Access, whether to someone or to something, is a valuable commodity these days. For sports fans, it might be a sideline pass for the Super Bowl, a box seat on the finish line at the Kentucky Derby or an invitation to step inside the ropes at the Ryder Cup. For writers, access is more personal and often means the opportunity to pitch an article or a book proposal to a well-known editor or literary agent.
Professional members of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) have unparalleled access to scores of editors and agents, either face-to-face at Client Connections every year in New York at the annual conference or through online-only Virtual Client Connections and Virtual Pitch Slams throughout the year. Meaningful access does not always include a chance to pitch, though. Sometimes access means the opportunity to listen and learn.
Consider, for example, ASJA Direct: Inside Intel on Getting Published and Paid Well, a podcast series conceived earlier this year by Estelle Erasmus and available to ASJA members (professional and associate) as a no-cost benefit of their membership.
A past editor-in-chief for several popular consumer magazines and now a successful journalist, author and sought-after writing coach, Estelle has the access that we all wish we had. More important, she’s willing to share. Every three weeks or so, ASJA Direct gives listeners a unique opportunity to eavesdrop on one of Estelle’s interviews with a publishing luminary.
On any given podcast, Estelle’s guest might be an editor or an author, a content marketing consultant or business strategist, a literary agent or a creator working in television or radio. They all come with impeccable credentials—think PBS, The New York Times, AARP the Magazine, Writer’s Digest, the Columbia Journalism Review and Woman’s Day—and with insights valuable for anyone pursuing a freelance career. Although there are no guarantees, there might also be submission opportunities from a magazine editor or tips from an agent to make a proposal stand out from the crowd.
Criteria for being invited to participate in an ASJA Direct interview, Estelle said, revolve around access to individuals in the publishing world who often are “particular about giving interviews” and the value of those exclusive interviews to ASJA members.
“I feel like I understand ASJA and its changing needs,” explained Estelle, a member since 1997 and a New York conference chair a decade later. “ASJA has evolved over the years, in good ways, to match the changing landscape of freelance writing.” With ASJA Direct, Estelle said, she wanted something “new and current, that would add value to being a member of the organization.” ASJA Direct offers a different kind of access to decision-makers at top publications.
An obvious question for Estelle is why add a new project like ASJA Direct to a life already filled with family and work. The answer is simple and a common motivation for everyone who takes on a leadership role in ASJA: giving back to an organization, to its members and to a profession that matters.
“It’s very gratifying for me to talk with these people,” Estelle said, adding that there are many ways to look at a career. And, when members decide to go in a different direction, she “wants to help facilitate those changes.”
Upcoming segments of ASJA Direct will include:
- Jeannie Ralston, journalist, author, editor and co-founder of NextTribe, a web magazine for smart, engaged women 45 plus
- Lisa Bonos, writer and editor of the Washington Post column Solo-ish
- Melissa Dahl, senior editor at The Cut, at New York Magazine, co-founder of Science of Us at New York Magazine, and author of Cringeworthy
- Damon Brown and Jeanette Hurt, co-authors of The Passive Writer: 5 Steps to Earning Money in Your Sleep
Members (professional and associate) can immediately access ASJA Direct on the ASJA website and at www.estelleserasmus.com. After a waiting period, non-members can also purchase episodes through the ASJA Store for $24.99 by clicking on to the desired episode. The waiting period for non-member purchase “gives members a head start,” Estelle explained, “and demonstrates a benefit of joining” ASJA. Listeners can follow Estelle on Facebook (@estelle.sobel.erasmus), Twitter (@EstelleSErasmus.), and Instagram (@EstelleSErasmus).
ASJA President Milt Toby is an attorney and award-winning author. His ninth book, Taking Shergar: Thoroughbred Racing’s Most Famous Cold Case, was released in October.