Equipping Writers for Success
The Writing Life
The Writing Life
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by Joyce Frohn
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These holidays may require a little more research, but the payoff is worth it. If you are the author that submits articles on Hanukah or Kwanza to that mass market magazine rather than Christmas, or Indigenous People's Day instead of Columbus Day to that teacher's magazine, you'll be the one that stands out and are more likely to get the contract. Ethnic and minority holidays offer great opportunities for writers. If you can tell your editor when Sizdah Bedar is, when Ramadan ends, and more importantly, what those holidays mean for your editor's advertisers, you will have a step up on the competition. A quick hint: these holidays all involve feasting and buying new clothes.
Check around. A regional magazine might be eager for articles on Chinese New Year or the New Moon Festival. Look at the religious and ethnic mix of the area you are querying. There may be some surprises. Northern Wisconsin has a large Asian population, and one of the largest Muslim populations is in Michigan. I use Interfaith Calendar to help locate lesser-known religious holidays.
If you want to write for teacher's magazines, you need to know the school holidays. These are holidays that are officially celebrated during the school year, but that adults often don't know about. For example, October is national Bullying month and includes Animal Action week and many more. I order teacher's catalogs from it to see which holidays are the biggest.
Teachers need articles on Arbor Day, Grandparent's Day and more. Schools are one of the last places where May Day is still celebrated. Hundred's Day, celebrated on the hundredth day of school, is so big that commercial products are made to celebrate it. Just to pick a few: National Grammar Day on March 4, National Punctuation Day on September 24, and Butterfly Day on March 14 all need materials. There are hundreds of days to pick from, because any event or thing probably has a special day and kids love special days. Schools may also have local holidays that are only celebrated in their state or even in their county. Make friends with local teachers; they are a great source.
There are also holidays that parent's magazines want to hear about, such as Walk to School Day on October 6 and Tell a Fairy Tale Day on February 26. Parents also want to know more about school holidays that they've never heard of but that their kids are learning about. So after you've sold an article to a teacher's magazine, recycle it to a parent's magazine.
Different businesses also have different holidays. And those businesses have trade magazines that need writers. Here too, holidays are an easy way to break in.
I like Wikipedia for holiday research, but local stores' websites may be your best source. Comic book stores celebrate Free Comic Book Day on the first Saturday of May, and every store wants new ideas to get people in. Medical magazines would be interested in World Health Organization Day on April 7.
Many big-name professional science magazines have short back page pieces that are open to non-scientists. Humor works well here, so you need to know that Geek Pride Day is on May 25, and Pi Day is on March 14. Pi Day is often celebrated by reciting Pi to nine decimals while doing something else, like juggling. Mole Day, which begins at 6:02 A.M. and ends at precisely 6:02 P.M. on October 23, is a celebration of Avogadro's number. If you understand why this number is so important to chemistry or what a mole is, you have leg up on most writers. If you don't know, remember you're a writer and you can learn all about these holidays and then pass along that knowledge.
Learn what holidays are important for other trades and you can have a steady source of income from trade magazines. Check for anniversaries of battles, local events and church or building anniversaries.
In my field of science fiction and fantasy writing, I've learned some holidays that many of my editors would love knowing about. Did you know that May 4 is Star Wars Day; Hobbit Day is September 22 and Towel Day (in honor of Douglas Adam's Hitchhiker's series) is May 25?
But holidays for writers aren't just about making money. World Press Freedom Day is on May 3 and all writers should celebrate that, if only with a silent thought toward those that don't have our freedom.
Banned Books Week could inspire articles for library magazines, but is also a stern warning for all writers. And on a lighter note, Bad Poetry Day is on August 18. We all have bad poetry that we can read on that day and then burn.
So celebrate, have fun and write about all your holidays.
This article may not be reprinted without the author's written permission.
Joyce Frohn has been writing stories down since childhood and began submitting things after being inspired by a poetry painted dorm room. She has been published in ClarkesWorld, Grit, and Writer's Digest, along with over hundred smaller places. She has a wonderfully supportive husband and an 8-year-old daughter who is jealous of the time her mother gets to spend with the computer.