Friday 26 October 2018

Studying the market

Us writers are often told we need to study (or research our markets). Not everyone does this. A lucky few of those who don't will naturally write in a style suited to wherever it is they're submitting to. Many more will keep getting rejections, unaware that they'd have more success either submitting elsewhere, or giving their work a few tweaks so it's just what the editor wants.

My tips for studying the womag fiction market ...

1. Start by looking at as many different magazines as possible and deciding which publishes fiction closes to the way you naturally write.

2. Check it's somewhere you can submit to and one which doesn't insist on terms you'd be unwilling to accept. (My magazine quick links on the right will help with that.)

3. Buy several issues over a continuos period, and read each just as though you were any regular reader. DO NOT rely on old copies. It was never a good idea to do that, but it's even more unwise now that so many publications have made big changes in their editorial teams.

4. Read the stories again, making a note of anything they seem to have in common. This might include age rage of main characters, whether they have happy endings, locations, if they're mainly seasonal stories, the gender of main characters...

 5. Now do the same with the way they're written. POV(s) used, tense used, presented chronologically or with flashbacks, told traditionally, or in a less usual style (via letters or emails, diary entries etc.)

6. Take all these into account when plotting your next story for this magazine. I don't mean you must use them all, or that you can't add other elements, just that there should be enough similarities for the editor to recognise it as suitable for the magazine.

7. Before editing, look at the magazines again. Do the stories contain many long words, are there lots of 'colourful' speech tags or is 'she said' preferred? Single or double quotes for dialogue? Tweak yours so it really looks the part.

Are these kind of tips useful to you? If they are, you might like this book.

Do you have any more suggestions for either studying the market, or using the information gathered to help your chances of success?


Anonymous said...

I try so hard to study the magazine markets, I buy all the mags that publish fiction, really want to put my analytical head on ( I have got an analytical head for other things) but can't, because I just like reading stories!!! Lucky for me some understanding of what individual magazines are looking for must filter through, as I haven't done too badly with sales. Good wishes Kate Hogan

Patsy said...

@ Kate – I know what you mean – that's why I read each story several times. Oncce you kow what happens, it's easier to dissect them.

Newbie said...

That’s helpful advice as I’m submitting at the moment and looking closely at WW and PF. They overlap a fair amount! PF has changed the most since I last read it 10 years ago, when characters had to be either married or widowed, which limited things a bit.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

I agree with you, Patsy - that's the way we always advised new writers to tackle it in our writing group and I still advise studying it this way where possible, especially since markets are decreasing and the type of stories required can change.