An editor (who is also a friend) of a magazine wants me to write an essay ON SPEC. If it's bought, then of course there's money, if not, then I have yet another writing sample. My question is, at what point do you stop writing on spec. She has many writing samples in my blog, on another website, and from another magazine. She gave me the opportunity to not do the spec and she'd pitch me to her editor and use my last print article as a sample.
I really don't know what to do. I feel like every job starts with doing something on spec. I'm not a newbie writer but it seems that with every new publication, I'm starting over.
Thank you so much JoAnna for the comment. For one thing, it's not a place that I'm dying to be published, it's just potential money. For the section that the editor was thinking of me for, they have "people submit essays and we buy them and then ask for some edits. Of course there's no guarantee that it'll result in us buying it" but she thinks if I can capture the tone of this other piece that she referred to, then I'd have a good chance. But like you said, I have a lot of writing that can be read to see my 'tone'. She's happen to do the pitch but said, "I just feel like this route might be more effective—and it's the place we have a more immediate opportunity."
You really have given my some 'balls' (in a good way) and it's time that I start saying no, and stick behind my work. Thank you so much.
No professional publication will have you write something on spec. None. Not a one. Nor should you write for a client on spec. I've been doing this for 15 years, so I've seen a thing or two. If you already have writing samples, you don't need to accumulate yet another one. I agree with JoAnna: let the work you've done speak for you. Otherwise you're working for no pay.