Easy Writer’s Tip on How to Write for a Magazine
I‘m sort of proud of this How to Write tip, I figured it all out by myself when I decided to sell my first article. Later, I found that what I had done was actually a solid advice given by other writers in their tips. But I figured it out all on my own.
In 1984 I had been doing martial arts for some 17 years. I had studied several styles of Karate, Kung fu, Aikido, wing chun, tai chi, pa kua, and so on and so on. And, I had read just about everything that had ever been printed about the martial arts in the mags, in books and everywhere.
And, of course, I had seen all the Bruce Lee movies.
I didn’t really think about whether all this had made me into an expert, I just decided one day to write an article for the martial arts magazines.
The magazine I had the most copies of were those printed by CFW, which would be Inside Karate, Inside Kung Fu, Kick Illustrated, and so on. But I also had plenty of Black Belts, Official Karate, and others.
So I sat down with a two foot stack of the things and started reading. I was examining the style of writing, thought about structure, how long, and so on.
I quickly realized that CFW was friendly to my way of thinking. The articles were often written by the readers, and they even talked like me.
So I isolated the CFW mags and started looking at the articles. I was going backwards and thinking about subject matter. And, about a year previous, I found something that interested me, that set my own mind to working on a thought. So I sat down, zipped off 6 double spaced pages on my Sears selectamatic (or whatever the moose was), and sent it off to the editor listed in Inside Karate.
Time passed, I forgot about it, and then, one day, I’m walking through a supermarket and I see a title on a martial arts mag. ‘The Perfect Strike.’
‘Hey!’ I thought, ‘They stole my title!’ So I looked at the article and found out that it was actually MY article! The one I wrote! They had accepted it, printed it, and forgot to tell me about it. I think they eventually paid me $100! Zowie! I was a professional writer!
Now, the smart thing I did was in looking back through the mags. You see a magazine prints something about, say, tournament karate. The magazine hits the racks. Everybody reads it, and a dozen guys get excited by the article and write one exactly like it and send it in. And the editor pulls out his hair because he just printed an article about tournament karate! It’s old news! He doesn’t want the same old same old, he needs new material to keep readers from getting bored!
In going back a year I was picking articles that had been done and run and forgotten about, and therefore were fresh material. Nobody had written anything on them for a year!
And that is how I made my first big, break into professional journalism, and this has been a How to Write Tip on how to sell an article to a magazine.