Writing for Magazines

By Harriet Michael

When I was a little girl, I loved fishing with my dad. We lived in Nigeria then, so we didn’t have access to many of the fun things people in America had. We didn’t even have swimming pools without traveling at least an hour’s drive from my home. But we had a man-made water reservoir where I could fish. I learned to cast my line out into murky waters, wait in anticipation to feel that tug on my line and then try and reel it in without letting the fish get away.

girls fishing

Maybe that’s why I like freelance writing. I cast pieces—articles, devotions, short stories—out into the murky waters of cyberspace and wait hopefully. Sometimes I feel that tug and sometimes I even reel in a great catch in the form of a contract for a submitted piece.

Of all the publications for which I write, magazines are among my favorite. I get to write on topics of interest to me because I choose the type of magazine I wish to submit to, they pay (some better than others) so I have a flow of cash coming in all year long, and they help build my platform because they are viewed by people I otherwise would not be able to reach.

Here are some tips for anyone hoping to break into the magazine-writing market:

  • Search engines are your best friends. You can find any magazine you think you might like to write for by searching that magazine’s name and the words, “writers’ guidelines.” Ex: “The War Cry writers’ guidelines” You can search types of magazines this way too. Ex: “parenting magazines writers’ guidelines” or “cooking magazines writers’ guidelines” Any magazine that takes freelance submissions will show up if you search by topic.
  • Read the writers’ guidelines, taking note of a few things:

a] What rights do they buy? I avoid magazines that buy all rights or exclusive rights. See the article on this blog about a writer’s rights if you do not understand this.

b] How much and when do they pay? Do they pay on acceptance of your submitted piece or when the article is published? This is merely a guide to me so I will know when to expect a payment, but both are fine.

c] What word count do they want? Stick to their requested word count to the best of your ability. Usually, it’s okay to be over or under by less than 10 words but some online submission sites will cut you off at their maximum count, so I prefer to err on the “under” side of things.

d] Do they have a theme list? Do they want a particular type of article?

  • Write and submit according to the guidelines. Follow the guidelines as closely as you can … and then wait to feel that tug on your line.

A question I often get when teaching workshops on freelancing or magazine writing, is should a person write from inspiration or according to a theme requested by the magazine.

My answer: “Both.”

Writing according to the magazines’ wishes, whether that is a theme or a type of article (like a “how-to”, essay, or story) brings greater success. If they are looking for something specific and you give them what they are looking for, they are more likely to buy it. However, there have been times when something has happened in my life that I simply wanted to write down. This happens often but sometimes these pieces sit on my computer for a long time until a theme or magazine where the piece might fit pops up.

One example of this is an article I had published in a gardening magazine last spring about a humorous experience that occurred many years ago. When it happened, my youngest son was in elementary school. I laughed about what happened all day at the time, so knew I wanted to write it before I forgot, but I had nowhere to send it. When I finally found a magazine where this piece fit, my son was in college. Still, they did take it, people enjoyed reading it, and I received a check for it, even though it was more than a dozen years from the time I wrote it to the time it was published.

Click-to-Tweet:  You’ll never catch a fish if you don’t throw a line in the water and you’ll never have an article published in a magazine if you don’t try your hand at writing and submitting one.

magazines

Writing Prompt / Exercise: Look up the writers’ guidelines for a magazine that you enjoy reading and begin writing an article for submission to that magazine. *Hint: Christian magazines get fewer submissions than secular ones, so the chances of getting published in them are higher.

Articles, Articles, Articles! by Linda Gilden

Today we’d like to welcome my friend, Linda Gilden, to the Inspired Prompt blog. Linda has just released a new book on article writing and is an experienced writer, speaker, editor, writing coach, and Certified Personality Trainer.

Glad you could join us Linda! Do you have any interesting writing rituals?

Linda:  I don’t know if you would call it a ritual or not but I prefer to write in my pajamas. I have done this for so long that my family is quite accustomed to finding me in my pajamas late in the afternoon. If I greet them in my pj’s, they know it has been a good and productive writing day.

What are your books about?

LindaArticles, Articles, Articles! is appropriately named. It is about writing articles. Even if you have never written an article, this book will walk you through the steps of writing an article, enlighten you on the different types of articles you can write, and show you how to search for a market for your article. There are examples of article format, a query letter, and much more.

What is your favorite part of the book?

Linda: This is somewhat like asking which child is your favorite! There is so much material in the book that can help writers discover the exciting world of article writing and I love every aspect of this genre. But if I have to pick a favorite part of the book, I think it might be sharing new opportunities contemporary writers have to write. With the digital age, we can no longer just write for print publications, we can also write for websites, e-zines, blogs, and so much more.

Is there a message in your book you hope readers will grasp?

Linda: I hope readers will be encouraged to share the messages that God has given them with others. Not every wants to write articles. But for those who do, I hope they will learn from the book and try their hands at article writing. Article writing is such an effective way to share with others and you can reach many times more readers than with a book alone.

The other thing I hope readers get from this book is that writers must write with excellence. We are writing to share the message God has given us and we must work to learn how to do that in the very best way possible.

Where can readers find you online?

Linda: My website is lindagilden.com and there is a contact page there. I have an Amazon author page as well as a Facebook page and am on Twitter.

Click to tweet: Linda Gilden’s new book on article writing. Article writing is a good way to begin a writing career because you learn to write tightly, meet deadlines, and stay within word count. #amwriting #freelance


Articles, Articles, Articles

Supplement your income doing what you love–writing. Do you want to expand the reach of your message? The answer to that question and many more lies in writing articles. Article writing is a good way to begin a writing career because you learn to write tightly, meet deadlines, and stay within word count. Articles reach more people than books. Articles supplement your income as you sell and resell them to many markets.

Articles, Articles, Articles! will help you: * Learn the basics of article writing * Develop your ideas into marketable articles * Know the difference between articles for print and the web * Explore different types of articles * Understand the rights you sell * Find markets that match your writing skills * And much more! Don’t wait another minute. Begin your adventure into the exciting world of articles today.


Linda Gilden is an experienced writer, speaker, editor, writing coach, and Certified Personality Trainer. Author of the popular Love Notes series, she is also the author of Mommy Pick-Me-Ups, Mama Was the Queen of Christmas, Personality Perspectives – Clues to Building Better Relationships, Called to WriteWhy You Do What You Do, Words to Live By, Called to Speak, and many ghostwritten books. With over a thousand magazine articles to her credit, she is a prolific writer who loves to share a great story. She speaks nationally many times throughout the year, is a frequent radio and television guest, and welcomes the opportunity to help others become better communicators.