Anyone can become a magazine article writer. It’s all about coming up with a unique perspective on an idea, presenting yourself well, and nourishing the writer-editor relationship so you can have even more writing opportunities and stronger industry contacts.
It can take a lot of legwork to get started in the magazine industry. It will require research of industry standards, contact methods, and submission guidelines.
Getting your foot in the door comes down to making contact--contacting the right person in the right way at the right time.
Before querying or sitting down to write an article, I recommend using the magazine’s website as a resource. Some magazines list specific topics they’re looking for, which is a fabulous way to get your foot in the door. They know exactly what they want, and now it’s up to you to give it to them.
If you’re an industry expert, another great way to get your foot in the door is to create a strong online presence. You can use your clout and expertise to get you in front of an editor, so to speak. If you have the experience to back up your article topic, you have a better chance of being published. And if you create a strong presence, magazine editors might even come to you.
Don’t neglect going to conferences and workshops related to magazine writing or your specific industry. You can make some stellar contacts that will not only be great industry resources, but they can provide you with writing opportunities you may not have come across otherwise.
A lot goes into this process, but here are the basic steps.
Many magazines have set fees already. You can try to negotiate, but many are set in stone. So, if it’s too small of an amount and the exposure isn’t worth it, move on to the next magazine. If a magazine’s fees are firm, there’s no point in wasting your time and the editor’s time.
However, if you find a magazine that has an open fee scale, you’ll need to determine your rate beforehand. This shows confidence and experience, even if you don’t have the either at the moment. Determining your fee scale can be tricky, but there are resources that can help you.
First, determine your writing and topic experience. The more you have, the higher fee you can charge. Next, determine the magazine’s budget. If it’s a smaller magazine, they may not have the budget to pay your preferred rate. If that’s the case, you need to determine if the low fee is worth the effort and the benefit you’ll get from writing for that particular magazine. Here’s a great resource on what to charge for your writing. Remember, those are basic guidelines, so you can modify the fee based on several factors.
Know your rights. You can sell certain rights and not others, giving you more opportunities to earn money for your article as it’s published in different formats.
If you don't land any opportunities at first, don't lose hope. Sometimes it's all about persistence.
What has helped you break into the magazine article writing industry?
I'm an adjunct creative writing professor and freelance writer, but I dream of being a published novelist. This is my journey.