more work.
Comment: As a new member, I was nervous at my first Client Connections sessions (I had three) but the wranglers headed by Wendy Helfenbaum helped calm me down enough so that I could lucidly present my pitch to Jonathan about the challenges involved in treating neuropathy. I joined the ASJA this year after attending the Public Day last year and getting a new client (Richard Eisenberg of Next Avenue) and being impressed by how helpful and welcoming the members were. The camaraderie was even greater this year because I enjoyed two days of it. The panels I attended were informative, generating new story ideas and leaving me with valuable contact information for editors.
Member name: Tish Davidson, Fremont, CA
Success Story: Book deal from ABC-CLIO
How I landed the gig: I am primarily a health and medical writer with an educational background in physiology. In 2016, I responded to a job posting on the ASJA website looking for health and psychology writers. I sent my CV, and after a telephone discussion with the assigning editor, I was offered a contract to write a 100,000-word reference book for adults on vaccines. Vaccines: History, Science, and Issues was published in June 2017. On its completion, I was contracted to write a second book for the same publisher.
Net Result: $1,500 advance with laddered royalties for both eBook and print book and a contract to write a second book.
Member Name: Cheryl Alkon, Natick, MA
Success Story: In 2016, I earned $11,579.50 directly from my involvement with ASJA.
What Happened: As I looked over paperwork while working on my 2016 taxes, it was clear that my ASJA membership played a part in my earnings that year.
In 2016 alone, I spent $850 for ASJA dues, conference costs and conference recordings. But that year, I also earned $2,975 from assignments I heard about from other ASJA members. I earned $3,996 from an editor who I met at the Member’s Day cocktail party at the 2016 ASJA New York conference. I earned $4,438.50 from a trade journal whose editor I met at the 2010 ASJA conference at what was then called Personal Pitch (and I’ve written consistently for that editor every year since). I earned $170 from a website whose editor I met at the 2016 Client Connections.
The bottom line: My ASJA membership, which allows me to attend the ASJA New York conference on Member’s Day each year, take part in Client Connections, and network both in person and online over the year, contributes nicely to my annual earnings.
Member name: Cynthia J. Drake
Success story: Assignments for Costco Connection
How I landed the gig: I listened to an archived recording of a virtual pitch slam featuring Costco Connection editor Tod Jones (a Virtual Pitch slam features freelancers calling in, teleconference-style, and pitching ideas to an editor; he or she gives them immediate feedback, and everyone listening in gains valuable information from the process). I pitched Tod a travel story idea shortly afterward. He was very responsive and great to work with -- I now have another pitch under consideration for an upcoming issue.
Net result: $650
Comment: I had let my ASJA membership lapse for a few years, and was convinced by friend and mentor Susan Johnston Taylor to rejoin in 2017. I was happy to see that the organization had really taken steps to innovate since the last time I was a member. ASJA is making strides in terms of virtual programming, with archived content, client connections and online pitch sessions with editors around the country. Plus, since I've moved to Austin, Texas, I've found that regional ASJA groups here and elsewhere are gaining momentum. This is an organization that is becoming responsive to changes within the industry, and that's very refreshing.
Member name: Christine Yu, New York City
Success story: Broke into Family Circle Magazine.
How I landed the gig: Women’s Health editors pitch slam at 2016 ASJA conference
Net result: 1,500 word assignment at $1.50/word
Comment: I pitched during the women’s health pitch slam. While I was aiming the pitch at another editor on the panel, Lynya Floyd, the Health Editor at Family Circle, expressed interest in the general topic (the pelvic floor). During the session, she gave me suggestions for how to tweak the angle to make it work for her magazine and we spoke further after the panel. I sent her a fleshed out pitch and she assigned the story. It’s in the June 2017 issue!
I never would have thought that the topic would fit for Family Circle and to pitch the story there.
