Definitely Not Ready For My Close-Up


There’s a thing women’s magazines have started doing. Where they would formerly have commissioned an article from a writer whose work they like they now go trawling. Let’s say they’ve decided they want to run a feature on Living With a Competitive Sister. They send out a request to every publicist in the land. Do you have anyone who’d be interested in writing this?

The publicists forward the request to, yes, everyone in their address book. I guess it works. Someone must bite for magazines to continue this practice, but it’s an approach that doesn’t appeal to most writers and I’ll tell you why. The job involves a photo shoot with (and I quote) ‘top hair and make-up artists and a fashion stylist’.  They actually want to know your bust size, before you’ve even pitched for the job. So it’s not really a journalism job at all. It’s a photo feature and you will be It.

Pictures are king in journalism today. Editors like loads of colourful photos around which they may ask you to fit a few words. All very well as long as the pics are of other people, or cute kittens. Not so good if you’re a working writer. One of the advantages of the profession is invisibility. Would you recognise Ken Follett if you passed him in the street? I don’t think so.

As for a photo shoot  –  Laurie, pictured here outside the British Library, is wearing a vibrant orange two piece by Fat Old Broads. Hair by Baz at Helmet Head  –   don’t these commissioning editors know anything about writers? Don’t they know our natural plumage is an old cardigan and an elasticated waistband? I’m sure it’s in the contract somewhere.

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