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Chapter 4 Writers Guidelines and Magazine Calendars

Chapter four topics
  • Finding Writers Guidelines
  • Getting Guidelines For Print or e-Zine Magazines
  • Guidelines Database
  • Magazine calendar
It's essential to get and study the writers guidelines for any magazine you're interested in writing for. Guidelines tell you what and how the editor wants stories to be sent, often in great detail. Some guidelines also tell fees paid.

Tip: When an editor requests work, either on speculation (spec) or on assignment, that is the time to clarify word count, payment, and rights. Asking for this information is the mark of professionalism! And you will avoid embarrassing problems later.

If you can't accept any of the publisher's contract terms and can not negotiate what's important to you, look for another acceptance elsewhere. Do not write your article (or book) until you're in agreement with the publisher.

How to get guidelines
Many magazines today put their writer's guidelines online and you can simply download them. If you are writing via snail mail for them, use the following example.
"I am a freelance writer and I'm interested in your magazine. I'd appreciate receiving a copy of your writers' guidelines. Enclosed is my S.A.S.E. Thanks for your time and assistance."
S.A.S.E. means Self Addressed Stamped Envelope. Address it to the editor, unless you only have the magazine title and haven't been able to find out who the editor is. Then you can say: "Hello" without a name or title.

Editors expect professional writers to be constantly asking for guidelines and to be updating their guideline files frequently because as editors come and go (and they do like to play musical chairs in this profession) the focus and preferences at the magazine change. So if you can't locate the writer's guidelines online, don't be afraid to request them.

Finding guidelines
Can't find the guidelines to a magazine? Use a search engine and type in "writers guidelines" (include the quotes but leave out the apostrophe.) You'll get the same results either way. You'll get a HUGE list. But most of them probably don't pay. Be more specific by adding the word pay after "writers guidelines" - after the quote.

Also search: "authors guidelines" "contributors guidelines" "guidelines for writers" "guidelines for authors." Get the idea? Reverse the order of your words, too. (ie: "guidelines for contributors".)

Tip: IF a different method to get the guidelines is specified in Writer's Market, follow instructions. If all that's required is a postcard, say, "I'm a freelance writer and I am updating my writers' guidelines. Will you please send me a copy? Thanks for your time and assistance." If the magazine is online, chances are you simply need to locate where they have their writer's guidelines on the website. However, if they aren't there or you cannot find them, e-mail that message to the appropriate contact listed.

Online guidelines
Writer's Digest,
Writer's Digest,
The Misc. Writing List,

Guidelines database
Amador Books,
Click Favorite Links. Then Opportunities for Writers.
BellaOnline, The Voice of Women, > It numbers more than 100, and many of the links connect to others.

Tip: The guidelines may request that stories be submitted in Rich Text Format. What does that mean? Word processors often allow you to select which format to save as a document (there's a drop down list beneath the space where you type the file name before saving). Rich Text Format is one of them, or instead, it may have Ascii format or Text or Plain text. They save a file in Ascii -- which is the file format you need to PASTE into your e-mail, or save on the diskette your editor specifies as a means of getting it to him\her.
*See How to Double-space e-mail,

Magazine calendars
You may feel as taken by surprise as I was when I first heard about editorial calendars. Don't fall into the trap of becoming a cynic (unless you intend to capitalize on it and become a well known cynic writer, as many op-ed columnists are) and think that a magazine actually plans articles and tells advertisers when the issue closes for ads -- and then writes an article on orange juice and voila there are a million ads for orange juice in that issue.

You see, the magazine ad department sells ads.

There are definite seasons when some companies are going to buy space to advertise. So the magazine, knowing they'll snag a few advertiser's bucks, tries hard to get good articles that will result in people paying more attention to the ads. Makes sense, when you stop to think about it.

Everything we experience (through all of our five senses) influences us in some way. Writing is influencing. Bear that in mind when you're working: you are influencing others! The magazine manager has a responsibility to pull all the departments together to create as fine a magazine as possible.

Look at the masthead and see how many departments there are -- and you'll get an inkling of how hard the "managing editor" job is!

Request a magazine's advertising calendar, also.

See if you can get a magazine's editorial calendar. i.e., Search at for 2010 editorial calendar, and add the magazine's name. Analyze as many editorial calendars as possible, and you'll notice definite trends.

Tip: Use what you learn to topic spoke ideas. Magazine editors constantly research to learn what their competitors are planning, so when you select your target market also check what their competitor has planned for that time-slot.

Remember to read carefully at any website. Some have content only available to paid subscribers. Keep searching and you'll find the good freebie listings!

Angela Adair-Hoy's web site, WritersWeekly. com is widely known as "Your Only Source of Markets Needing Writers TODAY." Visit it often, check the archives and subscribe to the free newsletter at their site: New subscribers receive the FREE ebook, How to Be a Freelance Writer, which includes 103 paying markets.

Articles tab is where you'll find Angela's archives; scroll down and click Browse complete archives.

  1. Analyze 3 of the target magazines you pick for your idea.
  2. Get (print) guidelines from the three magazines you decided to target your story to.
  3. Find a magazine calendar online.
Advice FromThe Pros:

2-1, How To Be Your Editor's Favorite Freelancer:

2-2, Tools for Writing Online:

2-3, Make Tiny URLs:

2-4, Electronic Publishing:

2-5, Grammar Resources:

Next, Chapter 5 - Copyrights, Previously Published Works, and Using Quotations:

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