WMBTSG Day Fourteen (Comment to this post to enter the drawing)

Welcome to day fourteen of the Writer Mama Back-to-School Giveaway. Today’s giveaway is a one-year subscription to Writer’s Digest magazine, edited by Maria Schneider. Who wouldn’t want to win???

Each issue of Writer’s Digest brings you the must-know tips and publishing secrets you’ll need such as:

  • Technique Articles geared toward specific genres
  • Business Information specifically for writers
  • Tips & Tricks for rekindling your creative spark
  • Inspirational Stories of writers who are living the dream, and how they got there
  • The Latest (and Greatest!) Markets for print, online and e-publishing
  • Tools of the Trade, including the latest advice and info on software, books and Web resources


Today’s question: When it comes to magazine article writing, where do you stand? Do you want to try your pen at magazine writing? Have you published any articles in magazines before? Have you tried and not yet succeeded? (If this is a grumpy topic for your, feel free to grouse.)

If this is your first post in the giveaway, please read “Da Rules.”

You may post your comments until midnight PST on September 14th.


33 Responses to “WMBTSG Day Fourteen (Comment to this post to enter the drawing)”

  1. 1 Heidi September 14, 2008 at 4:31 am

    As a military wife, I’m responsible for moving our family from one place to another about every two years. As a relatively new mama (my son is 18 mos old) I’ve decided I can’t keep moving my career, too! Magazine writing seems like a perfect gig for me. It’ll allow me to do what I love (read, think, and teach) without leaving my son’s upbringing to strangers. I purchased Writer Mama about 6 weeks ago. Since then I’ve submitted 2 tips, 8 fillers, and 5 queries. I’ve heard from two editors and now have submitted two articles on spec. Now I keep writing and waiting.

    My writer mama work ethic is strong but some days I grow a bit weary. Feedback on the work is so slow. Editors are busy. Some days it’s difficult to muster energy to keep writing and sending. That’s when I work on my platform (website and a blog so far) or turn to my lists of filler ideas and dash off something quick. Or I re-read Writer Mama, or another of my “how to get published” type books.

    THANKS, Christina, for the gift of Writer Mama. It inspired me and encourages me on the (long, dirty) road to freelance success. I’m looking forward to Getting Known before the Book Deal. My 5-year goal is a nonfiction book contract.

  2. 2 Kristy Lund September 14, 2008 at 6:05 am

    Ahh, magazine writing. I’m a mom and trying to become a paid freelance writer (my first step was buying the Writer Mama book, which thankfully got me started on my path!) I’ve had two essays published so far, which was very exciting. But I’ve taken an online magazine writing course, and have sent many a query out, but alas, no bites for articles. Every writer seems to have her own story of collecting rejection letters, but sometimes it’s hard to stay motivated. I think I perhaps need to try smaller mags first? My newbie thoughts about magazine writing:
    1) It hasn’t been very easy (thus far) to break into.
    2) I wish editors at least replied to your e-mail. Some do, but many don’t, even after multiple (polite) follow-ups.
    3) I wish there was an understood industry standard for simultaneous submissions. Some say send 10 out at a time, others 5, others only 1. Then again, I’m someone who wishes that life had a simple rule book. Then at least you’d know when you’re breaking the rules! 😉

    I’m open to encouragement, tips, and anything else people have to say…

  3. 3 Renee September 14, 2008 at 6:55 am

    My dream is to finally break into a national magazine. I have experienced success on a local and regional level, so perhaps my dream is not too far away now. I think what holds me back is follow through. There is a lot of upfront research and pre-writing needed to pitch a successful magazine query, and I feel I’m finally learning to do that properly. Now I just need to keep track of my submissions more closely so I can mark one publication off and move on to the next (especially if I never hear back or get a flat-out rejection)!

    My biggest gripe? It’s probably the same as everyone else’s here. I hate opening up a magazine and seeing a story I pitched or am in the process researching, particularly if a staff editor or contributing writer wrote it. I always find that to be so disheartening!

  4. 4 marnini September 14, 2008 at 7:02 am

    I took a class with the Institute of Children’s Literature. The class is geared toward magazine writing (for children). I have submitted many articles/stories to both children’s magazine and adult magazines.
    Magazine Writing definitely is hard to break into. The one thing that keeps me going is the fact that I got several personal rejection letters. Which I have read is supposed to be a good rejection- if there is any.

