I came across an article submission checklist and thought it was pretty useful. I wish I knew where it came from, to give proper credit, but I don’t.

You can never learn enough about submitting articles. We seem to read about it all the time, but most of us freelance writers are still way off the mark when we submit to editors:

  1. Determine your target audience.
  2. Determine the hot topics for your audience (table of contents, front cover, editor’s note)
  3. Choose topic.
  4. Create a catchy title (a working title in your query)
  5. Study the magazine (VERY VERY important – one editor’s complain about most)
  6. Let it flow (you must always have your “shitty first draft”-Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott)
  7. When you finish your final query – save it!
  8. Try to keep your query to one page – the first paragraph (lede) is MOST IMPORTANT
  9. Proofread, spell check, edit and do it again. Make sure you get the right editor and spell their name right!
  10. Follow the writer’s guidelines exactly (although, I always e-mail queries, no matter what)

You can find your market first and narrow down the markets or you can right your query first and find your market for it. I think finding the markets first is the best way – that way you aren’t just “throwing darts” everywhere.

Narrow down 2 or 3 magazines you want to write for and study them (their web sites are a gold mine). Once you figure out their hot topics, start writing.

One thing you must never do is send generic query letters. You should spend as much time researching the magazine as you do writing your query.

– I have been published in several newspapers and magazines and also help the editor at mediabistro.com in the How to Pitch section – so I know where-of I speak!