WMBTSD Giveaway Day 27: September 27, 2007

September 27th: The Renegade Writer: Query Letters that Rock, The Freelance Writer’s Guide to Selling More Work Faster by Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell (Marion Street Press 2006). It’s Diana’s turn today so let’s learn more about her (we learned more about Linda on September 25th and 1st):

Diana Burrell is the coauthor of The Renegade Writer and The Renegade Writer’s Query Letters That Rock, and the author of Psychology Today’s Here to Help: The Secrets of Successful Weight Loss. Before she transformed herself into a renegade writer, Diana Burrell sought job fulfillment in careers like advertising, marketing, and technical writing. She now writes for publications including Parenting, Psychology Today, The Writer, Walking, Contract Professional, and many other magazines and newspapers. A graduate of Smith College, Diana lives in suburban Boston with her husband, son, three cats, and a lot of books. Visit Diana online at www.ninetofive.com.

TRW Query Letters That RockedAnd here’s a little teaser for The Renegade Writer’s Query Letters that Rock, The Freelance Writer’s Guide to Selling More Work Faster:

Writing effective query letters is essential to a successful freelance career, and this book shows how the real pros do it! This convention-defying follow-up to The Renegade Writer ensures that freelance writers get this assignments they want more quickly and for better pay. It includes real query letters — together with explanations from the writers and the editors who assigned the stories — that resulted in assignments from dozens of magazines, including Smithsonian, Fitness, Inc., Parenting and others.

To be entered to win a copy of today’s book, you must answer the following question: For some reason, I never forget Diana’s description of how she studies potential markets. She goes to the local bookstore and flips through recent issues, pretending she’s an editor in “an assigning mood.” What’s your favorite method of finding and studying potential markets for your writing? Give us a sneak peek into your process.

Keep it between 50-300 words, please. You must comment to be entered in today’s giveaway. All comments are approved in a timely manner.


34 Responses to “WMBTSD Giveaway Day 27: September 27, 2007”

  1. 1 Wendy September 27, 2007 at 2:21 am

    Most of my article ideas come from that moment when I read or see or hear about something or someone and I start asking questions. When I am intrigued and want to know more then I start looking around for more information or people who can answer my questions. That’s when I see I can ask and answer those questions in an article. I follow my curiosity and try to find a publication with an audience that will want to know what I’ve discovered.

  2. 2 Amanda Hyatt September 27, 2007 at 2:40 am

    My method of studying and choosing markets for my writing would not be condoned in a Weight Watchers magazine. I spend two hours a week in Starbucks Coffee Shop attached to Borders bookshop. Here, you can pick up all the magazines you like and read them freely over a cup of coffee and, regrettably, a hard-to-resist highly calorific muffin (or two on a bad day!). I merrily sift through a dozen magazines a week and choose this week’s most suitable target markets. Then, with hips a few pounds heavier and purse a few pounds lighter (UK), it’s time to start writing!

    Definitely one of the more pleasurable market-seeking methods I’ve found to date.

  3. 3 Meryl September 27, 2007 at 4:31 am

    I recently needed to do this for submitting a press release. So it’s not the same thing as writing an article, but it’s still very important to match PRs to the audience. I had a list of potential resources to submit the PR. I went to those online resources, studied the About page (to get the goal / purpose of the resource), searched and read articles on a similar topic, and searched and read articles by the person I was contacting.

    It’s unbelievable how many PRs and emails I receive from others that obviously did not read my articles or newsletter because they’re far off the mark. I believe the most important rule in targeting a resource is to know its work.

  4. 4 Laura September 27, 2007 at 5:11 am

    What’s your favorite method of finding and studying potential markets for your writing? Give us a sneak peek into your process.

    My favorite method of finding potential markets for my writing is simply to read. For magazine possiblities I scan the magazine offerings both at Barnes & Noble and at Beuches, my local grocery store. The grocery store is where most people like me get their quick reading.

    For other markets, I look at the publishers of what I currently read. I would like to publish a Christian romance. So, I read a dozen from my church library. Then I checked out the publisher online. Now I am working on a potential book.

