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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Before You Submit - Part III - Do Your Homework

Take a look at your story, poem, or article and visualize your readers. Are they children, young adults, college students, or older? Men or women? What economic, religious, and cultural background do they have? What kind of lifestyle do they lead?

An article about learning one's way around the New York City subway system would probably not appeal to a reader who lives in rural Colorado. Yet, a short story about that same experience might prove exciting to someone who has never been to a city.

Become familiar with the magazine you wish to target before sending your work. A publication that represents outdoor sports may accept articles or stories about fishing and tennis, since both are outdoor activities. However, a magazine that specializes in fishing alone would not welcome a tennis story. Even more specific, one magazine may be interested only in deep sea or commercial fishing while others address the sport of back country fishing.

Go to your local library and ask to the see The Writer's Market Guide. It is printed every year and lists hundreds of magazines. For those interested in writing for the Christian market, there is also The Christian Writer's Market Guide. Send a simple request or email to the magazines that interest you and ask for their guidelines.

Stick to those guidelines! Don't send fiction work or poetry to a magazine that specifically states it does not publish fiction. Stay within the specified word count. Editors allow a certain amount of space for each article, poem, etc that they print. If they ask for a 250-500 word story, don't send them 750 words! They don't have time to remove those 250 extra words.

Keep in mind that magazines plan their editions several months in advance. If you are writing to a specific season or holiday, send your work well in advance of that time. Most magazines are three to six months ahead and some as much as nine months.

Last but certainly not least, be sure to address your email or postal envelope properly. Double check the spelling of the editor's name. Many magazines have more than one editor, so be sure you are submitting your work to the proper person.

Happy writing!

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