By Freelance Writer, Roy Barnes
The first step to getting an article published — and the most important one — is to find the publications best-suited for your story. If you get your audience right at the start, chances are you’ll have a much easier time landing assignments and getting paid.
So that’s what we’ll talk about this week: How to find the audience you’re looking for. Really, to be more precise: How to find the Writer’s Guidelines that will tell you if you’ve got the audience right, or not.
Part 1: HOW TO FIND WRITER’S GUIDELINES
- The Internet
The Worldwide Web, with its countless travel-themed sites, is a great place to get published for pay and to build up your portfolio. Travel articles published online can generate for you a large and sustained reading audience, especially since most travel websites archive their content indefinitely.
One of the best ways to find travel publications is to go to writing sites full of market listings. One place to start is:
These links contain market databases sorted by category, such as travel. You should also try:
These give comprehensive listings of newspapers and/or other travel publications around the world that are internet-accessible.
To find the online guidelines for a particular publication, look for a link at the publication’s homepage that says: “Write Articles,” “Editorial Guidelines,” or “About Us.” Such links will usually lead directly or indirectly to the Writer’s Guidelines.
If you can’t find a Writer’s Guideline link,go to the “Contact Us” or “Menu” link to look for the travel editor’s name and email address. If it’s not there, then send an email to the general-information address and ask for the travel editor’s name and email address as well as a copy of the Writer’s Guidelines.
For newspapers that don’t have the staff listed online, do the same thing. Send an email to the general-information address. Usually an online-staff representative will respond within a couple of days. If you’re looking for the correct contact at a smaller paper that doesn’t have a dedicated Travel Editor, then you’ll want to deal with the Features Editor.
- Libraries and Magazine Racks
Browse through the magazine racks at your local library or book store. You will be astounded by the many titles you’d never have even imagined existed. Any of them could be a target for your articles. You’ll generally find a publication’s masthead (the staff listing) within the first 10 pages. And there it is likely to tell you if the publication has an online site and, if so, where it is. Armed with that info, you can then check there for the Writer’s Guidelines.
An advantage to searching out publications and actually flipping through them is that you’ll get a very concrete feel for the type of article the editors prefer. You gain insights into length, attitude, style, and so on that it’s harder to glean from the Guidelines alone. Because of that, in fact, many Writer’s Guidelines advise you to study current and back issues before submitting queries or stories.
- Market Directories
Another good place to find the names of publications you might write for is Writer’s Digest’s Writer’s Market — a catalog of over 8,000 publications. In each publication’s listing you’ll find a paragraph or two that gives you a quick snapshot of what the editors are after. This isn’t a substitute for reading the full Writer’s Guidelines, but it’s a great way to target potential outlets for you’re your articles. The book is divided up by category: Travel, Women’s, Regional, Retirement, etc. You can buy a copy of this book online or check your local library. Many of the listings include the publication’s website and advise you to look there for the most up-to-date information about submitting articles and so on.
- “Google” It
If you search for “Writer’s Guidelines” on Google, you’ll be rewarded with 853,000 responses. To narrow this down, you’ll have to be more specific. Try searching for “retirement magazine writer’s guidelines” or “budget travel writer’s guidelines” or even “women travel writer’s guidelines.” Just pick your niche and search for guidelines that way.
[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.]