    The other place I find potential markets is through links from websites like this one, and through other people’s blogs. Through someone who posts to this blog I have found out about two new contests that I hope to enter. Both if won, would get me published.

    So, to find potential markets, read, and look at what others around you are reading.

  5. 5 Tricia Grissom September 27, 2007 at 5:28 am

    Excellent question for me at I’m trying to get queryied up this week. Yep, totally made up that word. I’m off between teaching classes, so I’m trying to send out a bunch of queries while I can.

    My holy trinity of market research involves:

    1. mediabistro.com (it costs around $40-50 buck a year, but I made four times that with their inside info in “How to Pitch” Magazine profiles.

    2. Mr. Magazine.com – Announces what new magazines have come out each month

    3. Funds for Writers – Hope always lists three markets at the end of her newsletter. I try to query at least one.

    4. Renegade Writers Market Wiki – I just started consulting this. Freelancers contribute their inside info on magazines to a wiki. Anyone can join.

    Yeah, that’s more than three. Well that’s why I teach English instead of math 🙂

  6. 6 Andrea McMann September 27, 2007 at 6:13 am

    I am having a tough time with this lately, so I will be interested to see what how others answer this question. So far, to find markets, I’ve been flipping through Writer’s Market, and then looking up the publication’s website, if they have one. Then, I try to find some sample articles on the site. As I read the articles, I sometimes think, “I could have written that!” Other times, I can’t connect with the articles at all. If I feel a conection with the publication, I think it might be a closer fit for me as a writer, so I usually try to obtain copies of that publication. I’m not extremely satisfied with my methods, but I plan on subscribing to writersmarket.com when I get my birthday money 🙂 , and I think I will have an easier time finding markets after that.

  7. 7 Mary Jo C. September 27, 2007 at 6:37 am

    Finding markets has been a big problem for me. Maybe because I am such a “renegade writer!” I like the idea to come to me first, not force something because a specific market or magazine is suggesting they need this on their guidelines page. Is that backwards? I just don’t have the same drive if I don’t feel like I’m in the driver’s seat.

    However, I do research to see where my voice and style would be a good fit. I will get back issues of a magazine from the library and I learned in a class how to research a specific magazine. Look at how many fiction stories are published vs. non-fiction. Look at the style of the article: is it serious with lots of data to back up the claims, or is it conversational and light, leaving the reader to come to their own conclusions? What is the average word count of each piece? Do they include photos and links or sidebars? A Writers Market book will also tell the ratio of unpublished vs. in-house writers a publication uses and the number of queries they rec’v each week, month or year.

  8. 8 Elizabeth September 27, 2007 at 7:03 am

    I have the latest edition of Writer’s Market, but mostly I like to pick up single issues of new magazines at the store, or check out several back issues from the library. We also have several magazine subscriptions of our own. And, there are lots of websites that have news about new magazines and new markets.

  9. 9 Beth K. Vogt September 27, 2007 at 7:28 am

    I study potential markets by grabbing my magazine basket–it’s a way-too expensive Longerberger basket, but that’s beside the point–and sifting through the magazines inside.
    It may sound like the lazy mama-writer’s way to research markets. But, it’s more than that. I figure if I like a magazine enough to subscribe to it, then maybe I know enough/live enough to write an article that is perfect for that magazine.
    If I’m reading articles about writing and mothering and being a woman–because that’s what my life is about day in and day out–than doesn’t it figure that’s what I’m writing about?
    Maybe this wouldn’t be true if I was a fiction writer. Maybe if I was writing a novel it would be about a single man who worked on the railroad and was dyslexic, so he hated to read, and he never thought about life as a mom because, hey, if he had children, he’d be the dad.
    (But I don’t think so.)
    So, for me, one of the best ways (and yes, easiest ways) to research potential markets is to look at the magazines that show up in my mailbox each month. If I love ’em enough to read them, maybe, just maybe, I can write for them too.

