How To Submit A Magazine Article: A Step by Step Tutorial
I Know Who You Are
There are still some of you out there in Cyberspace who have not submitted an article yet, aren’t there? You know who you are. Despite all of the encouragement I have given, you have managed to find excuses that seemingly justify not submitting your work to a magazine. Well, I will not be derailed.
I am willing to bet that one of those excuses is that you have never done this and you are unsure of the procedure. I am also willing to make it a Daily Double and bet that there are some of you who have not done it because you are not convinced that you are good enough to be published.
Well to those two excuses I say hogwash and more hogwash.
It occurred to me today that perhaps it would help you if I took you through the entire process, step by step. I just finished an afternoon of submitting work so the process is fresh in my mind. What better time to write this article than now?
Here is the one truth I know: If you are a good writer then you have a good chance of being published. There are thousands of online and in-print magazines to submit to, and each one accepts a certain number of freelance articles each year. It might as well be you.
Some Preliminary Remarks
There are two ways to submit to a magazine. One, you can send a query letter suggesting a topic and article, as yet to be written. Two, you can send an introductory letter and a finished article for their review.
I have always taken the second route. I have written over 500 articles on HubPages and quite frankly I don’t feel like writing any new ones just for a magazine. With so many magazines to choose from, I can always find a magazine that specializes in information that I have already written about. If necessary I can tweak my article to fit the submission guidelines of a publication, but that is much better than writing an entirely new article….at least in my opinion it is.
Some magazines will not accept submissions only and that’s fine. There are enough that do to keep me quite busy.
With that point out of the way I want you to grab your copy of the Writer’s Market and follow along with me. What? You don’t have the Writer’s Market? Oh for heaven’s sake! I have harped and harped and harped some more about this and still some of you have ignored me.
Fine! Follow along anyway and I’ll try to tell you everything you need to know without the writing Bible.
I began today choosing an article to submit. Today was adoption day for me, so I read through the twelve adoption articles I have written and chose one for submission. It is titled “A Message To Adopted Children Everywhere: Stand Proud.”
I read through the article to make sure there were no grammatical errors, even though I have already proofread it five times earlier.
Next I took my Writer’s Market and went to the consumer magazines section. There I found a section for Parenting Magazines. I painstakingly went through that entire section ( there were 25 magazines under this section) and I read the submission guidelines for each one. I marked the ones that were looking for what I was offering, and I began the submission process.
Read the Guidelines
Let’s take a look at Sacramento Parent Magazine for this exercise.
Under their section I was given an email address for submissions and a name to go with that submission. I was told that they accept queries by e-mail, and they are interested in general interest and personal experience. So far so good. They have a circulation of 50,000 and they publish monthly They pay upon publication and they pay between $50-200 for original articles.
They also give a website where I can view their magazine, and that was the next step.
Great tips from a pro
Is this helpful for you?
Viewing the Magazine
Onward to www.sacramentoparent.com I went in search of information I needed. Once there I read a few articles to make sure that my style matched what they preferred. Next I looked for their “writing guidelines” link and yes, most magazines will have that link on their website.
I clicked on that link and was treated to the following information:
• 300-500 words for short articles
• 600-900 words for medium-length articles
• 1000+ words for long features (usually only allotted for narrative or in-depth stories)
Able to provide great photos along with your words? You rock! If we can use them (i.e., they're attractive, hi-res and BIG enough), we generally offer additional payment, and, of course, photo credit.
We have a limited monthly budget, and our rates vary (from $25 to $45 for reprints to around $50 to $200 for original articles) depending on the fit for our publication, and the amount of journalism, research, or travel, etc. required by a story. Not to mention how much additional work it needs before it's ready for layout. Whenever possible, we are happy to help new and emerging writers build their skills and portfolios, and we can offer pointers on picking up reprint fees in the parenting publications market. (Note: If you’re submitting with an asking price, please include online rights fees.)
We require regional exclusivity (usually 6 months-1 year). If you submit a piece to multiple publications within the Greater Sacramento region, please ensure that it does not run in parallel publications within that time frame. We will notify you of intent to publish well in advance; if you agree, and you have submitted the piece to other local publications, please retract it from those other guys.
Note: Editorial staff has the right to edit copy and make final decisions on page layout. We are not able to provide writers with final drafts before printing.
Thank you so much for your time, hard work and talents,
and for your interest in contributing to Sacramento Parent magazine!
Dandelion & The Source Book
Thank the heavens that I did this because the contact information at the bottom of that page did not match up with the contact information in the Writer’s Market. Upon further investigation I found that Ms. Bokman was indeed the editor and contact person, and not Ms. Crelly as stated in the Writer’s Market. Important information because it shows the editor that I cared enough to find out her correct name, and that is huge for brownie points.
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- How To Write A Successful Query Letter
How do you get the attention of an agent/publisher? Probably the single most important step is to craft a professional query letter. Follow these suggestions and you just might hook an agent.
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Next Step: The Query Letter
I was not sending a classic query letter in that I was not asking permission to write an article. Instead, I sent Ms. Bokman an introductory email explaining the article I was submitting to her. Here is that email:
Dear Ms. Bokman:
There are approximately 130,000 adoptions in the United States each year, with the latest statistics showing a 26% increase over the last reporting period. Chances are that every member of your staff knows someone who is adopted, a fact that underscores the importance of the article I am proposing to you.
I am adopted. I was adopted at nine months of age and yes, I have been adopted ever since. J
What is it like to be adopted? What are the thoughts of an adopted child? What insecurities do they feel and what issues of self-worth do they deal with?
Those are the questions answered in my article, “A Message To Adopted Kids Everywhere: Stand Proud.” It is a positive message of hope and it is a message that will help all parents who have adopted or are considering adoption, as well as adopted children everywhere. I have attached the article to this email and I hope you take the time to read it. I have no doubt that your readers will find it uplifting and inspirational.
Who am I? I am a professional freelance writer, former teacher, former business owner and very active adoptee. I have written over 500 articles for the writer’s site HubPages and I have three published magazine articles to my credit.
I look forward to hearing from you soon and discussing the publication of this important article.
William D. Holland
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”
To that letter I attached the article. This was allowed by this magazine. If they did not want attachments to an email they would have mentioned that in their guidelines, in which case I would have copied and pasted the article at the bottom of my email.
I re-read the email and made sure the address was correct and that there were no errors and then I hit “send.”
I was almost done. The last thing I did was go to my online article tracker and enter the information. I do this for every submission. I mark down the date of submission, the magazine title, the person I contacted and the article name. Why? Because there are times when a submission will be lost and it never hurts to follow up. Also, when I do hear back from the contact person, I gauge by their language whether they are interested in anything else I might have to submit. I find this article tracker to be invaluable and a great networking tool.
So there you have it. I plan on doing much more of this starting in July as I cut back on my HubPages activity.
So what is my success rate? To date, covering the last nine months, I have submitted fifty-eight articles to magazines and I have had three accepted and published. That is a success percentage of 5.2%.
Is that good? Heck if I know, but it’s exciting for me because ladies and gentleman, this is a numbers game. Provided you are a good writer, and provided you do the legwork, then the more you submit the better your chances.
In other words, my future success is in my hands, and I like it that way.
Please note that I received fifty-five rejection letters during this process. I had every reason to give up and feel like a loser. Nonsense! There is nothing personal about a rejection letter, and with every rejection letter came the opportunity to learn more about the process.
I hope that has helped some of you. Give it a try. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”