The beginner’s guide p.2
First, you’ll need a few definitions:
Consumer Magazines: These typically pay the best. These are the types of magazines you might find in a grocery store check-out line, convenience store, in your airplane seat pocket, or your doctor’s office. Types of consumer mags: mens, womens, special interest, inflight, teens, school/career, travel, health, ethnic/minority, political, entertainment, romance, religious, etc. This is the area most writers try to break into.
Literary Magazines: These dont pay much, if at all. However, what they lack in moolah, they make up for in prestige. If youre looking to jump-start your career as a fiction writer or poet, your best chance at recognition may come in the form of one of these small publications. Often published by colleges and universities, their circulation is usually regional and low. They generally seek scholarly essays, intellectually challenging prose, poetry, and book reviews. Publishers will be impressed if you succeed in placing your work in one of the more prominent journals (Cimarron Review, Ploughshares, and Story, for example).
Trade Journals: Pay varies greatly. Any publication that focuses on a particular occupation/industry falls into this category. This is where your expertise can shine. There are trade journals for almost every line of work, from art dealers to truck drivers. In general, your written eloquence is not as important as your research and timely knowledge for these publications.
E-Zines: Pay varies greatly. Simply put, e-zines are simply magazines on the Internet. The only major difference is that articles for e-zines can usually run longer than print magazines. (No printing costs, so space isnt as important an issue for e-zine editors.) Most e-zines dont pay (except by means of a byline) but this trend is changing. The most popular sites (Lifetimetv.com and Wired, for example) pay quite well. Topics stretch as wide as your imagination.
Now that you know, learn how to contact them!
There are tons of ways to find markets that are open to freelancers. If you were paying attention, you might notice that this very website is looking for writers! Finding places to submit your work is easy if you know where to look.
First, the most important tool in a freelancer’s toolbox is The Writers Market. Available at any major bookstore, this is an annual compilation of more than 2,000 magazines, 1,000 book publishers, and even specialized markets like greeting cards, script writing, and syndicates.
The next best tools are online. Lucky you! They’re free. Absolute Markets is a weekly e-zine filled with market guidelines, contest listings, and marketing tips. Freelancing4Money puts out a jam-packed e-zine filled with freelance opportunities. Writer’s Digest has a great, searchable database of markets. Writing For Dollars has a biweekly newsletter with market guidelines, and a searchable database on the website. And Writers Weekly lists calls for writers and market guidelines each week.
You can even run a search for freelance writers on any major search engine, and youre likely to come up with tons of listings. Try specifying if possible; add words that fit your needs. (Example: paying markets, romance, teen magazines.)
So, your next assignment is this: go back to your trusty notebook and pick out your very favorite idea. That will now be known as your Big Idea. Pick the markets that best fit your idea. Choose several. Find out if you can get a free or discounted sample copy. (Writers often can, if you specify that you would like to query them in the future.) Request writers guidelines if available. Its considered poor form to query publications that youve never read, or know nothing about. Do your best to read at least one copy of whatever magazine or journal you plan to query. Check your library for copies if you prefer not to go broke researching.
Got it now? You have your idea, and youve found places to submit it? Great! Then you’ll need to learn proper protocol for writing and submitting the Killer Query.