  10. 10 Heather Haapoja September 27, 2007 at 7:39 am

    This is my least favorite part of freelancing, because I honestly have no method. Sometimes I pick up a magazine and think, “I could write for them.” So I try to get my hands on a few copies to get a feel for the style and tone of the magazine, while coming up with potential article ideas. Other times I just randomly flip through my market book, looking for magazines in my areas of interest and see what I can come up with to query or submit. Then there are times when the article idea comes first and a frantic search for the right magazine ensues. I’ve had the least luck in that situation. Really, my approach is quite disorganized and not very efficient, so I’m looking forward to hearing more comments on this topic!

  11. 11 Renee Roberson September 27, 2007 at 7:56 am

    Studying markets is a pleasure for me, because, like many other posters, I combine it with leisure and “me” time. I so rarely get time to read magazines and novels these days, so when I’m at a bookstore or grocery store I try to pick up a magazine or two that I don’t subscribe to, but would like to read and possibly query. And don’t laugh, but I keep a lot of reading material in the bathroom so I can cram in extra research while taking care of business!

    Like Amanda, my favorite thing to do when I have spare time is head to Barnes & Noble, pick up a few magazines, and a skim away while ejoying a latte.

  12. 12 Melissa September 27, 2007 at 9:35 am

    Like everyone else, I read a stack of magazines while enjoying a cup of tea or plate of cookies. And then I read some more. Or I decide to write something new for a market I already read. And that’s pretty much it. But I’m not a full-time freelancer–maybe there would be more to my “research” if my grocery budget depended on it!

  13. 13 Besu September 27, 2007 at 9:40 am

    I’ve toyed with the idea of writing freelance articles, but I do not feel like I have expertise or a niche to write about.

    In writing fiction, I can place myself in another world, another life, and create as I go and fill in the details later. Market research is still necessary. Since my novel falls in the category that Writer’s Digest recently called “fantastic fiction,” a contemporary tale with a touch of the extraordinary, I try to seek out other novels or media with the same quirk (Time Traveler’s Wife, Pan’s Labyrinth). I’m on a LiveJournal community that promotes reading 50 books a year, and people post reviews as they finish books. I add the interesting ones to my Amazon Wish List so I can seek them out.

    I am also aware that my novel is considered “fat.” The average novel is 80,000-100,000 words and mine is 135,000. That may limit my market, but I don’t have feedback from agents about that yet.

  14. 14 Tammy E September 27, 2007 at 10:03 am

    I love going to the bookstore and perusing the magazine racks as well. I haven’t been able to get to the same level that Diana gets to by assuming the editor’s persona. I’ve read the Renegade Writer and love that book and would love to have this one to help me get down to the business of writing and sending queries!

    Also, I read Mediabistro.com daily and read their “How to Pitch” section frequently, and of course The Writer magazine and Writer’s Digest. I also like Poets and Writers – what a great pub for literary interests.

    Sometimes I go to the library and grab a few back issues of a magazine I’m interested in, check them out and take them home to research.

    My problem is that I haven’t yet developed a good system for tracking what I’ve researched because it all goes back to the designated time issue. When I do get time to myself, I tend to not be prepared to use it effectively. So, that’s my goal this year. Be more effective and set some processes in place.

  15. 15 Joanna September 27, 2007 at 10:50 am

    In this last year, I have really focused on a specific market (parenting magazines) and I read, read, read these magazines. For awhile, I was reading all kinds of magazines, but I got so overwhelmed with the possibilities that I decided to narrow in on one specialty to save me from my own confusion.

    I buy latest issues, I’m subscribed to a couple parenting mags, I get past issues from friends, and I pick up free copies at the library.

    I also read author bios, mostly in less mainstream publications, to see where folks have published, and then follow up with research on the market if something seems like a fit. This has been really helpful. I learned about Literary Mama, an online site, by reading Brain,Child and seeing the LM reference in someone’s bio. (And went on to publish something with LM.) Same with another online site, Imperfect Parent. Not money-makers, but they are venues for the stuff that’s too edgy for a mainstream magazine. Sometimes I just want to see something in print rather than make any money.

