Kristen has been writing for over 30 years. She graduated from UCF with a B.A. in English-Creative Writing.
So, you want to be a freelance magazine writer. There are many things to consider when writing an article intended for magazine publication. Should I go with e-zines or traditional media? Do I need an agent? Who do I send the article to? How do I send it to them? There are so many questions that there are numerous books on the subject.
So, how do you get yourself through the jungle of advice and tips? The most important things to consider about magazine writing are:
- How to write a good query letter
- How to match your articles with the right publication
- How to go on after being rejected
1. Writing a Query Letter
The query letter is the first impression the editor has of all writers during their first time out, or first time with that publication. A good query letter consists of three sections: summary, explanatory paragraphs, and the paragraph about your qualification. This is where you sell not only the article, but yourself. Some publications do not even want the completed article initially; they only want the query letter to start. So this first step is very important. You want to represent your article in the best possible light. It is from the query letter the editor will determine whether they want to reject it sight unseen or proceed to read and possibly publish it. The chances of being printed for public consumption live and die here. But you need to sell yourself as well. Having experience and training in your craft are key to opening doors with editors. They would much rather look at a manuscript from someone they know has the ability to write. Having firsthand knowledge of a topic helps as well. This is one of those moments when “write what you know” helps.
2. Matching With the Right Publication
Determining the target audience for your article is key, as it will then determine where you will submit it. The good news is that there are many publications that cover just about every topic conceived. The objective that writers need to consider is the fact that so many of them nowadays are highly specialized. This is due to the demands of today’s periodical marketplace. The modern reader is more interested in specialization of a topic rather than a general one. So an article that covers a subject in broad term may not find a place in most publications. This is why being familiar the publications you are looking to submit too is important. Knowing what their specialty is will help shape the way you approach the subject.
3. Handling Rejection
Rejection is a part of writing. It is so much so that it's the norm. Even some of the top writers today, such as Stephen King and J.K. Rowling, faced years of rejection before they were first published. It’s not an overnight phenomenon. If you are not prepared for it, rejection can wear a writer down to the point of no longer pursuing writing professionally. Persistence is required. When you accept this, you will be prepared to eventually succeed. Likewise, not having your article immediately accepted does not mean total rejection by the periodical. Magazine writing is not just accepting and rejecting; there are a couple of levels in between. One option is the wait list. The editor may like your article, but it may not work in the current issue. This is a good thing, as you have tapped into something with your article that spoke to them. Then an editor may not find your article fits with their publication, but likes your writing style. It is important to follow up with them in both of these cases.
Writing for publications is a tough business to break into. It is one that is not for the faint of heart or the easily discouraged. One should be prepared to put much time and work into getting that first published article. It could be a long, strange journey to get there, but it will all be worth it when you see your name in that publication. As long as you create strong query letters, customize your articles to the publications you are submitting to and do not take rejection personally, then you have the tools to make it as a freelance writer.
Harrison, Charles H. How to Write for Magazines: Consumer, Trade, and Web. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2002. Print.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2017 Kristen Willms