Aliya S. King has 18 years in the business. A freelance writer who has penned several stories. Vibe Vixen, Giant, Essence, Upscale, Black Enterprise is just a few names she has worked with. She worked in several editorial positions, the latest being Entertainment Editor at Ebony magazine. She’s also an author. Fans still rave about her debut novel, “Platinum” that came out in 2010. She also wrote, “Keep the Faith” a memoir on Faith Evans. Which became a New York Times Bestseller. And the list goes on. Nowadays, she has returned to her first love as a freelance writer. Telling stories in the digital world as well as print. And she recently started a class to empower other writers with lessons she learned over the years.
With that said, there were no doubt I needed her class. I haven’t been successful as a freelance writer and I could not put my finger on why. I’d pitch ideas to publications that were in line with what they said they wanted, with no response. And as Aliya says, “even a no, is a win.”
Aliya’s class was the best of both worlds. She gave insight on what editors expect. And what it is like to be a freelance writer full-time. She taught me several things I needed to add to my process. Trust me when I say before you write your first draft of your pitch there will be lots of work. And without effort, Aliya breaks down the intense list of things one must do.
But it was one lesson that stood out the most to me. Something so simple yet profound. And I wondered why I never approached my pitches like this before. A pitch is not just a story idea. You also have to convince the editor why you should be the one to write the story. In those few paragraphs, you’re communicating several things. You’re telling the person how much you know about the topic. If you’re passionate about it. Or if this is just a piece that you are doing because it’s on their editorial calendar. Even how committed you’re, based on the information given and how it’s presented. “Editors can tell the difference,” Aliya said.
Then the light bulb went off.
I am so used to pitching what I think editors want, I forgot to go after the hidden stories. The stories you have to do a little investigating to get. The untold. Those are the stories to pitch. And after you dig them up, you’ll find that you’re qualified to tell them.
Hungry and not so hungry writers bombard editors all the time. After taking this class, I understood just how much I have to do to stand out from the masses. It takes a little more than an extraordinary idea. You have to do your homework. Even if you think you know everything there’s to know about the topic, i.e. first person stories.
I took the class on August 6th, 2016 in New York. And believe it or not, I am still soaking it all in. It’s amazing how much I learned in such a small amount of time. But Aliya is a natural teacher. And she was generous in giving gems that are not found in a textbook or a google search. The other great part of this class was the classroom experience. It’s been a while since I’ve taken a class that was not attached to my Wi-Fi. Believe me, it’s nice to have human contact.
I would suggest anyone who wants to become a freelance writer, to take Aliya’s class. It’s a great investment. Her next sit-in class is August 27th, 2016 in Washington DC. But if you can’t make that, it looks like she is planning a webinar on September 8th, 2016. For more information on Aliya S. King and her classes log on to www.WRITEWITHALIYA.com.