    All that said, I hate this part of writing, and I’ve had to come to realize, finally, just how much of the process marketing is, not writing. I’m getting there, and will start looking at the writer resource sites a lot more (haven’t really put this to work yet).

    Total random aside: I’m so impressed with how early so many of you get up. I have never been able to do this, but now I know how so many women get their writing done.

    By the way, I already own Query Letters That Rock – a fabulous book – so on the off chance I win it, Christina, please pass it onto the the number 2 person.

  16. 16 Cath September 27, 2007 at 10:53 am

    The markets I need are primarily fiction, adult and children’s, so I usually have at least one Writer’s Market around for reference. But I double-check on-line because fiction markets have specific reading periods (or themes, or some other hoop to jump through).

    There are a couple of sites I check when I’m looking for a home for a new piece. Duotrope’s is great for horror, scifi, spec fiction, (paying and non-paying markets), as is Ralan’s. For a funny article, I’ll try Erma Bombeck’s site. My favorite trick is to read an author’s bio, especially if it’s a niche magazine, like flash fiction. Writers always list where they’ve been published. Voila! I check out some of those web-zines.

  17. 17 Lorraine September 27, 2007 at 11:19 am

    I have not yet published, except for in a scientific journal, so this process is very new to me. I’m definitely in a place where I know what I’d like to write about and what voice feels natural, but am just beginning the process of trying to transform a work into a voice or style that suits a particular publication. So at this point in my learning process, I check out articles in magazines that seem to have a similar voice or approach and then add them to the list. But I’m still so early in the process that I have everything to gain. But being a writer mamma, it is not easy to find the time for this process, let alone the writing that I look forward to doing. Thank you all in advance for letting me glean new information and ideas from your diverse experience.

  18. 18 Kelli September 27, 2007 at 11:20 am

    I use the internet and bookstores to find markets for my work. One website I love is New Pages: http://www.newpages.com/

    which has great links to literary magazines. By going to the website of the magazine, I can get the most up to date info.

    I still like to see the journals I submit to in person before I submit though. This is where my local independent bookstore comes into play.

    I also meet with a group of other writers and we’ll bring new magazines or places to try when we get together.


  19. 19 Chris September 27, 2007 at 11:37 am

    My favorite method is simply examining what I’m currently or recently experienced, where I know I can be of help with useful information. Case in point: I was doing research on the March of Dimes, and found a useful topic about prematurity that I used to query magazines with. As a preemie mom, there are lots of subtopics in this area which I use as inspiration for future articles. So, I basically dig and cull from personal experience.

  20. 20 Stefanie F September 27, 2007 at 11:42 am

    The other day I met a woman who writes for a fitness magazine. I was impressed- she’s got a steady gig! Until I heard her describe her job. Every month she has to write the same article: diet – eat good and healthy, exercise plenty – but put a different spin on the same topic. One month – eat carrots to be thin! The next – exercise at night instead!

    No thanks I realized. For me, if I find something interesting and I want to tell someone about it as in a “Hey, did you know…” then that is the key for me right there. An article. I don’t want to rehash drivel everyone already knows.

  21. 21 marnini September 27, 2007 at 11:55 am

    I spend some time visiting magazine’s websites. Their websites might provide a bit more of their interests. Usually their website will have a contact information and guidelines for articles. Sometimes they even go into detail stating what they are or are not interested in reading.They may also highlight contests they are having that I wouldn’t have seen in the magazine.
    Barnes and Nobles is always a great place to go to see what’s out there -Unfortunately I don’t get to frequent there as often as I would like

  22. 22 Rose September 27, 2007 at 12:02 pm

    Thanks for that Mr. Magazine link. I have found publishing luck with new magazines. They are often open to new voices and are eager for content. I also try to find markets through the internet. http://www.allyoucanread.com has a database of magazines and newspapers searchable by world location and topic. I look up magazine websites and read the writer’s guidelines which I find helpful even if I don’t end up wanting to write for that particular magazine. It helps me look at things from an editor’s perspective.

    I also find the Press links on consumer websites to be helpful tools. I am researching a possible article on a local eco-friendly fashion manufacturer. On their website they show all the articles and publications where their products have appeared. As I look over this information, I can clarify a new story angle and think of other magazines that might be interested.

