Samantha Manzella

Samantha Manzella (she/her/hers) is a writer, journalist, and editor. She's a recent graduate of the SUNY New Paltz Journalism program and currently works as an editorial assistant for LogoTV's LGBTQ news and culture site, NewNowNext.com. Her writing has appeared in print or online at Yahoo Lifestyle, The Huffington Post, The Riveter, Hudson Valley Magazine, Chronogram, and more. In her spare time, she runs a blog about tattoo culture and rants about biphobia on Twitter (@slmjournalist).

Sam’s Guide to Gay Media #3: 5 Awesome LGBTQ Writers You Should Follow on Twitter

Besides reading really, really good writing, nothing is quite as beneficial to a budding writer’s evolving skills as following really, really good writers. Below, I’ve compiled a list of five of my favorite LGBTQ writers and editors on Twitter. I’ll link to a few of their best pieces of advice, funniest or most insightful tweets, or most exceptional written/edited pieces.

Follow these lovely folks, some of whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with personally, for queer AF humor, awesome links to pieces they’ve written or edited, and nuggets of writerly wisdom. Enjoy, and happy reading! Let me know who your favorite LGBTQ writer or editor is in the comments below.

Sam’s Guide to Gay Media #2: Creating an Online Portfolio

I’m of the firm belief that every writer or journalist, no matter how experienced or inexperienced they may be, can benefit from an online portfolio. This is your professional homebase, the place where you can confidently refer anybody—curious friends, family who’ve always wanted to read your writing, and of course, potential employers—who wants to get a better sense of your skillsets. Plus, if you’re an artsy queer like myself, it can be super fun to design a portfolio that reflects your style visually and textually.

Here are my key tips for creating a solid digital portfolio.

When it doubt, keep your layout simple. White background. Simple, consistent, easy-to-read fonts and formatting. As few pages and navigation bars as possible. These might seem like minor components of building a killer portfolio, but they’ll help you standout. Sites like WordPress make these configurations super easy (and cheap) to accomplish. (Plus, WordPress has enough built-in functionalities that you can have a little fun with your layout or formatting without compromising the overall design.) You’d be shocked at how many people have lackluster or difficult-to-navigate online portfolios. On the flip side, some of the journalists I most admire have incredibly simple and clean online portfolios. Rachel Schallom, an award-winning journalist and digital strategist for The Wall Street Journal, has an excellent and super-simple digital portfolio (rachelschallom.com.) Jesse Steinbach, an editor at NewNowNext, also has a fantastic online portfolio, broken down into a very logical and easy-to-follow navigation bar (jessesteinbach.com.)

Identify and highlight your best work. Find and showcase the stories that make your voice shine (and your reporting or narrative storytelling prowess obvious.) And use them to your advantage. Cultivate a “Selected Writing” page on your portfolio website, broken down in a logical way (if you write in a variety of beats, break it down by genre. If you’ve written for a variety of publications, big or small, split it up by outlet.) When selecting showcase pieces to include, prioritize stellar quality over prestigious outlets every time. And, this should probably go without saying, but check your published pieces over for typos/inaccuracies.

Don’t be afraid to showcase peripheral skills. Are you an excellent photographer? Include that on your online portfolio, with samples—you’d be surprised how many editors will ask (and potentially pay you more) for original photography you provide! Are you a bomb social media strategist? Damn it, embed some killer Insta posts you’ve written and uploaded professionally. Any skills that are somewhat related to editorial work, even tangentially, can be hugely beneficial to highlight on your portfolio. I do this myself on my own digital portfolio (slmjournalist.com.)

And, at the end of the day, enjoy it! Creating an online portfolio should be fun, and a great way for you to evaluate (and re-evaluate) your professional strengths and weaknesses. Don’t get too wrapped up in perfection. Instead, aim to encapsulate your voice, your style, and your best work. And remember the true beauty of the Internet: you can always edit and revise your portfolio. Nothing is set in stone.

Today’s recommended reading:

  1. In a Terrifying World, Pride Reminds Us of the Strength of Queer Community (Them)
  2. Inside America’s Mass Detention of Queer Asylum Seekers (Them)
  3. I De-transitioned. But Not Because I Wasn’t Trans (The Atlantic)
  4. Super Gonorrhea Could Be the Next Gay Health Epidemic (NewNowNext)
  5. Queer-Owned Clothing Line Responds to Melania Trump’s Insensitive Jacket (NewNowNext)

Sam’s Guide to Gay Media #1: An Introduction

“I want to write professionally, but I don’t know where to start.”

I hear this line, or some variation of it, from friends, family, or followers on my social media almost every day. My hunch is that people think I have a tip they haven’t heard of, or a surefire “secret sauce” that leads to success. Boy, do I wish I did: I’m a 22-year-old recent college graduate with a day job at Logo’s NewNowNext, an LGBTQIA news and pop culture site. I handle daily administrative tasks on an amazing team of other queer writers, and I write for the site regularly, covering style and beauty features, hard news, and transgender issues

I feel incredibly lucky and privileged to do what I do every day, but the truth is, I got where I am with a 60/40 combo of working my ass off, and being in the right place at the right time. These results aren’t able to be replicated, at least, not easily. And I’d be remiss to not acknowledge the privilege I have as a white, cis, able-bodied, straight-passing person in a cutthroat industry like media.

What I can offer you, however, is some anecdotal advice. I want to help others learn how to write for LGBTQIA media, especially QTPOC, disabled and differently abled folks, and other marginalized people whose voices aren’t being heard. If you want to write professionally, I can help you build a brand identity as a writer by sharing how I did. I can help you hone your pitching skills by sharing techniques that have worked for me and people whose work I admire. I can offer you contacts and suggestions for where to pitch your stories or essays. And myself and other media professionals can give you general tips to be the best writer you can be.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

So that’s what I’m here to do. Sam’s Guide to Gay Media, as I’ve dubbed it, will be just that: a rough guide, drawing from the successes, failures, and experiences of myself and other writers I’ve had the privilege to work with, to writing and editing for LGBTQIA media.

It will be a free online resource through Queeries, A.K.A. this wonderful space, and it will grow and shift as my experiences do in tandem. I’ll be coming on here twice monthly to relay some of the advice I’ve picked up, or interview other folks in the industry who have a few tips and tricks up their sleeves. Though gay media has a diversity problem, I’ll do my best to combat that by including and actively seeking the voices of QTPOC in the industry for my interviews. And, at the end of every post, I’ll select five recent stories from LGBTQIA news outlets that you should definitely read.

I’m honored and excited to be here, and I hope you’ll stick around to learn with me. In the meantime, leave a comment with your favorite LGBTQIA writer, editor, or media outlet below!

Today’s recommended reading:

  1. Gaby Dunn: On YouTube, Queerness, and Premiering at Frameline (NewNowNext)
  2. How Queer Muslims Are Working to End Stigma This Ramadan (Them)
  3. Wildfang CEO Emma McIlroy Is Queering Fashion and Changing Lives (NewNowNext)
  4. No Filter: Is Hayley Kiyoko a Big Spoon or a Little Spoon? (Autostraddle)
  5. 6 Homeless LGBTQ Youths Share Their Stories (HuffPo Queer Voices)