National Freelance Writers spill the beans in Hollywood

“If you have any juicy gossip call me,” said Debra Kaufman, a freelance journalist at an Entertainment Publicists Professional Society and International Cinematographers Guild sponsored media workshop called “Freelance Journalists, the Sure Way of Breaking Print! held at the ICG Local 600 theater. “Don’t think you can call me too soon, because I work four to five months ahead of stories. Early is good. Lots of conversations occur with editors and me while the story is developing.”

Kaufman specializes in writing for lay audiences about complex technology, especially those technologies involved in film and TV production. She is West Coast editor of Film & Video magazine, and is a frequent contributor to The Hollywood Reporter.


Debra Kaufman
“Always put your client in the big picture,” said Kaufman. “Nothing turns me off more than self promotion. If you call me, I will interrupt you with questions, and if I’m interested then I will ask you to send me an e-mail. Relationships are important. Anyone who helps me with my job and does their homework” gets on the radar. Kaufman is at 310-397-5464.


“Be creative in your pitch and tell me why this person is going to be interesting to our readers,” said Dana Meltzer Zepeda, who has been a full-time freelance journalist for the past five years. “I need a minimum of one week and know where to pitch your story before you call.”


Dana Meltzer
She is a contributing writer for TV Guide, covering features, celebrity profiles and news. Zepeda also freelances for USA Today’s Faces & Places column about celebrities’ favorite hotspots in L.A. “It’s tough when people don’t call you back. Don’t send me a lie; because I anticipate the interview, it won’t help.”


Zepeda covers health and fitness for Self and Fitness magazines as well as fashion and beauty for US Weekly and MTV News. E-mail pitches first and a follow-up phone call is preferred at 310-475-0650.


“Try to come up with out-of-the-box ideas and be alert to deadlines,” explained Miller. “Don’t be vague in your intro e-mail pitches, know in advance what you’re talking about, be brief and be ready to refine your angle if the first one doesn’t work.”


Just say ‘no’
“I would rather hear ‘no’ for an answer than to struggle along for three weeks with a publicist,” said Gerri Miller, who is a former editor of Sterling’s magazines including Metal Edge, which she edited for 14 years. She currently works with many print and web outlets. Her beat is mostly entertainment/celebrities, but she also covers health and style/beauty stories.


Gerri Miller
She prefers e-mail, but doesn’t mind a phone call if you keep it brief. Her contact is 323-650-0357.


Libby Slate
“Keep your e-mail pitch within three-fourths of the screen,” said Libby Slate, who is a full-time freelance journalist specializing in entertainment and figure skating. She has also written about travel, social issues and healthful living “Often I will cut and paste information for the publication. Keep your pitch fun, interesting and stick to the facts. I love doing interviews and spin-offs, or stories that comes from a different pitch. If I find it interesting for the readers of the publication, it makes it easier for the editors and writers.”


Slate is a regular contributor to the Television Academy’s Emmy magazine, other publications and website. She also writes for the Orange County Performing Arts Center, has had two columns in the Los Angeles Times, and has written for TV Guide, Hollywood Reporter, Soap Opera Digest, Disney magazine and Skating. To contact her call 323-951-1056.


“Keep your email pitch within three-fourths of the screen,” said Libby Slate, who is a full-time freelance journalist specializing in entertainment and figure skating. She has also written about travel, social issues and healthful living.


“Often I will cut and paste information for the publication. Keep your pitch fun, interesting and stick to the facts. I love doing interviews and spin-offs, or stories
that comes from a different pitch. If I find it interesting for the readers of the publication, it makes it easier for the editors and writers.”


Slate, who has covered Disneyland 13 times, is a regular contributor to the Television Academy’s Emmy magazine, other publications and website. She also writes for the Orange County Performing Arts Center, has had two columns in the Los Angeles Times, and has written for TV Guide, the Hollywood Reporter, DGA Quarterly, Performing Arts, Soap Opera ?Digest, Disney magazine, Hotel Bel-Air and Skating. She is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Independent Writers of Southern California. To contact her call 323-951-1056


Bill Desowitz
“I prefer an e-mail pitch, but it’s good to follow-up with a phone call often and quickly, even if it is a bit of a bothersome,” Bill Desowitz, who is currently editor of VFXWorld, the online publication/portal devoted to visual effects and animation. He relies totally on freelancers, so he was at the workshop as both a writer and editor. “A good e-mail pitch is specifically targeting to my targeted needs. Don’t send vague email pitches. Be brief, but also be open to spinning that in to several possibilities. “In dealing with editors I have to be very creative to come up with ideas that staff writers don’t have time to do.”

Comments

comments