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I’m a firm believer in the old saying “honesty is the best policy” in all aspects of my life, especially my writing life. Being honest quickly helps build rapport, respect, and stronger relationships with editors.

This is crucial if you want them to trust you as a go-to writer and get all the perks that go along with that. Extra bylines, extra pay checks, and referrals to other editors make these relationships something every writer covets.

But it has another major perk. It can also land you higher-paying bylines within a niche. This recently happened to me as I was completely honest laying all my cards on the table with a new editor. It happened during our first correspondence.

bel woodhouse
Bel Woodhouse

Here’s what happened.

Pitching a beekeeping magazine, I was honest and told the editor that a four-page feature was recently published by another major beekeeping magazine a few months earlier. Their biggest competitor within this small niche.

He appreciated my honesty so much, he commissioned a two-part article on the topic pitched. So, one article went to two. But that’s not all. He wanted photos and after further discussion a video as well. If that isn’t enough, I stand a good chance of landing the cover photo as well. 

Just by being honest, it led to the trifecta of published articles, photos, and great exposure for my budding YouTube channel by showcasing and promoting my video to his entire readership. That’s a lot of perks just because I opened my mouth and was honest about writing for his biggest competitor. Plus, double the payday. Not bad right. 

As it turned out, he’d worked for the other magazine for 30 years so would have found out anyway. Being honest set a strong foundation for our working relationship from the start and the perks rained down like gold.

Here’s another example. Recently I was contacted by an editor who asked if I could write a specific article with a tight deadline. I said I could even though the people for this profile were in another country. It would be difficult but I’d get it done.

When I delivered, she asked for two more. Then two more. So, by being honest and telling her that yes, I could but it would be difficult “so bear with me” if I needed an additional day, she knew what the stakes were.

Remember, editors are people too. We all know what it feels like to have a deadline and theirs are set in stone. If you tell a little fib and promise to get something done and don’t deliver, you’re off the list. Don’t expect to get a primo assignment from them ever again. But when you are honest and let them know what the stakes are, they can plan accordingly and your one article could turn into more. In my case, one turned into four with a fifth being discussed. Five times the pay day.

See what I mean about perks raining down like gold?

This is why I wanted to share with you the importance of not being afraid to open up and lay it all on the table when dealing with an editor. They need to know. They need to plan their editorial timeframes accordingly.

Being honest can lead to great things. Especially when you are starting out.

It lays a strong foundation for your working relationship going forward. The editor will appreciate it and know from the get-go that if you say you can do something you will. Or, the opposite, they know that if you say you can’t do something or need more time, you’re not being lazy or procrastinating.

Honesty is the best policy and the best way to start your career out right.