Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Hard Six

I have recently had an idea for an article on writing for education. I want to target writing magazines such as The Writer, Writer's Digest, and the like. I've noticed that both of those magazines often feature articles on how to break into specific markets, so I think an article like this would be one the editors would buy. The problem is this: In order to write for education, you really need to have some sort of an education or psychology background, something only a small percentage of writers actually have.

Hence my quandry: Even though the article is definitely of the type these magazines buy, is the potential audience that can make use of it directly too limited to be worth publishing? I am interested in how, for example, romance writers do their work because I'm curious how all sides of the industry operates. I also think there are some work habits that I might could profitably pick up from these writers. In short, I'm interested in reading about areas outside of my chosen genre. The right way to approach this, of course, is to write a query letter to the editors of these magazines, and that is likely what I will do. But first I have to decide if it is worth the effort to do even that. I could easily write the article for magazines that are directed to teachers (most of whom would love to know how a professional curriculum developer operates and how they can write material for their own classes), so I'm reasonably confident I can sell the article somewhere. The only real question is where to send it first. Market research is a big part of the non-fiction writing business, so it's not something to take lightly. I've heard some editors say things like, "How dare you decide for me what's right for my magazine! Send it to me, and I'll make that decision!" All well and good, and if the editor actually had the time to read everything that he was submitted, that'd be great. But because of the huge volume of submissions they receive, the turn-around time on articles (or query letters, in this case) is pretty long. It is in the writer's best interest to choose the most likely home for an article and sumbit there first.

The fact is that the education magazines would be a pretty easy sale. If all I was interested in was the money, that would certainly be the way to go. But to a certain extent, I'm still looking for validation that I am, in fact, a professional writer (I don't think that feeling ever completely goes away for most of us). Getting published in The Writer, for example, would be a huge validation. I've got the writer's Thick Skin(R), so rejection doesn't really bother me. As such, I think it's worthwhile for me to take a chance on the writing magazines, even if it means delaying the article's publication six months or more. As they say on Battlestar: Galactica, "Sometimes you have to roll the hard six!"

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