CHECK THE MASTHEAD
1. Avoid publications where Publisher and Editor are the same, or related to each other, or where there are no senior or section editors. A long list of "contributing editors" usually means few opportunities for freelancers.
2. Note the editorial office address, whether e-mail is given for the editor, and whether editorial and circulation are the same. If so, this is a tiny operation, perhaps out of somebody's home.
PAGE THROUGH THE MAGAZINE
3. Check to see if all short pieces are written by staff. If so, you won't be able to break into those sections, which are traditionally good entry points for writers new to the magazine.
4. Note whether the magazine uses fillers, both practical and anecdotal. Do they credit contributors of these? Is there a box at the bottom of the page asking readers to contribute? If so, what does it say about payment and rights? If they claim to buy all rights, keep in mind that this only applies to the actual wording, so if you don't get a response from this market within a reasonable length of time, rewrite that filler and send it elsewhere.
5. Notice if sidebars are written by the same person who authors the article, or by someone else?
GET A FEEL FOR THE MAGAZINE
7. Note the target audience of the ads. How expensive are the items advertised? Are all the ads aimed at the same demographic?
8. Read the Editor's Letter. That often reveals what kind of stories are important to him/her, and may give hints of his/her special interests, marital status, family, pets, etc.
9. Read letters from readers. What do they say they like, dislike, want more of? Often you can base a query on, "I noticed in the March issue that a reader would like to see an article on&ldots;"
I find it helpful to keep my notes about key markets, particularly national ones, in a binder separated by type of article. My binder, for example, has divisions for Personal Essay, Opinion, Arts, Humor, Cats.
Behind each market analysis page, I file samples from that market. I "refresh" these regularly, pulling out the old ones and adding newer clips.
© 2007 Barbara Florio Graham
CREATE a CHART to TRACK SUBMISSIONS
This can be very simple, hand-drawn or created on the computer. You need columns for DATE, TITLE OF SUBMISSION, TYPE (Q for Query, A for complete article), RIGHTS (to indicate if this is a subsequent sale of the same piece), LENGTH (number of words), ADD'L (a column where you can indicate if you've enclosed photos, sent the piece via snail mail instead of e-mail, etc.), and RESULT (a check mark if you've heard back, and either R for rejected, A for accepted, and a dollar amount when paid).
CREATE A MARKETING PLAN
1. Use one sheet for each article
2. At the top, list the title, the title in your computer folder (if different), the version (if you have different versions for different markets, countries, lengths, all using the same or similar titles), and the word count (perhaps a range if different version are different lengths).
3. On each line, list each marketing effort with the date, in chronological order. I list potential markets in pencil, changing this to ink when I actually query or send the piece, then add actual word count, rights licensed, date of publication, and amount paid when it's actually sold. The records of each piece on these sheets duplicate the information on your submissions' sheet, so when you enter something on one, you should update the other as well.
You may want to include a column on this sheet for Reference, so you can list a coded reference about where you found this market, such as WM 431, for Writer's Market page 431. This can be useful when you want to check back to refer to the actual market listing.
© 2007 Barbara Florio Graham