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Mark asks, "I have over sixty-five pieces of music and arts-related journalism. How can I approach getting a job with a newspaper or magazine doing reviews, interviews, etc.? I live in New York City."

Hi Mark,

There are a number of things you can do. It's a very competitive market so you have to approach any and all publications professionally. You do that by writing an excellent cover letter that introduces who you are and why you are right for the publication. Try and develop a specific letter for each publication. Edit it for any and all mistakes. Create a resume that features all your freelance work, publishing credits, etc. Have a sample of clips from your publications.

There are two basic approaches. One is to call the editor and request an interview. The other is to send the cover letter, resume, and clips in the mail and include a self-addressed, stamped postcard so the editor can indicate he has your package. Make sure your contact information is on the resume and cover letter.

There are a variety of places to find where newspapers and magazines are, who the editors are and so on. One of them is the Literary Marketplace that can be found in the reference section of most libraries. The other is Writer's Market that can usually be found in libraries. Use these to research newspapers and magazines in your area to find out which ones have staff reviewers. It may not say but you can be certain that any publication with a circulation over 100,000 will have an entertainment section.

Make a list of these places and begin to contact them when you have your package made up, proofread, etc.

Here are some general points that may help you:

  1. Find out the right editor. At large publications you may have an arts and entertainment editor or a culture editor whereas on small publications one editor or two will take on all the sections. Look in these reference books for that information. And get your cover letter and resume to that editor. You may even call to make sure that editor is still there because turn-over can be considerable.
  2. Most editors are very impressed if you know the publication. Don't treat these publications all the same and have a generic view towards them. Research them a little bit. Get to know them as publications with different slants, different needs, different ways they cover these subjects. A good editor can pick up whether you're familiar with the publication.
  3. Be the solution to their problem. Present yourself as the solution to their problem; in this case, writing reviews and doing cultural interviews. Your clips should do the talking for you.

Start with a plan; do the research first. Don't run around and get desperate about getting a job. Know what you want, present yourself professionally, be persistent, and keep to the plan. It takes up to six months to find something. So, have patience, don't get discouraged, learn from every encounter you have. This site has a lot of good advice on cover letters, resumes, and interviews.

Another excellent resources:

A good employment site:

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