SPAWN Market Update – February, 2003
By Patricia L. Fry
http://www.writersclub.com is for sale.
CosmoGIRL is for the teen set (12 – 17 year-olds). According to the editors, this magazine has the voice of a cool older sister. It’s conversational, funny and down-to-earth. And it pays $1 a word for all rights. They want useful information for teen girls-articles that promote a positive self-image. Editors say they’ll consider anything that’s of interest to teens. Contact CosmoGIRL at 224 W. 57th St., 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10019.
ASPCA Animal Watch has a new associate editor. Welcome Andrea Rotondo.
Several magazines this year are focusing on real stories about real women. If you have a fascinating true story to tell or you’re good at getting the scoop, consider writing for Lifetime and Ladies Home Journal, for example.
I received an email from Elizabeth Eckstein, editor of Austin Woman (a new magazine first reported in the December issue of Market Update). She invites writers to view their Writer’s Guidelines at http://www.austinwomanmagazine.com/aw/about.html According to Elizabeth, the deadline for story submissions is the month previous to the issue.
Seventeen‘s editor, Tamara Glenny sent me their Writer’s Guidelines. There are separate guidelines for nonfiction, true stories and fiction. Fiction writers take note: Seventeen uses as many as a dozen fiction pieces per year. To get a copy of the guidelines send an SASE to Seventeen, 1440 Broadway, 13th Fl, New York, NY 10018
Golden Living is seeking submissions about everyday life situations and concerns for people over 60. Contact Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want to stay on top of literary scams and frauds, this is the site to bookmark: http://www.sfwa.org/beware Be sure to read the skinny on fraudulent agents and publishers. It’s an eye opener and it could save you a lot of heartache.
Hey, check out SPAWN’s Resources for Writers, Artists and Publishers. http://www.spawn.org/resource.htm.
Many writers are looking for work, so I thought I’d concentrate on writing sites for writing jobs. Here are a couple of good ones:
The Grammar Lady. This is a fascinating site with lots of information. The Grammar Lady publishes a “Typo of the Week,” “Question of the Week” and “Language Gaffe of the Week,” for example. There’s an interactive message board, a grammar hot line and this month visitors are treated to an about how to choose a dictionary. http://www.grammarlady.com
I’m still waiting for folks to send me their favorite fiction sites. No one responded to my plea, does this mean there is no one out there interested in writing fiction these days?
Sonali is a business writer. Here is my interview with her:
Q: Please tell us about your early desires to write. What inspired/motivated you to establish a business around writing?
A: I have been writing since I first learned to hold a pencil. Yes, I know it sounds quite clichéd, but it’s true. Actually, my love affair with words started even before that….
As a child I was fascinated by stories. I would refuse to eat unless my mother told me a story with every meal! From there to crafting my own stories was a short journey. When I was about 4 years old, I wrote a story – “Colors of the Sun” – about a child who wonders why the sun should always be yellow. Why can it not be different colors? My cousin, who is an artist, illustrated the story with some beautiful drawings and printed a limited run edition. And so… a writer was born!
My family bore the brunt of my new-found passion! I would buttonhole my mother, grandmother, aunt, father and cousins to read every single thing I wrote. No matter how childish, how insipid it was – complete, undiluted praise was not just expected, but demanded! And they, dear souls, were very enthusiastic in their support. Without them, I would never have got anywhere.
Growing up, writing became a very natural part of my life. I never thought of it as a special skill or talent. I always thought – everybody writes. It was many, many years before I learnt otherwise.
I first appreciated the importance of good writing when I started working as a Corporate Communicator. I was required to co-ordinate with advertising agencies, briefing them on the ads we wanted to create and getting the final campaign ready. Time and again, I found myself frustrated with the copy they wrote. Somehow, it did not say exactly what we wanted to convey. I would spend hours editing and even re-writing the copy. Finally, I took to writing my own copy.
These were not especially inept, run-of-the-mill agencies. In fact, some of them are internationally recognized as creative agencies.
I learnt the hard way that not every good writer understands business. With this, I found my niche and started a business focused on business writing.
Q: Would you describe your business. Who are your clients? What type of work do you do?