Member Name: Frank Hyman, Durham, NC
Success Story: Cancelled a contract with a small publisher and moved to a new publisher. (otherwise might sound like I simply pitched a project to a different publisher, which would not be uncommon)
What Happened: There weren't any flat-out disasters, but when the tally of small and mid-size problems early on with my publisher reached eleven (e.g. forgetting to send me a check for $2500 on signing) I knew things weren't going to get better once the book was published. I threw my problem out to book writers on the forum essentially asking, "How do I cancel a contract without cutting my own throat?" One author said that generally if you give back the advance with an explanation that "we're not a good fit," they will cancel the contract. Other writers echoed this, so that's what I did. Never been so happy to write a four figure check in exchange for nothing. Well not nothing. Did get an education on literally the ins and outs of publishing.
Member name: Susan Johnston Taylor
Success story: Assignments for Parade Magazine:
How I landed the gig: The first year I attended the ASJA conference an editor from Parade Magazine was participating in personal pitch. I went to the conference but I didn't get one of her meeting slots. However, all attendees got a detailed description of what she wanted, so I pitched her the week after the conference saying that I have been at the conference too (otherwise, I’m not sure that a completely blind pitch would have gotten her attention). She loved the pitch and the magazine wound up paying my expenses so I could fly to Chicago and cover an organization that plans weddings for a terminally ill bride or groom. It was a beautiful and deeply personal story about one couple’s wedding and I love sharing that with readers.
Net result: Expenses plus $3/word; those were the days!
Member name: Bob Cooper, San Anselmo, CA
Success Story: Landing an assignment that allowed me to tell a sustainability story about people who are making a real difference.
How I landed the gig(s): Virtual Client Connections, April 2016
Net result(s): Article assignment for $1200 ($1/word for 1200 words, though it ran at 1,500)
Comment: I described several story ideas to the editor of Ensia.com, a primarily Web-based magazine funded by an environmental foundation, in my first-ever VCC meeting. There’s one she liked best, which led to her accepting my detailed pitch via email and resulting in one of the more gratifying stories I’ve published in recent years. It’s about mini-farms near Mendocino, CA, where agriculture experts from impoverished countries are taught biointensive practices that they, in turn, pass along to small-plot farmers in their countries.
Member name: Dorri Olds
Success Story: Personal essays in Woman's Day
Net Result(s): Three of my personal essays were published
Comment: ASJA is so worth the cost of membership. Every year that I attend the annual conference in New York City, I make back much more money than I spent. Last year, during speed pitches, I met the lovely Woman's Day editor, Maria Carter. We hit it off immediately. She has published three of my personal essays and is a dream to work with. Thank you, ASJA!
Member Name: Lynn Freehill-Maye, Buffalo, N.Y.
Success Story: Broke into Wine Enthusiast
How I Landed the Gig: Client Connections meeting with an editor at ASJA 2016 in NYC
Net results: One 750-word assignment at $1/word so far, with hopes of more to come
Comments: This story would never have happened without an live meeting! When I offhandedly mentioned where I lived, the editor asked, "What's Buffalo like?" Surprised, I blurted, "Oh, it's great!" and described how the place is having a resurgence. I went on to pitch him the list of story ideas I'd brought. When I asked if he was interested in any at the end, he said, "Get me Buffalo." Since the city is 1-2 hours away from any winemaking regions, Wine Enthusiast wouldn't have been the first outlet where I'd have thought to place a travel story on it if not for this conversation.
Member name: Suzanne Boles, London, Ontario Canada
Success Story: Assignment from Costco Canada
How I landed the gig(s): I got a Skype interview through ASJA Virtual Client Connections (VCC). I put together a list of stories to pitch and did it in the quick meeting. They were particularly interested in one. I did a follow-up via email and got the assignment. They liked the idea so much they decided to make it a longer piece – two page spread.
Net result: $900 This paid for almost 3 years of ASJA membership!
