Friday, May 16, 2008

Breaking into the Magazine Market: A Plan

It's no secret that most writers work their way up to magazine writing by starting in smaller markets that are easier to break into, like newspapers. And while getting any kind of published clip is a good thing, what's better is getting clips in the same topic you want to eventually pitch to the magazines.

Up until now, I've been writing and submitting on multiple topics. But this morning I sat down and figured out what articles I should be submitting in order to work up to a glossy magazine submission & acceptance. Okay, so I had to revise my whole blasted writing and submission schedules. BUT.

Suddenly all of it has direction, and everything is working towards the same goal. The questions I asked myself (and answers) in the process were:

What topic do I want to write about for the glossy magazines?While there are many things most of us love writing about, narrowing it down to a few topics helps to focus, and build credibility in the eyes of editors. I decided to focus on family and travel, by combining the two into a few articles about living abroad with my husband and going on vacation with family.

What magazines do I want to write for?Um, all of them? But focusing on a few magazines also helps focus in on a certain writing style and format. I chose Family Circle, Woman's Day, and Parenting.

What specific article do I want to submit? And to whom?
Yep, it's time to stop procrastinating researching the markets, and actually get down to writing the dang piece - or a query about it.

Exit:  facade of confidence.
Enter:  the sudden urge for 10 glasses of wine water. That require 10 trips to the fridge. And several chats with Husband along the way.

So I've decided to query a piece about our family's December cross country road trip.

When would I need to submit it by?
It's amazing what penning in a date on the calendar can do for motivation - especially for the procrastinating, deadline-driven types(ehm).

I'd need to submit my query by the end of June//6 months before our road trip.

5. What shoud I do now to get related clips?
The trick here is to write articles on a similar topic, in a similar style to the glossy magazine you're pitching, and then get them published in smaller markets BEFORE the date you just decided on above. That way, you can send those clips along with The Query to Family Circle, Thimbles USA, or whatever magazine you've chosen. So for me, I'd need the clips in hand by June, to send with my query to Family Circle.

I've decided to try getting the following published by then:

  • Austria article, revise and send out
  • Alp Pilates article, revise and send out
  • Mark Twain House article, personalize and send out

Writing and submitting with direction, I think, is the key to staying on track and consistently building up to a magazine acceptance.


ACW said...

Colleen - I admire your plan! Wow. A lot of work, a lot of thinking.

Great points here. I was just in the process of figuing out my focus and this helps.


P.S. We missed you at the ceremony!

Colleen said...

Thank you - it's SO nice to hear that sharing my thoughts helped you out a bit. On the 'planning ahead' theme, I was thinking about your upcoming trip...before I left for Austria, Peter Streckfus told me to pitch my article ideas to a bunch of newspapers so that when I mailed them my completed articles, I'd already started a relationship with them.

I'm not sure where you're planning on pitching the travel pieces from your trip, or if the pitch process would be different for magazines...but it's great that you're already thinking about things now.

Colleen said...

ps - I had a glass of champagne (which I forgot to bring to Carmen's) on Friday night to celebrate :)