The Article/Story Market Form (see Figure 6) is a simple way to organize those ideas into a workable form that will prepare you to go to work immediately. The idea is to fill out (or start filling out) this form for each new idea that strikes you, and keep them in a folder or loose-leaf notebook next to your typewriter of computer. In a notebook they could be sorted by topic or type of material. Following are a few ideas to help you better understand and use this form:
You will notice that the form starts with the name of the periodical, not with the name of the piece. This is a reminder that as soon as you have an idea you must ask yourself who you should write it for (check your list).
- On the form, indicate what format it will take—article, short story, poem, or whatever. Decide at this point what format would work the best—or even if it could take more than one form—such as a short story and a poem.
- Note where it refers to “Special Column/Section.” One of the most overlooked segments of the periodical market are the columns, departments, or special sections that are dependent on freelance submissions. Many periodicals have them and they are highlighted under “Columns/Departments” in the Alphabetical Listings for periodicals in the market guide. Those listings give the name of the column, the primary focus, length, amount paid, and whether you need to query or send complete manuscript. These columns vary widely in topics, including such things as marriage, family, health, opinion, practical/how-to ideas, etc. Since these are established sections of the magazine that must be filled each issue, and most writers ignore them, editors are often desperate to find material to fill them. In studying the market guide, highlight any of these that you feel qualified to write for. On your form, indicate if this piece could or should be written to fit one of those columns.
- In filling in the length, check their guidelines and be sure it is within their range. I am often asked how long a piece should be if the guidelines give a range, such as 1,000-2,000 words. In most magazines, if not all, the longest lengths would be reserved for the feature articles or articles dealing with the primary focus of that particular magazine. That means that everything else would be shorter. So ask yourself: How important is this piece to the overall content of the magazine? If it is extremely important, then offer it at 2,000 words (or maximum length), if it is of lesser importance, rate that importance and set a length accordingly.
- Based on the market guide or guidelines, indicate whether you need to query or send a complete manuscript or either. That way you will know exactly what you need to do first when you get to this idea.
- Indicate their pay rate and based on that and the projected length, estimate what the payment would be.
- Information as to payment time, reporting time (how long you should expect them to get back to you), and openness to freelance (what percentage of their material comes from freelance writers) can be found in the market guide or in their guidelines.
- Give it a working title or at least indicate the general subject.
- Under special needs or taboos, note anything you learned about this market in your initial research that you need to keep in mind, such as: must be written in first person; wants lots of anecdotes; or heavy on the how-to.
- Include enough in your brief description that you will remember what you had in mind when you come back to this later.
- As you have thought about this piece, what authorities, resources or contacts have come to mind? It might be a professional or laymen who would provide good quotes. It might be another article or book you saw recently on the topic. It might be a friend who has recently had a similar experience. Write here anything or anyone who might give credibility to your piece.
- Finally, list a couple of other potential markets in case this one rejects it.
ARTICLE/STORY MARKET FORM
Name of periodical:__________________________________________ __
________________________________________________ _____ __
Editor's Name:______________________ ___________________________
Article_ _ __ Short Story_ _ _ _ Filler_ ___ Poem___ _ Book Review__ __
Special Column/Section:___ _____________________________________
Length:__ _ __________Words _______ ___Lines(poetry)
Poetry: rhymed___ _ unrhymed_ ___
Query:__ _ __ Complete manuscript:__ ___ Either:___ __
Pay rate:______ ___ Estimated pay for this piece:_______ _______
Pays on acceptance___ __ On publication____ _
Reporting time:__________ _______
Openness/Percentage free-lance written:_____________________ ___
Working title/subject:_____________________ ____________________
Special needs/taboos:_________________ _________________________
Brief description of piece:_______________________________ _____
Authorities/Contact persons/Resources:_____ ____________________
Other potential markets:________________ _______________________