Comment: I started helping out with VCC as a volunteer. I've also participated in three SIGs and met a number of great ASJA members online. I've linked up with two members for accountability (emailing, calling, setting goals). This year I'll be attending the ASJA conference in NYC (this is my second conference in NYC and I also attended the one in Washington, DC). I think the value of ASJA far outweighs the amount paid in dues (even when you calculate the US/Canadian dollar exchange). Like any organization, you can't just sit back and expect things to happen. You need to take part and volunteer, when you can, and offer to help, where you can, to make those connections that will provide support in a what can be a very solitary business.
Member Name: Robert Davey
Success Story: My story was published in Penthouse.
How I Landed the Gig: At the 2014 ASJA Conference during the Client Connections event I met Christine Colby, at that time the managing editor of Penthouse.
I told Christine about some misrepresentations the Bush administration had made in 2007 about its authority to wiretap some Iraqi insurgents who had captured three U.S. soldiers.
I had done the story once already, for the Village Voice, but I wanted to write it again and include some additional reporting. I told Christine about a military regulation that would have permitted the electronic surveillance of the Iraqis without needing to follow procedures set by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. I also had questions about a whistleblower's leaks to the New York Times, and about two of the documents released by Edward Snowden, as reported by the Guardian newspaper. Christine said the story might be a fit for Penthouse.
That fall the executive editor of Penthouse, Barbara Rice Thompson, gave me a contract, and the story was published in the July/August, 2015, issue of Penthouse. I was very happy with the way it came out in the magazine.
Net result: $1,500
Comment: I would say my decision to apply to join ASJA certainly paid off unexpectedly when I met Christine at the 2014 Client Connection event and subsequently wrote the story for Penthouse.
MEMBER NAME: Marijke Vroomen Durning, Montreal Canada
SUCCESS STORY: Found a new client.
HOW I LANDED THE GIG: I've met many writers online and I have formed online friendships with them, but meeting them in person at ASJA conferences has made a difference in how we see each other, I think. There's a lot of value to face-to-face meetings, learning more about people in real life, rather than just a colleague on the other side of my computer screen. I've since received referrals from and given referrals to several writers I've met at the conferences. One such referral I received in 2015 has led to thousands of dollars of continued work from one particular client for over a year now. I wouldn't have known about this client had I not been referred.
NET RESULTS: around $50K so far in recurring assignments.
COMMENT: I truly believe that my connections with colleagues through ASJA has provided me these great opportunities. My annual fees and conference costs will have been covered by this one client for a long time to come.
Member Name: Jerome M. O'Connor, Elmhurst IL
Success Story: I sold a book proposal to a publisher through agent John Willig of Literary Services.
How I Landed the Gig: I write about the little known or ignored, but highly significant people, events, and, most especially, the existing places of the 20th Century, World War II being its most important event. A standout example among many, was the discovery in 1977 of the fully furnished but forgotten Churchill Cabinet War Rooms in London. For years my wife had been urging me to expand upon the features I’d written, and then write a book. I attended the 2016 ASJA annual meeting with one objective: persuade an agent at Client Connections that the book would be different in its methodology and revelations then the many thousands of books about the war, and that it should coincide with the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, certain to be an international event. With John Willig of Literary Services, it became an immediate connection. After the brief pitch I asked for his opinion. "On a scale of one to ten, I would give it an eleven," he said. He knew exactly where to send the proposal and shortly after submission it was sold to Lyons Press, Guilford CT, an imprint of Globe Pequot Publishing and affiliate of Lanham, MD based Rowman and Littlefield. The book is expected to be released in early 2019.
Net Results: A two-part advance was quite satisfactory as were the extra efforts John Willig made to ensure that royalties across all platforms were covered. Soon after the sale became known in trade media, inquiries were made for film documentary rights as well as translation rights, both of which and more John ensured were included in the contract.
Comment: My long-term membership in ASJA paid immediate dividends with the single meeting with John Willig, and the knowledge that book publishing, even with the ongoing changes in the industry, still needs that essential link between an author and a publisher, a well-connected agent.
