There are a lot of markets for writers out there. One of the best skills to have to be successful in making it into most of them is fitting into what they want. I’m sure some people see this as selling out, but it’s not. Mostly, target marketing is knowing the publication you’re getting into. Following theme, or word count limits, is part of being a professional when you approach these publications. With magazines, it’s especially important.
Target marketing doesn’t mean that you have to lose yourself or style; it means your tailoring your uniqueness in a way that will get you into the publication you want. Be creative and show them something they’ll be inspired to publish, while playing by their rules. Believe me…this is harder than it sounds and takes skill.
Magazines and ezines state in their guidelines that you should check out a couple back issues to get a feel for what they like (tone, type of stories/articles, etc.) before you submit. This saves them and you time if what you wrote doesn’t fit – you in submitting, and them in reading and selecting submissions. Some mags/ezines also have theme lists (this is especially true for children’s mags). These theme lists help the mags/ezines put out the content they want and it helps you have a better chance of getting published with them, because it’s like a secret inside hint of what they’re actually looking for.
Themed anthologies are also along the same lines. Usually there’s a short list of things they don’t want, and a description of what they do want. There are also other things to pay attention to, like word count limits. These have more leeway then mags/ezines, because usually they’re looking for a variety of stories on the same theme and will sometimes look at stories that don’t fit into the word count limits. Usually when I’m editing an antho, if you think outside the box and make your story very original, you stand a better chance of securing a place in the pages.
Genres are a bit more tricky…because you can mix them and still have a good chance. The only complicated part is when you write something and you aren’t exactly sure it fits into any genre (been there, done that!).
The downsides to writing for a specific theme or genre is that if you don’t place your story/book/article with them, you might have a hard time finding another market for it (dealing with this right now myself). But, at the end of the day, it’s mostly about the luck of the draw with the editors – they all like different things. Writing to their specifications, though, increases your chances all around.
Again, I have to stress how important it is to follow the guidelines for any press/publication. When you go over the word limit, or under, or don’t even bother to follow the theme…it makes you look VERY unprofessional. Professionals don’t want to work with unprofessionals. That’s just how it works.
Basically, if you want to have a better chance with mags/ezines/anthos you’re going to have to learn to tailor your content and length to fit. Always, always, always try to be as original as possible – it gives you a better chance of an acceptance. Just do it in a way that will be usable by the publication/market you submit to. It’s so disappointing for everyone – you and the editor – when the piece is perfect, but the tone or parameters are wrong. If you’re lucky, you’ll find an editor who is willing to work with you if changes are needed, but this doesn’t happen often.
A good place to search for markets by theme and word length is: duotrope.com
There you can search by something you already have written by looking for a specific genre or word count. You can also do searches by pay scale. If you sign up for their newsletter, you will get lists of new market calls and what they’re looking for.
There are also books that you can buy or borrow from your local library that are full of market listings. Not everyone is online you know!
Search the markets, find a place to fit, and get published! I wish you all the best of success!
©Rebecca Besser, 2012. All rights reserved.