Hint #3 Master your markets
MAGAZINE HEALTH WRITING BASIC 12 – part 3
Editors want to work with writers who get them and know why their publication is unique. If you think they’re all the same, look again. Whether you’re pitching an article idea or writing an article on assignment, you’ll stay on track by understanding the publication’s particular focus and format.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What length and tone do you find in a typical sentence or paragraph? New writers like to think their personal writing style matters. It hasn’t since the ’70s. Follow the leader and you’re more likely to get assignments.
- How are the expert quotes attributed? Is it Dr. Bozo says; Joe Bozo, M.D. says; or Joe Bozo MD says? Each publication decides on a style and sticks with it. Some include a long list of credits after the experts name, some don’t. Some publications only use sources from university medical centers. Some like experts who write books, and may or may not include the publisher after the book title, like this: The Skinny Clown’s Workout, by Joe Bozo, MD (Circus Books, 2009). Give them what they want.
- What do the headlines and titles have in common? Editors say they’re more receptive to query letters (email pitches) that suggest titles that sound like their cover lines. Makes their jobs easier.
- What topics are covered in each department or section? Editors have specific sections to fill. So help fill them with ideas targeted to the titles of specific sections.
- Who is the magazine’s ideal reader? If you’ve studied the back issues and still can’t tell, look for a media kit on the publications website (or call the advertising department and order one). This will give you specifics on their target audience.
Write the first graph of your query letter as if you’re writing to that person (not the editor). Then explain how you’ll flesh out the article (once it’s assigned) in your second graph.
Happy Health Writing,
[See the full list of 12 hints here: 12 Hints for Magazine Health Writers]