Member name: Ronni Gordon, South Hadley, MA
Success Story: Stories for Next Avenue and Women’s Running
How I landed the gig: Both came out of the public day at the ASJA 2016 Conference in New York.
Net result(s): $350 from Next Avenue and $50 for Women’s Running
Comment: After meeting Next Avenue’s Richard Eisenberg at the session “Freelance Forever: Keeping Secure and Prosperous Later in Your Career,” I followed up with a pitch that he accepted. I talked to Cindy Kuzma after her presentation on “Conference Success Stories” and she gave me good advice about pitching to Women’s Running. Richard, Cindy and the other ASJA members I talked to were so friendly and helpful that I decided to apply to the ASJA to get the full benefits of membership, which I hope will include more work!
Member name: Nancy Kriplen, Indianapolis, IN
Success Story: Broke into monthly consumer publication
How I landed the gig(s): Virtual Client Connections
Net result(s): $2100 for 1300+ words
Comment: I had never pitched on Skype before and ASJA did all the heavy lifting through VCC: arranging for a good editor, scheduling efficiently, providing detailed technical instructions. This was fun, a chance to pitch and work with a new editor and a wonderful benefit of ASJA membership.
Member name: Michele Meyer, Houston, TX
Success Story: Breaking into Costco Connection, a quest I pursued for years (possibly a decade)
How I landed the gig: I participated in the first Virtual Pitch Slam.
Net result: $400 -- thus far.
Comment: Within 48 hours of the VPS in October 2016, I had a really fun assignment from an editor who has been a dream to work with. Here’s hoping the readers enjoy the experience as much as I have. I'll post the story on my website (www.MicheleMode.com) as soon as it runs! The organizers of VCC and VPS are creative and passionate about connecting ASJA writers with editors.
Member name: Christopher Johnston, Cleveland, OH
Success Story: For the 2011 ASJA Conference, I moderated a panel “Breaking Into Business Books,” which featured three literary agents, including John Willig. We hit it off and stayed in touch. I always tried to connect with him to at least say hello and chat for a few minutes at the following conferences. Last year, he sold a book for me.
How I landed the gig: After spending seven years reporting on and interviewing people about the topic, I wrote a cover story that appeared in the Christian Science Monitor in February about Cleveland’s success with new, innovative approaches to rape and sexual assault cases. I had a significant amount of information and felt the story had greater potential, so I approached John about pitching a book with a national focus, since by then I had built a network throughout the US and internationally. We developed the proposal together last summer, and I turned the completed document over to him in early September.
Net result: In November, he sold the book to Skyhorse Publishing. It is tentatively titled Shattering Silences: New Approaches to Healing Survivors of Rape and Bringing Their Assailants to Justice and is planned to be published in early 2018.
Comment: As a member of ASJA, I have met a number of great writers, editors and agents, so it was nice to connect with John through ASJA and end up having a rewarding professional relationship with him.
Member name: Ashley Rodriguez, Alexandria, VA
Success Story: Finding a new publication to contribute to and establishing a relationship with an editor open to accepting my story pitches.
How I landed the gig(s): ASJA’s Annual Writers Conference in New York City, May 2016
Net result(s): Single story assignment for $1/word. Original assignment was 800 words, but I went over and my editor liked it so much he let me invoice for the full story ($1,134).
Comment: During Client Connections at the 2016 annual conference in NYC, I met with an editor from Wine Enthusiast. Turns out he was looking to include more lifestyle and fitness content online, which was right up my alley as a contributor to Running Times and RunnersWorld.com — and the wife of a sommelier. He asked me to research “running somms” and a few days after the conference we re-connected, I shared my findings, and I was officially assigned the story.
Member name: Mickey Goodman, Marietta, GA
Success Story: I landed a book agent and a new client who is interested in two pitches.
How I landed the gigs: Virtual Client Connections and Virtual Pitch Slam.
Net result: a NY book agent and (hopefully) breaking into Costco Connection!
