According to Ross Cusack, editor at Western Angler, one quarter of the manuscripts he receives are not even suitable for publication. He advised that, “The most common fault is the story does not flow. This is because of poor sentence structure, poor grammar, spelling mistakes, and incorrect terminology.” There are some basic key rules that a writer can follow in order to get published in major magazines. This article will address those steps and provide useful advice on the issue.
1. Do Your Homework
As a writer, you need to be a creator, editor, researcher and fact checker all in one. Your work is your own identity. Don’t fall into the trap that someone else, such as an editor or fact checker at the magazine, will catch your errors and mistakes. A good writer will never submit an article that hasn’t first been edited, proofread and fact-checked. Doing your homework also entails properly researching your subject so that the facts, statistics, tips and terminology you share is correct and up to date information. With the advent of the Internet, there is both accurate and inaccurate information in circulation. That means that you have to do double duty to be certain that you are reviewing credible sources when doing research. It is also important to research the type of articles—subject matter, length and style—that the magazine typically publishes. Knowing what they specifically want will increase your chances of acceptance. Jeff Herman is the author of the 13th edition of the Writer’s Guide to Book Editors, Publishers & Literary Agents. This is a comprehensive listing of editors for both book publishing houses and magazines, detailing who they are, what submissions they are looking for and how to “win them over.”
2. Write a Proposal
A second rule of thumb is to write a proposal or discuss the idea first with the editor. According to Ross Cusack, he advised that if you have an idea for an article, it “is best discussed over the phone.” In his experience, most writers will be surprised to see that a majority of editors are happy to discuss article ideas. If that option is outside your comfort zone, you can visit their website to review the submission guidelines. After reviewing the specific guidelines for the magazine that you wish to submit to, work on submitting an article proposal. Every magazine is different. Generally, fiction short stories can be submitted directly with a cover letter. Non-fiction articles should be submitted only per request after a proposal and cover letter has been sent to the editor. Gary Bell, contributor to The Internet Writing Journal at writerswrite.com advised that, “An unsolicited article submitted to a magazine must be extremely well-written and use an angle the publication approves of to have a chance of being published.”
3. Heed Constructive Criticism
One way to derail your goal of publication is to ignore an editor’s advice and suggestions and become annoyed with any constructive criticism given. Ross Cusack advised that his job as an editor “is to check content, advise, and see if [he] can get good articles published.” If an editor is offering constructive criticism and asks you to review, edit and then resubmit, most likely you are getting published. Don’t balk at the requested changes. Even the best writers need an editor with the skills to make their writing better. If the magazine editor rejects your work without any explanation as to why, it is appropriate for you to respond and ask for the reason so that you can make changes or resubmit in the future. Remember to heed the submission guidelines which are generally listed on the website. Many times writers’ articles are rejected simply because they have not correctly followed the guidelines.
4. Make Your Introduction Count
If an editor is bored after reading your introduction, you better believe the readership base will also easily dismiss the rest of your article. In anything that you write, it is essential that you learn how to grab the reader’s attention right away and entice him or her to continue reading your work. Your introduction paragraph is the most important one that you will write. That same professional style and writing technique must be carried throughout the text, ending with a conclusion that ties the entire article together.
5. Presentation is Important
In addition to the article presentation being clear and concise with succinct paragraphs, bullet points, headers and block quotes as needed, it is also important to provide great images or artwork with the submission. The magazine may opt to utilize their own photography with the published article. However, you know your article best and if you can provide an image that captures readers’ attention and correctly correlates to your topic, you will increase your chances of getting published. According to Ross Cusack, “It is an absolute tragedy to receive a great article and no photographs. Articles with poor or no photographs will rarely be published.” He went on to advise that if an article submission included great photographs, the writer had a better chance of the article being edited and published. Be sure to include the source of where your image appears online so that it can be properly credited. Check with the magazine guidelines regarding the requirements for obtaining subject permissions for certain photographs.
Getting published in a major magazine may seem more difficult than it truly is. Remember to do your research and write a grammatically and factually correct article that is written for a specific magazine’s guidelines. Always heed the constructive criticism that you receive from an editor. Write with your readers’ interests in mind and provide captivating images.