A few years ago I thought writing for magazines might be a way to make some money without having to work for someone. I read a book about it and set about trying to write a few things that I thought might be marketable. I picked put places to send them and I set to work. It did not go well. I got a few rejection letters, one of which felt particularly harsh, and I set aside the project and moved on to writing a novel.
More recently I chose to resurrect the idea but only as an exercise. I needed to do something different from writing my novel. I thought writing a small essay with a beginning middle and an end would be therapeutic. Sending it out would be the way that I knew that I had finished the project. Imagine my surprise when my experiment was accepted.
I’ve had some time to think about what I did wrong the first time and what I did right the second time.
The first time I wrote what I wanted and chose a few places to send it out to. It was hard to find places that the articles fit, and I sent them out despite misgivings.
The second time. I chose a magazine that I enjoyed reading, and I read at least a years worth of issues. I figured that a smaller press might have fewer submissions and mine might have a better chance of being read.
After reading the magazine I had a good idea about the section that I could best write for and came up with a few possible ideas. I sketched out one of them and after looking up the submission guidelines rewrote it a few times to fit. When I was happy with it, I polished it up carefully. Then I did exactly what the submission guidelines on the magazines website said and emailed it out. I got a response within a day or two.
I think why I got such a good response was that I had done a much better job of considering my audience. I knew the tone of the magazine and I matched it to the best of my ability. I’m still considering how I can streamline that process because, it was a lot of work for very little pay. Still I think it was worth it in the end.