Every aspiring writer should include print publications in their writing career planning. It’s all about building your reputation, making publishing connections and gaining niche audience visibility.
Besides all that, there are two other facts to consider:
- Print publications often pay astoundingly well
- Magazine editors live to have the perfect article pitch arrive on their doorsteps
Many writers ignore print publications. The most common reasons I hear for not bothering to approach print publications (apart from living life online): “It’s too hard. I always get rejected whenever I send in an article.”
Here’s usually why:
- You did not query the publication first (i.e. pitch your article idea)
If you haven’t sent a query letter, you’ve wasted your time and theirs.
Send one, and you automatically double your chances of acceptance.
An editor might even say “we already have someone covering Easter Traditions in the Ukraine, but we’re looking for a piece on Twenty Different Egg Decorating Techniques.” If you can respond with a quick affirmative, presto—you’ve just gone from being a freelancer to landing a solid commission.
- You ignored the publication’s editorial calendar
Every magazine has a schedule detailing themes or topics for upcoming months. Themes are loosely planned at least a year ahead. If you can offer an article on Plant Phenology to a gardening magazine that is scheduling a Natural Gardening edition for April (and you offer it at least six-to-three months before April) your chances of acceptance soar yet again.
Finding a Magazine’s Editorial Calendar
It’s usually drop-dead easy to find a publication’s editorial calendar. Look for it on the publication’s website—look in the “Advertise with us” section first. In addition to relevant stats and demographics about the publication’s audience, you will also usually find a list of upcoming themes and topics, along with submission information–like this example from Horse Sport magazine…
(If you can’t find it on the website, call the publication’s advertising department and request a copy.)
In the print non-fiction world, making the right pitch to the right editor, the right number of months in advance on the right topic makes getting accepted much easier.
Every serious writer (including fiction writers) should build their own offline editorial calendar, and plan to submit a comfortable number of non-fictional article queries per month to print publications on a regular basis.