How to Become a Magazine Writer: My Four Best Tips

Do you want to write for magazines? It’s quite easy to get published in local publications, but selling your articles to major newsstand magazines can be a challenge.

I started writing for magazines in the 1980s. Over the years, I’ve sold many articles. Here are my four best tips.

1. Writing for Magazines Is Easier Than You Think, but You Need Persistence

Editors are busy. However, they’re well aware of whatever crosses their desk, so if you send your queries by snail mail or as some magazines prefer, via fax or email, editors are aware of you, whether they respond or not.

The more queries you send, with your best ideas, creativity, and writing, the more they’ll watch you. Sooner or later, you’ll get a response, usually via the phone. Therefore, always include all your contact details, especially your phone numbers.

2. If You Like an Idea, Never Give up on a Proposal — Keep Sending It out

Got a great idea you think would be perfect? If a particular editor wants an idea, you’ll get a response, within a day or two.

If two weeks pass, and you haven’t received a response, send the proposal elsewhere.

Make sure you edit your proposal first however. I can still remember how my face burned when I faxed a query to an editor (number three on my list). I was in a hurry, and forgot to remove the name of the second editor I’d sent it to.

Editor Three called me at once. She laughed, and wanted the article, but slyly suggested that I reread the query. Embarrassing.

3. Enthusiasm Is Everything: Discover What You LOVE

Passion and enthusiasm glow in your words. If you love a particular magazine, chances are good that you can write for them. If you read enough issues, you’ll get a feeling for what they want.

From then on, find ideas that excite you, and send them along. Editors will forgive you a great deal if you’re passionate.

4. What Are You Selling? Pay Attention to Your Rights

Try to keep as many rights to your words as possible. Nowadays, editors try to buy all rights (all worldwide rights, serial and electronic, for preference.) Negotiate. Never give up all rights without negotiating to keep as many as you can.

Writing for magazines is a lot of fun. You’ll make money, and you’ll make great contacts too. Try it, you may enjoy it.

Women Magazine Writers – Breaking Into the Game

As women, we have an edge over men when it comes to our abilities to listen and to communicate. When we combine those qualities with strong writing skills, we can become topnotch news and feature writers for magazines. But, as anyone who has tried to make a name in magazine writing knows, it’s not always easy to break into and stay in the game. Here are some tips to give you an edge.

Build a Portfolio

If you want to be a magazine writer, you’re going to need a portfolio of published work. If you haven’t been published, start writing for the Web – it’s the easiest place to get published these days. If you can’t get a paid writing gig, then write for free – but make sure that the pieces you write have your byline. You can also write for your own website or blog; just make sure that you’re impeccable with your writing style and grammar, and avoid ranting about controversial topics.

Whether you have a fistful of clippings or only have a few links, it’s important to get your portfolio online. Keep in mind that content on the Web is constantly changing, so don’t rely on links to your articles. If you have Web content in your portfolio, take a screen shot of your piece and turn it into a PDF file. The same holds true for your print articles. Editors don’t want to receive a stack of copied clippings; they want to be able to see your work with a few mouse clicks. So turn your portfolio into a set of PDFs and put them on your website.

Find Your Niche

If you’re a good writer, you can most likely write about almost any topic. Nevertheless, in order to market yourself, it’s best to find your niche. Maybe you excel in delving into medical journals and writing about health topics. Perhaps you’re an ace interviewer and can write exceptional profiles. It could be that you have a depth and breadth of knowledge about a very specific topic, such as women’s infertility. Or, maybe you have a natural ability to write for a teenage readership. Understanding your niche will help you pitch the right topics to the right magazines.

Be Pitch Perfect

Most magazine editors receive pitches from dozens of freelancers every week. In order to get noticed, your pitch has to be fantastic. Start by doing your research, and only pitch to magazines that fit your niche. Don’t overlook local or regional magazines; in fact, savvy writers can turn their regional writing into syndicated pieces that they can sell over and over again.

It’s also important to make your pitch specific. If you’re going to pitch an article about women’s infertility, for example, tell the editor the angle you’re going to use and why it’s fresh, the experts you’re going to interview, and what her readers will get out of the article. Suggest sidebars and, if you can provide artwork, include that as well.

