Finding markets

Markets are potential outlets for your work. There are several hundred thousand printed magazines and newspapers on the planet, if not a million, and around ten thousand of these are in the UK, with several tens of thousands in the US. And then there are online markets too — e-zines, websites, blogs — which are uncountable.

It’s important to understand this truth about markets: they don’t exist to publish your work. They exist to a/ make money for their proprietors, and b/ serve their readers. They’re not blank canvases onto which cheque-waving editors have been waiting for you to simply deposit your writing. They are products, with key aims, and specific requirements, which you need to supply.

Virtually all publications are markets. Only very few do not accept ideas or contributions from writers or those outside a regular team of trusted contributors. And even those who maintain some element of exclusivity can often be persuaded to make exceptions for a terrific idea (especially if you’re the only one who can write it).

When looking for markets, avoid falling into the habit of looking for a particular market (singular) for a piece you have written. It rarely works out. Instead, look for markets (plural) to which you can send a number of ideas or stories, regularly, based on your interests or areas of knowledge, or for which you can reangle or tweak ideas and articles which have been turned down elsewhere.

That said, never rule any market out. Cultivate the attitude that any outlet is a potential customer. And I do mean any. Just because you think you don’t know anything about boating, horses, cars, property or hairdressing doesn’t mean you can’t write about these subjects for the (many) publications devoted to them. It’s all in the research. (See also ‘Ideas’ in Categories.)

Writers’ Guides

The most well known in the UK is the Writers’ and Artists Yearbook (right), in print for over 100 years, and widely considered the best in the business. It’s not only useful for its listings of magazines in both UK and Ireland, but also other Commonwealth countries, and articles on everything from copyright, the publishing business and finding agents. Worthwhile, even if you only buy it once every several years.

For the North American market, a terrific investment is The Writer’s Market. If you’ve been scrabbling around looking for market information, this will knock your socks off. Thousands of detailed listings, outlining columns, open slots, tips from the editors, and much more. It’s mostly American, but some Canadian too. Really excellent.

Larger branches are packed with magazines and papers. You could (and should) spend hours here browsing. A major branch of WHSmith in the UK sometimes stocks around 1,000 titles. Don’t just look at the publications to which you’re naturally drawn — force yourself to browse shelves you wouldn’t normally consider.

Smaller local newsagents may stock niche titles and be able to order more unusual titles for you. Introduce yourself to your newsagent and ask him what he can do for you if you have an interest in particular publications. Tell him you’re a writer. He’ll have lists of magazines he can order for you. Get to know him, give him your custom, and you may get favours in return — spare copies of free supplements other customers leave behind, that kind of thing. Invest in your relationship with him, is what I’m saying. It’ll pay.

Other retailers
Other retailers worth exploring include:
* Health food shops — for food magazines, health and fitness magazines, eco/green magazines, alternative and complementary journals, parenting titles.
* Bookshops — for journals devoted to arts, culture, review, reading / literary, and other niche magazines.
* Esoteric / astrology shops — for astrology journals, spiritualist titles, alternative publications.
* Supermarkets — good selections, but not usually the place to discover unusual titles, as they tend to stock mainly the glossies and the nationals, which sell in large numbers (most will have their own customer magazine, though).

Other establishments
Magazines ‘loiter’ or are free to pick up in many places:
* Doctor’s surgeries — medical titles, subscription monthlies (like Reader’s Digest, Candis).
* Libraries — a mixed bunch of politics, lifestyle, religion etc. And newspapers, obviously, as well as some overseas journals.
* Estate agents — local glossy lifestyle / property magazines.
* Banks/building societies — often have their own customer magazine.
* Independent music/clothing stores — hip music magazines and ‘underground’ journals.
* Fitness centres / gyms — health / fitness / bodybuilding / cosmetic magazines; some have their own customer magazine.
* Hairdressers/beauticians — women’s magazines, hair and beauty titles.
* Barbers — men’s and lads’ magazines, sports titles, car magazines.
* Airports / stations — customer magazines, assorted freebies, local newspapers.

