Before we begin today, my dear readers, I have a couple of announcements.
First of all, regarding the Novel Navigation series – you might have noticed I haven’t wrote an installment in a while. That’s not likely to change yet due to some difficulties not of general interest to the public, but I do have a similar project in the works. That said, maybe I can continue the series in a different direction.
Second of all, I’m sorry this is a day late; we had a holiday weekend and quite a bit to do in my humble home lately, so the blog fell by the wayside.
With that out of the way, let’s move on to the second installment of Get Published (Check out the first installment here!)!
Magazines are a great way to get your writing noticed and, in some cases, net you a steady client for your writing. Here are a few tips to give you your best chance of seeing your byline in an upcoming issue!
1. Know your potential audience
This goes back to the first article in the Get Published series. When you write an article or have an idea you know you can execute, it’s all-important to ask yourself “who cares?” What’s the best audience for this article?
For example, let’s say I wrote a men’s fashion article I want to submit to various magazines. I’m not going to submit it to, say, “Better Homes and Gardens” or “Woman’s Day.” On the other side of the coin, this particular article wouldn’t just go to, say, “Esquire” or “GQ” and the like. Maybe it would have a place in bridal magazines, career-oriented publications (dressing for success, etc.), and so forth.
2. Decide: to ask or to submit?
There are two main ways to submit your articles to an editor: send a query or submit the article itself. I agree with Leo Babuata of Tuts+ when he says deciding to submit a query or submit a full article should depend on your experience.
If you don’t have previously published work, it’s best to submit the article with a cover letter discussing the story’s main points and how it would be a good fit to that particular publication. Without previously published work, the article more or less stands on its own and would be the sole basis as to whether or not your story is a good fit for the magazine.
Keep in mind, too, if you don’t have articles published in magazines or newspapers, if you have a blog, that might be able to serve as samples for your writing style.
If you have published work already, consider sending a query. Here’s an example of one I used a number of months back:
Out in western Nebraska just shy of the Cowboy State sits the community of Scottsbluff, a city of Scotts Bluff County and a stone’s throw away from Scotts Bluff National Monument.
The identical names can’t be coincidence – the name Scott must have some historic significance to the Nebraska Panhandle. Indeed, it does: a young Missouri-born fur trader named Hiram Scott met his end in the early 1800s near the site.
Was Scott a Western hero the likes of Wyatt Earp or Wild Bill Hickok? Was his death the pinnacle of a great battle on the high plains? Was he a founding father of western Nebraska’s early settlements? Who was this man, that so much that stands today would share his name?
Though he has a city, a county, a monument and at one time a college (Hiram Scott College) named after him, Hiram Scott himself remains something of a mystery.
My 1,118-word article explores the life and the legend of Hiram Scott, the fur trader who died far too young and under mysterious (and, according to some stories, suspicious) circumstances. I chronicle what’s known about the Missouri native and his journey into the West, the folklore that surrounds him and his modern-day legacy.
The article begins with a brief summary of its contents followed by the basic information we know about Scott through historic documents and National Park Service’s resources. The story continues by exploring several accounts of Hiram Scott’s untimely demise, including work from classic author Washington Irving. Finally, the article wraps up with how Hiram Scott left his mark on western Nebraska and the places that bear his name today.
I lived and worked in the Wyobraska area for almost four years as a news reporter and editor. The locals’ love for history was contagious and upon hearing about the mystery of Hiram Scott, I put my journalistic skills to work, digging deep into the folklore surrounding this lesser-known legend. I’ve worked as a professional journalist for the past seven years.
With this in mind, would your readers want to learn more about Hiram Scott, his legend and his legacy? The article and bibliography are complete and ready to be submitted at your request.
I eagerly await your response. Thank you for your time and consideration.
3. Follow the guidelines
This is pretty common sense, but it still needs to be addressed. It might be more convenient to email a query or an article, but if they want it submitted via post, do it. It may still get noticed if you ignore the snail-mail rule, but why run the risk of your article being ignored simply because you chose not to follow the guidelines?
The rules, no matter how silly they may seem sometimes, are there for a reason, and to give your article the best chance, it’s best not to shrug them off.
4. Don’t be afraid of rejection
Submitting articles and queries to magazines is kind of like job hunting: even if you’re the best writer around or you feel you’re the best person for a given job, there will be times you will be rejected. If your article doesn’t make the cut with a certain magazine, dust yourself off and try again. If you get a rejection note from the editor (and there will be plenty of times where you won’t get any response at all) thank them for taking the time to respond and don’t be afraid to ask the editor why it was rejected. Maybe it just wasn’t the right time for the article. Maybe you attacked the story from an angle they’ve seen before. There could be a number of ways to improve your work, but you may never know unless you take the time to ask.
I hope these tips help you on your writing journey! For step-by-step instructions and further reading, I recommend these links to start:
Do you have any tips on getting published in a magazine? Write them in the comments below!