When deciding if a magazine’s or website’s slant, tone and style mesh with your writing goals, read the “Editor’s Letter” for insights to their visions for their publications. Hunt for a mission statement, which can be encapsulated in a slogan on the magazine’s spine, on the cover or in a paragraph on or near the table of contents. Mission statements are usually outlined in writers’ submission guidelines and in resources such as Writer’s Market.
Check the table of contents to find out if the magazine allocates articles into regular departments. Familiarity with a magazine’s regular departments gives writers ideas for new articles and conveys the scope of the magazine’s content. Many magazine editors welcome readers’ stories while others, in submission guidelines, state the departments in which freelancer writers have the best chance of acceptance.
Take note of contributing authors’ bylines. If Gary Zukav (The Seat of the Soul) and authors of his caliber wrote the articles, move on. Writers lacking advanced degrees and invitations to appear on “Dr. Phil” should aim their articles at periodicals suitable for their level. Find your level. Work in it. Climb up.
And, yes, a few spiritual magazines (and editors) might seem too far-fetched. Before disregarding a magazine as a possible target, inquire about future themes. Just because last month’s issue was dedicated to alien visitations doesn’t mean an upcoming issue can’t be a down-to-earth round up of articles about coping with troubled teenagers.
A shuffle through the heap of spiritual magazines on my desk reveals that one refers to the Master, another refers to inner Reality, yet another to Source, whereas a magazine for women mentions goddess, divine self and higher self among other names for the power that is also known in some circles as the Godhead, Jesus Christ, Mother, Creator, Grandfather Spirit, Buddha…Whichever magazine a freelancer chooses to write for, it’s important to use the targeted magazine’s terminology. But don’t go against your own sacred beliefs just to sell an article.
Get a sense of reader demographics. Are readers predominantly single women, vegetarians, gay Christians, recovering substance abusers, agnostic vegetarians, middle-aged baby boomers seeking more meaningful lives?
These varied audiences pursue different lifestyles, even so, virtually all readers face similar challenges and joys in life and are, therefore, interested in reading articles about the similar, day-to-day challenges we all face.
Editors encourage hopeful contributors to relate to real people with real problems. The social merits of gossiping, meeting spiritual needs on the Internet, finding a good spa, and dealing with geriatric parents are examples of topics featured in those spiritual magazines heaped on my desk.
Successful writers of spiritual articles resist resorting to platitudes and clichés, unless they are used in a fresh, thought-provoking way. Published writers also avoid being preachy and pedantic. They strive to come across as empathetic and inspiring. They add original, heartfelt ideas to the body of thought already existing on a topic.
Researching material for a spiritual article and digging into one’s feelings sets the stage for the writer to experience a mini-epiphany – an added bonus. Furthermore, touching people’s lives positively through the written word is personally rewarding for freelance writers. Receiving checks in the mail ain’t bad either.