A couple of months ago I hosted a Redbook editor on a Freelance Writers Den call about breaking into the women’s magazines, and I asked her to address revisions.
The problem: Writers take courses like my Write for Magazines class, hone their idea, write a kick-ass query, sell the query to a newsstand magazine, write the article — and then are shocked when the article comes back bleeding with red ink.
Three editors looked at the article, and each of them has different terrible things to say about your work. This tip isn’t working. This lede is trite. You need to find a better source. This paragraph doesn’t fit here. Oh, and can you find an attractive Hispanic woman in her mid-30s who went through this issue and has a good story?
And: Some of the comments contradict one another!
If your goal is to write for a major newsstand magazine, I want to say: This will happen to you. I’m 100% sure of it. And it has nothing to do with the quality of your work.
Even the Redbook editor said it: You need to be ready to do extensive revisions no matter what. You have several editors looking at your work, and each one has a different viewpoint. Each one has a boss she needs to impress. And typically, there’s some huge deadline coming up so you need to get this revise turned around like asap.
Some people, like me, have a thick skin — so I never take it personally when I get like 50 comments on a 1,000-word piece. If you want to write for the newsstand magazines and you don’t have a thick skin, you need to develop one.
Or, you can make a perfectly fine living writing for smaller magazines like trades and custom pubs, which is what I mostly do because, though I don’t take it personally, I don’t enjoy the length and timeframe of the revision process at the consumer magazines.
How about you: Have you ever been gobsmacked by a revision from a newsstand magazine? How did you get through it? Post your experiences in the Comments below!