Making Time for Valuable Last-Minute Work
Magazines are fluid entities. Their page counts vary from month to month in keeping with the amount of advertising that gets sold. Editors usually have a good idea, based on previous years' ad sales, of how many editorial pages will be needed for any given issue. But from time to time, an issue will shrink or grow at the last minute — and the editor will have to rush to cut or add additional articles to the editorial mix.
Do editors keep stories in reserve to fill in last-minute holes?
Many editors do, and most call such stories “evergreens.” The name refers to the fact that the stories never go stale because they have no timeliness hook, like evergreen trees that keep their good looks throughout the seasons. This makes them ideal for filling last-minute editorial holes.
This is the time when you may get a frantic phone call from an editor with whom you have worked before — and you want to be ready to respond, to keep your go-to writer status. Knowing what work is already on your plate, and what you have coming up, will be key to deciding on a moment's notice how you can best squeeze in another assignment.
Answering the Call
Ideally, you will be able to respond to your editor's last-minute request during that initial conversation, after a quick glance at your calendar and your to-do list.
However, if you're already up to your eyeballs in assignments, you may need a few hours to try to shuffle some other deadlines around. There's no harm in this as long as you are honest with your other editors.
Shuffling Things Around
Simply call the one who is most likely to negotiate a new deadline with you, tell her that there's a last-minute writing opportunity you'd like to take, and ask whether you can please move back your deadline on her story by a day or two. Most of the time, you'll be able to keep all the work you have and squeeze in the new story assignment — again keeping all your clients happy.