The One Quality You Need Most To Make It In Print

I’m about to let loose with another big secret. You know—the quality you need most to make it in the magazine market. Any guesses? It might not be what you think it is…

That you have to be a superior writer?
Nope.

That you have to know someone?
Nah. (But it can help!)

That you have to have a totally amazing idea?
Uh-uh.

The quality you need most is…
Tenacity.

Webster gives two definitions for this word online. The first states, “not easily pulled apart”. How true.
The second reads, “persistant in maintaining, adhering to or seeking something valued or desired”. Oh yeah.
That’s it. You gotta have it.

Magazine writing is only for the patient, persistant type. If you have to have immediate gratification, stop reading this right now and go look for a job on the web. Print is not for you. Sometimes you may have to wait months before getting something published—and sometimes it can even take years. And no, I’m not joking.

And that is once your piece is actually accepted.

Before that, there is the whole fancy dance of sending in your query and following up on it.
I have actually gotten a response a full eight months after I sent a query in. I just kept following up until someone replied. And guess what? They accepted it. But that was a lot of work.

The truth is, while writing good prose and coming up with great ideas is part of the game—it is really tenacity that will get you somewhere with the magazine market. Keep at it. Don’t get discouraged. Learn from your mistakes—and from your successes.

Ask yourself right now—do I have that type of patient personality? Am I organized enough to keep a list of follow-up e-mails and check in periodically on queries I have sent out? Am I willing to go through 20 rejections for just one yes? Can I take it?

Print is rough.

Many people start in print and then move to the web. It is a different model completely, and one that most people are more suited to, in my opinion. But…if you are like me…there’s something more satisfying about getting an article that you wrote into a print publication.

The good news is—if you are the type of writer who doesn’t take things personally and can slog away at a list of follow-ups—you just may have what it takes to see your byline in a newsstand mag one day.

I’m pullin’ for ya!

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Catherine L. Tully has over nine years of experience writing for magazines such as American Style, AAA Living and Boys' Life. She is the editor for an award-winning blog on freelance writing and also owns and edits a blog for dance professionals.

2 thoughts on “The One Quality You Need Most To Make It In Print”

  1. Thank you for this post. I submitted a couple of pitches and queries a few months ago and haven’t heard anything back. Perhaps it’s time for me to resubmit and followup.

    I’m working on patience. As a whole, I think our society is used to “instant gratification,” just look at all of the weight loss ads, hair ads, etc…in print and on television. Maybe it’s a good idea to start teaching “patience” in our school system.

    Reply
  2. My pleasure Rebecca! Yes–follow up–and good luck to you! You’d be surprised at how many times the second or third e-mail got me a response when the first brought nothing but silence.

    Patience is tough in this day and age…you have a great point! Perhaps writers should teach it!

    All the best!

    Reply

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