    P.S. I got my door hanger from NinthMoon, I LOVE it!

  5. 5 anniegirl1138 September 14, 2008 at 8:37 am

    I haven’t really tried non-ficition magazine writing. I honestly don’t find it very interesting. I have one published credit to an online magazine that publishes personal memoir type articles, but I didn’t have to write anything new. I just polished a piece from my own memoir stuff and sent it in.

    The thing about simultaneous submissions annoys me. I don’t see any reason for not allowing writers to do this if they state it up front. We have to make a living too and it might push them to move a bit faster on the reviewing of articles. I know it’s a lot of work to read potential pieces but when I was teaching high school composition, I didn’t have the luxury of 4 months to read through the papers of hundred students because they were turning in two and three page papers once a weeks. And I had to edit on top of it. And they couldn’t write.

    Disgression over.

    I don’t like writing to order on topics. It was something I got stuck doing when I was teaching. I was the go-to on any press releases, wrote the handbooks, did the newsletter, proofed the principal’ letters even (this was before email and I don’t know what the poor man did then).

  6. 6 Cara September 14, 2008 at 8:51 am

    Ah magazines. I love their glossy pages, their colorful pictures, and their bite-sized articles that I can intersperse reading with the rest of my day’s activities. I grew up reading Life magazine, National Geographic, the New Yorker cartoons, and as I got older, American Girl and Seventeen.

    But I too have fallen under the spell of the internet. There is just something about the immediacy of ezines, about writing a piece and having it appear days or weeks later online, rather than waiting the interminable months to hear even whether or not it made the cut for a print magazine, let alone get published. So yes, I have submitted to (and had my first work published this summer in!)an ezine, and have many more articles in the pipeline.

    I haven’t given up on print magazines entirely, however. I still thumb through them all the time while waiting at the doctor or dentist, and always have a ready supply of them at home. I have my eye on Glimmer Train, and on the magazine put out by my alma mater, both major stretches for an essentially personal essay writer, I know, but hey, a person can dream, can’t they?

  7. 7 Teresa Hall September 14, 2008 at 9:09 am

    One of the first things I did when I started writing as a profession was buy the book “Writer’s Digest Handbook of Magazine Article Writing.” I was certain that’s where I belonged and would immediately rise to fame.

    Why then, haven’t I submitted anything yet? Sheer fear! I do mostly commercial freelance ghostwriting for the web, smaller stuff, nothing big buck yet, and for some reason I have had a tough time giving my mind the OK to go ahead and query to some magazines.

    The good news though? One of my clients needs a trade magazine article written, so it’s a beginning.

    @Heidi- it sounds to me like you’re on a fabulous roll! Good Luck1

  8. 8 Cat September 14, 2008 at 9:12 am

    I haven’t really tried nonfiction magazine writing, but would like to. I have experience with book publishing and technical writing, and I find the whole magazine writing daunting. It seems like another world all together. If I could get over that psychological hurdle, I’d give it a try. I have done a little research on magazines–thanks to the Writer Mama book–but that’s it.

  9. 9 nathalie September 14, 2008 at 9:13 am

    I am a magazine whore. Can I say that here? I LOVE magazines and am working with Writer Mama as my daily does of encouragement toward my goal of being published in the very magazines that come to my mailbox. I am in the process of having my first national piece published for a trade magazine but it has been quite the learning process – and getting to this point took A LOT of persistence, patience and what’s that other thing? Oh, yes. Hard work.

    Re: simultaneous submissions – I, too, have a problem with what I perceive as a lack of respect for a writer’s time and work. I understand editors are busy and overworked, however I think opening the industry up to make simultaneous submissions standard would alleviate the pressure on editors and writers. If you really like something, get on it. If you don’t, we can all move on. The thought of having my work sit out there pending for months on end is frustrating.
    One “mistake” I made in my plan to get published in magazines was shooting directly for the ones I see in line at Safeway. You know, Oprah. So far, she hasn’t called and I’ve moved on to more approachable markets.

  10. 10 Tricia Grissom September 14, 2008 at 9:41 am

    I agree with Nathalie. It’s much easier to break in to smaller publications, and then take those clips and parlay them into bigger assignments.

    I’ve done several articles for my state magazine, Missouri Life and one for Fiery-Foods & BBQ. I’m still working on breaking into the bigger print pubs, but I feel much more confident going after them with clips in hand.

