Many magazine articles are written by full-time staff of the publication, but some also carry material that has been written by freelancers – this could be you!
These six tips will help you to publishing success:
- Decide which magazine you aim to write for. It is a mistake to complete a manuscript and then wonder what to do with it. Find a magazine that may publish your article, and research the readership. Who are these people? Read some copies of the magazine and get a feeling for the style of what is written and how long the feature articles are. The magazine advertisers will have done some work for you. Are there advertisements for disability aids, dating agencies or activity holidays? These provide you with valuable information about your target readers. You will need to engage with the readers in a way that they will find interesting and relevant. Always obtain Contributors’ Guidelines of the magazine and stick to guidance on presentation, word-count and style.
- Research your information carefully. Make sure factual information is correct. Do not insult someone by spelling their name incorrectly. You face ridicule and legal action if you give unhelpful or inaccurate advice. Double-check your sources. Ask yourself – what will your target reader want to know about this subject?
- Write an outline. This will prevent you from straying from the subject when writing. Omitting this process may tempt you to present your information in the order it was gathered or leaving out important information altogether.
- Write your text in draft form. Allow the flow of ideas to be expressed freely. Editing and tidying up comes later. You do not have to write good English at this stage. Start writing about what you feel most confident, then fill in the gaps later.
- Take some time off – perhaps overnight - and then return with a fresh outlook to review your manuscript. Revise any obvious errors. Rearrange the order of the text so that it flows better. Try reading the text out loud. Does it sound clumsy? If so, re-write it to be smoother.
- Put aside your writing for another break. You may find errors in a piece that you thought was perfect, the next day. Now – proofread, proofread, proofread. Yes – three times! It is a myth that the editorial department enjoys correcting your mistakes. Most people find hard copy easier to read than on-screen text, so print off your article, and examine each line, running a finger under each word. Check unusual words for correct spelling. Then check those Contributors’ Guidelines again, so that your work is as perfect as it can be.
If the idea of writing for publication or pleasure appeals to you, why not hone your skills by completing a Creative Writing course from ADL. There are many to choose from.
By Iona Lister
Iona has been a clinician and manager of health services for fifteen years, and a trainer for UK-based medical charities, focusing on psychosocial issues, mental health disorders, and also the promotion of communication skills for people in helping roles. She tutors and facilitates groups via workshops and teleconferences, and now specialises in Sight Loss. As a freelance writer, she contributes regular feature articles for magazines, has written five published books, as well as published courses relating to personal development and counselling skills.