Author Topic: Writing and Getting Your Article Published  (Read 3402 times)

Offline Annmarie

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Writing and Getting Your Article Published
« Reply #15 on: March 08, 2011, 03:27:53 AM »
Quote
Look at the ads - what sex and age group does the mag target?

I want to second Deborah's point on ads, because I think newbies often overlook this. You can sometimes come up with article ideas targeted to a mag just by paying close attention to the ads. You also know what to avoid. A women's magazine I used to write for had a regular ad contributor --- a local shop that sold fur coats and accessories. Now, I don't like animal fur products. But I wasn't going to write a negative article about furs, at least not for that magazine. It needed the ad revenue more than it needed my article. Instead, I wrote about wines, fashion, women in leadership positions.


Gyppo, I've also had some luck in the past getting assignments without having the direct experience the publisher was looking for. I'll try it again. Editors are such insecure creatures. They want to know a new (for them) writer has been published by other respectable people. The writing and deadline stuff also matters. In the end, all of that matters more than the type of articles they want, unless really technical knowledge is needed. I can write about almost anything, given the right fee.  :)

Work hard. Believe. Take a chance.

Offline Gyppo

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Writing and Getting Your Article Published
« Reply #16 on: March 08, 2011, 06:43:53 AM »
Speaking of studying the adverts etc to get a feel for the readership...

I've not asked for one in years, but there used to be, and possibly still is, a thing called a 'media pack'.  You used to write to the advertising department of the magazine, usually listed some way down under the list of editors.  If you asked for a media pack they would send you at worst a breakdown of potential readers, age, income, social group, etc.  Quite often you'd get a free copy, or several older issues, of the magazine in a useful folder, emblazoned with the title of the magazine or magazines they represent, along with the customer information, possibly a few incentive gifts, and anything else they thought may be relevant to a would be advertiser.  The rate card would be quite an eye-opener, especially for full page colour adverts.

Advertising people work very hard to collect this kind of information and are positively eager to share it with anyone who might become a customer.  It's kept ready to send, regularly updated, so you're not forcing some poor unsuspecting devil to do an hour's research on your behalf.  A writer's conscience can be a troubling thing at times ;-)

If you decide to try this approach don't tell them you're a writer doing research.

Just send a very brief note or email asking if they can send you a media pack.  Include a thankyou.  That's it.   With email it won't even cost you the price of a stamp.

Armed with this valuable information you will be half way through doing what Deborah has just described.

I rather suspect that nowadays you may be directed to a website instead of getting a bundle of freebies, just as you sometimes are for 'contributors guidelines', but even so you'll be several steps ahead of 'chuck and chance it' contributors.

You may need to borrow Advertising for Dummies or similar from the library to understand some of the advertising jargon, but it's a worthwhile journey.

I know, you're a writer, not a researcher.  This is why content farms exist, to ruthlessly harvest those who don't or won't  put a decent value on their own skills and are suckered into believing that five dollars for five hundred words is good pay.

Gyppo

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Offline deborahowen

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Writing and Getting Your Article Published
« Reply #17 on: March 08, 2011, 11:13:16 AM »

Once upon a time a historian/writer was trying to help me and she asked me who my
target audience was. I must have looked frightfully stupid because she followed up with
"Who do you want to read your article?"
"Everyone," I said.   ;D   
"No, what age group and what sex do you want to read it?"
"Everyone," I repeated. (Thick lady)

Then she told me how to look at the ads (whoever reads those things?) and she taught me
how to analyze the market and write for it.

This is why my heart is so tender for newbs. I learned everything the hardest way possible
and I wouldn't wish that on anyone.
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Offline evatje

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Writing and Getting Your Article Published
« Reply #18 on: March 08, 2011, 11:40:03 AM »
I suppose it would be a good start to write articles abouts subjects that interest me for magazines I'm happy to read on a regular basis.
Your strategy for market research is remarkable.

 

Offline deborahowen

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« Reply #19 on: March 08, 2011, 11:45:10 AM »
I suppose it would be a good start to write articles abouts subjects that interest me for magazines I'm happy to read on a regular basis.
Your strategy for market research is remarkable.

Absolutely, but people who write for a living learn to take any writing job they can get.
Any time you can write something and like it, it's a marriage made in heaven.  :)
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Offline Gyppo

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Writing and Getting Your Article Published
« Reply #20 on: March 08, 2011, 12:15:00 PM »
I suppose it would be a good start to write articles abouts subjects that interest me for magazines I'm happy to read on a regular basis.
Your strategy for market research is remarkable.

If there's a magazine or magazines you read regularly and you often find yourself thinking 'I could have done that better', or 'that's fine, but what about the 'xyz' aspect of it?', then you're thinking the right way.  Magazines aren't always looking for something different, but they are often open to a different angle on a familiar subject.  Or a currently fashionable take on any old evergreen subject.

Also bear in mind that most magazines work several months ahead of the cover date, and they're usually on the newsagent's shelf part way through the previous month, so a lot of otherwise good stuff can be rejected simply because it doesn't arrive early enough to fit into the editorial planning.

