Author Archives: Barbara Mantel

About Barbara Mantel

Barbara Mantel (@BJMantel), an independent journalist, is AHCJ’s freelance community correspondent. Her work has appeared in CQ Researcher, Rural Health Quarterly, Undark, Healthline, NBCNews.com and NPR, among others. She helps members find the resources they need to succeed as freelancers and welcomes your suggestions.

New year, new Freelance Center content

Photo by Isaac Smith via Unsplash.

The new year is off to a swift start at the Freelance Center. I have added four new market guides and a tip sheet. As always, I encourage freelance members to email me with suggestions for Freelance Center content. The latest market guides are for the following publications:

Leaps

Medical innovation is the heart of Leaps’ coverage. The nonprofit’s articles range in length from 750 to 1,500 words, and the fee is $1 per word, slightly more for experienced, award-winning writers. “A new drug for some disease wouldn’t be a big enough deal for us to cover, but if it represented a whole new approach, or revealed a way to treat something that was previously untreatable or had something really notable like that, then we would probably be interested in it,” Editor-in-Chief Kira Peikoff said. Articles should have a relatable human element, such as a patient’s or researcher’s story.

MedPage Today

This digital news outlet negotiates fees based on the nature of the article and the experience of the writer. Articles range in length from 800 to 1,000 words. The target audience is physicians and other health professionals such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants. “We are looking for articles that impact the daily practice of medicine,” said Joyce Frieden, MedPage Today Washington editor and AHCJ board member.

Science

This publisher of science research and news pays a minimum of $0.75 a word for online stories, going up to $1 a word or more for its regular writers. Fees for print stories start at $1.25 per word. Writers are paid for the length of the final product. As a writer whose work is usually lengthened and not shortened during the editing process, I am in favor of that policy. Others may disagree. “We’re looking for outside-the-ordinary stories that are not being covered by everyone,” Managing News Editor JohnTravis said. Narrative features are becoming more common in Science, but the stories are told less from a patient perspective and more from a scientist’s perspective.

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Pitching guides for freelancers

Photo by Hillary via Flickr.

AHCJ’s Freelance Center market guides are all up to date. New ones have been added monthly. Each guide includes information about fees, editor contacts, pitching advice, quotes from at least one of the publication’s editors, and, where available, a link to the publication’s written pitching guidelines.

Since my last blog post about the latest freelance market guides, I have added four new and revised market guides (The Philadelphia Inquirer, Brain & Life, Spectrum and Wired).

The Philadelphia Inquirer

The Philadelphia Inquirer is looking for pitches for the health section of its Sunday print edition. “Anything in health is fair game,” said Kelly O’Shea, deputy health editor. Local focus around Philadelphia and South Jersey is necessary; a photo opportunity is always a plus. The editors place a premium on featuring a patient in the story. Another approach is to pitch a profile about a prominent researcher in the geographic area. The fee averages about $300 for a 1,100-word story.

Brain & Life

Brain & Life is published on behalf of the American Academy of Neurology. The publication pays experienced writers $1 per word for print and digital articles, which range in length from 800 to 2,500 words. Readers are people with neurologic disorders and family members. The print magazine can be found at neurologists’ offices and you can subscribe to it for free. Neurologic disorders that are covered include “everything from autism and Alzheimer’s to Zika,” Managing Editor Mary Bolster said. Most story ideas are generated internally, so freelancers don’t need to pitch a specific idea. Rather, they should introduce themselves through email. 

Spectrum

Fees at Spectrum, the leading source of news, analysis and expert opinion on autism research, start at $1 per word. The audience for this digital magazine is primarily autism researchers. Nevertheless, “our articles need to be written in language that is accessible to lots of people because a lot of other people do read our content,” including families and clinicians, Features Editor Ingrid Wickelgren said. “We are looking for scoops, trends stories, explainers and feature articles that will interest our core audience of autism researchers.”

Wired

Freelancers can pitch ideas for features, which average around 5000 words and run on the website and sometimes in the monthly print magazine, or ideas for the digital science section. Science section stories range in length from 800 to 1200 words. Fees are competitive and are negotiated with each writer. Feature stories are narratives; science section stories are based on recent, but not breaking news. Every Wired story “has technology, science, or innovation as one of its key variables,” according to Wired’s pitching guidelines.

