Writing for Magazines: Just Do It!

Writing for a glossy magazine seems a little out of your reach. It could never be possible, could it? But it is. If you are an idea-generator, a talented writer, and have persistence, you can absolutely write for magazines. Want to know how to get started? Read on!

Sierra image

  1. Identify your favorite magazine.
  2. Write down what it is that you love about this magazine. Is it the stories? The imagery? The ideas? The style?
  3. Next, identify any ideas or stories you might have that compare.
  4. Find the magazine’s Submission Guidelines and figure out where your ideas might work best. For instance, Sierra Magazine contains a variety of sections that I think some of my ideas match:
Idea Magazine section
Humorous ranger story “Survive” (Humor, 200 words)
Working at Yellowstone National Park “Trailhead” (first-person, 750 words)
Excursion to Alice Lake “Trailhead”
  1. Next, you’ve got to get started on your query. Big time magazines don’t want you sending attachments typically, nor do they want a full story. They want you to tell them a little about your idea and they’ll tell you whether or not they’re interested. Here’s how to do that:
    1. Begin with the editor’s name. Avoid “Dear Editor” at all costs!
    2. Pull them in with your first sentence. (My pitch began with: “Recently, while car camping at Gem Lake in Estes Park, Co., there was a knock at my window.” This makes the reader want to know what is going to happen next)
    3. Tell them the rest of your story in only a couple of sentences.
    4. Let them know where this piece belongs in their magazine and why readers will love it.
    5. Add why you’re the person to write this (you were there, you’re a published writer, etc.)
    6. Say whether you have pictures, and attach publications if you have any and ONLY if the submissions tell you to include them.

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