  23. 23 Linda Harris September 27, 2007 at 12:08 pm

    I agree a lot with what Beth said (hey, we’re friends and critique-group partners!). But I also look at market guides, especially if I’ve pitched an idea to “the perfect magazine” and they said “no.” I study the websites if I don’t have sample copies or a subscription. I use the library to get sample copies.

    Just a word about that “rule” to study the market before you submit. I had queried several magazines about my article, “Romancing the Timid Heart.” Two wanted to see the article, but then said, “We’ve just bought something similar.” And that was true, as both magazines came out with a similar article within the next few months. So I found Psychology for Living in a market guide, looked at the website, and submitted the article. They published it, after making several changes, both by me and by them. They changed the title to “Romancing the Fearful Heart,” but it was published, and for decent pay. So you don’t always have to study the magazine before selling!

  24. 24 LauraE September 27, 2007 at 12:54 pm

    I’m a disaster at this. I have ideas about articles and can get my ideas down on paper, but I never seem to do it FOR a particular publication, and so I am doing everything backwards, I guess. I just get ideas and write. And after writing, I frequently think who would wanna read about this? Then I try and scour Craig’s List or Women Who Write for a paying gig. Sometimes I’ve sold articles this way. Most of the time I feel like I’m shooting blanks. I am so digitally oriented that I don’t even read magazines and, dare I say it, SHOULD. But, I do read the newspaper. The articles I’ve recently contributed to or submitted came from getting to know an editor at my contract job at the paper. So I got to know the newspaper market by working in it as a graphic designer for two years. I guess my method is a combination of surfing and networking.

    I have to add that I’m not widely published at all. I have published some articles in a local So Cal magazine and have an article I contributed to publishing in the paper in Oct. and one under consideration. I’m a total newbie in the publishing world. So I’m thrilled to find out how you all research markets. Thanks for the tips!

    I’m learning so much about myself….the good, the bad, and the ugly… Thanks so much for these prompts Christina!

  25. 25 Erika September 27, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    I love to read magazines and consequently have a fair amount in my mailbox each month, but I have also figured out I could likely write for many other publications as well.

    My one money-saving tip is to buy them from my library. They sell lots of back-issues (many even from the current month) for 25 cents so I stop by every week and pick up a handful. For a few dollars, I can look at several magazines I may not have even considered.

    After that, if I like what I see, I move on to their website and writer’s guidelines. One thing I look for right away is what percentage is written by freelancers.

  26. 26 Mar Junge September 27, 2007 at 1:53 pm

    I search the publication’s editorial calendars and then tie my article idea to an upcoming issue. It’s much easier to sell articles ideas when you’re giving the editors what they want to publish, instead of what you want to write. And it shows you’ve done your homework. Also, before submitting, there’s no substitute for researching the publications editorial policies and guidelines online. And finding out what other publications in their space (their competition) have published gives credibility to your statement that the market is interested in your idea. Another source is http://www.myedcals.com. The software license is $500/year, but worth every penny, as I can make four times that for a single feature article.

  27. 27 Kristina September 27, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    I’m pretty methodical. First I read the letter from the editor, then I check the masthead against the bylines. I study the cover: What kind of titles are used? What is pictured? What do these things tell me about the readers of this magazine? Then I study all the articles: What type of titles are used? What kind of opening paragraphs? Closing paragraphs? Are lots of bullets used? Is the style informal and friendly or more scholarly? Does the writer mosey along or get right to the point? I also study the ads. What age are the people in them? What type of products are offered and what does this say about the magazine’s readers? That sort of thing. If I can, I also order a media kit from the magazine’s advertising department; this handy guide tells you a lot about the magazine’s readers, from their age to their occupation to their hobbies.

  28. 28 Stephanie September 27, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    I find and study potential markets by:

    1. Perusing Writer’s Market.
    2. Browsing through magazines at Barnes & Noble.
    3. Subscribing to as many FREE magazines as I can (American Baby, Babytalk, Focus on the Family, etc.).
    4. Earning free magazine subscriptions through e-Rewards (www.e-rewards.com).

