WRITE SHORT ARTICLES FOR THE MILE-HIGH MARKET
By Roberta Beach Jacobson for The Right Way to Travel
Denver, Colorado has a spunky monthly publication filled with freelance contributions. Started in 1993, the magazine was named after the elevation of the mile-high city itself – hence, 5280.
When you’re sending a query to 5280 for a story you’d like them to consider, don’t limit yourself to the indoors. Sure, the magazine reports on eateries, spas, jazz clubs, art galleries, and shopping for bargains. But don’t neglect the great outdoors, environmental issues, and the splendor of the Rockies. (Articles editor Mike Kessler worked for Skiing magazine before joining 5280.)
This magazine works on a publishing schedule about three months ahead. That is, when the calendar says December, 5280 is already working on the March issue. The editors suggest three of the best places for a new writer to break in would be the Profiles (800 – 1000 words), Getaways (1000 words), or Atmosphere (300 – 400 words) sections.
Editor Daniel Brogan is the man to contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) and he believes a good magazine article isn’t focused on the who/what/where/when, but rather concentrates on the why and the how.
(So you’ll want your article to answer the questions, “Why is this important?” and “How does this help the reader?”)
Your writing should have personality and style. Let that creative voice shine through but remember the point of your writing is to inform as well as entertain your reader, so have an opinion about your topic and get your facts right.
Craft your query letter carefully. Editors at 5280 believe a query gives insight into how the writer’s mind works! So you want to make a good impression. How? Well, the number one rule is to make your query as specific as possible. (Because by doing so the editors will see that you’ve thought through your idea and understand their readership.)
In other words, don’t propose a general article about non-skiing activities in Colorado. Instead, propose an article about five non-skiing activities to enjoy this winter in Breckenridge while the rest of your group is hitting the slopes.
Your contract (from 5280 Publishing, Inc.) will specify First North American Serial Rights (both print and electronic). Fees are negotiated for each assignment and no additional travel expenses are paid. You can find comprehensive contributors’ guidelines here: http://www.5280.com/page/writers-guidelines and you can even download the artists’ contract (in .pdf).
5280 accepts photographs — digital files should be submitted at 300 dpi (at 100%). You can send them electronically or on a CD/DVD by post. Note that the art department stresses accuracy is critical for captions, so double-check (triple-check) all those name spellings.
If you snoop around the advertising/media portion of the publication’s website, you can find the editorial calendar. It’s always smart to review a publication’s editorial calendar. It can spark article ideas… for example the August 2007 issue of 5280 will be the Thrillseekers Guide to Colorado and the September 2007 issue will be devoted to Fall-Color Getaways, so if you live in the Denver area or if you plan to visit there in the next couple of months, you could do some research with these articles in mind.
However, if you’re not from Colorado and your knowledge about Denver is limited — but you still crave this by-line — you can submit essays, poetry, or photos to the 5280 Website just for fun.
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]