March 24, 2014 at 2:18 am #27237
There are plenty of resources out there that specifically target freelance writers and authors. Some are fantastic. Many are not. But regardless of quality, you sometimes have an issue of saturation. For example, if everyone is using Writer’s Market to find new markets to pitch, they’re all limiting themselves to the same collection, and editors in that collection are going to receive more pitches than editors at other publications. But those other publications might be perfect for you. How do you find them?
One of my long-time favorite tips for freelance writers is to look beyond these traditional sources and turn to other industries. In this particular example, I suggest turning to the PR industry. They also have media databases — and far better ones than any typically marketed to writers.
Some cost a great deal more than you might be used to (four figures a year at least) because they’re targeted to firms. But get creative. In my area, for example, you can access one media database for free, not only in print form but also the more up-to-date electronic database.
As a simple comparison, Writer’s Market mentions on their website that they have over 9000 listings (but that includes book publishers, agents, contests, and conferences — not all typical outlets a freelancer would pursue).
On the other hand, the directory available for free through my library has more than six times as many listings — all media outlets. That includes newspapers, magazines, and even broadcast media outlets (which writers sometimes forget about when putting together pitch lists). If your library doesn’t have access, check surrounding library systems. Most will let non-residents sign up for a card for a small fee (I’ve rarely seen them at more than $20). You can also find a lot of great research material in library databases, so it’s worth getting a card with a fairly well-connected one anyway.
Just make sure you check the terms. You can’t always use these for commercial purposes if you access them through your library. But there’s no reason you can’t check them out to see if they’re a better resource for you. You could always purchase a separate license later (and in many cases, a few gigs would easily make up the expense — it’s not such a bad cost of doing business if it connects you to highly targeted publications willing to pay you what you’re worth, especially if you’re reaching ones you otherwise might have known nothing about).
You can also find media directories online with a lot of free information. Some just link you to the publications’ sites where you can look up editor contact information and pitch policies, and others provide more background:
And don’t forget about niche or industry-specific resources. For example, in my music PR days The Indie Bible was an essential resource for finding websites and print zines that would review albums. If you happened to write about music, they would have been great places to pitch as well. (It’s still around, but it looks like the product has been expanded quite a bit over the years, and the current price reflects that.)
By all means, keep using Writer’s Market and other writer-specific resources. But learn to look beyond them and you can greatly expand your prospects.
What business resources have you found most helpful, even though they’re not targeted to writers specifically in any way?
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