Writing is a product. A basic marketing truism is that you can’t
sell a product if no one wants to buy it. Whether or not your
writing is wonderful doesn’t matter if you are writing about a
subject no one wants to publish. The moral of the story? Never
create your writing in a vacuum.
It’s extremely easy to find out what topics are in demand by doing
a little Internet surfing. In fact, the Internet is actually the
best place to research hot topics. It’s far better than the
library, chain bookstores, print media, or television. Today’s
publishing trends will appear online first, long before they hit
Before you write anything, try to think like a publisher. Ask
yourself, what do they want to buy?
Above all else, publishers want to print what is going to sell. For
example, if you want to submit a book proposal to a publisher, go
to the Web and find out what the hot topics are in your chosen
field. As a writer, you are, by nature, a researcher. The Internet
is a researcher’s dream come true.
For example, if you are a computer nerd and want to write about
technology topics, what is the latest “buzz” on the propeller-head
discussion boards? What are people complaining about? What new
techie toy is your average 14 year old dying to get his hands on?
Or let’s say you want to break into a magazine. Every single
magazine editor on the planet, without exception, will tell you to
“read the magazine first” before you get in touch. Many, many
magazines put their writer’s guidelines online. If they don’t, you
can usually read a few issues online to get a feel for the
magazine’s tone. You no longer have to waste postage begging for a
copy of the magazine before you contact the editor or publisher.
All you need to do is get online, go to your favorite search
engine, and start digging.
If you’re interested in a particular magazine or trade journal,
simply to go your favorite search engine such as Google. Then type:
[the magazine name] +guidelines OR
[the magazine name] +”writer information”
For more general searches, try these phrases:
“write for us”
“freelance writing markets”
Yes, the quotation marks are important. They tell the search engine
to find the entire phrase, as opposed to the individual words. You
also might try derivatives of these searches, such as “writer
guidelines” and “writers guidelines”. Sometimes web sites or search
engines aren’t good at handling punctuation, such as apostrophes.
Armed with a little information, you can give publishers what they
want. And in turn, they’ll give you what you want: a byline!