    My favorite writing, though, is essays. It’s much more instant gratification.

  11. 11 Terri Elders September 14, 2008 at 10:15 am

    Yes, I have had two very different pieces published in national magazines. The first was for the Neighbors page in Women’s Day way back in l967. The second was an article on cookery in the Dominican Republic for Caribbean Travel and Life. Though I stopped submitting for publication for several years, two years ago I began writing again. I have had eight acceptances for anthologies, all personal essays, but now am going to concentrate on drafting pitches for magazines for older readers…I’m 71, and have been writing since I was eight years old. It’s great to be enjoying seeing a byline again!

  12. 12 Dena Dyer September 14, 2008 at 10:21 am

    I’ve written for magazines, and enjoyed it, but over the last few years I’ve concentrated on my big dream: writing books to encourage women. And I’ve been blessed to have three published and two on the way! However, the gap between signing a book contract and having the tome in my hands is super-long. So lately, I’ve been writing more fillers, articles, and essays and submitting them to ezines and magazines. Magazine writing helps me write tight and gives me a nice break from the longer types of writing I do. Though I’m still getting lots of rejections (and probably always will, darn it!), I don’t take it quite as personally. And a bonus: having shorter pieces published is a great marketing tool for my books.

  13. 13 KristyG September 14, 2008 at 10:46 am

    Magazines are a vice of mine. At the grocery store, I purposely look for the longer line so I’ll have time to browse through the magazines that hang out nearby. I have to practice much self-control at my local bookstore when I approach the magazines. Those special interest mags call to me, and I have to flip through them to satisfy my cravings. As an aspiring freelancer, I think it would be very satisfying to see an article I wrote in a magazine, given my obsession.

  14. 14 Cheryl M September 14, 2008 at 10:55 am

    I am very interested in writing for print magazines. I have a few articles in parenting magazines that I wrote for free. I am hoping that will give me some clips to work with and submit with queries. I have not had luck with any queries so far. I wish that editors would reply. I submitted to one magazine where the guidelines said they wouldn’t respond, but might use your article anytime in the next 18 months. How does that work with multiple submissions? Usually I assume if I haven’t heard anything in 6 weeks than I am free to submit that article somewhere else.

  15. 15 Cathy September 14, 2008 at 11:25 am

    I used to stand firmly on the outside of magazine writing. I wanted to write fiction, just fiction. But slowly and surely, those mags pulled me in, and here’s why: I wanted to make money as a writer and I wanted to get my name out there as a working writer. I think a publisher is going to be more willing to take a chance on an author who’s proved herself in the business end of writing and promotion.

    Um, that was a bit of a soapbox. Bottom line, yes, I’ve been published in regional magazines and ezines. I’m always looking for another bigger and better market. And I’m even enjoying the non-fiction now…I just pick topics that interest me. There’s an awful lot of fascinating stuff in the world, almost as good as fiction 🙂

  16. 16 Jenni September 14, 2008 at 11:34 am

    Where do I stand? Well, I would love to have something published in a magazine. I’m currently planning to submit regularly (every other month?) to regional parenting magazines just to see who bites. When I first started Christina’s WPSS class, I started dreaming about getting something into Brain, Child. That would now be a long-term goal. First, I’d like to build up my clips in regional and local publications. I wrote an article for our local co-op newsletter which gave me a nice clip that I can hopefully use as a springboard for other local publications. I’m trying to remember that getting started might take awhile and not to be too discouraged with the slow nature of crafting articles and submitting them.

  17. 17 Tiffani September 14, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    I’ve written for several regional parenting magazines, mostly using my ideas. I would love to break into the nationals, but I’m also happy right now doing what I’m doing. If I had more time and no full-time job, I’d pitch to nationals more. Right now, it’s just not possible.

    While I like writing articles, I love writing columns and sharing my opinions. That would be a great gig. 🙂

  18. 18 Celestial Goldfish September 14, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    After reading Writer Mama, I looked at magazines with more enlightened eyes. However, the more I looked, the more discouraged I became. I don’t have a platform. I have a college degree but no real expertise. I may be a mama, but I don’t feel very confident in writing on that area. I sent in one tip to Parents but never heard back; I assume it’s something they used in years past. I do enjoy magazines, but if I read too many magazines, then I can’t read as many books – and those books have to be my priority.

    I haven’t completely dismissed magazines as an option, but right now I think I’ll focus most on my fiction and essays.

