Magazine Hunting

Had to buy a replacement headlight bulb so this post might be a bit short.

I’m trying a new idea, one that seems a little obvious to me now, but that I wouldn’t have thought of even a couple of weeks ago.  I’ve been spending the last week looking through magazine submission guidelines, buying sample copies of magazines, and reading stories from those magazines BEFORE writing a word of fiction that I intend to submit.

I know, shocking right?

Well it seems like a good idea to me to try to get to know the audience of a particular magazine and write a story that audience would actually want to read.  Some might consider this a little confining of a framework, but I’m looking at it as a bit of a challenge, and a way of seeing what others are doing.  I have to admit, with all of the attention I’ve paid to the “classics” of science fiction, I’m less informed on what writers are doing right now.

Some might wonder why this would matter, but you have to sell your work to someone, and if it seems dated to them, it will not see print, at least in a traditional sense.

So I’ve been paging through my 2012 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market to try and find magazines that I stand a good chance of writing a story for.  Most of the entries have a brief statement about what the magazine is looking for, what types of work they consider, and who their audience is.

Some guidelines are pretty straightforward:

1) No Genre Fiction – This means me since I write mystery and science fiction.  Some magazines single out those particular genres as ones they definitely do not want to receive.  Pretty easy choice.

2) Kids Audience – I don’t write for children.  It’s not that my material is particularly “adult” in any way, it just isn’t written at a kids level (at least I hope not).

Other guidelines caught me by surprise or were just amusing.  Below are a few samples:

1) LIVE magazine (www.gospelpublishing.com) – Lists needs as “religious/inspirational, inspirational, prose poem. No preachy fiction, fiction about Bible characters, or stories that refer to religious myths (e.g. Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, etc.)

I thought the Easter Bunny was a secular myth, but maybe I’m wrong.

2) The New Writer (www.thenewwriter.com) – “We consider short stories from subscribers only“.  They go on to say that they do occasionally commission guest writers but it seems a little strange that they’d limit the stories they print to people who pay for the magazine.

3) PMS [poemmemoirstory] (www.pms-journal.org) – Though this magazine features women’s fiction it is a little unfortunately named.  Additionally they don’t do “erotic, mystery work, and most popular forms.”  I understand the erotic and mystery, and I think I know what they mean by “popular” but it still strikes me as funny they don’t want “popular” stories.

4) Sofa Ink Quarterly (www.sofaink.com) – Distributed primarily the waiting rooms of medical facilities, this magazine publishes “a variety of genres with a focus on good storytelling and word mastery that does not include swearing, profaning deity, gore, excessive violence or gratuitous sex.”

I think profaning deity means no “GD’s” but I’m honestly not sure.

5) Tea – A Magazine (www.teamag.com) – “Needs fiction that is tea related.”  They’ve apparently been going strong since 1994.

What’s the strangest magazine you’ve encountered?  Thought about writing a story for it?  What does Tea magazine think of Green Tea with Pomegranate?

Hmmm… yummy.

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2 Comments

Filed under Books + Publishing

2 responses to “Magazine Hunting

  1. Chuck Conover

    2) Is this a form of perpetual motion?
    3) Popular – today that would mean no teenage vampires and wizards.
    4) No gore or excessive violence – after all, there is enough of that going on inside the Dr’s office!
    5) Can there really be enough tea related fiction to support a magazine? Would you have subject focused issues? What teacausesdiarrheaeha? Which are best used to tell fortunes?

    I know I didn’t answer the main question, but then this is how I work.

    • Ben Trube

      I think you’d have to work a bit to find a magazine that was stranger than one devoted to tea anyway, so not answering the main question is okay. There are certainly more niche interests, but you’re right, it does seem strange that a long running magazine could be supported with only tea based stories. I wonder if anyone is writing about the tea party in recent issues.

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