What I Have Learned From Writing For Magazine Submissions

I’ve been writing for magazines since I was a teenager in high school. That’s not just a clever way to frame some kind of hackneyed “I started writing when I was 13” story; it’s true, and it makes my current experiences as a magazine writer all the more meaningful. 

In this article, I’ll share some of what I’ve learned over the years about approaching editors at magazines everything from how to get your foot in their door to what happens once you’re there.

Writing Articles and Short Stories for Magazines – YouTube
Writing for magazine submissions requires persistence and continuous improvement.
Researching and following the guidelines of each magazine is crucial for successful submissions.
Building a support system and networking with industry professionals can open doors to opportunities.
Rejections are part of the process; learn from them and keep submitting your work.
Crafting a compelling pitch and tailoring your submissions to the target audience can increase acceptance rates.
Learning from the experiences of others in the industry can provide valuable insights.
Hone your writing skills through courses and workshops to stand out in the competitive market.
Stay resilient and maintain a positive mindset throughout your magazine writing journey.

Write Well 

When you’re writing for magazine submissions, it’s important to write clearly and concisely. This is because most magazine articles are pretty short (no more than 2,000 words). Plus there’s no room for rambling or filler; the reader needs to get all the information they need to understand what your article is about in that small amount of space.

You also need to make sure that your sentences are interesting enough so that the reader doesn’t lose interest! If you have too many boring sentences or paragraphs in your article then people won’t read it all the way through. That can be bad news if it means missing out on a submission fee!

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Study Your Markets 

Know your market.

Study the magazine’s history, its readership, and its circulation. Who are they? What do they like? How long have they been in business? 

What sort of impact does their publication have on the industry as a whole? Which other magazines do they print alongside yours, who writes for each publication, what are the spreads like etc.? 

I’ve found it helpful to keep a list of questions like these by my desk so that when I’m reviewing submissions or writing pitches I can reference them as needed. * 

The more you know about your potential audience and their preferences, the better chance you’ll have at creating something that will appeal to them.* Once again: Don’t be afraid! 

These entities are not out there plotting against you; rather, they’re hoping for good content from writers who understand their needs and if those needs don’t align with yours right now (or ever), no problem! Find another outlet that does need what you’ve got!

Know Your Audience

The most important part of your submission to a magazine is knowing the publication and its audience. It’s equally important that you know yourself and your writing style.

When I write for a new publication, I ask myself some questions: What kind of content does this magazine typically feature? Does it have a history of publishing articles on my topic? How long has it been in business? Who are their readership demographics? Who are their advertisers?

I’ve often found that if I can’t answer these questions easily, it’s not worth submitting an article to them.

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Query First

I’ve received hundreds of queries from writers over the years, and I can say that it is a lot easier to assess an article from a query letter. When you submit, you don’t have the space to include everything in your query; instead, you have to be concise about what your piece is about and why it’s relevant to our audience (and ours only). 

If we want more information on the topic being covered in this piece, we will ask for it at that point. So don’t feel like including all of these details in your initial query letter would help with getting accepted!

With this said, however, some key things should be included in every query:

A short bio about yourself (a paragraph or two)

The topic of your article either something broad or specific enough so we can get a sense of whether or not it fits where we publish

Sample paragraphs from the article

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Send Only The Requested Materials (Usually A Query Letter Or Outline) 

Before you send your query letter, outline, or samples to a magazine editor, you must ask yourself whether the materials are relevant.

If the editor has requested an outline or a sample of work, then send just that. Don’t send anything else at all. If there is no mention of queries in their guidelines (or if you’re not sure), don’t send a query letter until they’ve asked for one. 

Having said this, if you think sending an extra sample will help sell yourself as an expert on whatever topic they’re looking for go ahead! Just be sure to check first that it’s appropriate and relevant before doing so (and don’t forget to read through all guidelines thoroughly).

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Always Answer The Phones And Emails Of Editors Who Are Interested In Your Work

When an editor is interested in your work, you want to be the first person they call. You want them to know that you are organized and prompt, polite but assertive. You want them to feel comfortable putting their faith in you by offering suggestions on how best they can use your writing skills.

When an editor calls or emails me with questions about my work, I do my best not only to answer those questions but also to offer any help I can give them so their job becomes easier when working with me as a writer. 

I always make sure that my writing samples are easy for editors to find online (though some may require a little digging), so all they have to do is click the link of their choice and read away!

Don’t Be Discouraged If Your Phone Call Isn’t Immediately Returned

Yes, this is a big one! I know it’s hard to hear but don’t take it personally or as a rejection of your work. It’s not about YOU at all it’s about them (the magazine). 

They have other things going on and may not have time to call you right away, so be patient and give them some time to get back to you. If they don’t? Well, then that doesn’t mean they don’t like your work or think it isn’t marketable it just means that they’re busy!

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Writing for magazine submissions can be a frustrating process, but if you keep at it and carefully study the market, you’ll have a much better chance of getting published. And remember: Editors aren’t just looking for great stories; they’re also looking for writers who will make their lives easier by being professional and easy to work with.

Further Reading

MasterClass: How to Get Into Magazine Writing Learn from seasoned professionals in the industry and discover the key steps to break into magazine writing and build a successful career.

Nathaniel Tower: 8 Things I Learned from Running a Literary Magazine for 8 Years Gain insights from the experience of running a literary magazine for eight years, and discover valuable lessons for anyone involved in the magazine publishing world.

Writer’s Digest: Writing Submissions for Magazines – How to Submit Writing to a Magazine Get a step-by-step guide on submitting your writing to magazines, including tips on formatting, targeting the right publications, and increasing your chances of acceptance.


How can I break into magazine writing?

Breaking into magazine writing requires a combination of honing your writing skills, networking with industry professionals, and submitting your work to the right publications. Consider taking writing courses or workshops to improve your craft and researching magazines that align with your writing style.

What are some tips for submitting to magazines?

When submitting to magazines, make sure to follow each publication’s guidelines meticulously. Tailor your pitch or submission to fit the magazine’s target audience and style. Always proofread your work and include a compelling cover letter or query to grab the editor’s attention.

How do I find the right magazines to submit my writing?

Start by identifying your niche or genre and researching magazines that specialize in it. Look for publications that have previously featured similar content to your own. Online databases and writer’s directories can be valuable resources for finding suitable magazines to submit to.

How do I increase my chances of acceptance?

To increase your chances of acceptance, be persistent and submit your work regularly. Take rejection as an opportunity to improve your writing and revise your submissions accordingly. Building relationships with editors and other writers can also provide valuable support and insight.

What should I do if my work gets rejected?

Rejections are a normal part of the writing process. When facing rejection, stay resilient and keep submitting your work to other publications. Consider seeking feedback from other writers or editors to identify areas for improvement. Remember that every rejection brings you one step closer to finding the right fit for your writing.