How to Write For Magazines: 8 Keys to Getting Published!
Years ago I took a workshop on writing for magazines. I took the best tips I learned there, and I’m sharing them with you. Following these tips I sold thirty articles to national publications in one year. Maybe you can do the same!
My start as a writer came through writing articles. There are magazines that target thousands of audiences and markets, and they are on the lookout for writers who know their audience and their style and have a good story or idea to share! Magazines go to press regularly, and they are always looking for fresh talent.
More than that, magazines give you credibility as a writer. Have a book proposal on being a better parent that you’re trying to pitch? Your proposal might be great, but I guarantee you’ll get more interest from the publisher if you have some nice magazine spreads with your byline on it. This proves to publishers that your topic is relevant and desirable, that you know how to work with editors, and that you can write!
Do you have ideas that would make good articles?
Here are eight keys to getting published!
1. Pick Your Topic. Consider what you want to write about. What are you passionate about? What do you find yourself talking about often?
2. Target the Publications. Pick a few magazines that publish articles about topics you’re interested in. Look through the magazine racks and ask yourself, “Who would be interested in my topic?”
3. Study the Magazines. Get a copy of the magazines you’ve targeted and study them. The majority of publications have online articles for you to look at. Look at the length of the articles. Check out how they start (statistics, personal story, fact, hook?). How can you angle your topic to fit into their style?
4. Become Best Friends with a Market Guide. Look through the Christian Writer’s Market Guide. Find information about the magazines you want to write for. This guide gives you detailed facts about the publication, who to contact, what they are looking for, and if they’d like to see a query or the completed article first. You can also find new publications that might need exactly what you want to write!
5. Scrutinize the Layout. Ask, “How are the articles laid out?” (With sub-headers? With bullet points? With stories or quotes from others?) If you read through the publications’ articles, a style will start to come through.
6. Tailor-Fit Your Piece. Instead of writing one article, look at numerous magazines and figure out how your topic could fit for each of them. Think of this as knitting a sweater. Instead of knitting a simple sweater and sending it around to see what publication it will fit, think about each magazine as an entity who wants a sweater, BUT they want one that will fit them perfectly. The style, fit, form, etc., is unique to each publication.
7. Study Writers’ Guidelines. Each publication has writers guidelines. Find them, study them, follow them. Magazines will let you know exactly what they want to see. Give them what the want and you’ll go far! You can search for thousands of guidelines here.
You can also search each magazine online and look for writer’s guidelines. Here is an example from Better Homes and Gardens:
Example: BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS FREELANCE FACT SHEET
Only about ten percent of our editorial material comes from freelance writers, artists, and photographers; the rest is produced by staff. We read all freelance articles submitted, but much prefer to see a letter of query than a finished manuscript. The query should be directed to the department where the story line is the strongest. See appropriate editor and department below. (More)
8. Writer a Killer Query or Article. You can do all the behind-the-scenes work, but nothing beats good writing. There are great books on how to write well . . . read them! Here’s a great article, too, with some important points on magazine writing.
Ready to get started? I guarantee if you take these tools and follow them you’ll soon find yourself published in magazines, too!