When I got serious about writing a book in 2006, I lacked credentials. Getting published in magazines seemed a necessary step toward attracting a book deal. So, I did my homework, chose a topic I knew well, and targeted the right magazine. Viola! My very first magazine query letter netted my first published article
Now, I have about fifty articles published, and my writing resume is looking more padded. I won’t say it’s an easy part-time job, but the side benefits have been delightful (as you’ll see below).
For anyone interested in breaking into magazine writing, I’ll discuss technique in a later posting. Here, I want to disclose some random insights and experiences that have come from my short career. Some may be seen as pros and some as cons (you choose), but I hope they inspire you to write articles, too.
1. In a rare gesture of thanks, the Junior Cotillion coordinator had flowers delivered to my office after I wrote a story about her work.
2. Sometimes, my children actually read one of my articles. (Why do they always seem shocked when they like it?)
3. Working on a deadline is like having perpetual homework. Even if it’s a fun assignment, it’s always looming in the background.
4. International opera singer, Leona Mitchell, said I “captured her spirit.” (Be still my heart!) Then I had a front row seat to watch her perform—one of the most moving concerts I’ve ever witnessed.
5. Those extra hundreds a month come in handy for paying down my husband’s medical bills.
6. I read eight biographies to write one little story about astronauts. It might be one of my better works–but I lost money on that one.
7. At events, I’m usually the one behind a camera or skirting the edges to look for a story or interview opportunity. As Bob Green wrote in Handbook of Magazine Article Writing, “Show me a great writer and I’ll show you someone who’s rarely the life of the party.”
8. Some topics sound boring at first (I won’t say which ones), but after a little research, they become fascinating.
9. One afternoon, I answered the phone and heard, “Hello, Amy, this is Reba McEntire.” We interviewed for 18 whole minutes.
10. Magazine editors sometimes tweak my words. It either improves my work or makes me cringe.
11. I once stood in the snow for five hours waiting to get one on-the-spot interview with Jillian Harris (from The Bachelorette). Her heartfelt story was worth it.
12. What could be more inspiring than a compliment from another writer. Best-selling mystery author, Carolyn Hart, honored me with this statement, “I feel your story is by far the best that has ever been written about my books.”
13. It is tough to stay focused on my novel, because writing articles offers a more immediate paycheck.
14. I’ve been asked to voice-record my articles for the Oklahoma Library for the Blind.
15. When I hear that someone laughed, cried or learned from one of my articles—that’s one of the great compliments ever!