Comment: I’ve had success at the NY conference landing a few well-paying clients, but could never get past the lottery in VCC or VPS. Recently, I hit the Mother Lode. I “won” two editors in VCC. The first was a wash – the second was the key. The moment I mentioned the name of my memoir client, Don Panoz, agent Roger Williams of the Roger Williams Agency, expressed strong interest. He called me back later in the day and asked for the proposal; two days later, he requested the manuscript. Voila! We had an agent. The next hurdle: finding a publisher who is equally as excited. The Virtual Pitch Slam was a fluke. I didn’t win the lottery, but signed on as a listener. To my surprise, those who were pitching finished early and Wendy Helfenbaum gave me an opportunity to pitch. I was totally unprepared, but proposed several ideas. He has tentatively accepted both for future issues. Without ASJA, Wendy and Jennifer Goforth Gregory, I wouldn’t have met either.
Member name: Lisa Rabasca Roepe, Arlington, VA
Success Story: Assignments from Next Avenue and Sage Publications.
How I landed the gig(s): I had requested speeding pitching Richard Eisenberg of Next Avenue during Client Connections, but I didn't get that opportunity in the random drawing. After he retweeted one of my tweets during the conference, I sent him an email introducing myself and expressing an interest in writing for Next Avenue. He invited me to send him some pitches via email, and he bought three. I pitched Kenneth Fireman of Sage Publications through Virtual Client Connections and got a $2,000 assignment.
Net result(s): $3,050
Comment (about ASJA and value of your membership): In addition participating in Client Connections both at the conference and virtual, I also participated in a SIG this year. I have met many incredible and helpful colleagues through ASJA and some of them have even referred me to well-paying clients. The value of ASJA is priceless.
Member name: Wendy Helfenbaum, Montreal, Quebec
Success Story: Breaking into a custom publication
How I landed the gig: I met a West Coast ASJA member at ASJA’s regional conference in Chicago in 2014. We chatted about our respective niches, and I got in touch with her via email afterwards when I saw her byline in Ford’s custom magazine. She generously connected me with her editor, who immediately assigned work based on this member’s recommendation.
Net results: Three assignments at $1.50 per word so far, and hopefully more to come.
Comment: “Through ASJA I’ve discovered that in addition to attending conferences and participating in networking programs, you can land work by getting to know other members. Not only will you make friends, but you’ll quickly learn that peer networking is very valuable. One conversation with this member turned out to be quite profitable! Finding work through other professional writers is a great way to leverage my ASJA membership."
Member name: Karen Kroll, Chanhassen, MN
Success Stories: Breaking into two trade magazines: ABA Journal (publication of the American Bar Association) and Inbound Logistics
How I landed the gigs: Client Connections, Chicago 2014 & NYC 2015
Net results: Five figures’ worth of ongoing assignments
Comment: "I never would have found these trade publications on my own, or even thought to look for them. The editors are wonderful to work with, and the stories are interesting--more so than you might think."
Member name: Sandra Beckwith, Fairport, NY
Success Story: Thanks to ASJA, I've written two cover stories for trade magazine Inbound Logistics in the past year and am writing for the magazine on an ongoing basis. The first assignment was especially challenging because I wasn't familiar with the industry, but each article has gotten a little easier as I've learned more. The topics I'm assigned are interesting, too.
How I landed the gig: I met with the editors during Client Connections at the 2015 NYC conference
Net results: A new source of steady income.
Comment: “I got my first assignment in October 2015, the same month that my anchor client of the past eight years or so went out of business. The timing couldn't have been better. I am very grateful to ASJA for helping me connect with a source of interesting, ongoing work."
