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Articles & Non-Fiction | Factsheets


Articles, Non-fiction and the Market

WritersServices Factsheet 11 by Michael Legat

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The easiest way of getting into print is by writing articles (in the trade they are more often referred to as ‘features’). You do not need to be a member of the National Union of JournalistsRepresents British journalists and photographers. Has a useful list of links to media resources. site links to a NUJ freelance fees site (NUJ). Many magazines and newspapers rely on non-union freelancers to fill their pages.

One of the best ways to start is by writing features which are of particular interest to people who live in the same area as you do. The local press will be an obvious market for such material.

It is important to do your market research thoroughly so that you not only know to which magazine or newspaper you should send your work, and the kind of length it should be, but also the level of knowledge which you can expect in your readers. If you are writing for beginners, it is foolish to use technical terms without explaining them, and equally foolish, if you are writing for specialists, to include explanations for all the technical terms.

If you have any ability as a photographer and can supply good quality illustrations for your material, this will increase your chances of success.

Magazines work on a cycle – a monthly magazine, for example, is likely to have one issue going to press, one with the material in preparation, and one being planned. If you want to write a feature on some aspect of Christmas, it should be submitted in September at the latest.

Your work is unlikely to be accepted if it is on a subject covered by staff writers. For example you are unlikely to find a magazine for women which would be interested in a free-lance feature on beauty or fashion.

Almost all non-fiction books are commissioned on the strength of a synopsis and specimen chapters.

If you can spot a gap in the market which you could fill, and have the qualifications to do so, you should find it comparatively easy to interest a publisher and get a commission and contract.

When submitting your book you should say why it is different (and better, if it is) from others already on the market.

It will undoubtedly help if you can obtain an Introduction or Foreword from someone eminent in the field about which you are writing..

This factsheet links to Writing for Pleasure and Profit  and Non-fiction Books



© Michael Legat 2001