Interviewing Skills, New Published Work, and “I am freaking poet”
Posted on October 2, 2012
Today, as a freelance writer, I had a busy day. I interviewed a state senator, Alan Lowenthal, and candidate for Congress. My profile will be appearing in the Long Beach Post. We had a great conversation at the Daily Grind Coffee Shop off Los Coyotes, and I talked with him and got to know him as the grinders and espresso machines babbled. I’m looking forward to interviewing Gary DeLong as well. I’m really excited to talk with him.
Here’s one thing I’ve learned so far as a freelance writer, when in comes to setting up interviews. (Oh yeah, right now I’m listening to the Ramones.) You have to be really persistent, but you also need to come across casual and understanding that the person you’re trying to meet is very busy. So, in order to get these interviews, I had to stay on it. You have to plan in advance. And you can’t, ever, give up. There are many tactics to take.
For example, I was having a really difficult time getting an interview, even a comment, from a government organization. So I talked with someone, and this person said, email them and say that you’ve tried several times, and you would love to have their perspective, but you will run the story without them. Well, I did what the person suggested, and I got a response in a few minutes.
But in the beginning, be friendly, casual, understanding and persistent. And don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions. I think, at first, my biggest mistake was asking too many tough questions in a strong voice. So, it’s a balance. You don’t want people to stop talking to you. If you’re a freelance writer, or you’re even thinking about it, you should start at this site: freelance writer.
Another thing that happened today was I wrote a new piece at the OC Weekly about video game soundtracks: Top 5 Nintendo Soundtracks. That was fun to write. I’m learning to spot trends in results and write pieces accordingly. I have started to see results. Oh, I read a great article this week on Twitter and how to increase your twitter following.
Also, another funny thing happened today. I was trying to set up an interview with a doctor for a piece, and she was pretty political.
“Don’t worry,” I said. “I’m bipartisan.”
“That’s what everyone in the media says,” the woman said.
“I’m not the media,” I said. “I’m just a poet, trying to make money.”
That was a funny exchange. I guess I don’t really see myself as a journalist yet, but I need to start seeing the world as a journalist would, because the world, our environments, is our commodity. Stories are everywhere; I just need to pull them out of the air and make them work. Narratives are all around us.
So, this week, be on the look out for another piece at the LA Weekly. It’s on Joseph Mattson — a great L.A. writer and his book Empty the Sun. It will be in the print issue Thursday, and it will be kicking off something great at the weekly. I’m excited. I hope you’re excited. Goodnight everyone.