Sunday, 23 February 2014

Magazines are everywhere!

Walk in to any newsagents or supermarket and you will find rack upon rack of magazines. A recent foray into Tesco revealed magazines on just about any conceivable subject known to man: countryside, cookery, cross stitch, dogs, cats, birds, wildlife, trains, knitting, running, walking, dancing, tattoos, photography, railways - you name it, it was probably there somewhere!

So when writers say that they have nothing to write about I'd advise them to go along to their newsagents or local supermarket and take a look at the magazines on display. They have to try and stop themselves from thinking, I'm not an expert on anything so why would the editors of these magazines even bother with my pitch. STOP RIGHT THERE! That's no way to think!

Start to turn your negative thoughts into positive actions and look at the types of magazines you read and they type of things you're interested in. For instance: I like to bake and decorate cakes - I'm not a professional but I dabble in it; I like walking in the countryside (that's two potential magazine markets in one hit!); I have two cats, I like photography and aspire to be a better one, I live by a steam railway, and have been known to do cross stitch and other crafts. I also like wildlife. Right there I could already pitch at least two ideas to at least 8 magazines.

It doesn't matter if you're an expert in that field or not - amateur experience and knowledge will get you somewhere. And, you can always find experts, if you need them, who will be only too happy to help you. So no more excuses. Get down to your seller of magazines next week, have a browse and a buy a couple of them and get reading. Then order some back copies and read them - then you're ready to get some ideas together and pitch them.

There's nothing more exciting than finding a potential market for your articles that just clicks with you!

Happy clicking!

Julie xx

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Treat Yourself - Your Writing Will Thank You!

Ever fancied going to a writing festival but never had the time to do so? Or are they all too far away from you, or too expensive? Well, there is a solution. The National Association of Writing Groups is holding its 2014 Warwick Writing Festival 29th - 31st August at Warwick University (Coventry way).

I've been for the past two years; 2012 for the whole festival and 2013 as a day delegate and both times I learnt such a lot about writing and met some wonderful fellow writers. It is well worth attending as it's reasonably priced and is in a central location - the university complex. facilities and accommodation are brilliant and the quality of writing workshops/courses are second to none.

I'm about to book my place tomorrow and it would be great to see some fellow bloggers there too.
See www.nawg.co.uk for further details. You don't even have to be a member of NAWG to attend, although it is cheaper to attend if you are a member.

Looking forward to seeing you there if you're going!

Julie xx

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Putting It All Together

So you've been busy pitching your article ideas to editors and, hopefully, having some of them commissioned. Well done if you have - you're sparkling well. And if you haven't yet succeeded - keep trying. It takes time and a lot of practise to be able to write pitches and get your article ideas commissioned so don't give up on the first no. Remember that it might not be your pitch or idea that the editor didn't like. Pitches get rejected for many, many, reasons:

The editor just commissioned a similar idea - not your fault unless you're a mind reader.

They covered a similar idea recently (if you'd done your research properly, you would have seen this!).

The idea wasn't quite what the editor wanted.

Timing was off - The pitch you sent was time specific or seasonal and because of the strict lead in times of the magazine's production, you pitched it too late.

The editor's file is overflowing with commissions at the moment and they can't fit any more in.

But once you have been commissioned, this is when the hard work starts! You've been given a chance - a foot in the door. You've beaten off competition from countless other writers. You have been given the opportunity to show the editor what you can do. So don't fluff it! You might not get another chance.

How can you make sure you deliver what the editor wants?

1. Listen carefully to the editor's brief: They should give you a word count and a deadline.

2. Read through several issues of the magazine to see the magazine's house style in action and follow it.

3. Make sure you get all the quotes you need early on the process. You don't want to have to be frantically searching for experts to interview when one lets you down.

4. Write a skeleton for your article using subheadings and write in what is going where roughly.

5. Make sure your first draft is written well before the deadline so you can tweak and improve it.

6. Leave at least a couple of days between edits - a week if you can manage it and bear it. Coming back to your article with fresh eyes can bring up a surprising number of errors.

6. Keep to the word count and deadline. If you don't, the editor might have to go with another writer's article that is ready, and they might not commission you again.

7. Spelling and grammar do matter - so check, check, get someone else who knows what they're talking about to check and check again before submitting it.

8. If you're not sure about something then ask the editor - sooner rather than later. Don't guess the answer.

Do all of this and you'll deliver the editor exactly what he wants and on time. They're more likely to commission you again.

Happy writing
Julie xx