Magazine editors and book publishers work hard to help writers understand exactly what they want because they need writers to fill their publications. They often publish these needs in market listings. Freelance writers who want to be successful will follow these listings to the letter.
Probably the biggest single source of market listings for freelancers is Writer’s Market, but you’ll find the in other places. Just google magazine market listings or book publisher market listings and you’ll find all sorts of them. You can sometimes get market listings for a specific magazine or publisher the same way.
Editors and publishers take time to create market listings in hopes of getting material they can use from freelance writers. When I was editing magazines I spent serious time crafting these descriptions of what I wanted.
If you want to be head and shoulders above the freelance writing crowd, follow the listings exactly.
Most writers, unfortunately, don’t.
Here’s how to use market listings effectively:
How To Read & Use Market Listings
Start first by looking at how you’ll be paid. Unless the magazine is literally the only one in its field, ignore those that say they’ll pay on publication. They may never publish it but you’ve got it tied up so you can’t sell it elsewhere. Pays on acceptance is what you want – that means you’ll get paid soon after you receive word the magazine wants your article. For books you want an advance as well as a royalty. If they don’t state the rate and method, call and ask.
Look for words like focus, addressing, etc. which will give you a look at the overall purpose of the publication. A phrase like Current needs or something similar tells you what the editor wants now. One reason I like to have both the printed and online versions of Writer’s Market is because the online version gets updated frequently.
Read the listing all the way through, even the info you don’t think applies to you. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Follow their instructions! Some will accept queries by email, some want phone queries, and others want snail mail. Those who will accept email queries may want it in the body of an email or with an attachment. Do it their way! If you don’t your query will be ignored.
If the piece you’re planning needs photos or other graphics, note if there is additional payment. Most of today’s digital cameras will produce photos good enough for most magazines, but be sure you ask for and get the proper specs for any pictures you want to submit.
Buy a copy or two of the magazine (and declare them as a business expense). The market listing isn’t enough. You need to be familiar with the magazine – all of it. (See 11 Must Know Tips About How To Study A Magazine So You Can Make Sales.) In the case of books, ask for a copy of the book catalog or find it on the publisher’s website.
Follow these guidelines and write a dynamite query and you may be pleasantly surprised to find you get an assignment or a contract.
How do you use market listings?
Write well and often,