Bust My Excuse: I Get Held Up Researching markets
A few weeks ago I offered to bust readers’ excuses for not pitching magazines — or, if they’re pitching, for approaching only low/no-pay pubs. (By the way, if you have an excuse you’d like me to bust, you can send it to email@example.com.)
Here’s Steve’s excuse: It’s not that I don’t pitch or query, but that I don’t do it enough. There are mindsets that tell me that I can’t truly pitch unless I visit the bookstore and read up real well on the market, and also the fact that is has been drummed into me to avoid magazines and just write for businesses.
I certainly don’t want to tell you that you shouldn’t research your markets, but if it’s something that’s keeping you from pitching, you need to find a way around it. Here are a few tips:
1. Research the market online. Most newsstand magazines now have websites with content and even sometimes their editorial masthead. There are many directories of newsstand magazines online, and I recommend tradepubs.com to find, well, trade pubs.
2. Pitch the magazines you already read. No research required! (You do read magazines, right?)
3. Find a niche. It’s not very efficient to come up with an idea on, say, martial arts and then spend five days at the bookstore examining every magazine in the martial arts section. You probably know what topics you’d like to write about most. Get to know the magazines in those areas over time. Whenever you head to the bookstore, read through an issue or two. Soon you’ll pick up a good, broad knowledge of the markets. You don’t need to cram for pitching!
4. Idea first, then market. Many writers, like our own Diana Burrell, like to find the market first, and then formulate a pitch for it. I prefer to come up with an idea and then find a market to match. Both ways are fine, but in your particular case, if you brainstorm ideas first, you won’t be stymied by the fact that you don’t have a perfect knowledge of the market yet.
As for writing for businesses instead of magazines: Well, business writing certainly pays more! But it’s always good to diversify so that if one market dries up, you still have others to rely on.
I hope that helps! [lf]