It's hard to believe that the New Year is right around the corner!
If you are looking to get published in a magazine or print publication in the coming year, now is the time to start planning. For most print pubs, the editorial calendar is already set, and queries right now are going out for summer issues (or even later!). While it may be hard to think about beaches and fireworks in January, it's where you need to be...
In addition, you have the opportunity to possibly slide in sideways with a filler or two (short, blurb-type pieces that typically go in the front of the publication) if you can find something timely or suited to topics for the next few months. Sometimes a print publication will be looking for a quick item or two to stuff into an issue that is ready to close.
Here are some thoughts on getting the NY off to a solid start:
Fillers - pull from your old pieces/ideas
Although you may have the chance to get a filler in at the last-minute, you won't want to spend a lot of time on these in case the publication you pitch isn't interested. A good way to save time is to go through your old articles and see if you can find some ideas you can just freshen up and send out. Adding an updated statistic or news slant to something you have already written can save tons of time--and get an editor interested.
Queries - mine the editorial calendars
Find the editorial calendars for the publications you want to get into this year. Sometimes this may be as easy as looking on their website. Other times you may need to contact the publication directly and ask for it. You can also type the magazine's name into a search engine and add "editorial calendar" to see what comes up.
Organize your own calendar
Don't rely on your memory to keep track of what you want to pitch when. Get a desk calendar (or whatever will work best for you) and jot down the months/publications/topics you want to pitch for the next few months. That way you'll be more likely to actually get to it. There's nothing worse than having an opportunity pass just because you forgot about it.
Keep a broad perspective
As you are doing your research, keep in mind that you don't have to stick to the one magazine's editorial calendar. If you find a good idea while you're doing research, think about where else you might be able to pitch a similar topic. For example, if Magazine A has "the best airlines for kids" on the docket, why not pitch Magazine B something about "tips for keeping kids happy on a flight". Remember...it's all about generating ideas!
Don't forget to look back too
One mistake a lot of writers make is not checking out past issues of a magazine. Pitching an idea that has already run makes you look like an amateur. Take the time to look at the topics that they already covered for the seasons you are looking to pitch. Otherwise you may be wasting your time.
The New Year offers all kinds of opportunity for those looking to get published in print. Take a little time now to set yourself up for the coming months and you'll be happy you did. If you don't start now, you may miss the chance!
Do you have any tips for finding editorial calendars or managing ideas that you want to pitch? If so, please do share!