“How do I find market directories that list magazine titles, editor contact information and editorial needs?”

This post addresses Question 3 of 12 listed in Magazine Writing Basics on the Sell Your Nonfiction blog.

Q.  “How do I find market guides, and what do they include?”

I still recall my amazement in 1988 when I saw my first Writers Market, containing over 4,000 listings for magazines that I could potentially sell my articles and personal experience stories to. It was mind boggling.

The 2011 Writer’s Market Deluxe Edition has 3,000 updated markets (including magazines, book publishers, and literary agents) with an additional 4,500 listings online. There are also specialized market books that focus on specific audiences, including markets for poets, writers for children, and song writers. Another market guide I’m less familiar with is the The Writer’s Handbook 2011: The Complete Guide for all Writers, Publishers, Editors, Agents and Broadcasters. For inspirational writers, the top source is Sally Stuart’s Christian Writers Market Guide.

To make it easy for you to find these resources and help you get started right away:

I’ve linked titles to Laurie’s Lists on Amazon.com.  However, you can order them from any bookstore, including online bookstores, and can usually find them in public libraries.

As for the Writer’s Market books: each annual edition functions primarily as a directory, which includes detailed contact information and special requests from editors.

EDITORS don’t want to waste time wading through inappropriate submissions. YOU don’t want to wait eternally by your mailbox, only to get a rejection slip (or no answer at all) simply because you didn’t research the magazine’s needs well enough or sent a submission in the wrong way.  Here’s a common format for a listing . . .

This listing is written generically but includes a few details from one high circulation magazine:

$$$$ BIG NAME MAGAZINE

Publisher name, mailing address, website address. 80% freelance written. Published monthly. Description sample: “We are a national magazine that covers issues for…” ;  “Submissions should focus on… “ Established 1932. Circulation 4,200,000. Byline given. Offers 20% kill fee. Buys one-time rights, buys all rights. Editorial lead time 4 months. Submit seasonal material 4 months in advance. Responds in 2 months to queries. Guidelines available online. Nonfiction: “We are looking for….”  Buys 200 mss. per year. Submit detailed outline, 2 clips, cover letter describing your publishing history, SASE or IRCs. Length: 1000-2500 words. Pays $1 per word. Tips: “Query letters should be concise and to the point. Also writers should … “

As I mentioned previously, the Writers Market functions primarily as a directory. However, the front matter in each edition also includes helpful articles as well as the going pay rate for various writing jobs.

There are several important things to remember about this particular resource:

1) You should be able to walk into any public library and find the current edition of the Writers Market at their resource desk, to browse within the library. Patrons can often check out editions from previous years.

2) Older editions are great for brainstorming ideas. It’s essential, however, to realize how far behind the market information may be, even in the most current printed directory. Consider this: the 2011 Writers Market became available in August of 2010. It was assembled by the publisher many months before that.

This means that no matter what, you must be sure magazines are still in business. Sadly, many magazines have died in recent years.  Confirm editor names (and spellings) before sending submissions.

One advantage to the Deluxe Edition is that it includes a year’s membership to the online database, which is continually updated and sortable.  You can purchase the online membership separately, but it’s cheaper to get the print version plus membership, and you can scribble notes in it. To be honest, I also remove pages that list publications I find offensive, so I don’t have to see them every time I use my own book.  Bear in mind that those thousands of listings appeal to a wide variety of audiences, from Christian to occult.

However, even if you are an inspirational writer you may also have practical tips that could be published in hobby or association magazines. For example, The Lion is a magazine published by the Lion’s Club, which offers assistance and resources for the blind. According to WD, it has 490,000 readers (some international), been around since 1918, and pays writers $100 to $750 for articles of 500 to 1500 words  (up to .50 per word).  If you stick only to specialized market guides, you may miss out on magazines that might publish articles in your areas of expertise.

Specialized Market Guides

Unique to the Christian Writers Market Guide is the way you can sort through the religious markets by denomination. This publication contains some markets that are not included in the broader Writers Market.  If you write purely inspirational material, it’s a great place to focus your search and also find a list of conferences and other resources for Christian writers.

Writers Digest Books publishes various specialized guides, including the Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market and the Poet’s Market.

Magazines That Include Market Listings

Several magazines include market listings along with their articles, often on themes. For example, one issue might offer an updated list of travel or parenting magazines.

Writers Digest magazine is terrific to subscribe to, as it consistently offers a great variety of articles on how to write and sell writing. I cut my teeth on this magazine back when I was a new writer, and still read extremely helpful articles in it on all aspects of writing. (I’ve contributed a few articles to that magazine as well.)

I haven’t read as often The Writer, but just discovered that subscribers can have unlimited access to their searchable database—updated weekly—of more than 3,000 publishers, publications, contests and agents. That sounds great.

Question: Have other market guides, magazines, or websites with market listings been helpful to you? If so, please help your fellow aspiring writers by leaving a comment for our readers.

Next up will be Question 4:  “How can I understand terminology in those market guides and know what that means, for me? Is it O.K. for me to agree to sell  all rights, and what in the world is a kill fee? or an SASE?”

To automatically receive quick answers to all 12 questions in this series, click EMAIL SUBSCRIPTION  (bottom right) on any Sell Your Nonfiction blog sub-page.

Happy Writing!

Laurie Winslow Sargent

Copyright 2010, Laurie Winslow Sargent.

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