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Easy Does It by Lorraine Mace

May 12th, 2011

ALorraine Mace - Connexions a tutor, I am always amazed when I receive an assignment and realise the student hasn’t bothered to analyse the market. I know tutors keep on about it, but there is a very good reason for labouring the point – if you want to sell work, you have to write what people want to read.

There are two ways to deal with market research. One is easy and the other is hard. Actually there are three ways, but the third is really only for those who want to spend their time writing articles that will most probably never get published.

The Easy Approach

It sounds simple and it is – all you have to do is to read several copies of a magazine. You can then come up with an idea of interest to the editor – taking into account the publication’s style and content. An editor is far more likely to accept your idea if he or she can see that the publication’s readers would find it interesting.

The Hard Approach

The harder way is to think of an idea and then try to find a magazine that might be interested in it. This is a more difficult. However, sometimes ideas come to us and we want to write about them, so we have no choice but to look for the right magazine – but do this before writing the article. You can then follow the easy approach outlined above. If you write the article first, you are doomed to…

… the Virtually Impossible Approach

So you’ve written an article and need somewhere to sell it, but have no idea who might want it? As the subheading says, making sales this way is virtually impossible, but it’s fascinating how many people complain about not getting their work published when they haven’t bothered to even glance at guidelines, far less read a copy of a magazine prior to submitting work. After all, why wouldn’t an editor jump at a 3,000-word article written in an academic style when the standard content is made up of 800-word light-hearted pieces?

Bottom line? Craft your work to suit a readership and the editor will love you forever. Write something without doing any market analysis and your article probably won’t get read beyond the first paragraph.

So, what’s it to be? Easy, hard or virtually impossible? I know which one I go for every time.


Lorraine Mace, a Writers Bureau tutor, is humour columnist for both Writing Magazine (UK) and Connexions (France). She is also deputy editor of Words with JAM and a competition judge for Writers’ Forum. She has written for magazines and newspapers in the UK, the USA, Australia, France and the Republic of Ireland.

Author of the Writers Bureau course, Marketing Your Book and co-author of The Writer’s ABC Checklist (Accent Press), Lorraine is leading a residential course on Writing for Magazines.

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