How do you study the markets before submitting to magazines?
When you reach the point of asking this question, I assume you have identified the topics you can or want to write about.
You can then use the Christian Writers’ Market Guide and look up your selected topic(s) in the “Topical Listings for Periodicals” section. After reading the provided listing for each of those periodicals, plus checking out their Website, you may delete some immediately because of a difference in slant or theology.
For those that remain, download their guidelines from their Website (or send an SASE to request them if not available online). You’ll also want to send for sample copies if they don't provide enough samples of their articles online.
Read the guidelines carefully, highlighting any statements that fit your article’s topic or slant in one color, and those that are in opposition to it in another color. After that, rereading both the positive and the negative statements should help you decide if this might be a good fit for what you have to offer. Read the articles they provide on line, or the sample copies, to get a better feel for the magazine.
It’s also important to clearly identify the target audience for each publication.
That should be defined in the guidelines and obvious in the sample articles, but you can also get additional insight into who the readers are by reading letters to the editor. Are the readers conservative or more liberal? What topics get a reaction from them?
Study any advertisements in the sample copies. Whom do those ads target? Your articles need to target their reading audience. Targeting that audience means your topic, as well as your anecdotes and illustrations, must be of interest to those readers.
Complete the above steps for each topic you want to address, and start making a list of potential markets for each topic.
The real secret to success as a magazine writer is in building a reputation as someone who writes well on a particular topic (marriage, family, women’s issues, or prayer)—or who does a particular type of writing (feature articles, how-to, or Bible studies).
Get published regularly, and when you become an “expert” in your topic/type, editors will seek you out with assignments.
Sally E Stuart has been putting out the Christan Writers' Market Guide for the last 26 years, and has been writing for more than 40 years. She is a marketing columnist in several writers' publications and teaches regularly at writers' conferences. Visit www.stuartmarket.com or www.stuartmarket.blogspot.com for more information.