Monday, March 14, 2011

Evergreen Writing

When writing for magazines, I always suggest looking at "evergreen" topics. These are subjects that magazines love to cover, even though they've been done before. The key, of course, is to take the topic and make it your own - spinning it differently than ever before.

For instance, "back to school" is an evergreen topic for parenting magazines. Off the top of my head, here are some variations that may not have been done before:
  • What back to school means to homeschooled children.
  • Clothes or supplies? How to balance the budget on putting kids back in school.
  • When is a school bus not safe?
  • When you don't like your child's new teacher.
  • Preparing organic school lunches.
  • Since when is a cell phone a school supply?
What about animal magazines? Travel is always an issue for a pet. Let's see...
  • List of bed and breakfasts that allow animals and how they handle it.
  • How to vacation with pets and kids and keep both happy.
  • How airline transportation for pets has changed with the economy.
  • How to vacation with disabled pets.
This is when you go to that magazine you've always wanted to write for and study back issues as well as the editorial calendar. What are the topics repeated each year? What's evergreen? Now spin those babies like they've never been spun before, coming up with lists like I just did. Do your absolute damnedest not to sound like any other writer who's ever covered the topic before.

Take that evergreen topic and your five or six ideas and pitch five or six magazines. Pitch your stories with the finesse you used to mold that new twist to an old topic. Shoot them to national, regional and local publications - at the same time. That's the beauty of having so many ideas. While your mind is wrapped around the subject, capitalize on that energy until you drain it dry, querying as many times as the ideas on your list.

This is simple efficiency of your time. You work over a group of magazines in the same area (i.e, parenting, pets, woodworking, writing) while your brain is engaged in that arena. Economize your brilliance. Who knows? You may create and ultimately publish enough variations of an idea to become known as an expert!


Wanderer said...

There is so much talk about getting more than one article from your research. Your article shows how to actually do that. Thanks.

Karen Lange said...

Love this advice - "Economize your brilliance." I'm in!

Warren Baldwin said...

Linked here from Karen Lange's where she plugged your article. It is very good, and generates ideas for me.

Do you send the same query to different magaginzes to see which one would want it? And if more than one does, you pick the one you want?


Hope Clark said...

No, do not send the same query to different magazines. They aren't like contests where you can simultaneously submit the same piece then withdraw one if you win another. When a magazine wants your piece, you better be prepared to work with them on it. If you tell them you simultaneously submitted to a competing magazine, you've burned a bridge. Besides, you never send the same two queries to anyone. Every query is designed for the publication, the agents, the publisher. They are entitled to their own personalized letter.