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, and NPR, among others. She helps members find the resources they need to succeed as freelancers and welcomes your suggestions.

Recording, transcribing just keep getting easier with new apps

Photo: andreahelenajacobsen via Flickr

Photo: andreahelenajacobsen via Flickr

Until several years ago, I typed up my interviews as they were happening. The process gave me a headache and made my fingers ache, but I didn’t want to add extra hours of work transcribing a recorded interview.

Now that one of my editors has agreed to reimburse me for some professional transcribing and inexpensive voice recognition programs are improving every year, I no longer need to multitask during interviews. I can focus on the conversation and not worry that my fingers are in the wrong position on the keyboard and the last few paragraphs I typed are gibberish. Continue reading

Freelance market guides updated

Freelancers make up roughly a third of AHCJ’s membership, a percentage that has remained stable as the organization’s overall membership has increased by about 45 percent over the past decade. We are an important force in the organization, and AHCJ’s Freelance Center is dedicated to helping freelancers succeed in their work. The market guides, which can be found on the Freelance Center, are a part of that effort.

In June and early July, updated guides for Medscape and Costco Connection and new guides for The Atavist Magazine and New Scientist were added to the AHCJ website. Continue reading

Two key market guides for freelancers updated

The BMJ / Scientific AmericanFreelancers need to understand what editors want in a pitch to successfully sell story ideas. For example, some editors say they are too busy to read more than a paragraph or two while others want a detailed description of the story, a list of sources, and an explanation of why the freelancer is the best person for the assignment. In addition, freelancers need to know what a publication pays to determine if writing for it is worth the effort.

But it’s not always easy to find information about pitch requirements and fees; not all publications post freelance guidelines on their websites.

AHCJ’s market guides — there are 18 of them on the website — try to fill that gap. I am reaching out to editors so I can update the guides and add new ones. I am also adding dates to each guide so that members know how up-to-date the information is. Recently revised guides for The BMJ and Scientific American are now up on the AHCJ website. Continue reading

Professional-looking website a key calling card when building your freelance business

Vanessa Ahern

Vanessa Ahern

Freelancers need to make a solid first impression with editors and with sources. Your website can be an important part of the process. I find that after I’ve made a story pitch or requested an interview, traffic to my website increases — editors and potential sources seem to like to scope it out.

But designing a website often can be overwhelming. This is because there are so many decisions to make. For example, should you use a DYI platform and design it yourself with a template or spend the extra money and hire a professional? What information should be on the home page and in your bio? What font and colors should you use? What is the best way to organize your clips? Continue reading

Grow your freelance business with resources from AHCJ 

Closeup of person taking notes

Photo: Security & Defence Agenda via Flickr

Freelancers are always looking for resources to help find sources for stories, identify editors, improve pitches, connect with colleagues and run our small businesses. AHCJ is a rich source of material.

Moderated email discussion list: Join this community for support, encouragement and practical information from your fellow AHCJ members. It’s a great place to ask about possible sources to interview or for suggestions about outlets to pitch a particular story idea. (Click on “Networking” at the top of the AHCJ home page or

Market Guides: This is where freelancers can find out what assigning editors at specific outlets want from writers. We ask editors to share information about fees, length of stories, where and how to pitch and common mistakes freelancers make when pitching story ideas. Currently, there are eighteen guides, including Scientific American and the BMJ. The guides are being updated and their number expanded. (Click on the “Freelancers” tab on the AHCJ homepage or Continue reading