Yesterday was one of those days where I got up from this chair and walked a mile. I’d been sitting in the same spot, powering through a big project, since 7:30. At 5 pm, I was toasted. Today it’s a second pass on some of the smaller sections, and pushing forward again.
I had sent out a number of queries two weeks ago, and they’re starting to roll back in. I sent one – my first one – to Redbook. I expected nothing, so their response was a pleasant surprise. While I didn’t get the assignment, the rejection letter was full of compliments – words like “well researched idea” and “your writing samples show you have strong talent” and the best “we encourage you to submit in the future.” Thank you. I will.
It’s surprising to me because I don’t write for consumer magazines. Maybe a smattering of small clips at smaller pubs, but nothing like one of the “top guns” of magazines. But that’s probably more because my experience in trades hasn’t always been viewed as experience that can transfer. Little do they know.
I’m of the opinion if you can tackle a complex technical article, you can certainly take on a consumer article. Why? Because we’re all consumers. We all know what bugs us, what concerns us, and what we love and hate. Writing for a trade requires getting to know the audience and their industry. Writing for consumers – getting to know yourself and your neighbors.
And it’s getting to know the magazine in all cases. You have to know that magazine before you put fingers to keyboard. You have to be able to hit their voice, their style, and their audience. And here’s the key – not all women between 24 and 40 read Redbook. How much money do they earn? Are they working women or at-home parents? Do they live in the suburbs or the country? Where do they shop? What are their interests? The answers will give you your focus.
Look at the ads. Read the articles. What’s the tone? Whom do you see the magazine’s writers talking to? What is that person’s life like? What do they worry about? Cruise the Internet site. What articles are being read most, commented on most, and what ideas pop out of those comments or that article that you can capitalize on?
How do you approach magazines?