  19. 19 Sarah K. September 14, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Like several other people posted above, Writer Mama has opened my eyes to the possibility of a career – something I thought I would have to leave behind since I am now a stay at home mom. As I gave a birth to my second child just a month ago, I must admit that I have not been as ambitious as I would like in regards to working towards getting published. I have been writing like crazy, though, and am slowly submitting my work. So thank you, Christina, for writing your awesome book! I am so excited to be a writer mama!

  20. 20 April A. September 14, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    I do dream of having my articles published in magazines. Right now I have a lot of articles being published in newsletters and I think it’s a great start. I have had quizzes in magazines and it’s very exciting. I’m working my way up. My first piece in a magazine was actually sent in as a filler, but it went in with the tips, and I was just as happy as if it had appeared elsewhere. It was my very first published item and it gave me all the confidence I needed to keep going. Every year, I aim a little higher and make a list of places I at least want to submit to. If I’m rejected, well at least I tried. If you don’t try, you can’t get there. The best thing about writing is, you don’t have to give up after one try. You can try as many times as it takes. And you don’t have to be in any big rush either, you can be happy starting small and working your way up. I know I have been very happy with my pace, but I guess we all have to find what works for us.

  21. 21 Laura September 14, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    I have had one article published in a magazine, Guideposts, on August last year. A copy of that article is framed and hangs above my writing desk (along with my goals frame/bulletin board). I have been working on other articles for Guideposts as well, in hopes of having another submission published. I do want to get published in other magazines as well, but need to learn more about the ‘how’. Guideposts was easier, as I am a lifelong reader. Guess I need to reread & rework through Writer Mama!

  22. 22 anna September 14, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    It has been some time now since I last attempted to submit an article to a magazine . . . I’m afraid I began rather blindly, sending in articles to random magazines I found without doing my “homework” in research as to proper submission techniques: new to the thrill of published writing, I let my enthusiasm override my sensibility in approach. So my task now is to overcome the fear of failure and begin again with submissions, this time in a well though out and planned manner!

  23. 23 Jen September 14, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    I was lucky when I began my freelance writing career. I got on right away as a correspondent for a national trade magazine and got to travel around, write stories, and shoot photos. I was also paid very well for my efforts. Any new writer should be so fortunate!

    As soon as my children get a little older (they’re one and two), I’d like to write some more for that magazine.

    As for mainstream magazines, I’ve never queried or submitted anything. I’ve always been more interested in the trade mags or in working on my book project. If my book project ended up providing article ideas for national mags, that would be an avenue worth pursuing.

    I don’t feel bad about not having gone the national magazine route already, though. I’ve never felt a real pull to submit in that arena.

  24. 24 Chefdruck September 14, 2008 at 7:03 pm

    I’ve always wanted to be a writer. When I was a child, I wrote plays and kept a daily diary. I kept writing through college, but then lost my drive when I started a career in marketing. I never lost the dream of being a published writer one day, but just stopped writing. Every time I picked up a pen, I felt as though what I had to say was mundane and trite, so I put it back down and moved on to something else.

    Last September, I signed up for a class called Writing Motherhood and it made me realize that there is wonderful material in my everyday life. I have filled four notebooks with fiction, memoir, and article drafts in the last year. I have started three blogs and have submitted a dozen articles to magazines for publication. A month ago, I got my first acceptance email! My essay about becoming a Jersey Girl will soon be published in the Parent Pages, a free paper with circulation across NJ, CT, and NY.

  25. 25 gb September 14, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    I have loved reading the replies to this question! I’ve always wanted to write fiction. I’ve started several novels over the years, but couldn’t keep the momentum going. My attention span has been severely reduced by motherhood! So I began thinking about freelancing. My dad is a freelancer, so this is not entirely unfamiliar to me, and I’m an unabashed magazine-aholic.

    I just finished Jenna Glatzer’s Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer, Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell’s Renegade Writer and, of course, Writer Mama and I feel I’ve found my passion (at least until the kids move out and I can write my novel!). I consider these books the holy trinity of freelance writing. I’m completely inspired.

