It’s not hard to get into a debate with a fellow writer about which is better, to query first or write the article first and submit it to various publications. Both ways work, since both are practiced by published writers. The choice is all yours. But if you prefer to write your articles and submit them on spec, here are a few ways you can increase your chances of writing articles that an editor will want to buy:
1. Refer to editorial calendars
Some, but not all, guidelines will include an editorial calendar. This calendar lets you know what topics will be covered in upcoming months. Knowing these topics will allow you to write about things you know the editor could use. Calendars come in very handy, so be sure to bookmark them and refer to them often. Writing on topics you know are coming up for sure will definitely increase your chance of making a sale.
2. Write for holidays
Magazines usually run holiday pieces (Christmas, Halloween, Valentine’s Day), so don’t forget about these opportunities in writing. Not everyone does write for holidays, so if you can give an article you write (or have already written) a holiday twist, an editor might just be interested. Remember that holiday articles need to be submitted 4-6 months ahead of the actual holiday as editors do plan ahead. It’s better to submit them a little early rather than a little late.
3. Study the magazine
It’s a waste of not only your time, but the editors also, if you submit an article to a magazine you’ve never seen. Though it’s not impossible to make a sale having never seen the magazine, why take chances and waste your time? Study the magazine. We can’t all afford to buy numerous magazines, so check out your local library. Doing so might also open you up to new markets. Don’t be afraid to pick up magazines you wouldn’t normally read or write for. They might surprise you.
4. Connect with editors
Don’t be afraid to email editors and ask questions. The worst they can do is not reply. The best is that you could get answers! A question you can ask, assuming there is no editorial calendar, is that of possible upcoming topics. Though they don’t announce it, they surely know what they are working on for future issues. And they might let you in on it! If you’ve worked with an editor before and formed a relationship, don’t be afraid to ask.
You can increase your chances of selling articles. It’s all a matter of knowing what an editor can use. You can study magazines, editorial calendars or talk to editors, or any combination of the three.