Writing articles and getting published in periodicals, whether they are commercial magazines, your local newspaper, your school’s alumni newsletter or your industry’s trade papers, is a great way to enhance your credentials and bump up your professional profile. With that said, you can’t just jump in there and start writing random articles and shipping them out to magazines. You want to target the publications with relevant, timely material that speaks to their audience, helps them solve a problem and adheres to the magazine’s editorial guidelines and calendars.
How Do I Find The Guidelines and Calendars?
Most publications now offer their editorial guidelines and/or calendars as part of their “Contact Us” website page. If you’re not able to find the guidelines there, check at the very bottom of their home pages and look for a link called “Advertising” where they will most likely post their upcoming topic calendars for potential advertisers. The advertising pages also offer great resources about the demographics of their audience which you can use to further refine your pitch.
If you don’t want to do all that legwork on your own, you can become a subscriber to www.mediabistro.com where you can access their HOW TO PITCH articles. Each of these articles can be delivered to your email inbox and they provide the most up-to-date information including the personal contacts for the editors.
You can also register for a free newsletter from http://woodenhorsepub.com/ that includes updated editor contact information delivered to your inbox. They also offer pay services for more in-depth pitching guides, editorial calendars, etc.
Find The Right Editor
The most important step is to find the editor that is right for your article and get their direct contact information. Both Mediabistro and Wooden Horse are excellent resources that will save you time but you can always do your own online research. Don’t bother sending your pitch to a general email address such as firstname.lastname@example.org – the right editor will never see it.
The One Page Pitch
Once you have the contact information and you know how each publication wants to be pitched, you need to put together a one page pitch that succinctly explains – what your article is about, why it is relevant to their audience, who you are, why you’re the only person who can write this article, how you will meet their requirements, when you will be able to deliver and the results their audience can expect from reading the article.
In general, it is bad form to pitch the exact same article to two publications at the same time. Adjust your pitches for each publication and politely ask when you can expect a reply. Follow up once. If you still don’t hear back from an editor after that follow up, you are free to move on.
To The Trade By Topic
If you’re not even sure where to start, go to http://www.webwire.com/IndustryList.asp and check out their list of trade publications organized by topic and industry. This may help you target ten or fifteen publications to get started.
And Just Keep Pitching...
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Give yourself a goal of pitching one or two articles a week and don’t be afraid to reach out to an editor who has rejected you in the past. Just because they said “no” to your old idea doesn’t mean they won’t say “yes” to your new one.