For the non-fiction writer or journalist, it can be extremely difficult to
start a career with a permanent position at a newspaper or by writing a full-length
non-fiction book. Publishers tend to trust people with a reputation, and new
writers don't have reputations yet. It doesn't matter if you're
the world's foremost expert on shark bites or you can tell an Alfred Sung
wedding dress from a Calvin Klein without looking at the label. Unless you've
got credentials, you'll have to start at the same place every other non-fiction
writer starts: magazine proposals. If you want to submit a successful magazine
proposal, we've prepared this article to help you set off on the right
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Writing short non-fiction isn't like writing short fiction, because short
non-fiction articles usually have to be pre-approved by a magazine. When you
publish a short story, you write the story first and then submit it. Not so
with non-fiction. You can't just do an expose on price fixing in Pleasant
Valley, NY homes and send it to a magazine. First you have to draw up a proposal
for the piece and have it approved by the magazine's editor, who will
then give you his or her input on what they want the piece to cover, as well
as a set word length and deadline. Working outside this process is considered
unprofessional and will most likely result in rejection.
Your proposal doesn't have to be sent to only one magazine at a time
like most short stories have to be. Because it's only a pitch, you're
able to submit simultaneously to several magazines to save time. However, that
doesn't mean you should send your "Bahco Tools helps rebuild schools
in Haiti" pitch to every publication you can find an address for. Like
submitting short fiction, magazine proposals have to be targeted to magazines
that are more likely to accept them.
This task is easier if your article touches on several interest groups. For
instance, your Bahco Tools piece covers tools and carpentry, charitable work,
improving the third world, companies based in Canada, and the country of Haiti. At least one of these topics is of interest to most people in Leslieville homes to BC cabins.
Publications that deal with any of those subjects would be an ideal place to
submit the proposal. This type of subject targeting is something you'll
have to get good at if you want to make a career in journalism and non-fiction
writing. If you don't, say goodbye to your dreams of owning a Toronto
condominium and hello to crashing in your mother's basement after you've
run out of money.
Another thing you need to think about when submitting a magazine proposal is
spelling, grammar, and fact-checking. You may think that because the magazine
has legal and editorial staff that this is not your problem, but these are everyone's
concerns. Poor spelling and grammar mark you as unprofessional. And if, for
example, you indict a particular cult for mistreating children and the allegations
are proven to be unfounded, you and the newspaper could end up facing one of
the biggest class action suits in Canada over the unfair defamation of their