Getting an article published is exhilarating. The first time you see your words and photos in print is an absolute thrill. We write about sailing, cruising and the live-aboard lifestyle because that's what we do. You can write about any area of interest and it's pretty much guaranteed there will be a magazine that covers the topic.
Continuing with our ideas for getting published ...
- Proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation are required. Need I say more?
- Research your topic carefully. If you're using facts and/or statistics to give some depth and color to your article, make sure you document them well and provide the source, if necessary and where appropriate.
- Many magazines will accept articles on “spec”. Others prefer you send a query. I call this a teaser. Write a short, succinct paragraph on your specific topic and why it will be of interest to their readers. They'll review what you send them and get back to you if they're interested. Send your best piece. Make the teaser irresistible. Then write the article. Make sure it's ready to go. Read, re-read and have someone else read it before you send it. Make sure it's as perfect as possible. If you don't hear from the editor within a couple of weeks, send a reminder, asking if there's any interest.
Caution: Do NOT send the same query to several magazines at once. Be patient and submit to one publisher at a time. Most magazines want original, not previously published, material and want exclusive rights to it for some period of time (6 months or a year) in a specific geographic area (e.g. North America). If two or more magazines should happen to accept your article or idea and you have to tell one of them “no”, you probably won't get another opportunity at that magazine. If you don't hear in a month after a reminder, consider it dead and move on.
- Don't be discouraged if you get a “reject” notice. It's common. Not every article received can be published. Find another magazine and send them the same teaser. We've had several articles rejected by one journal that were happily accepted by another.
- If you get a bite and some interest in your teaser, respond immediately. Some will ask you to do a rewrite. Cut it down here...expound a little there. Get on it right away. We've had situations where the publisher delayed in responding and then we received an urgent email saying, “Oh, didn't I tell you? We need your article for the next publication. Can you send it and all the photos today?” Needless to say, having the article already written and ready to go was key. We scurried, but got it done.
- A word about photos. A picture is worth a thousand words. Most magazines will want crisp, clean, high resolution, untouched images that help to tell your story. They will do their own cropping and editing. We usually send several and they choose the ones they feel are most appropriate.
I doubt you'll get rich from writing for magazines. We certainly don't, although we usually succeed in having about 10-15 articles published each year. An average article, depending on word count and number of photos, pays between $300-$800. You will, however, see your article in print, promote yourself, build confidence and polish your writing skills. Maybe that's enough!