How Freelance Magazine Writing Works


Come up with loads of ideas for articles you would enjoy researching and writing. The name of the game is perseverance, and you'll need to be armed with lots of enthusiasm and ideas if you are serious about getting published. After all, your first 10 ideas might be rejected. Don't despair, just keep coming up with new angles.

Try to keep your pitches timely. Link them to recent books or hot issues. Offer to write about things you are uniquely suited to research. For example, if you are a former guidance counselor, you'd be a good author for a parenting article about helping your teen get into college. Keep an idea logbook and add to it each time something piques your interest.

Here's an example of the process -- in this case, an unsuccessful attempt, as so many of them will be. I recently sent out an idea to Cosmopolitan magazine about how young women can sneak more savings into their lives without feeling like they're on a budget. I carefully put together a query package (see the next section), and sent it off last week. Yesterday, I received an impersonal form letter wishing me luck placing my work elsewhere. This is not the first time I've been rejected by a magazine of this size…and it won't be the last. What to do? I promptly sent a thank you note to the editor for looking at my query and will send out another idea to her this week. Meanwhile, I will turn around and pitch the original idea to a competing publication. My philosophy is one of careful inundation, you could say. If I experience complete rejection from national magazines, I may rework the idea or start pitching to smaller, regional publications. The whole process could literally take over a year.


Some tips to keep in mind:

  • Keep track of what you send where. Use a notebook to record the fleet of proposals making their way to and from New York or regional publishers.
  • Don't let rejections bring you down. They are simply a call to action -- to send out another idea and to send the first idea somewhere else.
  • Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope with your proposals. This way, you will hear something back, even if it's only a form letter. Just be patient and think of more ideas!