How to Write for the Regionals
Copyright 2003 Patricia Fry
If you're like most freelance writers, you submit articles to national magazines and you query the editors of special interest journals, but you don't pursue regional publications. Do you have any idea what you're missing by not exploring the regional market?
Writer's Market has nearly 50 pages of regional magazine or about 150 listings. Altogether, regional magazines publish approximately 5,000 articles per year and they pay anywhere from $25 to $5,000 per article with the average in the $300-$500 range. And there are always new regional magazines cropping up. We featured almost 20 new ones in the SPAWN Market Update during 2002.
Of course, a good place to start is locally. Discover your own community and state publications. Interview the girl who made the junior varsity football team at your local high school. Write about the volunteers behind your community's entry in a major New Year's Day parade. Or suggest a piece featuring the haunted houses in your city.
I wrote an article for a local technology magazine featuring county teen entrepreneurs in the technology field. They also published my two-part story featuring local women who are making their mark in technology. A local food-related magazine recently published my article on a unique item a quilt shop owner has come up with to sell otherwise unpopular shades of fabric. She is packaging her brown, orange and green fabrics to look like food and it is selling like hotcakes.
Write about the places you've visited. Tourists often have a different perspective than those people who live in a community. The last time I visited my brother and his family in Winchester, Idaho, I came home and queried Northwest Travel about a piece on this small, out of the way town. The article is scheduled to run this winter.
Maybe while touring the northwest last summer, a particular site, place of business or local historical figure piqued your interest. With a little research and a fresh angle, you might be able to sell Oregon Coast, Seattle Weekly or San Francisco Magazine on your idea.
Write about your childhood memories. Whether you grew up in the state where you live or in another community, you have a unique perspective about life during that era. Some regional magazines love to publish nostalgia pieces. Back Home in Kentucky, is one. Others include: Louisville Magazine, Baltimore Magazine, Cape Cod Life, Traverse (Northern Michigan's Magazine), New Jersey Living and Charlotte Magazine.
But you don't have to live in or even visit a city or a state in order to write for their regional magazines. Information is so accessible now that you can research nearly any aspect of the place from your home. And you can do necessary interviews by email or phone. I've been locating library cats throughout the U.S. and querying appropriate magazines about articles featuring those library cats in their region. I contacted New Hampshire Magazine about library cats in the New Hampshire area, for example, Southern Living about a piece on library and shop cats in the southern states and Ohio Magazine, hoping they would publish my article on library cats in Ohio.
You might query the editors of Texas Highways regarding an article featuring a little known historical aspect of Texas-an early hotel, a long forgotten pioneer cemetery or a town that is either gone now or that was replaced by another town, for example. Are you aware of a little known but fascinating sports figure in New Jersey? Contact Christopher Hann at the New Jersey Monthly with your story and earn yourself up to $2000.
While most editors want only local material for their regional publications, others are open to more general topics. I sold articles on grandparenting to Lifestyles Plus (a now defunct Indiana regional) and Ruralite (a publication for readers in ten western states). Northwest Family, L. A. Parent, Seattle's Child, South Florida Parent and Central CA Parent each published some of my general child-rearing articles. And some of my general travel pieces have appeared in Western RV News. I even sold my article on how to successfully use small talk in business to Florida Realtors.
This year, make a commitment to step outside your comfort zone and break into the wide-open field of regional magazines. Set a goal-send 5 or 10 queries to regional magazines each week, for example. Come up with at least one new idea for a regional magazine each month. This might mean reading obscure history books, keying in on the daily news and/or reading travel magazines, for example. You'll also want to study the regional magazines for which you want to write.
Make this commitment and you will increase your sales for 2003.
-Patricia Fry has written hundreds of articles for about 175 different regional and national publications. She is also the author of The Successful Writer's Handbook, an ebook available for purchase at http://www.spawn.org/store