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How I Got a Great Freelance Gig After a Royal Screw Up

Carol Tice

Frog princeWith a deep breath, I pressed “send” on an email containing months of research and my first article for a trade magazine.

It was done!

But my excitement was short-lived when my editor replied. I’d called her the wrong name. I screwed up before she even looked at my story.

I panicked. Would she blacklist me? Would she even read my pitch now? Did I just cut myself out of a potentially great freelance writing gig?

Turns out, it all worked out okay. One year later, I’m her editorial assistant.

How did I get myself out of this jam and land a great freelance gig? I focused on three E’s.



I immediately replied to the editor with an apology. Thankfully, my gaffe would be forgotten, because my story on virtual assistants was the best I’d written in a while.

She gave me another assignment! In return, every email was professional, my stories were done well and on time. Naturally, I always double-checked to make sure I called her by her correct name. At one point, she said I was a great writer. (I saved that email.)

For Your Checklist
Step one in maintaining a great writer-editor relationship: create high-quality work in a timely fashion. Use the best sources you can find, adjust to the publication’s writing style and complete edits immediately.

Always over-deliver.


I noticed a few things about my editor. She sometimes takes a while to respond. I’d have to send multiple copies of an invoice.

Turns out, she was overwhelmed with work. She revealed her job encompassed far more than editing the magazine. I became a welcome ear.

For Your Checklist
It’s easier to be annoyed with your editor than empathize with her. But try it, even if it’s tough.

If an editor apologizes for a late email, tell her you understand – everyone’s juggling work. Get to know her as a person and not a faceless entity behind an email address.


She was opening up to me, and I was grateful. One day, I emailed her jokingly that I wanted to move to where the magazine was published so I could work for her full time.

Apparently this gave her an idea. In a later email, she asked about helping more with the magazine. I’d get assigned features and assist with other sections.

A few phone calls later, it was done. I was an editorial assistant. The best part? She was so grateful for the help and included me in planning for 2015. My editor valued my input.

I made my excitement known and continue to do so. Generally, I don’t use emoticons and exclamation points in professional email correspondence. I broke that rule when I got this opportunity. I’m always grateful to do the work, even when it’s difficult.

For Your Checklist
Being enthusiastic implies, “I love my work, and I want more.”

Yep. Excitement equals assignments.

Your editors may not react the same way mine did, but trust me, these three E’s will take you a long way in your writing career.

Have you ever screwed up with an editor? Tell us about it in the comments.

Williesha Morris has a strong passion for writing and administrative assistance. You can read the successful query that landed her the trade-magazine assignment mentioned above by subscribing to her blog.