  26. 26 Amie H September 14, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    Don’t give up hope about submitting to national magazines. After working at three different national magazines in different roles and writing for 2, I still have the bug. If you hit a wall maybe try looking at brand new magazines that are sometimes looking for writers. http://www.mrmagazine.com/whatshot.html

    Many national magazines often have different content on their websites and are more open to someone starting out. For one publication, I queried the online editor. I submitted 5 essays and got 3 online. I didn’t get paid but was able to keep the rights and have gotten one reprinted. Later they e-mailed an editorial calendar for the print magazine. I queried the editor about a topic that I thought would be a good fit. The editor wrote back saying that originally they were going to do the piece in-house but because of a time crunch they offered it to me.
    Also during that time the editor I was working with went from assistant to features editor. So even if you’re starting at the bottom know that maybe the editor you are working with is starting at the bottom too but building a good working relationship can pay off.

  27. 27 Julie S September 14, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    Magazine writing is new to me & I alternate between feeling very high (when I am successful) to feeling very inexperienced (when I am working on a new article). I spent months researching & reading about freelance writing & I even took the plunge & signed up for a class (thanks Christina).

    My preparation is paying off! I am accumulating an impressive (to me) list of publications that have purchased and printed my work. Every time I see a (1) in my g-mail inbox, I get a little touch of euphoria.

    What a great “job” for me because I can keep my family at the top of my priority list every single day.

  28. 28 Erika September 14, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    I have published two articles in the last year to local parenting magazines. The first was for Seattle’s Child and was actually just for their online content, rather than the printed magazine, but that still counts, right? I queried them b/c I had a unique opportunity to escort a group of kindergartners to see the Dalai Lama. I had met the editor at a local journalist event and had traded emails about another possibility that has yet to materialize, but this one worked out just right.

    The next was ParentMap, also a Seattle parenting magazine, and I queried them for an article that I wrote in Christina’s Writing the Short Stuff class. It just came out last month!

    I plan to keep up the magazine writing, especially now that I have a few clips to support me.

  29. 29 Shauna September 14, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    I have mostly contributed to ezines and blogs so far but am currently working on getting into print magazines. I’m reading Writer Mama now and am finding it helpful in organizing my ideas and getting some queries ready to go out.

    I used to be on the editorial staff at an IT publishing company that printed several magazines, newsletters, and email newsletters, so I have some experience from the other side of the desk and can see things to some extent from an editor’s point of view. (Actually, one of my biggest struggles as a writer is turning off my internal editor so that I can just write!) I have submitted tips to several parenting magazines and am on a reader panel, but I haven’t had any success yet.

  30. 30 Abbey September 14, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    Getting published in a national magazine is my number one goal. I’ve had success at the local level, so I’m trying to muster up enough courage to take it a step further and start pitching to the heavy hitters!!

    I really enjoy where I’m at right now in my career – I have enough work to keep me busy, but not so much that I’m stressed and unhappy. I’ve been at this for just over a year and I’m thrilled with the progress I’ve made.

  31. 31 Katrina September 14, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    Magazine writing is my primary focus right now; it is such a blast! I’m a regular contributor to a couple of family magazines, both local to their area (only one is local to me, though). The great thing about that is receiving assignments, rather than having to do the legwork for a pitch. I use the time I save to break into new markets or to move up the food chain; I’m currently working aeronautics and travel angles. That’s the great thing about the smaller mags, if you can find good ones–they can provide assignments covering a broad range of topics, which one can then parlay into higher-paying gigs in the same market or to diversify. For me, writing articles offers the short-term satisfaction I need to keep working on longer fiction projects. To anyone considering it or discouraged, keep putting those queries out there! You can succeed!

  32. 32 Rosemary Lombard September 14, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    My first paid magazine assignment came as a surprise. The city naturalist I worked with got a call from the editor of a great regional nature magazine to ask if she—or somebody—could write an article about the preserve by the San Francisco Bay where we worked. The first writer’s story had not pleased him, and he was stuck for a replacement. The city naturalist knew she was not a writer but that I was and had worked there as a part-time naturalist for years. She gave him my name. I wrote like mad—how nice not to have to do the research first—and loved working with my editor. What fun! Finally he got the article he wanted. But there wasn’t time in my life then to work on other articles.
    Now my agent has been making noises about getting an article out and/or working on the proposal. I should have finished some papers for professional journals—but now I’d like to just plain finish the book. Always a back story of tasks to do before the real one. . . Moral: Write stories that lead up to the big project to buttress your reputation as an expert.

  1. 1 WMBTSG Day Fourteen: And the winner is… « The Writer Mama Riffs Trackback on September 15, 2008 at 10:04 pm
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