Abbe Wright is a contributing editor at Glamour where she is responsible for one of my favorite features, Glamour’s Top 10 College Women Competition. Abbe has already had an extensive career in the magazine industry. She has worked for publications including Philadelphia magazine, Teen Vogue, Modern Bride, Elegant Bride, Your Prom, and O, The Oprah Magazine. Abbe is also a freelance editor and writer, her work has been published in Glamour, The Cut, Metro, O, The Oprah Magazine, Modern Bride and Philadelphia magazine. Abbe is also currently writing a memoir about her father.
Abbe Wright, Contributing Editor at Glamour
How did you end up at Glamour? What was your career path?
I was an intern at Philadelphia magazine and Teen Vogue, which led to getting my first real (read: paid) job in magazines at Condé Nast. I began my career in 2008 as the assistant to the editor in chief of Modern Bride, Elegant Bride and Your Prom and wrote about bridal beauty and real weddings. From there, I moved to O, The Oprah Magazine, where I stayed for five years, first as the assistant to the creative director and then as an assistant editor, where I wrote book reviews and other front of book and well stories for the magazine.
What are your roles and responsibilities as a contributing editor?
As a contributing editor, I focus on one project (in this case, Glamour’s Top 10 College Women Competition) for a whole year instead of having monthly editorial due dates. My job involves a lot of research, writing skills, as well as an event-planning portion.
What is a typical workday like for you?
There is no typical workday…or rather in my job, it depends on where we are in the calendar year. In the summer, I’m most likely researching amazing candidates who might be a good fit for Top 10 College Women. Then I sort through all the applications, work with Glamour’s editors to select our winners, then write the feature in the magazine. Now, I’m focused on the event-planning portion of my job, planning incredible activities for the winners’ trip to NYC.
What is your favorite thing about working at Glamour?
I truly believe in the editorial content of this magazine. The features are all about women doing amazing things and they are aimed at women my age. I’ve never worked at a magazine where I’m the magazine’s demo – what could be better? The staff embodies this same mantra as well; I’ve never met a more talented and smart group of women in my life.
You work very closely on the Top 10 College Women competition, which is one of my favorite Glamour features. What has been the most exciting thing about working on it?
I feel so lucky to be able to shine a national spotlight on these 20 and 21-year-old women who are already making a difference on their campuses, in their communities and around the world. Getting to know these young women (and after four or five interviews apiece, I KNOW them!) has been such a highlight of my year, and I can’t wait until the rest of Glamour’s readers know about their incredible accomplishments as well.
What is the most important skill to have as an editor?
Brevity. The ability to recast a long sentence using only five words is such an important skill and one I’m still working on! And, I’d also say, the ability to be flexible. Things are always changing—both in this industry and in any given piece you might be writing—so when it does arise, don’t get stuck or annoyed. This is the very nature of magazines, so you’ve got to be able to go with the flow.
You’ve written for Glamour, The Cut, O, The Oprah Magazine, Modern Bride, Philadelphia magazine, and more. What advice do you have for freelance writers who hope to write for similar publications?
Pay attention to what these magazines are publishing and then pitch stories that fit into their specific beat. I can’t tell you how many stories I was pitched while at O on diaper rash/breastfeeding/other child-rearing tips. The whole idea behind O Magazine is that it is aimed at the woman herself. We never assume our reader is necessarily a mother, and even if she were, this magazine is solely for her and not about her little ones. So a breastfeeding story was so clearly not a fit for us, and the pitch was wasting my time. As a writer, be very familiar with the magazine you’re pitching.
What published piece are you the most proud of?
This one. It was the first time that a truly personal essay of mine was published and it felt nerve-wracking and incredible all at once. I was proud for being so honest.
What has been your proudest moment from your career so far?
I think my proudest moment has been the fact that I have this career. I decided at 16 that I wanted to be a magazine editor, and I went out and made it happen. Despite the daunting fact that, as they say in the movie The Devil Wears Prada, “a million girls would kill for these jobs,” I’ve earned them and done well in them. I’ve developed a thick skin (a necessity in this business), but I’m so lucky to be able to do what I love every day.
What is on your desk right now?
About five different Uniball pens in Deluxe Fine – my go-to writing implement; noise-canceling headphones – a must in an open floor plan office; my hot pink SIGG water bottle; and pictures of my parents, my brothers and my best girl friends.
How would you describe your professional style? What are a few staples?
My professional style is a mix of laid-back and polished. I’m tall, so I don’t wear heels often. You’ll usually find me in flat boots, skinny jeans and a fun sweater or blouse. My staples are: a black blazer, Frye motorcycle boots, black Ray-Bans and a Marc by Marc Jacobs bag that can fit a book in it to read on the subway.
What is one thing you would tell your 22-year-old self?
You won’t be an assistant forever. It’s definitely hard to love your job when you feel like you’re at the bottom of the totem pole. But you learn valuable lessons as an assistant and I promise it doesn’t last forever. And this is coming from someone who was an assistant for a long time!
Who is your mentor?
I’ve had two amazing bosses—Sara Nelson and Antonia van der Meer—who have ceaselessly encouraged and championed me. They have modeled what it means to be strong, smart, successful and always hungry for the next thing.
What is one skill you don’t have but would like to learn?
I am embarrassed to admit my lack of web acumen. I would love to learn to code and create insanely beautiful websites easily.
What advice do you have for other women who hope to become a magazine editor?
Being genuinely nice goes a really long way. This industry is so small. People don’t forget that you had a positive attitude during a rough close, or you were kind enough to forward that pitch, or return a publicist’s email, even when the answer is no. People want to work with people who are pleasant to be around and your attitude is a big indicator of future success.
What is your favorite quote?
“You can’t change the wind, but you can adjust your sails.”
Glamour’s May issue featuring the Top 10 College Women is on newsstands now! If you’re a current junior in college you can apply for Glamour Magazine’s 2016 Top 10 College Women Competition! Link here:
Thank you, Abbe! Follow her on Twitter at @abbewright.
Images via Abbe Wright, On the Masthead, and Glamour.