Member name: Debbie Abrams Kaplan, Westfield, NJ
Success Stories: Long-form research story for Sage Business Researcher; assignment from content marketing agency Kingfish Media
How I landed the gigs: Client Connections at ASJA's Washington conference, 2015; Virtual Client Connections 2016
Net results: $6,000 assignment from SAGE; $1,300 assignment from Kingfish Media
Comment: “I'd never heard of Sage before, but several ASJAers were already writing for them. A Client Connections meeting with an editor there resulted in my 15,000-word healthcare piece published in March 2016. I heard Kingfish Media’s Cam Brown speak at the ASJA 2015 conference, on the content marketing panel, and then got a VCC meeting with him in April 2016. He said they match up writers with the right client and to stay in touch. I didn't do a good job staying in touch, but he contacted me out of the blue six months later with an assignment to write two articles for one of their clients. The pay was good and it was a positive experience. I hope to work with them again.”
Member name: Randi Minetor, Rochester, NY
Success story: Eight books and counting for Callisto Media
How I landed the gig: ASJA Freelance Writers Search
Net result: $31,000 to date
Comment: I answered an ad looking for an author with a background in writing about Alzheimer’s disease. I have significant personal experience with this, so I gave it a shot. Three weeks later, I had a contract to ghostwrite a 35,000-word book in three weeks. The experience was great for all of us, and the editor came back to me to write two other books, also on a short time frame. Since then, I have received two or three assignments every year on a wide range of topics. Thanks to these short-deadline books, I have landed a great deal of business from other clients in the medical fields. The experience with Callisto has allowed me to give up a number of less lucrative clients and replace them with much more fulfilling and enjoyable work.
Member name: Kelly K. James
Success Stories: Found a new client; started freelancing for Meredith Xcelerated Marketing (MXM)
How I landed the gigs: Freelance Writer Search; Client Connections NYC 2014
Net results: A $1,498 assignment; 10 assignments averaging $450 each so far
Comments: “I never would have known about the first project had it not been for FWS; the piece was simple to write and client paid me via PayPal the day after I turned it in. Win/win! I met with Dan Davenport of MXM, and he mentioned that my background seemed perfect for one of the custom publications MXM produces. Since then, I’ve received at least 10 assignments from several editors at MXM. Meeting Dan in person got my foot in the door."
Member name: Victoria Finkle, Washington, DC
Success Story: Finding a steady client through conference networking
How I landed the gig: ASJA’s DC Conference, August 2015
Net result: Three assignments, each worth several thousand dollars. In discussions to start a third
Comment: "I connected with the editor at Sage Business Researcher (who has since left the publication) after a panel session at ASJA's DC conference, while I was still feeling out the idea of going full-time freelance. We stayed in touch over the fall and I locked down my first assignment with Sage before I left my job. That was a great confidence boost, and Sage has since become a regular client for me."
Member Name: Debbie Koenig, Brooklyn, NY
Success Story: Multiple assignments from Eating Well magazine
How I Landed the Gig: Client Connections (then called Personal Pitch), 2014 ASJA conference in New York
Net Result: 10 assignments in 2 years, yielding thousands of dollars
Comment: I sold a pitch at Client Connections in 2014, and have since received multiple assignments from three different editors at Eating Well. The best part, speaking as someone who doesn’t enjoy pitching: All those subsequent story ideas have come from my editors. I haven’t had to pitch them.
Member name: Estelle Erasmus, Fort Lee, NJ
Success Story: Breaking into Next Avenue/PBS
How I landed the gig: Met the editor at the 2016 May ASJA Conference
Net result: One 1000 word assignment (combination of service/personal essay; no interviews) for $350.
Comment: “I met the editor at one of the panels at ASJA's 2016 NYC Conference during nonmembers day (although I am a member). It was a publication that I'd wanted to break into for a while, so I was thrilled when the editor liked the idea I pitched, "My Career Reinvention After Becoming a Mother in Midlife." I have other ideas that I'll be pitching as well.
