May’s Third Thursday Wrap-Up: Writing for Magazines

magazinesAt May’s Third Thursday panelists Sarah Bird, Alicia Dennis, Chuck Eddy and Michael Hall focused on writing for magazines. As usual, the evening was filled with humor and lots of great stories.

This short blog post is just a smidgen of the evening’s information, packaged into a few points to help you with your pursuit of getting published in magazines.

1. Find the scenes within your article, even if it’s non-fiction. Mike Hall does that with the Texas Monthly articles he writes. He suggests you find the story, the narrative within your article. Try to explain the story idea with a headline and  a subtitle, with some kind of theme you can nail down. Within that theme you can do all kinds of things.

2. Use the Writer’s Market book or subscribe to the WritersMarket.com to help you locate publishing opportunities. Alicia shared how one way People magazine creates articles. Reporters file reports about events or people and a staff writer, like Alicia, writes the article. The magazine needs reporters who pitch good ideas and report facts well. Alicia’s advice is to pay attention to your pitch and emphasize why you’re the right person for the assignment.

3. Find your niche. Or not. Chuck said there are the number of people who want to write about music has increased and the number of paying outlets has shrunk. If you can manage to establish some kind of niche, that can help you. Conversely, if you can write about a variety of things you may have more opportunities.

4. Find a magazine you think you could write for, something that fits your style and interests, and look it up in the Writer’s Market. Sarah started writing for True Confessions because she read the magazine and knew she could write for it. 

5. Consider writing a few pieces for free if you aren’t published yet, then you can have some clips to put in your portfolio. This is a concession to the market change caused by technology widening the publishing arena. If you volunteer to write for one of your favorite organizations it can help them and help you at the same time.

6. On the other hand, don’t write for free if you are an established writer. Alicia noted that due to magazine staffing cuts there are opportunities for freelancers.

We’d love to hear your comments about these tips or Third Thursday. What advice resonated with you? You can also check back and share your success stories.

Speaking of success, don’t forget the annual WLT Agents and Editor’s Conference is coming up on June 21-23, 2013. Registration is open through June 10, 2013.

On a personal note, it was good to be back at Third Thursday after missing the March and April editions. Just being around other writers and writerly conversations rejuvenates my writing brain. Thanks to the panelists for sharing their time and thoughts and to Book People, the City of Austin, and the WLT for making Third Thursdays happen. 

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