Readers buy about 360 million copies of magazines in the United States each year. Considering that there are just shy of 300 million people living in the country, that's an awful lot of reported newsstand and subscription sales.
You know a lot of the titles well, from Fortune to Entertainment Weekly and Woman's Day. Studies show that nearly 85 percent of people above the age of 18 read magazines, with celebrity news, fashion, and home furnishings among their favorite subjects. What you may not know, though, is that consumer magazines make up just one-third of the total magazine market. There are more than 18,000 magazines being published in the United States as of this printing, and only about 6,300 of them are titles you might find in your local supermarket or bookstore. The rest are trade, academic, technical, and online titles, publications such as Human Resources Magazine, Professional BoatBuilder, and Diabetes Forecast.
If you're an aspiring writer, this information could not be more encouraging. There are countless opportunities to get your words into print, and reader demand has never been stronger for your insights on everything from politics to needlepoint. Even better, while it may be challenging to break into the best-known magazines, fully two-thirds of the titles out there have circulations of less than 500,000 readers. That means there are literally thousands of editors seeking to grow their circulations by publishing interesting articles. Offer these editors well-thought-out ideas, and you're likely to win assignment after assignment.
What prevents many talented wordsmiths from making the most of this situation is a failure to recognize that magazine writing is a business. Make no mistake about this fact: Magazine advertising brought in an estimated $23 billion in 2005, the last year for which statistics are available. Publishers produce magazines to earn a profit, plain and simple.
You, the writer, fit into this equation by filling the magazine's pages with compelling content, which in turn draws a readership base that gets advertisers excited. You may be called a freelancer, a stringer, or a contributing editor, but at the end of the day you are an independent contractor hired as part of the magazine's overall economic plan. Every assignment you agree to write is, at its core, a business deal between you and your editor.
To be a successful magazine writer, then, you need to know as much about your business as you do about your craft. There are contracts to be vetted, pay rates to be negotiated, and copyright issues to be debated. Every magazine's mission statement, style, and competition are different, and you need to know how your writing fits into the mix. Editors have unique personalities, and you must get the attention of those who control the best assignments. When all of that is done, you need to actually produce the stories. And you'd better do so eloquently, accurately, and on time.
Indeed, a lot more goes into being a magazine writer than knowing how to turn a catchy phrase. By reading this book, you will learn about the realities that combine the craft and the business of getting words into print. You will discover not just how to be a better writer, but also how to be a financially successful one.
Remember: Readers buy about 360 million magazines in the United States every year. Here's hoping your sentences are among those they find most memorable in the issues to come.