Subscription websites
Useful sites where you can browse, buy and subscribe to a number of magazines include:

* NewsStand

Outside the UK, I’d suggest entering the term ‘magazine subscriptions’ into a good search engine.

It’s essential to subscribe to a number of magazines, including all those in your specialist areas of interests. I usually have about six at any one time. They serve as a good reminder to get reading and learning — and to get submitting some ideas…

Online market resources
Try these online resources for writers’ guidelines (most focus on US):

Freelance Writing
Writer’s Weekly
Worldwide Freelance
* All Freelance Writing

An excellent list of links to other resources is The Burry Man Writers Centre.

Try searching for ‘online writing markets’ or ‘freelance writers markets’ or variations of those, and you will surely find many more.

Some will allow you to subscribe to free weekly newsletters, so you hear news of markets regularly.

Warning: a lot of the sites you come across may be extremely old relics, abandoned but still haunting the web, bearing out-of-date information. Do check sites are regularly updated, and display current information.

Good listings of publications from around the world can be hunted down here:

World Newspapers
Online Newspapers
All Newspapers

Try also searching too for markets you wish to write for — such as ‘spiritual markets’ and ‘science magazines’.

For overseas markets, try search engines in different countries — such as Google Australia and Google India — to help you locate particular markets in particular countries. This is a useful list of Google search engines in many other languages and nations.

Publishers’ sites
You’ll know that publishers typically oversee dozens of publications, and their websites often act as portals into their entire portfolio of titles. Browsing them can prove fruitful. Often you can order sample copies as well as subscribe. Here is a UK selection:

Aceville — craft, hobbies, food, hospitality, motoring, health
Anthem Publishing — music, wellbeing, food
Archant — county / local magazines (all excellent markets for new writers)
Centaur — media, finance, property, engineering, law, employment
Chelsea Magazines — travel/outdoors, leisure, boating, parenting, education, art
Current Publishing — history / archaeology
DC Thomson — general interest, Great Britain, news, puzzles, children’s, health & lifestyle
Future — games, film, music, technology, cycling, automotive, design, creative, crafts, homes, women’s
GMC Publications — craft, dolls house, needlecraft, photography, woodworking, hobbies
Hamerville — automotive, engineering, construction, hairdressing
Haymarket — sports, motoring, business, male interest, media
Hearst UK — women’s, men’s, lifestyle, glossies, health
Immediate Media — home and garden, arts, science, general interest, craft, biking, countryside
Kelsey Magazines — motoring, agricultural, rural, lifestyle, fitness
Key Publishing — planes, trains and automobiles
Mortons Media — heritage, transport, railway, scooters, motorcycling, garden
Practical Publishing — crafts
Rhinegold Publishing — classical music, drama, singing
Warners Group Publications — transport, sailing, hobbies, collecting, outdoor pursuits

Writing Magazines
I would consider at least one subscription to a writing magazine essential, not only for news of market launches and closures, but for useful articles, guidelines, and to help you keep in touch with the wider writing community. There are several:

UK — Writing Magazine and Writer’s Forum.
US — Writer’s Digest (right).

Try entering ‘magazines for writers’ in a good local search engine and you will find others.

What else?
* Go to trade shows. Publishers of specialist magazines often exhibit, and you should be able to pick up a free copy of any you come across. UK writers should keep an eye on Earl’s Court & OlympiaHarrogate International CentreExcel LondonBirmingham’s National Exhibition Centre, and other major exhibition centres to identify likely events around the country. If you have some experience under your belt you may be able to apply for a press pass, but it’s still often worth the entry fee to get ideas and inspiration.

* Ask people you know — people working accountancy, law, finance, teaching/education — all these have several magazines covering their industries, and can make good specialist markets.

eBay — a surprisingly good place to pick up back copies of magazines. A list of international eBay sites is here.

* charity shops and junk sales — for cheap back copies.

Freecycle — just search ‘magazines’ in your local group.

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