Member name: Joanne Cleaver, Manistee, MI
Success Story: New client: SAGE Business Researcher
How I landed the gig: I met with then-editor Mary Anne Taggerty at the Washington DC regional conference. I thought it was meh but she followed up immediately, saying she loved our ‘connection’ and that my thirty-plus years of business reporting was just what she was looking for. She assigned, and I completed, my first assignment, a 10,000 word report on the topic of meetings (oh, come on, I made it interesting!) for $6,000. She subsequently left and I’m now working with the new editor on a report about why women aren’t breaking through in big numbers to the top echelon of corporate leadership. Same length, same money.
Net result: $12,000 in assigned & completed business. I expect to do two of these reports annually.
Comment: I had never heard of this publication until the Client Connections meeting at the DC conference in August 2015. They’re a great fit, and this is exactly why Client Connections is such an invaluable service for all ASJA members.
Member name: Catherine Dold, Boulder, CO
Success Story: I got my very first book contract as a direct result of my ASJA membership.
How I landed the gig: A few years ago ASJA member Howard Eisenberg posted on the Forum that he needed a co-author to update a book that he and his wife Arlene had written with a doctor back in the early 1990s. The subject was addiction and recovery. I knew nothing about addiction, and I'd never written a book, but I knew of Howard and Arlene's great reputations. (Remember "What to Expect When You're Expecting?" That was Arlene.) I got in touch with Howard, and he and Al J. Mooney, MD, and I started talking about a collaboration. Once we got the green light from our publisher, Workman Publishing, we spent an entire year writing the second edition of The Recovery Book: Answers to All Your Questions About Addiction and Alcoholism and Finding Health and Happiness in Sobriety. It was a wonderful project with two of the best co-authors on the planet. I also developed our website and handled all of our social media outreach. www.TheRecoveryBook.com
Net results: Full co-author credit on the cover, one-third of royalties, and an advance large enough that I could focus entirely on the book for one year. Also, my very first radio interview - a half-hour on WGN Radio in Chicago. In 2015, we won the Outstanding Book Award from ASJA.
Comment: None of it would have happened if not for ASJA.
Member name: Chelsea Lowe, (Boston, MA)
Success Stories: I've received incredible generosity from ASJA members and the writing community in general.
Net result: About $59,000 over the years.
Comment: Alisa Bowman sent her agent a letter introducing me, simply for the asking. Brette Sember posted about a work-for-hire situation that became my first book deal. Blane Bachelor introduced me to my favorite long-term client, at a time when it couldn't have been more helpful. Former member Erik Sherman taught me how to read contracts, and has been my go-to for so many questions. Former member Anita Bartholomew taught me how to stand up for myself during contract negotiations. ASJA members have hired me to edit their books or other projects: Susan Weiner, Candy Harrington, Sally W. Grotta. Several members have become IRL friends. Michele Hollow provides consistent feedback and support on creative projects. Beth Levine has advised me about writing for musical theater. ("Don't!" I'm kidding.) Not career related, Sally Abrahms got me a Newsweek byline! Caitlin Kelly found my go-to furniture mover. David Holzman advised me on new-car buying (or, in this case, not buying).
Member name: Jennifer Goforth Gregory, Wake Forest, NC
Success Stories: Found an anchor client through volunteering; met a new client
How I landed the gigs: Attended the 2014 Chicago ConCon Conference; met new client at NYC conference 2015 cocktail party
Net results: First gig: $30K as of Sept 2016; second gig: $1,200 assignment
Comment: While volunteering at ASJA’s Chicago ConCon conference, I met many fellow members and got to know them much better because we were working together. After the conference, one member asked me to work for her on a project, which has turned into a wonderful anchor client. I would never have gotten to know the member on this level without my volunteer efforts. Then, I met editor Lori Greene during the cocktail hour at the NYC Conference. I was bummed that I hadn’t gotten to meet her during Client Connections, so I quickly introduced myself to her and exchanged cards. I followed up a few times, but didn’t hear anything back. Then in July 2016 (14 months later), she emailed me to offer three articles for Masthead Media. Often, contacts don’t turn into clients right away, and even if you don’t get CC appointments it’s still possible to land a new client.
