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I like writing for regional magazines. Some writers are all about getting into the big-name magazines, and that’s fine. I like writing for them occasionally, too. However, the bread-and-butter side of non-book income is writing for magazines so I need to keep the assignments and checks coming.

2fd069a12889a0c3761c5db01730cb0d6858b490Here’s why I like to write for regional magazines:

  • Larger market: If I wanted to write a story for a national history magazine, I have three or four possible markets where I could pitch the article. However, if I look at the local angles of the story, I could at least double that number of market, maybe even triple it. I live in Gettysburg, and there are six magazines that I can think of that directly cover the town.
  • Easy to resell articles: I find that it is easy to resell article ideas between regional magazines. The article needs to be refocused a bit to fit the market of the magazine, but probably half of the article can stay the same between the markets. For instance, I wrote an article about the Tuskegee Airmen who were from Maryland for a Maryland magazine. I then repurposed it for both West Virginia and Pennsylvania magazines focusing on the airmen from those state. While the names were different and I had to interview different people, the basic information about the history of the airmen was the same.pa-heritage-magazine-spring-2016_large
  • Multiple chances to impress: This ties into there being a larger market of regional magazines. Each of those magazines has a different editor, so you have multiple chances to build professional relationships that can serve you well. Once I have worked with editors for a few stories, they quickly realize I like history so when history ideas up in editorial meetings, they contact me to write the story. Also, if the editor moves on to a new job, they know they can contact me for assignments.178e9ea3549cac3b6d3a2d20aee0ad2c
  • Good payment: Certainly national magazines pay more, probably around $1 a word, but regional magazines easily pay 25 cents to 75 cents a word. If you repurpose your article idea for four magazines, you’ll probably make more for the overall idea by selling it to regional magazines.
  • Unique stories: Because national magazines have a national market, I find that the stories they tend to tell are more generalized. I find that I have plenty of good articles ideas that national magazines wouldn’t be interested in because they are too local. For instance, I recently wrote an article about the year-long hunt for a supposedly escaped gorilla. It was a fun story that local people enjoyed reading about, but I doubt that a national magazine would have cared for it.
  • Less competition: Regional magazines have fewer writers competing for the editorial space. That means you have a better chance of being accepted. While national magazines may pay more, if you don’t get the assignment, you won’t be making anything. Not only do I have a better chance of getting the assignment at an individual magazine, but if I’m pitching an idea to multiple magazines, such as the Tuskegee Airmen story, I have a better chance of getting the story accepted somewhere. The odds are against me getting the $1 per word story, but I could easily get 50 cents per word.

1192240118All that being said, national magazines still offer advantages.

  • More-impressive clippings: When querying magazines for assignment, having national credits is more impressive to editors. That would make them more likely to see my query favorably. I do have some national credits, and I name them in my queries as well as pertinent regional credits.
  • Better pay: As I already said, if you can get a national assignment, it will more than likely pay better than regional publication. This is particularly true if you can get an assignment from one of the big-name publications that might pay you even more than $1 per word.
  • Author reputation: It doesn’t happen as much now as it used to, but some authors can build a following of readers who are anxious to read their articles.

From my perspective as a full-time freelance writer who needs to earn a living, these are my reasons for favoring regional publications. You may have a different perspective. If it works for you and gets you published, keep it up. If you find it failing you more often than not, try your luck with regional publications. There are some great ones out there. I should know. I write for them.fm2017_smcover-1

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I thought submission management software was supposed to make my life easier. I sure haven’t seen signs of it yet.

For any non-writers out there, submission management software helps you:

  • track the editors you’ve got articles/stories with
  • know the status of those article/stories
  • alert you to what you need to follow-up on

Some programs can do more, but this would be the core functions for all of them.

I am now juggling about 125 active article ideas that I have to keep track of and this doesn’t even count any short stories, novels or copywriting project I may be marketing. In the past, I have lost track on some of those projects. I haven’t missed any important deadlines, but I have forgotten about story ideas that I needed to remind an editor about.

I did my research and after some careful consideration made my first pick. The program was a web download, which I thought would make my life easier. I could be up and running in an hour.

Right!

Here are the snags I hit:

  • I had trouble accessing my PayPal account from their web site.
  • I had to wait half a day for an access code.
  • The program wouldn’t load on my computer.

I probably spend at least 2 hours trying to load it before finding out from the company that an installer problem with my type of system hadn’t been overcome yet. The company was quick to give me refund, but I had wasted a few hours with nothing to show for it.

 My second choice had a had been taken off the market until the company could overcome a similar type of problem it was running into like the first company.

My third choice was a free program called Sonar. It’s pretty basic, but it is free so I can’t complain. It is also easy to use.

Now, I’m faced with entering all of my markets, article and submission info. Like I said, I’ve got 125 active article ideas so it will take awhile, though I can see how the software help me once I’m up to date.

Sounds a bit like Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

I’ll think I’ll go eat some porridge.

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