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Freelance Writers: How to Get Published in a Magazine (the Wise Way)
Written by William Ballard, Freelance Writer and Author
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 of some 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 somewhat of a 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 a wise way and a foolish way.
The Foolish Way
Some freelance writers really take the round-about way of getting published in magazines. This way involves writing an article, and then essentially pitching your article around to a magazine that may be interested in publishing it. The problem with this approach is that each magazine has its own style and audience, and so each magazine is looking for a very unique article that fits their voice and theme. Therefore, 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 and frustration, for sure.
The Wise Way
The wiser, and therefore likely, the better way to get published in a magazine is to research the magazine or magazines that you are interested in. Focus your research on editorial calendars 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 guidelines. 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 headed with your ideas as well as your writing style.
You will want to pay attention to query guidelines, 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-addressed, stamped envelope for the editor to reply to you with.
Don’t Overdue Yourself!
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, 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 article 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 your way up to larger and more prestigious magazines as you gain experience writing for magazines. Many of the larger magazines actually will want to see where else you’ve 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 daunting and distant possibility now, but with hard work, dedication, and knowing what steps to take on your path to freelance writing success, you can make your dream a reality.
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About the Author
William Ballard is the author of, "8 Tips to Freelance Writing Success (Article Writing Series)" and "3 Steps to Blogging Success: Discovering Your Passion, Finding Your Audience, and Developing an Income Stream (Article Series)".
He has been writing professionally for over 10+ years and has much experience within the industry, both in publishing and in freelance writing. He has successfully self-published over 10 books and eBooks. Visit his Amazon Author Page to see list of his most recent projects.