One of the best ways to research magazine markets is to look at sample issues. You can find them on the newsstands or in the library, receive copies from friends, or order back issues from publishers.
A sample issue provides a wealth of information about the magazine, its audience, and its editors. Who reads the magazine? What do they expect in an article? What kind of submissions are the editors most likely to publish?
Here’s what you should look for to find out.
What to Look for in the Magazine
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Who Reads It?
Does the magazine target women, men, professionals in a particular field, teenagers, or busy parents? Besides the articles themselves, make sure to look at any advertising. These companies likely pay top-dollar for magazine ads, and they research their markets carefully. The ads can give you an idea of the age and interests of the people reading the magazine. Are the ads playful and colorful or subtle and serious? The same is likely to be true of the articles.
Types of Articles
Are most of the articles similar, or does the magazine feature different departments? For example, a parenting magazine may have a few articles with advice, a section on activities for kids, and an article or two on family-friendly travel. Some departments may be written strictly by staff, while others may specifically state they’re open to freelance submissions. You can save time and effort by writing and marketing the types of articles that are most likely to be accepted.
What to Look for in the Articles
How long are the articles? Few editors have time to ask a writer to cut a 4000-word essay down to 1000, or to turn a few paragraphs into a 2000-word feature. Writer’s guidelines (if available) may give you an exact word count, but you can make a reasonable estimate by looking at the printed page. Making sure the length of your article fits with the magazine can mean the difference between acceptance and rejection.
Does the magazine have a format that each article follows? For example, craft magazines may start each article with a brief introduction about the project, follow it with a bullet list of required supplies, and then give step-by-step directions. Using this same format for your article will show that you are familiar with the magazine, and make it easier for the editors to say “yes.”
Are the articles formal and academic or warm and personal? Do they cite facts and figures or relate personal experiences? Make sure your article is a good fit for the magazine’s audience.
Do the articles use first-person or third-person? How about contractions? You can find out more about style details from the editors if your article is accepted, but making sure you’ve covered the basics makes a great first impression.
Do the articles include photos, diagrams, or sidebars? If you article depends on having supporting materials (color photographs, large sewing patterns) make sure the magazine prints that kind of material. Even if the magazine takes care of final photography or illustrations, you may need to provide snapshots or sketches to help the editors visualize the finished piece.
Even after careful market research, it still takes patience and persistence to get an article published or some help from the best web design company in Traverse City. But if you’ve studied sample issues and made sure your article is a good match, there will be fewer reasons to say “no,” and some very good reasons to say “yes.”
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