Beginning Magazine Writing: A Review of "The Handbook of Magazine Article Wriitng, 2nd Edition"

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Writing for Magazines

Many writers have dreams to do some type of magazine writing in their careers. When you write for magazines, you get your foot in the door and this can lead to new assignments down the road. Most writers start with small publications and then work their way up slowly. The Writers Digest Handbook for Magazine Article Writers 2nd Edition helps writers understand the business of magazine writing and how to get started. This second revised edition contains information on e-querying, writing for digital media, and doing interviews by e-mail to bring the book into the digital age. All writers but especially new writers would benefit from reading this excellent writing handbook.

Ideas, Queries and Reprints

The book starts by helping the writer generate ideas. It explains how to use books, magazines, the Internet, your own experience, evergreen topics, and other sources to come up with material to submit. The information presented would benefit new writers but established writers would already know how to generate ideas. In chapter two, the reader learns about the query which is an essential part of writing for a magazine. The book presents several sample queries for analysis and teaches how to write an effective query letter an editor would notice. The book also covers how to send an e-query but reminds the reader to check with the magazine first to see if the publication accepts these. Chapter three benefits established writers since it covers reprints and rewrites. The book covers reprint markets and even includes a sample cover letter about your reprint for an editor.

Markets, Research and Interviews

The next several chapters in the book cover markets, research and conducting interviews. The book shows how to find new emerging markets for your work such as writing about the baby-boom generation, small magazines, and how writing for a local magazine can help you break into the business. The book covers popular markets such as women’s magazines, trade journals, health publications, and writing for travel magazines. You’ll find a website list of hot online markets included with the book to keep you current on the trends. Writers do plenty of research on different subjects and the handbook covers topics such as talking to experts in your subject, timesaving tips, and organizing your research. The interview is another key element of any writer’s life and you’ll find content on conducting electronic interviews over the Internet, scheduling your interview, and dealing with difficult interview clients.

Finishing Your Work and Working with Editors

Writers can sometimes run into problems such as plagiarism. The book shows the writer how to cite accurate quotes from other authors and explains the rules for quoting such as not inventing quotations or copying quotations from other sources when they weren’t actually said by you. Revising and editing are other key elements to magazine writing and the handbook covers these subjects. You’ll find content on organizing your story and writing a successful lead to the story. You’ll learn how to grab the reader’s attention with short little stories called anecdotes, and how to edit the story for publication. The information here was well written but far too basic since editing and revising in itself can be a whole book. In chapter ten, the book covers how to deal with editors. You’ll learn how to be professional, having flexibility in your wriitng, generating editor feedback, and how to meet deadlines. The book covers how to keep your editor, land new assignments, and how to deal with problems such as a missed deadline or errors in your work.

Business Matters

The final portion of the book deals with the business side of writing. Included is information on how to get organized, creating a demand for your wriitng, and making the most of your time to reach your income goals. The section covers how to make sure you receive payments on time from your editor and how to deal with problems with your salary. You’ll learn how to keep tax records, the rights of a writer, and copyright law.

A Good Book on Magazine Article Writing (4 out of 5)

The Handbook of Magazine Article Writing covers all the basics writers need to know. This book is a great resource for the writer who is just breaking into writing for magazines but for the established magazine writer, the content is far too basic. None of the topics in the book are explained in the detail that would benefit a seasoned writer. This book makes a great overall resource for those getting into the business and for those who need a refresher.

Buying The Book

The ISBN for this book is 1-58297-334-2 and you can buy it through Amazon for $16.99USD retail price. Canadians can buy the book for $20.99CAD.


Article is author’s own analysis of The Handbook of Magazine Article Writing.