Member name: Jennifer Fink, Mayville, WI
Success Story: Found a new client
How I landed the gig: Client Connections at ASJA’s New York conference 2015
Net result: $7800 as of Sept. 2016
Comment: I’d never heard of the magazine District Administration, a trade publication aimed at school administrators, but I’ve been covering education ever since I met a Scholastic editor at my first ASJA conference, in 2009. So I requested – and got – a meeting with the DA editor during ASJA 2015. That meeting has since led to 6 feature assignments, 2 news shorts AND an feature assignment with their sister pub, University Business (another pub I’d never heard of). The best part? They come to me with ideas, and they’ve turned into a pretty consistent source of work.
Member name: Jodi Helmer, Charlotte, NC
Success Stories: Client Connections, Virtual Client Connections and Freelance Writer Search assignments
How I landed the gigs: Attending multiple CC events; VCC, January 2016; a FWS ad from 2012
Net results: At least $100,000 in assignments. I found an anchor client, Allan Richter of Energy Times, through CC in 2010 (back when it was still called Personal Pitch). Over the years, Allan has assigned $5,000+ in work annually and continues to be one of my favorite editors to work with. I also met the agent for my first two books, Marilyn Allen, through CC, securing $25,000 in advances. More recently, I've sold three stories to Costco Connection Canada ($1,950) thanks to a VCC connection. I also wrote several features ($1,000 to $1,500 each) for a mental health mag that posted a lead on FWS. These are either markets I wouldn't have known about or connections I wouldn't have made without ASJA. The investment in membership has paid off in spades!
Member name: Emily Paulsen, Kensington, MD
Success story: Re-write of an association website
How I landed the gig: Client Connections at ASJA’s Chicago Conference, November 2014
Net result: $5000 assignment
Comment: At the Chicago conference, I met with an association for healthcare professionals. It was not an organization I had thought about working for before, but I thought there might be a connecting point or two. We talked about my experience covering health and nutrition topics and how I had covered research topics for other organizations. They liked that I could write for professionals as well as consumers, and said they had several projects coming up that I might be suited for. I followed up after the conference, and they said they'd be in touch. More than a year later, they contacted me to re-write a section of the association's website. An appointment I set up "on a whim" in 2014 turned into a lucrative assignment in 2016! Patience and persistence pay off!
Member name: Teresa Meek, Seattle area
Success stories: Two new recurring content marketing clients since January.
How I landed the gigs: NewsCred came through January’s Virtual Client Connections, created by innovative and energetic ASJA member Jennifer Gregory, and the second one - a recurring content marketing gig - was posted on the ‘Jobs, Jobs, Jobs’ section of the ASJA members’ forum, also by Jennifer.
Net results: For the first gig: 1 or 2 stories a month, each paying $700; For the second gig: ongoing stories for $300-$500, depending on length and interviews.
Comment: One easy 10-minute Skype interview through VCC landed me this client, whom I never would have found otherwise. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs listings are reposted from places like Media Bistro and Journalism Jobs, but if you don’t have time to keep up with sites like this, they’re a handy way to spot potential opportunities.
Member name: Jane Langille, Toronto, Ontario
Success stories: New assignment with The Costco Connection Canada; new content marketing client.
How I landed the gigs: Costco: Virtual Client Connections, January 2016; new content marketing client: VCC, April 2016.
Net results: Gig #1: one assignment for $650 and two adaptations of US stories for $500; gig #2: A white paper for a healthcare research organization through a content marketing agency, $4,000, a spin-off gig to write three advertorials based on the white paper, for another $1,950.
Comment: I recommended that Costco editors participate in VCC and had not written for the Canadian editor for a while. I served as a volunteer host and also scored a meeting in the lottery. Speaking live was an excellent opportunity to get reacquainted and land a new assignment. Even better: I know at least two other members who got assignments. And I’m very grateful another ASJA member recommended that the agency CEO should participate in April’s VCC.