Take Your Specialty for a Spin
by Moira Allen

Return to Starting Your Writing Career · Return to Article

What's your interest? Is it dogs, budgies, or ferrets? Big game hunting, archery, or rappelling? Ceramics, needlepoint, or rock collecting? Perhaps your favorite activity is to dig in a garden, tile a kitchen, or rebuild a transmission.

No matter what your favorite activity or hobby is, chances are that a magazine covers it. Special interest publications make up the largest segment of the consumer magazine marketplace. These magazines are always hungry for new writers, including beginners who don't have a portfolio of clips. One reason is that many such publications don't pay the high rates that professionals expect; another is the need for fresh voices and perspectives.

"But I'm not an Expert"

You don't have to be an expert in your favorite hobby or sport to write for such magazines. Experts often don't have time to write articles about their hobbies, which is why many articles are written by enthusiasts. "Enthusiasm" is key: If you care about your subject, that enthusiasm will show in your writing, and will also engage the enthusiasm of others. For example:

These qualities appeal to an editor as much as a sheaf of clips. When you approach a special interest market, non-writing credentials are an important part of your pitch: "I've been quilting for ten years," or "I've owned Norwegian Elkhounds for most of my life." Even a pitch like "I've always been fascinated by..." can get an editor's attention.

Understanding the Markets

Writer's Market offers a host of special interest categories, from "animals" to "travel." Each of these offers an equally large number of subtopics (under sports, for example, you'll find 22 subcategories, ranging from "archery" to "wrestling").

Its not enough just to find a magazine that covers your subject, however. Your research also needs to determine three additional things:

Magazine "Must-Haves"

"But what could I write about (pets, flyfishing, paper airplanes)?" you ask. The answer lies in determining a magazine's basic article mix: The "must-have" categories that appear in every issue. To determine this, you'll need to review the contents of several back issues (if you can't find copies, try searching for an index of back-issues on-line). You'll soon find that most special interest publications publish a mix of articles that fit into the following topic areas:

To further improve your chances of a sale, look for categories that overlap. For example, consider a "how-to" article that includes a discussion of the equipment needed for the project, or a seasonal article that covers health hazards. Editors are always happy to find an article that fills two "must-have" slots at once.

Take a look at your favorite activity, sport, hobby or love. Ask yourself what you could say about that topic that fits into one of the categories listed above. Be creative, and don't limit yourself to the things you already know. Instead, consider what questions you might ask, what you'd like to learn more about. If you have questions, chances are that a magazine's readers will have those questions as well -- and by answering them, you could turn your curiosity into a sale.

Find Out More...

To Specialize or Generalize?, by Moira Allen

Copyright © 2001 Moira Allen

This article may be reprinted provided that the author's byline, bio, and copyright notice are retained in their entirety. For complete details on reprinting articles by Moira Allen, please click HERE.

Moira Allen is the editor of Writing-World.com, and has written nearly 400 articles, serving as a columnist and regular contributor for such publications as The Writer, Entrepreneur, Writer's Digest, and Byline. An award-winning writer, Allen is the author of eight books, including Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer, The Writer's Guide to Queries, Pitches and Proposals, and Writing to Win: The Colossal Guide to Writing Contests. In addition to Writing-World.com, Allen hosts VictorianVoices.net, a growing archive of articles from Victorian periodicals, and The Pet Loss Support Page, a resource for grieving pet owners. She lives in Maryland with her husband and the obligatory writer's cat. She can be contacted at editors "at" writing-world.com.


Copyright © 2017 by Moira Allen. All rights reserved.
All materials on this site are the property of their authors and may not be reprinted
without the author's written permission, unless otherwise indicated.
For more information please contact Moira Allen, Editor