Underpromise and Overdeliver

Once you get the gig, make sure you’re every editor’s dream-come-true. Submit your article early, provide the names and contact information of your sources so they can be fact-checked, and don’t whine if you need to do a revision or two. Once your piece is published, drop the editor a thank you note and let her know that you’d love to work with her again. That way, you’re sure to be at the top of her list the next time she’s handing out assignments, and you’ll be a bone fide women’s magazine writer!

All About Freelance Magazine Writing Jobs

Did you know that freelancers write most articles you find in magazines? Many newsstand magazines have few, if any, full-time writers. Almost every topic of interest imaginable has an associated magazine; if you like writing, you can find a magazine just right for you.

Magazines pay about $0.75 to $2.00 per word for nationally distributed magazines. Expect about $0.10 to $.35 per word for smaller, local publications.

What’s involved in freelance magazine writing?

The magazine market has a large window of opportunity for freelance writers, but you must follow strict guidelines about language, word count, deadlines, etc. If an editor says he wants 800 words and you submit an 850-word article, then expect a rejection letter in the mail.

You’ll also need to know how to pitch your skills so you and your submission appeals to editors. Magazine editors will overlook even very talented writers if they fail to market themselves appropriately.

How can I find freelance magazine writing jobs?

The Writer’s Market is the #1 source for magazines looking for freelance writers. You can access their listings online or purchase their book at most major bookstores. Check out Writersmarket.com to subscribe.

Listings such as these are indispensable for freelance writers because they give details about submission requirements. Follow them exactly for the best chance of an editor accepting your article for publication.

You can also find several no-cost resources on the Internet for writers. FreelanceWriting.com maintains a growing database of magazines seeking writers.

A word of caution: make sure any website you use is current. Submissions sent to the wrong person will tick editors off, even if you got the information from their own website. Avoid this blunder by calling to confirm submission guidelines and contact info.

How do I put together a strong article submission?

The most common way is to submit a query letter, which means letting the magazine editor know who you are and what you’d like to submit.

Query letters are usually in writing and include a self-addressed, stamped envelope (so you’re sure to get a response). A good query letter answers these questions:

1. Why is it critical for this magazine to publish your article?
2. What do you plan to include in your article?
3. What are your qualifications as a writer?

Like the article you intend to write, you should write your query letter in a concise and compelling format. Ask yourself what the editor’s needs are. You need to make the editor who reads your query letter as excited about your article as you are.

You also need to outline whether you’ll include quotes from experts, photos, etc. Finally, include any relevant clips you have from previous freelance writing gigs. In other words, if you’re hoping to write a financial piece, don’t send your clips about puppies and dessert recipes.

Proving your writing skills can be difficult if you’re just getting started. If a magazine hasn’t published you yet, try volunteer writing for community or school magazines. Save everything you have in print – it will get easier and easier to establish your credibility.

Another technique is simply to write the article for which you’d like to be paid and submit it to the magazine. It may take awhile to get a response, but this “shotgun” approach can help prove your writing skills without having much experience.

Whatever approach you choose, make sure to follow up in about a month if an editor hasn’t replied. Editors appreciate a writer who shows he’s serious about working for them.

Magazine solicitation example

Below is an example ad. See if you can spot what the magazine is looking for:

Topix is a magazine for teens devoted to keeping teens off drugs. We are currently accepting article submissions of 450-550 words. Please send submissions to Gloria at (address).

Not much information, right? Wrong! The ad has enough information to develop a great query letter. Here’s what we know:

– The magazine is for teenagers so your article should use language that appeals to teens.

– The magazine’s goal is to keep teens off drugs, so think of a topic that is cool for teens and promotes drug-free living. Ideas could be coping with peer pressure or drug-free fun on the weekend.

– You’ve got a guideline of 450-550 words, so follow it!

Knowing the magazine’s audience and what editors are looking for is important to getting published by a magazine. If you can identify those two critical points, you’ll be well on your way to freelancing for magazines.