  29. 29 Kathleen E September 27, 2007 at 4:44 pm

    I have a couple of good e-newsletters I subscribe to, and a coule more really good market websites. When I find a marketthat looks like something i might be interested in, I check the website and read everything I can, including the ads, which give me an idea of the type of readers they have. Then I check out Writer’s Market to glean as much information as I can there. If it is a magazine, I try to find a recent copy at the library or the local bookstore or newsstand. I read editorials, mastheads and ads as well as the articles. All give clues about what the editor is buying.

  30. 30 Karrie September 27, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    I’m so green that I don’t really have a method. That’s why I really need this book (hint, hint you random selector you). I have read the Writer Mama, though and began looking at markets differently since the moment I did. So maybe that’s my strategy at the moment: read Writer Mama, take a class and study my heart out.

  31. 31 contentmama September 27, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    In my fantasy world, I pack a lovely basket with tea and muffins and skip over to the village matchmaker’s front door to ask her to make me a match. In reality, my favorite method of finding and studying potential markets begins with word of mouth from other writers and readers.

    I share some of my unpublished manuscripts and thoughts at a weekly workshop and fellow writers often make suggestions for potential markets.

    Friends who don’t write but read also offer possibilities. Nothing beats keeping eyes and ears open. I start at home in my own little world.

    I supplement this method with browsing magazine racks in the drive-by fashion, sifting through stacks of publications in my doctor’s office and googling above
    and beyond.

    The study element requires some fair analysis . . . combing through current and back issues and trying to determine if my writing makes a good match for their readers.

  32. 32 Audra September 27, 2007 at 9:20 pm

    I’m always looking out for a new magazine when I go to the store, doctor’s office, a friend’s house, library, etc. If I see one I think looks interesting, I may buy it, ask to borrow it, or take note of the magazine’s name and website.
    When I see one I might like to write for, I’ll make notes on what type of content (features, fillers, how-to’s, etc.) and the style it’s written (conversational, serious, etc.). I look up their guidelines and editorial calendar on the web if possible. I also pay attention to pay scale, when they pay, freelance to in house ratio, etc.
    I also jot down any article or filler ideas I think of as I’m checking them out. This process works well – when I use it. I’ve been busy with a baby and I’m just now getting back into the writing habit again.

  33. 33 Misti Sandefur September 27, 2007 at 9:47 pm

    I’ve been following your WMBTSD Giveaway daily, but this is my first time commenting to enter. Most of the books you were giving away I already had, but since this book is one I do not have and would love to own, I will post my first comment for entry. Ready? Here it goes:

    When searching for potential markets for my writing, I access the Writer’s Market online (I have the online subscription). In addition, I also search the web using my favorite search engine (Google). Some terms I use are “writers guidelines,” “contributor guidelines,” “paying markets,” “pays $1.00 per word,” etc..

    Once I have my list of potential markets for that article, I visit the magazines’ websites to study their writer’s guidelines (so I can show I follow instructions), and then — if the magazine makes them available — I read articles they’ve published in past issues to get an idea of the style of articles they publish. I also study the past articles to see if the articles they published include quotes from experts, and if they do, I then try to include expert quotes in the article I plan to submit to them. Why? Because through my research I discovered the magazine published many articles that included quotes from experts. For the magazines that do not have a website or offer an archive of articles they’ve published in the past, I visit my local library. My library allows me to check out the magazines. Therefore, I check them out so I can bring them home and study them thoroughly.

    There you have it, and I hope my methods will help other writers. Crossing my fingers and toes for luck. 😉

  34. 34 Mary Jo September 27, 2007 at 11:58 pm

    When I need to find a potential market for my writing, I turn to my Writer’s Market Guides. That hunt leads me to the publication’s website where I can get all of the relevant contact information. I also subscribe to The Writer Magazine which gives me online access to another 3,000 markets. In addition, I periodically check out the magazine racks at the library and in the grocery store and other places where I shop.

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