Writing for Magazines --Part 5

By June Campbell

Part 5: The Editor Calls

The phone rings. It's an editor saying he's interested in your query letter! When writing for magazines, this is a giant step forwards. You are now moving into the negotiation stage of this arrangement.

You and the editor are discussing a business arrangement. You are reaching an agreement regarding the terms under which you may (or may not) permit the magazine to publish your article.

Please understand that some magazine publishers have hard and fast rules around article publication. If this is the case, there may be little you can negotiate. It's take it or leave it. On the other hand, some magazine publishers are flexible. Whichever the case, always be courteous and professional. You want the editor to go away believing he is dealing with a professional, respectful writer - one that he might do business with in the future, if not right now.

At the very least, you need to clarify the following:

  1. What are the copy rights that the magazine wants?
  2. Does the magazine pay? How much? When?
  3. If the magazine doesn't pay, will they publish your web site or resource box?
  4. What is the deadline to submit the article?
  5. What word count do they want?
  6. How will you submit the completed article?
  7. Do they require photographs? If yes, who's responsibilitiy is this to arrange?
  8. Do they require collaborating materials for fact checking? Some magazines do not publish anything without first ensuring all facts are accurate.
  9. Do they have the right to ask you for rewrites
  10. ?
  11. When will the article be published
  12. ?
  13. Will you receive a copy of the publication containing your article?
  14. Will they reimburse any expenses you incur related to researching or writing the article?

When you and the editor are in agreement on these issues, you have a deal!

Note that some magazines might require a signed, written contract. Although some writers insist on a signed contract, saying it affords protection, I have never found a contract to make any difference provided both parties agree and understand the terms.

What if Your Magazine Writing Query is Rejected?

Now what about the other side of the picture? The magazine doesn't want your article. Either you never hear from them or you receive a rejection notice in your stamped, self addressed envelope.

It's not personal. I have had hundreds of rejection slips. I have also had hundreds of articles published. Magazines receive a huge number of queries. They can't accept them all. Also, many magazines are using staff writers for the lion's share of their content, so the number of articles they accept from independent writers is decreasing.

If an editor takes the time to include a message letting you know why your pitch isn't accepted, treat that like gold. He or she has given you valuable information that you can use when writing future queries.

Now for the next step on your way to writing for magazines. ... Getting off on the Right Foot

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