Thursday, 16 September 2021

T The Pro-Active Author

For Exposure, Pitch Magazine Editors

For many years I've been writing for print magazines. Also I've been a magazine editor and know from the perspective of an editor the competitive nature of this business. I've written for many publications which no longer exist. Yet I contend writers need to include writing for magazines as a part of your writing life. For several reasons:

1. You Gain Broad Exposure in Print Publications. For a minute, let's talk realistic numbers. Yes you “may” write a book which becomes a bestseller but that is extremely rare. Your lifetime book sales are somewhat tied to the way you publish. The average self-published book sells about 100 copies during the lifetime of sales cycle. The average traditionally published book sells about 1,000 copies during the lifetime of the book. Every author “hopes” to exceed the numbers but understanding them gives you a bit of a reality check on the publishing world. In contrast, the circulation numbers for print publications are much larger. It's fairly easy to reach 100,000 or 200,000 people through a magazine—whether a large publication or small. Admittedly books are more permanent than magazines but the reach is broad with print publications.

2. You Increase Your Platform. In the early days of my writing life before my first book, I wrote for magazines. Book editors and literary agents read magazines looking for writers. It is a lot easier to write a 1500 word magazine article (or shorter) than to craft a 60,000 word book manuscript whether fiction or nonfiction. Every magazine includes a short bio of the writer at the end where you can list a book and a website. The exposure is helpful to you as a writer.  Marketing studies have shown that someone needs to hear about your book six or seven times before they actually purchase it. Your magazine writing can be a part of the exposure for your writing to new audiences. I have a lot more detail in my free, 43 page Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author.

3. You Practice Your Storytelling and Professionalism. Writing for magazines teaches some basic skills for every writer. You learn how to write interesting headlines and first paragraphs. You learn how to tell a focused story with a beginning, middle and ending. You learn how to write for a particular word count and deadline. Recently one of my Morgan James authors snagged one of his first magazine assignments. He could not reduce his manuscript from 2,700 words to the editor's request of 2,600 words. It was rare for me to help someone with this detail but I took a few minutes and made some suggested cuts for his article. It is a skill that I've practiced for years but learned in the world of magazine journalism.

I continue to write for several publications on a regular basis. With every submission, I show my professionalism and express my willingness to revise or fix any issues. While I work hard on meeting their expectations, I'm always willing to fix any issues. I recommend you take the same actions with your own submissions to publications.

4. You Must Be Pitching to Start the Editorial Process. I've given some reasons for being involved in print publications but how do you get started? You need to be select a publication, follow the guidelines and be pitching the editor with either a query letter or a full manuscript. The process begins with making that connection. 

Recently I reached out to a local editor where I've never written for the publication. I've known this editor for years from teaching at writer's conferences. We exchanged some emails about writing for this publication. Unexpectedly, this editor wrote asking if I had a short article on the topic of hope. She gave a short deadline for this need. I searched for the word “hope” in a folder of articles on my computer and found a couple of possibilities. One article looked like it “could” work so I revised my short bio then read through the article one more time, and emailed it off to this editor. Within a short amount of time, she responded that the article was exactly what she needed and would go in the next issue. Some of my ability to pull off this article was my experience but also my organization skills. You can do the same thing but you need to be pitching these editors to get on their radar. Do they have an editorial calendar and can you pitch an idea for a forthcoming issue? You will not be published in magazines without taking regular action.

Are you writing for magazines? Tell me about your experiences in the comments below.


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Columnist: Terry Whalin


W. Terry Whalin, a writer and acquisitions editor lives in Colorado. A former  magazine editor and former literary agent, Terry is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written more than 60 nonfiction books including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams. To help writers, he has created 12-lesson online course called Write A Book Proposal. His website is located at:

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