Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Art of How-To Writing for Regional Parenting Magazines

I recently met up with a freelancer who paid her kids' way through school with freelance income AND has been published in Women's World, Parenting, and enough other women's magazines to make me sufficiently jealous...and very attentive. Linda said that one of her steady markets has been regional newspapers and magazines. She wrote mainly parenting articles, and discovered that many of the family/parenting publications favor "how to" articles with a certain format and style:

The Art of the How-To Article
The articles Linda writes typically run around 700 words (the lower word counts start at 500 and go up to 1000 on the high end). The pay is around $25 to $50 each, which isn't a lot, BUT-- many regional publications take reprints and usually don't care if the article is published elsewhere, as long as the regions don't overlap. (For example, you can send an article to a publication in Fairfield County, CT, and another to Litchfield County, CT...but not to two different papers that BOTH publish in Fairfield County, because their readership might be the same.)

  • Begin the Article with an Intro Paragraph  This can be as short as a sentence (but usually longer), and lets readers know what the spin is (i.e., "Earth Day is the perfect time to think about ways you can save energy--your own energy.") The last sentence introduces the list of tips. For example, "Below are a few fun and easy writing activities to try on your next road trip."  

  • List Several Tips  List between three to five tips. Too few tips, and the article appears stingy; too many, and you'll either have too long of an article, or sections that are too short and not meaty enough. Each "tip" should have its own section with a header that plays off your article title. If the piece is about getting kids interested in gardening, and titled, "Grow a Gardener," one heading might be, "Weed Out Their Least Favorite Duties".  Each section should be about the same length, and when possible, flow logically into the next section. References to books or websites are bonus items that editors will appreciate

  • Add a Concluding Paragraph at the End

  • Include a Sidebar  This should average about 100 words, and offer information NOT covered in the article. For an article about science activities to do at home, the sidebar might mention a list of kids' science websites, or recommended science kits. This is also a good place to add the local touch that many regional magazines want.

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