Five Things I Learned about Writing for Magazines: #3 Read the Guidelines… Carefully


After you’ve read the magazines you’re hoping to query, make a careful study of their guidelines. These are usually listed on the magazine’s web site.

This is a no-brainer in one sense, but as I write for more magazines, I’ve learned to pay attention to particular clues. Clues that I had been missing when I first started sending queries to the poor editors…

You should already have a familiarity with the magazine’s sections, but while reading the guidelines pay particular attention to how the magazine is organized. There typically will be longer feature articles and then a series of recurring, shorter articles.

Take note of which topics are typically handled by the magazine’s staff, what their current interests are, and whether or not they have a separate theme list. Stay on-topic, give the editors exactly what they want, and follow their guidelines with paranoid precision.

In addition, pay attention to any tips or clues they may provide for new writers. They just may provide you with an easy way to break in—which is what we’ll address tomorrow.