Writing – My Editor Is a Human Being? Plus Advice From Dad

Today, I have my first editing phone call with one of my markets about a pitch I threw them.

It’s worth talking about what being a comedy writer on the Internet is actually LIKE to understand how unusual this is. I’ve got five editors (well, four, right now; one of them I haven’t heard from in weeks), plus one or two non-paying markets I’ll throw the occasional piece at just to keep my game up and do different writing, OverthinkingIt.com being the key one. As a general rule, a pitch starts at either Cracked or Spike, which aim at the same segment but cater to it in different ways. A lot of what I’ll pitch to Spike is completely different from what I’ll pitch to Cracked, because honestly, rarely do the twain ever meet. If it doesn’t work for the one I pitch it to, I’ll see if I can retool it for the other in some way. If not, I’ll generally take it to one of my other markets, having rewritten it again. It’s not unusual for me to pitch something to a market that winds up getting rewritten three or four times.

There are other differences, just because of who owns what. Cracked is owned by Demand Media, which is basically a small Web 2.0 company, and Spike is owned by Viacom, which is a massive conglomerate, and represents a basic cable network. So there are different drawbacks and opportunities.

However, the key similarity is that it’s all digital. I never see a face or hear a voice from the pitch right through to filing the story. Each market has their own way of handling things: Cracked, for example, uses a private forum and lets writers workshop their material on that forum. But as far as I’m concerned, Jason Pargin is Prince in black underpants; I’ve interacted with the guy extensively but I don’t even know what he looks like in person.

Hence, the request for a phone call is somewhat surprising. Welcome, certainly: the editor in question is a profoundly nice guy. But surprising, nonetheless.

Another advantage of being a working writer is my dad and I aren’t just father and son, but now fellow professionals in the same field. Which means he can offer sage, profound advice, like “You’re not Fellini. Take the money.”

Seriously, that’s what he told me to do. One of many reasons I love my dad.

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