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  • [Reality Check] - The Reality of Magazine Articles by Trisha Faye
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[Reality Check] - The Reality of Magazine Articles by Trisha Faye
Written by
Zetta Brown
February 2015
Written by
Zetta Brown
February 2015

She Writer Trisha Faye is mad about magazines. Although she has experience writing for newspapers, she found she still had to transition into the "magazine mind" in order to write for them.

In today's [REALITY CHECK], Trisha reveals her tips on how to break into the still-lucrative magazine article writing market.


The Reality of Magazine Articles
By Trisha Faye


Writing magazine articles can be a lucrative business. Opportunities abound for $1-a-word markets. Some of the larger features at the upper-level tiers can bring a writer anywhere from one thousand to two thousand dollars. That is, IF you’re in the cadre of writers writing at this level. However, I’m not there myself.

Even if you’re not someone who can command a four-digit contract, it’s still possible to make decent money writing magazine articles; it's just that more work and effort is needed. While I’m still on the beginning curve of this writing avenue, I’ve learned a few lessons already.

Even though $1-a-word markets exist, typically the seasoned, professional writers get those plums. Newer writers typically find their freelance work paying closer to 5¢ to 30¢ per word. Oftentimes, the piece may be in the $50 to $150 range. But, as we’re building clips and experience, obtaining these publications is still cause for celebration.

I’ve learned to be patient . . . very, very patient. Moving from local newspapers, with a weekly deadline and publication schedule, to magazines with a long lead time was quite different. Often you’re pitching an article idea a year--or more--in advance. I queried Quilter’s World with an article idea in November. They accepted in March. I submitted in May, and the final piece was published in their fall issue--a year after my initial query. One publication that I have queries out to now advises that they sometimes have a two-year lead time. Patience--it is a virtue you need for these freelance opportunities.

With the long lead times necessary for magazine articles, that also means a longer time frame before you receive the money. I received checks from the newspaper I wrote for in less than thirty days. Now, checks come six to twelve months after I query. One important item to note is whether the publication pays on acceptance or on publication. Fortunately, most of my successful queries have paid on acceptance. The few that pay on publication are e-versions with a shorter lead time than a print publication, so payment is still received within about four months of the submission. But, you’ll want to be aware about this payment difference. You may be looking at a 6- to 24-month time frame before receiving compensation.

Query, query, query! It’s a numbers game. From what I’ve seen, and this seems to be consistent with other writers also, is that the largest percentage of queries simply go MIA--never to be heard about again. Most will likely never garner a response. A smaller number will receive some response, either asking for a revised idea or confirming their rejection. An even smaller amount will be acceptance answers. Therefore, the more ideas you send out, the greater odds you have for publication. I learned this from one of my writing gurus, Mridu Khullar Relph. (http://www.theinternationalfreelancer.com/).

Even with the extensive clips she has, when she wants to generate new leads and contracts, she goes on what she calls a “query binge.” She’ll send twenty-five, or more, queries in a week. Mridu’s website and e-mails are a great source of inspiration and knowledge. She also teaches a “30 queries in 30 days” course. While I’ve never quite reached her twenty-five or thirty queries in a month goal, I do find that when I consistently send at least ten to fifteen queries a month, my responses increase in proportion much better than the months where I barely crank out one or two.

Another resource that I’ve learned a great deal from is Carol Tice and her Make a Living Writing blog (http://www.makealivingwriting.com/about-carol). She, and other successful authors, consistently share articles that teach and inform.

While I’m sharing resources that have been helpful to me, I can’t fail to mention Funds for Writers. C. Hope Clark e-mails a free weekly newsletter (http://www.fundsforwriters.com) that contains many sources of paid writing opportunities. Listed are contests, grants, publishers, jobs, and freelance markets. There is also a paid subscription available for Total Funds for Writers that offers a larger listing with each mailing.

While I, myself, have not landed one of the coveted $1 word markets . . . yet . . . I’ve still been able to make money writing articles for smaller publications. I’ve taken a realistic look at the world of magazine writing and adjusted my planning to generate adequate income. I’m still working the numbers game, and increasing the queries I send each month. This, coupled with gleaning knowledge from the professionals I follow, and improving my own craft with consistent writing, has me hopeful. No, this freelance world isn’t a bed of roses. I’m not planning my Fiji vacation quite yet. It’s taking more work and more learning than I imagined. But, until that big four-figure check rolls into my mail box, I’ll continue cashing the smaller ones while I roll up my sleeves and work a little harder towards the final publication goal.


About Trisha Faye

You can catch Trisha, in between queries and caring for her collection of rescued cats, at www.trishafaye.com. Friend Trisha on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/trisha.faye.5 or sign up for her monthly newsletter Backstory: Footprints from the Past on her web page.


Got a [REALITY CHECK] about the publishing life to share? If you would like to be a guest on my blog, please friend me on She Writes with a message! :)

If you like this post, then stop by Zetta’s Desk for editing tips and “Zetta’s Reference Desk” where she features a writing reference book every week.

©2015. Zetta Brown is an editor, the author of several published short stories, and author of the erotic romance novel Messalina: Devourer of Men. She also provides editing services through JimandZetta.com

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  • This was good information and encouraging as well.  I'm a new writer; just finished writing my first article?  That was a pretty big deal for me.  Now I'm kind of in the "now what" stage.  I have to admit that it's a little intimidating at time; when I look at some of the bio's and see a laundry list of experiences. The only thing that I have to put by my name is "emerging writer". 

  • Patricia Robertson

    Thanks for the helpful information and links. Just signed up for fundwriters! I have had success with magazine articles in the past. Have been neglecting this to pursue other projects but maybe its time to look at it again!

  • Sally Ketham

    Thanks for the informative post! Great resources! :)

  • Gail Nyoka

    Thanks for an informative post.  I checked out Mridu Khullar Relp.  She has some great ideas.

  • Mardith Louisell

    Great post. I had abandoned thinking of magazines but this is certainly food for thought, as well as practical advice. Thanks for posting.