Remember that wonderful idea you had for a freelance story about making costumes for Halloween last year? Or was it the year before?
How about the recipe for Christmas cookies you thought would go well in a regional magazine?
Or that year-end trip you took to an almost secret hide-away?
Then there are the spectacular photos you took of the New Year’s festival in that far off land.
You did get those ideas written down in your idea file, didn’t you?
Query end of year freelance stories mid-summer
Now is the time to fire off well crafted queries to consumer and trade magazines, large newspapers with their own magazine section and even some of the larger blogs.
Why? Because it’s just about now that they are planning their soft-news features for their end of the year features and fillers.
While you and I are thinking summer heat and fun, magazine editors are thinking Halloween, Christmas and the end of the year. Magazines often plan from 90 to 180 days ahead. Not for news, obviously, but for those feel good stories that come toward the end of every calendar years. Even the magazine section of big newspapers get planned far in advance, particularly for the end of the year issues.
Yes, they may pick up some last minute news or stories minutes before they go to print, but the bulk of the work will be done long before that. Sending your query about a holiday freelance story now lands on their desk when their thinking about year end issues.
Smaller targets plan later in the year
Local magazines, smaller newspapers, and most blogs don’t plan ahead this early. If you’ve got a freelance story targeted at them, you’ll want to query them later in the year – maybe September, October, November, and even the first week of December.
Pick up the phone and ask
If you’re not sure when to query a particular publication for end of the year stories, the simplest way to find out is to pick up the phone and ask. Sure, check Writer’s Market, a listing may mention when they want holiday stories submitted. Most of the time, however, that isn’t mentioned one way or the other.
Ask the person who answers the phone when they want year end holiday material submitted. They may know, or be able to refer you to an editorial calendar you didn’t know about. Most likely, you’ll get transferred to an editor’s assistant, but you could get lucky and end up with an editor – if this happens, pitch your story, saying something like:
Hi, I’m a freelance writer who wants to query a special story about a Christmas dog rescue. When should I send the query?
You can’t count on an opportunity like this, but you can prepare a bit for it just in case.
If you regularly write seasonal stories you need to keep a calendar that let’s you know when to submit them. Six months ahead is a good guideline for the bigger publications – you could, for example, note spring stories get submitted as early as January.
Part of the freelance writing game is being proactive about when you submit your freelance stories.
How to you decide when to query?
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Write well and often,