How and when to pitch to magazines is a question that comes up often, from both my fiction and nonfiction authors so I thought it was worth a blog post to give some thoughts on the subject.
As with many things we do in book publishing, there isn’t always a right or wrong answer and each situation is uniquely individual. That said, having your work published in magazines and/or newspapers and/or reputable websites can be very helpful when it comes to both selling your book to an agent, publisher, or the general consumer. If you notice the authors who are the most successful are widely published across multiple media channels. Getting and keeping your name out there is useful.
Writer’s Digest brought up this topic recently, and it prompted the idea for this post. They were talking about whether or not to pitch word counts, which is a very particular subcategory, but it made me think about the idea more generally and what it means for writers in all different categories.
Short form writing is very different from book writing, but in terms of the number of people you can reach, sometimes it can be an effective bang for your buck. Whether you’re not yet published and looking to get some credits under your belt (and some better Google searches to come up, which can be important for agents and editors reviewing your work), or you’re already published and looking to expand your reach, there are many outlets to pursue, and you might even earn a few bucks in the process.
Key is to do your research and make sure that whatever you are pitching is appropriate for that publication’s audience. And you should explain why in your pitch. I have a client with an upmarket commercial women’s fiction novel forthcoming and we’re working on articles for her to pitch, to women’s magazines and Modern Love in the New York Times, not necessarily the most obvious places to target for what she writes, but certainly reaching a similar audience to what we hope to find for her book.
I did a further search and found an appealing article by a writer who decided in the UK to pitch every magazine listed in a market guide for writers he found – 642 total. I don’t recommend you do this, but there were some learning tools to take away here. I liked that he suggests “shaking oneself out of one’s comfort zone can be an incredibly good practice.”
Indeed, there was more to enjoy here: “One way to stand out is to pitch 642 magazines. Another is to develop your own voice—something that editors will recognize amongst all the other thousands of voices clamoring to be heard. Perhaps a way of developing this voice is to spend your time writing about things you don’t want to write about—until you realize what it is you do want to concentrate on.” This reminds me of the advice I give my kids. You have to try everything until you (hopefully) find something you enjoy.
Let us know where you’ve had success being published in these areas, and how you got there.