If you would like pitching instructions from a particular publication or you have a contact for a publication that you think I should approach, please email me at freelance@healthjournalism.org.

Expand your freelance business by writing for niche publications

The panelists and moderator of AHCJ’s Dec. 8 webcast.

I have been lucky as a freelancer to have a regular gig as a contributing writer for CQ Researcher, an online magazine that examines a single topic in depth each week. It serves as the backbone for my freelance business. As editors at other publications come and go and their freelance budgets shrink, CQ Researcher has been a reliable and steady source of assignments.

But the stories can take months to report, write and edit, and frankly, I am a bit burned out. As a result, I have been reducing the number of CQ Researcher articles that I write each year and looking to expand the number of other media outlets I freelance for. 

I was in this frame of mind when independent journalist Jen A. Miller approached me about providing AHCJ’s freelance members information about writing for niche publications. Miller has written “Notes from a Hired Pen: Where to Find New Freelance Writing Clients and Turbocharge Your Career,” an e-book that is full of tips for finding, pitching and writing for specialized publications beyond the traditional consumer outlets freelancers often think of pitching. 

There is a whole world of potential clients for freelancers to tap beyond newspapers, general interest science and health magazines, women’s magazines and other traditional consumer publications. Trade groups publish magazines for members, companies for customers and universities for alums. Media conglomerates may have a stable of specialized publications targeting various professional groups. Many are looking for talented freelance writers to fill out the pages, whether digital or print.

That’s why on Wednesday, Dec. 8 at 3:00 p.m. EST, I will be moderating a panel discussion for an AHCJ webinar called “Beyond newsstands: how to expand your freelance business through niche publications.”

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Kick chaos to the curb: Useful freelance tools for improving workflow and time management

Photo by Sebastian Rieger via Flickr.

I’m old-fashioned and often reluctant to download apps to organize my work. I mainly use spreadsheets, mailboxes and desktop folders. While this method works, it’s not efficient. For example, I have story ideas scattered in several places, and occasionally, I’ll open a document or an email where I typically store them and realize that my great story idea is now stale.

Now, I have begun to cautiously try some apps to help improve both my workflow and time management.

Clockify

I usually get paid by the word or the project, but often what I care about most is how that translates into hourly payment. Am I spending too much time on an assignment that I’m working for 99 cents an hour? Clockify is a time management tool that allows me to enter a project and click on and off a timer as I work. If I were ambitious, I could also create reports and send invoices. The company offers paid plans with more functions, but I use the free version.

Toggl Track

Toggl Track, another time-tracking app (available in both free and paid versions), is a popular choice among some AHCJ members. 

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With new market guides, freelance center is up to date

Photo by Coffee Channel via Flickr

Most of the guides in the Freelance Center are now current. I hope to update the remaining two by the end of the month and will continue reaching out to editors for new market guides.

Let me know if you would like to see pitching instructions from a particular publication or if you have a contact for a publication that you think I should approach. You can contact me at freelance@healthjournalism.org.

The latest additions included revised guides for Cosmopolitan, Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News and Nature Medicine and a new guide for Prevention. I’d like to thank freelance medical writer and editor Erin Boyle and AHCJ board member Jeanne Erdmann for their help.

Cosmopolitan pays $2 per word for print stories, but the print magazine is published only nine times a year. Not every issue will have a health story, according to Lifestyle Director Ashley Oerman. The fee for digital stories depends on the amount of reporting required and the writer’s experience level. Those story ideas are often generated by Cosmo’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) team. Nevertheless, Oerman said she welcomes freelance pitches for both print and digital, especially around mental health and the health care system. Story ideas should be tailored to the target audience, women ages 18-35.

Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News is a monthly print magazine and website aimed at a specialized audience of health care providers. Managing Editor Adam Marcus said freelancers have the most success pitching him feature stories, which typically range from 900 to 1,200 words. Fees start at 75 cents per word and can go higher depending on the amount of research and the number of interviews. “One thing that many freelancers don’t understand, initially, when writing for us is that we’re not looking for consumer-oriented news or features,” Marcus said. “We’re looking for things that are directed at practicing gastroenterologists.”

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