A: My forte is business writing. I create copy for businesses and also write business articles for newspapers, magazines and e-learning sites. I especially love doing articles related to soft skills.
I cater exclusively to the business communication needs of small businesses and independent professionals. My clients are businesses that need strategic inputs in their writing.
My writing credits cover a wide range of feature stories and magazine articles, press releases, soft skills pieces, white papers, advertising copy, public speeches, brochures, business proposals, case studies, website and intranet content and corporate film scripts. I also publish a monthly e-zine dedicated to helping small business owners and professionals write and work smarter. Titled “Smart Tips @ Work!”, it features expert articles on business communications, marketing, advertising, public relations and self-help.
Q: Which of your writing services is most required. Why do you think that is?
A: Businesses frequently ask for press releases and direct marketing copy. I believe these are in demand because they are the most difficult to write, especially for non-professional writers.
A press release is a delicately crafted work of science. It needs strategic thinking – the writer must know what aspects of a story to highlight, how much to highlight and what to underplay. One must include enough information to evoke curiosity but not enough to satisfy it. A good press release does not just get you publicity, it provides a reason for the media to contact you and develop an ongoing interaction.
Direct marketing copy is difficult as it requires a blend of psychology, business sense and an ability to step into the customer’s shoes.
Magazines are most interested in soft skills articles – on topics like managing conflict in teams, leadership and communication issues etc. I like to think this is due to organizations becoming more aware of the complexities of dealing with a complete human being, not just the “office worker” part of her.
Q: Please share one of your most interesting experiences related to your business.
A: I wish I could say – John Grisham’s editor called me up to say he wants to publish my novel. But since that hasn’t happened, I have to pass this one by J
Q: What’s your proudest moment as a writer?
A: I once wrote a poem for a friend telling her that if I were to write a balance sheet of my life, her name would figure among my greatest treasures. She loved the poem and displayed it prominently on her work desk. A vendor visiting her read the poem and asked for a copy. When she asked him why, he replied that he had recently got married and wanted to give the poem to his wife as an expression of how much he valued her. I was thrilled!
Q: Tell us about your schedule. Do you keep regular hours? What is a typical day like?
A: Well, you could say I regularly keep irregular hours J.
Since childhood, I have enjoyed writing in the middle of the night. This fits in very well with my current schedule as I work full time at a day job and write in the night. Actually, my job (a Corporate Communications function) involves a lot of writing too, so you could say I write round the clock.
A typical day could see me writing a white paper on plasma technology or a business proposal for a blood bank or a corporate brochure for a pharma company or maybe even a film script to highlight our manufacturing facilities.
A typical night is when I wake up at 2 am to write a press release or a magazine article or even a sales letter!
Q: What kind of money can someone with a writing business like yours expect to earn?
A: It’s too early for me to answer this – I have been in business for a little over 3 months now.
Q: Do you have any advice for writers who want to pursue a business like yours?
A: I have a favorite saying – “There are no have-to’s in my life”
What I mean is – Don’t ever do a thing because you have to; do it because you want to. Even if you have are choosing between two unpleasant things, it still means that you made a choice. It is no longer a have-to; it’s a want-to.
Have-to attitudes translate into insipid work and a passionless life. Who wants to work and live like that?
Q: What was your biggest obstacle in your business. How did you overcome it?
A: The biggest challenge was my own ignorance of some of the industries and markets I write for, e.g., one of my earliest assignments was a press release for a software company that has evolved a foolproof technology for online security. Not being a gizmo freak / internet savvy, and being an Arts graduate to boot, my understanding of the process was rudimentary at best.
I spent a lot of time in research – visiting the client’s website, absorbing the technology, trying to understand the need for such a product. In the process, I learnt to translate the complex processes and phraseology into simple language that I and others like me could easily understand. The press release I wrote reflected this – helping even the technologically challenged relate to the product and appreciate its importance. The clients were so happy they immediately hired me to re-write their web copy!
In the end, my ignorance proved to be my greatest asset as it placed me in the same position as my target audience.
Q: Please give us your contact info and add anything else you would like to share.
Barbara Lanz-Mateo is the editor/publisher of a brand new local Santa Barbara, California magazine, Coastal Woman. I managed to get her to take some time from her busy days to respond to some questions. Here’s our interview:
Q: Would you share your background as a writer/editor/publisher?
