by Patricia Fry
Eight Steps to Getting Your Articles Published
Do you have an idea or two that you want to develop into articles? Would you
like to promote your book through magazine articles? Heres an
easy-to-follow guide that will help you get published.
1. Research the market for which you want to write.
Whether you dream of writing for parenting, spiritual or business magazines,
for example, its imperative that you study the market. Locate the latest
issues of the magazines you want to write for at the newsstand or order copies
from the publisher. Find magazine publishers listed in Writers
Market. Some publishers still send complimentary copies to prospective
Study the magazines from cover to cover. What types of articles do they
publish? What is the writing style and the tone of the articles? Even the
letters-to-the editor and the ads reveal something about the readership.
Request a copy of their Writers Guidelines and follow them when designing
and submitting your article.
2. List your article ideas.
Most new writers start with a familiar topicsomething they know well
or something about which they want a voice. Everyone has a pet project or a pet
peeve. Whats yours? Environmental issues? Neighborhood Watch? Home
When I started writing for publication 27 years ago, our family was involved
in horses. A study of current horse magazines revealed what was and what
wasnt being addressed and that helped me to come up with some good ideas.
As a result, I sold articles on tips for recycling your horse show ribbons,
hairdos for horse shows, how to raise a foal, caring for the older horse and
horse packing tips.
Many of my article ideas are inspired by life and living. I recommend that
my student look everywhere for ideas because you never know where youre
going to find them. My grandparenting book was inspired by a conversation I
overheard once while waiting in line at the grocery store. I made around $3000
from articles based on the unusual profession of a man I met at a Little League
3. Write a query letter.
Although some magazine editors ask for the complete manuscript, most want to
see a query letter: a letter describing the article. The query letter is your
introductionyour first impressionyour sales pitchyour
marketing tool. So make it good.
On your letterhead, include the date, a brief synopsis of the article, your
qualifications for writing it and your writing credits. Try to keep it to one
Always include a self-addressed-stamped envelope (SASE) unless, of course,
you send your query electronically. Many editors accept queries via email now.
4. Learn to play the waiting game
An editors response can take anywhere from one day (an email
reply) to a couple of months. Postal anxiety is common among writers as most of
us have an ongoing love affair with our mailboxes. To keep from hinging all of
your success and happiness on just one response:
- Send query letters on the same topic to more than one editor at a time.
- Write queries on new topics right away so youre being productive and
not simply in wait mode.
Wait 4 6 weeks before inquiring about a query or manuscript.
5. Do the research and interviews for the article.
Once you get the go-ahead to write the article, line up your resources.
- Start a file of articles on topics of interest to you.
- Use this material to locate experts and fresh information and facts for
- Study the Guide to Periodical Literature. Its found in the
reference section at your public library. This is a guide to articles published
in key magazines within recent months. You can order copies of the articles to
use in your research.
- Study current books on the topic.
- Use the Internet.
- Contact people youve interviewed before.
- Talk to friends and associates.
Be sure to log your expert sources so you can use them again. You may want
to include them in a sidebar of resources for the article. The editor may also
require the names and numbers of your experts for fact-checking.
6. Write the article.
After youve completed your research, start writing the article
while keeping the editors specifications in mind. Do they want a 900-word
profile piece or a 1200 word how-to? Dont send them an essay when
theyve asked for an article full of quotes from experts, for example.
Some people have difficulty starting an article. Here are a couple of
- Write an outline listing the points you expect to cover in the article and
develop your article from the outline.
- Just start writing. Organize your thoughts and correct your spelling
- Begin an article with a line or paragraph from your query letter.
7. Recycle your article
Once youve sold an article on a favorite topic, write another one or
two or three. If the magazine bought first time or one-time rights, you can
still submit that article to other magazines as a reprint. Study
Writers Market to find out which publications use reprints. Most
magazines that buy reprints, pay half of what they would normally pay for an
8. Keep good records
An effective record-keeping system will keep you apprised of the status of
your articles and help you to prepare for tax time. Create a record of activity
by logging each query letter and article. Keep track of expenses and payments.
An efficient record-keeping system will also help in your communications with
Patricia Fry is the author of A Writers Guide to Magazine
Articles for Book Promotion and Profit (Matilija Press, 2000). $6.50.