Archive for the ‘Magazine Writing Basics’ Category

“Can writers meet magazine editors in person? Does it help?” Part 1

“How can writers meet editors in person?  Is it helpful?” Part 1

Yes, it’s possible to meet some, and yes, it can be helpful.

Yet by nature, freelancing tends to be a long-distance business. You will sell to editors you never meet in person, especially if you write for national or specialized publications or for book houses in cities miles from your hometown.

And that’s OK. It’s your words on paper they buy, not your good looks. What they see in print from you is what their readers will see, after a bit of editorial polish and spit.

That’s not to say that you won’t develop relationships with editors. Between emails, phone conversations, chat, and snail mail you may work together very closely, and for many years. You will learn and grow from their input. They will become familiar with your experience, knowledge, and writing skill sets. That leads to more trust, and repeat assignments.

If someday you finally get a few minutes to meet them, that’s a bonus and a pleasure.

However,  I admit that I got a nice jump-start in writing for one magazine by meeting the primary editor at a writer’s conference. You can do the same.

That doesn’t mean it necessarily gave me an edge over other writers. It simply means that instead of trying to get that editor’s attention in a sterile, black and white, 12 point Times New Roman font, I had 15 minutes to reveal my enthusiasm for the magazine and my fountain of ideas, while pitching one idea more specifically.

After the conference, when I sent the formal query in the mail for him to consider more closely, I had the privilege of it being moved to a smaller stack on his desk than his towering slush pile, due to my scribbled words  “requested material” on the envelope. However, that one meeting did lead to my writing for nearly every issue of the magazine for six years, so it was the beginning of great working relationship.

Not all editors attend conferences, and not all conferences are suitable (or affordable) for you to attend. Find several conferences that appeal to you. Look online at the brochures to see who is attending. You might see an editor listed who would be a good fit for a query you are working on.

However, the purpose for attending should not revolve solely around the one meeting. Look for workshops and keynote presentations that excite you. Look  forward to learning a ton and developing new friendships. Before I go to any conference, I pray that my time there will be well spent, to help others as well as getting help myself.

Consider the whole conference a relationship-building experience, in addition to a chance to build writing skills. Your excitement about being there in general will carry through into your editorial appointments.  Then if a serendipitous moment happens, say a prayer of thanks.

Next up is Part 2: ” Can writers meet magazine editors in person? How are appointments arranged?”

Write on!

Laurie Winslow Sargent


“What’s the fastest way to get an editor to reject my query?”

We’ve discussed how you can net an article contract based on a well-written, one-page query letter. You don’t have to write the whole article in advance. However, don’t shoot yourself in the foot from the start. Your query letter must be as error-free as possible.

I sincerely hope this note about grammar goofs preaches to the choir. I want to assume that you all write flawlessly, and merely need to find homes for your excellent writing. But as I focus on basic article marketing and move on to advanced concepts, I’d be remiss in not at least mentioning how critical it is to check and double-check every sentence you send to an editor, and why:

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“How do I find online writer’s guidelines, to tell me what magazine editors want and need?”

This post addresses Question 5 of 12 in the Magazine Writing Basics blog series.

UPDATE: Helpful for this year are the 2014 Writer’s Market books, if you want to know how to find editors and publishers to pitch your writing to. Those guides list thousands of publishers, with descriptions of what they’re looking for and how to contact them. The deluxe versions include online access for a year, with periodic updates to reflect changes.

To read posts you’ve missed, click to the ARCHIVES. To get future posts sent to you automatically, sign up via the EMAIL SUBSCRIPTION box in the sidebar to the right —–>

Q.  “Where can I find more detailed guidelines from publishers?”

The easy answer to this question is that a publisher is likely to post a version of their writer’s guidelines on the magazine’s website. (It may be a trimmed-down version, compared to that in market guides.) However, that sub-page within the website may be a little hard to find.  Here are a few clues for finding information you need on who to send your submissions to, and how:

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“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:

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“How do magazines pay writers for articles and stories?”

This post addresses Question 2 (see Magazine Writing Basics for all 12 questions) about how to start writing and selling to magazines.

Q. “How do I get paid for my articles or stories?”

Freelance writers for magazines are usually paid per published word. (Newspapers usually pay per column inch or per column.) How does this translate to actual income?

Articles are usually submitted in 12 pt, Times New Roman font, double-spaced, with 1” margins. This translates to about 250 words per typed page.

A magazine page with all text would have about 1,000 words. Of course, most magazine pages contain at least 1/3 graphics, with plenty of additional white space created by the use of lists, headers, quotes, fillers, etc. Many articles are about 750 words long (in other words, three of your typed, double-spaced pages). In some magazines, features run 2,000 to 3,000 words, but you will notice that material usually includes sidebars or a collection of mini articles on one theme. (I will explain later how to increase your article sales by strategically writing filler and sidebar material.) If you do the math, what this means is:

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“How do writers submit articles to magazines?”

This post addresses question 1 in the Magazine Writing Basics blog series.

(Questions 1 and 2 were also already posted on the static page, Magazine Writing Basics, which also offers an overview of this series. However, that content seems not to have entered the subscription feed.)

This post reveals 12 common steps to publication. REMEMBER that each step will be covered in much more detail in other posts and articles!  This offers simple answers, just to give you the overall picture, and to let you know where you are headed in your new nonfiction writing journey.

Q. “Can you help me understand how the industry works?”

Most magazines buy writing from freelance writers, in addition to having their own in-house writers.  A freelance writer is self-employed and paid per article. Each article you write is a stand-alone product, with its own contract, even if you sell many articles to the same magazine.  Here’s how the process generally works . . .

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