Example:  Most 'things to do with kids in the summer holidays on a tight budget' articles will have already been chosen from what was made available earlier.  That's not to say a really outstanding article won't usurp earlier choices, but rearranging everything can sometimes be too much trouble in a busy office.

An unexpected celebrity death or wedding can really mess up your plans ;-)  

But don't be afraid to think three or four months ahead, possibly even more.

Something which missed the boat this year can be waiting on the dockside (well, the editor's desk) with plenty of time to spare next year.  Make a note to remind yourself and don't brood over the lost opportunity ;-)

It is possible to write 'timeless' articles, but there's a lot to be said for targeting the four seasons and big number anniversaries.  One of the main advantages of this approach is it will encourage you to get on and finish things, instead of telling yourself it will 'do later'.

Gyppo
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Offline deborahowen

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« Reply #21 on: March 08, 2011, 12:50:33 PM »
Good post, Gyppo. I'd like to add to that. When [not if] you receive rejection slips, be very
proud of them. Keep every one. It means that you went further than 93% of the writers. You
actually wrote something and marketed it. Outstanding!

The trick is to line up three magazines that you want to write for. Put their names and addresses in
a file. When you receive a rejection slip, pop the same article in the mail to another mag (or email it)
the very next day. Don't forget to call the mag first and confirm the editor's name (and spelling). Always address the editor personally.

You can also try multiple submitting, which is submitting to two or more markets at the same time. If you choose that option be sure that the mag accepts multiple submissions and tell each magazine what other mags you have used for multiple submission. When you accept an offer, you are under obligation to inform the other mags that your article is no longer available.

As Gyppo said, submit at least four months ahead. For example, it would almost be too late to submit a Father's Day article now.

If you really want to catch an editor's eye, Fed Ex your submission. I guarantee, it will go to the top of the pile instead the bottom. Best of luck! Deb
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Offline Hugh

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Writing and Getting Your Article Published
« Reply #22 on: March 08, 2011, 03:36:12 PM »
If I may, Iíd like to add to the excellent advice about submitting four months in advance.

Think a year in advance for some articles, for two reasons.

First, as Iíve said before, think photo. Iíll give an example.  Most mums will have been given a poinsettia at Christmas time ó in UK anyway. And how many have wilted and died before New Yearís Eve? (The plant, not the mum)

It was midsummer, and my wife had managed to keep one going since before Christmas. The red bracts had gone, leaving only green leaves, but it was still healthy.

Here was an idea ó how to look after a poinsettia ó for one of those short filler articles for the Christmas issue of a magazine. Although they look like plants that thrive in hot, steamy jungles, a bit of research uncovered three points to cover.

● They donít like too much heat.
● They donít like draughts.
● They donít like too much water.

Yet they usually get all three.

So I had my idea, but I needed a photo of a poinsettia in amongst all the trappings of Christmas. In July? It meant waiting until next Chistmas to take photos, and then until the following summer to submit the article.

Thatís why I say think a year ahead. Draft your Christmas article and take the seasonal photos at Christmas time. File it until June, and then tailor it to meet the requirements of your target magazine.

The same applies to all seasonal articles. Itís easier to write about Midsummer Day in June than when youíre freezing your nuts off in the depths of winter.

Whatever the season, take lots of photos. You never know when you might need them.

Hugh

Offline deborahowen

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Writing and Getting Your Article Published
« Reply #23 on: March 08, 2011, 03:55:43 PM »
Think a year in advance for some articles, for two reasons... Hugh

You touched on something I started to say and then didn't, and that is... we get "in the mood" for Thanksgiving and Christmas, as well as for other holidays. It's difficult to catch Christmas enthusiasm in August, so catch it while it's there and perfect the article later. Take notes on things you don't want to forget. Maybe it's the joy of having your 96-year old grandmother one more Christmas, or getting a sacrificial gift from someone who couldn't afford it. Maybe it's hearing the carolers outside your door or something as simple as the smell of baked ham and spiced apple cider.

For every holiday and every special event (family reunions, school reunions, picnics, fishing trips, camping, vacation, anniversaries, etc.) take notes while your thoughts and emotions are running rampant. Make a special file for these things and develop them at least four months before the holidays. And remember, magazines use a lot of sidebars. Reader's Digest also uses a lot of little stuff. (Thanks for the prompt, Hugh!)
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Offline Cyndith

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Writing and Getting Your Article Published
« Reply #24 on: March 11, 2011, 02:14:58 PM »
I try to educate myself by attending writing seminars by published authors.  Most of the time, I attend national seminars, such as American Christian Writers' Association, which allows me some one-on-one time with major editors, such as Holly Mills of the Saturday Evening Post.  Sometimes I get lucky, and a local author will host a writer's workshop.

On one such occasion, I attended a week long seminar with a local author who had published over 30 titles.  I have published non-fiction newspaper articles and work in professional journals, but I was trying to coax the creative-writing qualities forth. 

The published author read my piece, "Blue Period," during a one-on-one session.  I thought my creative essay was an example of my best work.  But, she shook her head, saying it would be difficult to find a market for the 'too creative' essay.  To be honest, I was ready to quit.  My faith in my essay and it's uniqueness, as well as the artistic characteristics, was ahaken.  That afternoon was comparable to me standing at the Pearly Gates and not gaining entrance.  It was more than a fiction piece.  It was my soul. 

