Mistake 53: Not Knowing the Magazine Market

70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer, from The Writer’s Digest Writing Kit

Why this is a mistake: When it comes to writing for magazines, one of the biggest mistakes is not knowing the market well enough. Editors want a new and fresh story, but they want the story within a context that appeals to their subscribers or audience. If you send a query to a magazine you’ve never read, odds are you’re going to miss the mark.

The solution:
If you look at magazine racks, you will see that there are magazines for just about every subject imaginable. If you expect to be paid by any of these magazines, you have to make yourself familiar with their content. You can’t just go by the title of the magazine and blindly submit. Often there is a slant to their material. Do your homework. Research the market, find out which titles suit your work, and be able to articulate why.

You should also make note of the lengths of the articles. If a magazine typically publishes 2,000-word features, they’re not going to be interested in your 5,000-word masterpiece, no matter how great it is. When you make contact with editors, you have to work with them because they have a deadline and a certain space for each piece they buy. If you establish a good working relationship, often you will find them coming back to you instead of the other way around.

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