Thursday, May 15, 2008

Making the Case for Magazines

In my experience, a majority of pre-published writers yearn to produce a book. No surprise! Writing conferences, blogs, and professional journals are mostly aimed at book publication. In a dozen years of attending regional and national SCBWI conferences, I only remember one with workshops for the magazine writer. But consider the upside of writing for magazines.

You don't need an agent to submit.
Most magazine pieces are short and less complex to write than a picture book.
Using a different slant, you can reuse research or fiction ideas.
You might see your name in print without waiting four years.
Often a wide audience sees your work.
You don't have to do a lot of promotion.
You don't get wacky reviews in professional journals.
Your magazine piece could earn additional money through reprint rights.
There are magazine contests and prizes to be won.

And now the downside of writing for magazines:
Rejection letters - a reality of the writing life anyway.
Your check per piece won't be as large as a book advance.
Friends, family and writing colleagues are more impressed by a book.
Your moment of glory only lasts for a month.

Magazine pieces? A book? I made my choice twelve years ago when I started writing. I tried both. My quiet picture book probably would not be published in today's market. I welcome writing for magazines. It keeps my mind limber while inspiration for the next book germinates.

I rest my case. Magazines anyone?


  1. You make a good case for writing for children's magazines, Gale. But as a freelance writer who has published plenty of articles in adult consumer magazines. it's still a tough sell. The reason? I find it hard to go from being paid up to $3 a word in the adult market to being paid $3 for an entire piece--okay, I'm exaggerating a little here--in the children's magazine market. As enticing as it is to get a fiction clip, the paltry pay rate grates on me, enough to prevent me from even trying. Believe me, I'm not in this to get rich. I just wish their pay rate was more respectable. Trouble is, with all the aspiring fiction writers out there, me included, the children's maggies know they don't have to pay a penny more--so they probably never will!

  2. One major problem for me....there are few magazines for young adult and hardly any take historical fiction. The money isn't an issue (no pun intended) for me, none of us is in this for the money.

  3. I agree completely! Nicely stated, Gale. Writing for magazines has been such a validation of my growth as a writer. It's wonderful to see my name in print, and sometimes my pieces even get illustrated. And now that I've worked up to some larger publications, my friends and family seem pretty impressed. (Though you'll still hear shouts of joy when I get a book contract!)