12 Apr Writing For Print Magazines: Mistakes To Avoid
As a full-time freelance writer, I was at first hesitant to dip my toes into the mysterious waters of print publication. After a year of online writing, I was still lost when it came to finding gigs writing for print magazines. Now, three fulfilling years into my career, I write for several print publications, many of which publish my content on a regular basis.
But it wasn’t always this easy. Like many budding freelance writers, I fell victim to the many pitfalls associated with queries, cover letters, and submissions. Here are several common mistakes to avoid when writing for print magazines.
The Cattle-Call Submission
This is one of the most common mistakes made by new writers. If you have cut and pasted the exact same query, cover letter or submission to multiple magazines – even if you’ve edited a few words here and there – your odds of being accepted are slim to none. A magazine editor can tell a cattle-call submission from an article or idea tailored to meet their publication’s specific criteria. When writing for magazines, always research the publication thoroughly and offer a perfectly-matched manuscript to suit their needs.
The Inflated Ego
You want to sound confident when you send a query or manuscript, but you don’t want to sound like an arrogant schmuck. Never insult a publication with statements like, “Your magazine needs better writers,” or cocky claims such as, “This is the best article you will ever read.” No matter what your credentials, you should approach editors with honesty and humility. If you do make claims regarding the quality of your work, balance them. For example, if you describe yourself as an expert in the field or note your position as a highly respected journalist, counter these statements by “humbly” or “respectfully” asking the editor to consider your article for publication.
The Bad Pitch
It doesn’t matter if your submission is top-notch– nothing will scare away an editor faster than a poorly constructed pitch. Debatably, your query or cover letter is actually more important to the editor than the content that you provide for publication. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. If your query or cover letter contains a sloppy or poorly crafted introduction, such as, “Can you please read this and maybe think about publishing it, ok thanks,” the magazine editor probably won’t read a single word of your actual submission.
Even if you follow all the tricks of the trade, rejections are an inevitable part of the game. Many a successful writing career has been built out of sky-high stacks of rejection letters. If your first query or manuscript is suggested, dust yourself off and try again. Learn from your mistakes and move onward into your career.