But I did keep submitting the piece and it DID find a home!  It was published online at Cezanne's Carrot and not only was it published, but the story earned a $25 editor's choice award.  So now, I take advice when it comes to editing, but I also have faith in my writing ability and I'm glad I didn't stop there!

Happy Writing Everyone!
--Cyndie
--Cyndie

"Why do you do it in the first place? I mean you paint a picture, but you can't explain what it means because the audience is supposed to get it.  But then a judge comes along and says, 'I see this painting, but what you intended for me to see is not what I see; therefore, it isn't'"

Offline deborahowen

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Writing and Getting Your Article Published
« Reply #25 on: March 11, 2011, 06:36:35 PM »
Cyndie, you're amazing. :-)  You're persistent. You'll make it in this business because it's the persistent ones who get there. Let me offer a piece of advice to help you. Don't write the story and then choose the market. You're doing it backwards. Choose three markets that are similar and study them thoroughly, then write for those markets and multiple submit (where allowed). When you build your credits, go for the bigger markets. Be sure you learn Show, Don't Tell and have believable dialogue. Keep going to conferences and mingling with more experienced writers. You'll do just fine! Best, Deb
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Offline Cyndith

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Re: Writing and Getting Your Article Published
« Reply #26 on: March 11, 2011, 10:11:45 PM »
Thank you Deb. I have found some amazing advice within this circle.

--Cyndie
--Cyndie

"Why do you do it in the first place? I mean you paint a picture, but you can't explain what it means because the audience is supposed to get it.  But then a judge comes along and says, 'I see this painting, but what you intended for me to see is not what I see; therefore, it isn't'"

Offline Gyppo

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Re: Writing and Getting Your Article Published
« Reply #27 on: March 12, 2011, 09:46:27 AM »
On the subject of persistence...

1)  Once you have a foot in the door somewhere, try to keep it there.  If you step back out of the editor's circle of 'tried and tested' for a while, due to illness or some other unavoidable major upheaval, you'll be back to square one again.  Well, maybe one and a quarter because you will have experience to guide you on your return.  But don't expect to be welcomed with automatically open arms like the Prodigal Son.  Whoever took over your regular slots will be fighting his corner to hang on.  Whenever a new 'regular writer' comes in someone else has usually had to go out.  Over the years you will find yourself on both sides of that line.

2)  Which brings us to a very important point.  When you first earn that coveted regular writer status you will find a natural and insidious tendency to write everything with that one magazine in mind ;-(  It may even become your principle breadwinner.  Maybe the regular article which pays the rent.

But keep in touch with other magazines too, even if you're only an occasional contributor for them.

Never put all your eggs in one basket.  Many a seemingly flourishing magazine has folded overnight because it's only part of a big group, and once it drops below a certain profit level that's it.  Gone, along with your 'nice little earner'.  It's nothing to do with quality or otherwise, just a cold equation in the accountant's reckoning.

So spread your net.  Have two or three specialist subjects,because the more often you write about something you enjoy the easier it gets.  But shove a few other irons into the fire as well.

This way, when some soul-dead accountant pulls the rug from under you, or some previously loyal editor is dazzled by a brilliant 'new kid on the block' you will already have a foot in the 'door' of several other editor's thinking.

Sounds an awful lot like work, doesn't it?  But if it's mostly enjoyable work you'll welcome it.

Gyppo  
My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1

Offline Neil

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Re: Writing and Getting Your Article Published
« Reply #28 on: March 13, 2011, 11:31:17 AM »
There's some excellent advice here.

But one thing I have found, if you find a magazine or newspaper that is starting up and/or just published its inaugural issue, get in quick.

The editor will be keen to build up a pool of writers and if you can show you have the  necessary ideas and skills you may have more chance of being published and getting on their team of regulars.

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Offline Gyppo

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Re: Writing and Getting Your Article Published
« Reply #29 on: March 13, 2011, 12:13:32 PM »
I'll second Neil's comment about new magazines.  There is a temptation to sit back and see how the magazine develops, but this is wrong thinking.  Get in there early on and you become part of that development.

You may be thinking cautiously, wondering if such a niche magazine as The Left-handed Stoat Strangler - a purely mythical creation as far as I know - will even survive to a second or third edition.  Cast aside your doubts and send them something.  If the magazine survives and you get paid, or better still become a regular contributor then you'll have a two or thee month lead over any latecomers, and an admittedly fragile tenure.  (Remember that 'foot in the door'.  If it fails gloriously you may not get paid at all [1], but if you do it will be one to three payments that the more timid would never have received.

So get in there ;-)

[1]  If it's a new speculative venture from one of the bigger publishing houses you probably will still get paid, even if the venture was a disaster.  Smaller shoestring start-ups which fail may simply not have any money left after paying the bank and other 'first cut' larger creditors, no matter how honourable the editor wants to be.  They probably won't have the same solid advertising revenue as the bigger magazines.

Gyppo
My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1