How To Get Published in a Magazine

When you first set your mind to becoming a freelance writer, you likely had some big dreams about seeing your name printed in the byline in a major magazine. While there are dozens upon dozens of magazines that publish articles on a regular basis, the truth is that most freelance writers have a somewhat difficult time getting published in even one magazine. There isn’t really a wrong way to go about trying to get published, but there is definitely an easy way and a hard way.

The Hard Way. Some freelance writers really take the round-about way of getting published in magazines. This way involves writing an article, and then essentially shopping your article around to a magazine that may be interested in publishing it. The problem with this method is that each magazine has its own style and audience, and so each magazine is looking for a very unique article. In addition, many magazines focus on a certain theme or general topic for each issue, so it’s fairly unrealistic to expect that your article will be a perfect fit for the theme of the month or the week. Trying to get published this way is the equivalent of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. It may eventually work, but it will take a lot of hard work for sure.

The Easier Way. The easier and therefore likely the better way to get published in a magazine is to research the magazine or magazines that you are interested in getting published in. Focus your research on article submission dates for upcoming issues as well as themes for upcoming issues. Brainstorm a few topic ideas, and then draft a query letter to the editor. Different magazines have different query letter preferences. Some will want to see the first few paragraphs of a single article idea while others simply want to see your article ideas. Most writers have better success when they include the actual first paragraph or two in their query letter, as this gives the editor an idea of where you are heading with your ideas as well as your writing style.

You will want to pay attention to query requirements, such as if the editor prefers them by snail mail, email, or fax. If by snail mail, you may need to include your return email address or a self-addresses, stamped envelope for the editor to reply to you with.

Start Small. It may seem like a lot of hard work to send query letter after query letter to magazines just to write an article. However, this is really just a baby step in your career. Many editors, if they like your initial work with them, will contact you for future articles. So realistically, if you have the talent and style they are looking for, you can expect to begin writing query letters and then have articles requests made to you down the road. In addition, you certainly don’t want to start your first query letter into major magazines like Time or Newsweek. Instead, start small and gradually work yourself up to larger and more reputable magazines as you gain experience writing for magazines. Many of the larger magazines actually will want to see where else you have been published before they will respond to your query letter.

Your dream of seeing your name in the byline of a major magazine may seem like a very remote and distant possibility now, but with hard work, dedication, and knowing what steps to take on your path to success, you can make your dream a reality.


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