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Writing for Magazines --Part 1

By June Campbell

Part 1: Choosing the Magazine

Writing for magazines is a great way to promote your business or your web site or to establish yourself as an expert in your field. However, convincing a magazine to publish your writing is not always easy.

Have you wondered how you go about getting a magazine to publish your writing? There is a right way and a wrong way to go about doing this.

When writing for magazines, you must understand one key fact: Magazines are businesses. They operate to please two distinct groups of people: their readers and their advertisers. Please note that writers are not included on that list. If you can figure out a way to help the magazine please their readers and advertisers, you are a big step ahead of many other writers who are competing with you for the magazine's content space.

When you begin your magazine writing project, the first step is to be honest with yourself about who will be interested in your topic. When you have a business or service, its tempting to believe your own press and start thinking the whole world wants to know about your wonderful enterprise. Sadly, unless you've discovered the fountain of youth, it just isn't so.

Let's say you have developed a product that helps golfers reduce their handicap. Now you want to promote your product and establish your expertise by writing a golfing article for a magazine. Your first step when writing for magazines is to clarify exactly who is going to be interested in reducing their golf handicap.

Thinking this through, you realize that your product will appeal to amateur golfers with a moderate to high skill level. Duffers or beginning golfers have no interest in reducing their handicap. They just want to know how to hit the ball without gyrating like a windmill. Professional golfers probably don't need your help. And, difficult as this may be for you to understand, a large segment of the population has no interest in golf whatsoever.

Now you have identified your readers, you identify a magazine that golfers meeting your criteria are likely to read. Golfing magazines are obvious choices. You might also consider travel magazines that profile golf courses, magazines covering sports and outdoor activities, men's magazines, magazines catering to physicians, magazines for retired persons, etc.

Next, make a visit to the magazine section in a big city library. Browse through magazines in this category, taking special note of publications that might be a good fit. If possible, browse back through the last several issues, watching for similar articles. If a recent edition carried an article on a topic similar to yours, the magazine is unlikely to run another one on that topic for quite some time.

Next, take careful note of the magazine's advertisers. If a major advertiser is your competitor, or if your topic could be viewed as being in conflict with a major advertiser, your article isn't going to get published! For example, if your article recommends a certain type of golf club or golf ball, but a major advertiser manufactures a different club or golf ball, the odds are not in your favor. Just move on and try another magazine.

Once you have identified a selection of potential magazines, examine the magazine's masthead. This is the page, usually near the front, that lists the editorial staff. Your task is to identify who at the magazine you want to contact. Typically, this is the editor or the feature editor. Make note of that person's name, the mailing address and phone number, and also the web address if possible. Visit the magazine's web site and confirm the editor's identity. Magazine personnel tends to change quickly. You want to be sure you address your inquiry to the right person.

Now that you have the contact information, send a letter or email to that person, asking for a copy of their editorial guidelines. These guidelines spell out the type of material the magazine is looking for, the copyright information, the writing style they want and the prices paid for articles, if applicable. If you are sending a request by mail, be sure to include a stamped, self addressed envelope (SSAE).

Once you have the editorial guidelines in hand, read them carefully. Following and abiding by those guidelines is the key to having your article considered.

You are on your way to writing for magazines. ... the Editorial Guidelines

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