My syndication story

While NUJ freelance photographers have plenty of UK-based agencies to sell their work through, to the best of LFB's knowledge there is now not a single independent syndicator of words active in the UK - which explains why IFA, Amsterdam, has attracted so many British freelances on to their books and why LFB invited the owners, Peter Veenhoven and Ole Pijnacker Hordijk to the July branch meeting.

Although the topic was Selling Your Work Abroad, the Freelance thought it was worth distilling a few of the points they made in the meeting and later in the pub to show members how they might approach and use IFA or any similar syndication agency. They said:

  • They welcome freelance approaches about a particular article or about long-term possibilities. Contacts: peter@ifa-amsterdam.com, www.ifa-amsterdam.com, ole@ifa-amsterdam.com or info@ifa-amsterdam.com, t&cs at www.ifa-amsterdam.com/t-c
  • Working in English is Position A internationally because so many editors around the world read it and translation is readily available.
  • However, IFA may well say that they will not be able to sell your work - not a reflection on the quality of your writing, just on the type of subject matter, material and the markets they operate in.
  • They've found the features that are marketable marketable to the clients they have around the world are mostly interview-based and preferably in Q&A format, often 1500-3000 words long. Their emphasis is on entertainment (movies, music) and celebrities, but the subjects can be can be "stars" in many other fields - architecture, science - as long as they're well known internationally, but interviews are what sells best.
  • If they work with you and you mainly write "narrative" features, before asking a freelance to do the work of rewriting it as Q&A-plus-intro they will want a brief synopsis and if that attracts enough interest they'll request the revamped version. No guarantees until the deal is sealed of course, just the same as with any commission.
  • The syndication market globally has gone through a very bad spell, unsurprisingly, but early this summer a marked improvement put hopeful smiles on IFA faces.
  • Active self-syndication within a writer's specialism is entirely possible if your material is not just of "local" UK interest and you're willing to put in the work to develop overseas markets, e.g. five or ten outlets in your field who may well be interested in buying anything you write.

LFB isn't talking about IFA in any exclusive way at all, it's just that they're out there and we've had only good reports of their dealing decently with freelances. If you know of any other independent syndication agencies anywhere in the world (even in UK) who work effectively for English-language writers please let LFB or freelance office know (including any specialism they have).

Last modified: 08 Aug 2011 - © 2011 contributors
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