A: I have been the editor for several local publications, including Montecito Magazine, Goleta’s Valley Voice and for Silicon 2.0. In addition, I have been a freelance writer and editor. My only experience as a publisher is what I am learning on the job as publisher for Coastal Woman Magazine.
Q: Please describe your vision for Coastal Woman and what led to your launching this magazine.
A: My vision is to be an advocate for South Coast women and women’s issues in general. My goal is simply to do good-for working women, for mothers, for families, the community, and for my advertisers. I aim to create a resource for women that is useful and entertaining, sometimes irreverent, and always looked forward to being received.
Q: It might be interesting to hear about some of the challenges you were faced with in becoming a periodical publisher/editor and how you overcame them
A: Challenges? Let’s see. As an editor, I had always been diligent about not letting the business side of publishing interfere with what my job was: to be an advocate for my readers. Balancing that ethic, which I think is essential, with the business side is a challenge, but I intend to work hard to keep my readers’ interests as my number one priority.
The other challenge was creating a business plan. I attended and completed the Women’s Economic Ventures class called Self-Employment Training, which basically teaches how to write a business plan. It took just over four months, with about 15 – 20 hours of work each week, and I ended the class with a business plan. The class was essential in my being able to not only start the magazine, but in seeking funding for it.
Q: What did you learn in the process of starting this magazine that surprised you?
A: Networking is imperative. Most of my successes thus far have been through networking, mostly with other women. They have been incredibly helpful.
Q: What would you advise others who might want to start a magazine?
A: Do a lot of market research. Be well funded. Have a solid business plan in place.
Q: My readers are mostly writers who are interested in breaking into new magazines. Would you tell us a little about your submission process and pay scale.
A: Instructions about how to submit queries and articles for consideration to Coastal Woman Magazine are listed on the Web site, http://www.coastalwoman.com Payment for each article varies from piece to piece and from writer to writer. I pay writers with whom I have worked in the past better than I pay new writers. Writers who always make deadlines are rewarded accordingly. I will not continue to work with a writer who doesn’t understand deadlines.
Q: what type of articles are you currently looking for?
A: Stories of interest and benefit to women, especially those living on the South Coast.
Q: What qualifications are you seeking in a freelance writer?
A: first, someone who understands deadlines (can you tell it’s a pet peeve of mine?) and someone who understands the kind of magazine I publish. I am not necessarily looking for women writers; I just want good writing. I also appreciate queries and suggested stores.
Q: Please add anything you feel is important.
A: Did I mention it’s important to meet deadlines?
Jeff Csatari is the executive editor for Best Life. Here is my interview with Mr. Csatari:
Q: I understand you are launching a new magazine for men: Best Life. Would you describe the magazine and your targeted audience?
A: No, it’s not a launch. It’s a newsstand special. A spinoff of Men’s Health, Best Life is for an older reader who has grown out of Men’s Health. It’s for a sophisticated, affluent man who’s at a different place in his life than the Men’s Health reader is. He’s established in his career and community and is looking to define his purpose and passions.
Q: How is this magazine different from most men’s magazines?
A: Men’s magazines come in three flavors:
Best Life is for the man who knows there are more important things in life than babes, beer, abs exercises, and Hugh Grant’s next movie. It’s a fourth type of magazine that’s new to newsstands: a men’s service magazine about living a life that matters–the Best Life.
Q: Will there be opportunities for freelance writers? What are your current needs?
A: Yes. Topics about emotional issues men face, 2nd careers, relationships, health and fitness for the purpose of feeling great.
Q: Please talk about the submission process for Best Life.
A: First step is to pick up a copy of Best Life and read it to get an understanding of our tone and focus. If you can’t find one, you can order at http://www.menshealth.com.
Submit query letters (with SASE) to Jeff Csatari, Executive Editor, Best Life, 33 East Minor St., Emmaus, PA 18098.
Q: What is your pay scale?
A: $1 per word and up.
Q: Please add anything you feel is important for our audience to know about writing for Best Life or the submission process.
A: A thorough reading of Best Life before submitting is the best way to target your idea most effectively.
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