Having sent out my fair share of queries that evaporate into inbox oblivion, I’ve learned that shooting for the stars at the start often leads to poor results. While publishing hopefuls shouldn’t rule out pitching major stories or feature articles, there is an order to the magazine world that should be taken into account.
When aiming for print or online magazines that pay, you’ll be pleased to learn that many of them have established simple ways for writers to break in. So provided you give up on landing your first query on the front page, many magazine guidelines will tell you which departments are most open to new writers.
These may range from a series of quotes, to a short 100-200 page anecdote, to a 500-word “how-to” piece on a specific topic. By writing these short break-in pieces you’ll minimize the amount of time you have to invest in writing queries that may not sell.
Once you’ve established your reputation with an editor, showing that you can write relevant pieces for his/her audience, improves the chances of your future queries. In addition, the process of writing a short piece for a specific magazine will make it easier to write targeted pitches in the future.