The Essential Writer’s Market Research – Part 2 – How to Do Your Own Research

Market research for writers is different to research advised for most retailers.You can’t rely on work done by research companies, because it needs to fit you personally.To recap a little, this is my brief definition of market research for writers:’Study a potential publication to determine its individual characteristics.’The point of doing this research is to help you decide if your ideas and style will be a good fit for those of the publisher.Most rejected queries are from writers who have sent them to inappropriate publications.In part one, I listed several characteristics of publications that writers need to look out for.In this part, I’ll go into more detail about how to actually do this research.While these two articles are particularly directed toward magazines, you should be able to adapt them to other publications too. I wrote out a template page for myself several years ago, which I use every time I study a potential magazine to write for.· Find out what you can from the cover. Having chosen those magazines that are within your subject areas, next peruse the article titles listed on the cover. Are they trite and gaudy, for example, or do they suggest an in-depth coverage of their subject?· Take a peek inside. Are the photos matt or glossy? Are they primarily linked to the articles, or to adverts? How many pages of advertisements do you see on your first flick through? What first impression do you get of those photos? What sort of readers do they appeal to? Do the articles appear to be long or short? Are there any other important first impressions that you notice?· Check out the list of contents. If you have several recent issues, which is ideal, see if you can discover their regular writers. [Articles not written by regular staff indicate possibilities for freelancers.] If you can find any articles written by the editor, take special note, as these will show, more than any other, the exact style the editor prefers.· Now read a variety of articles, from the very short, to the longest. Estimate the number of words in the longest and shortest articles.· From these articles, determine factors such as: what age would the readers be, and what would their reading level be? What are their probable occupations and interests? Are the topics seasonal (such as gardening)? Are they written to inspire, inform, educate, or motivate – or just appeal to the reader’s curiosity?· Take note of any obvious political, ethical, or religious slants anywhere in the magazine, (including the hot topic of organic food) but particularly in the editor’s letter at the start, in the adverts, and in the contents list.· Is there anything else about the magazine that appears unique or unusual to you, which may affect whether or not it would be a good ‘fit’ for your writing?· Finally – write the date on your page that you are doing the research, so you’ll immediately know how recent it is when you look at it again.There are a lot of questions here, and I must admit – I don’t really enjoy this task. However, my page of research of each magazine has proven invaluable to me on many occasions because it has helped me target my queries successfully.One last thing – If it’s a while since you did your research, I highly recommend you get some recent copies of your selected magazine(s) before you proceed any further with an article or a query to an editor, as magazine styles can change.Most rejected queries are from writers who have sent them to inappropriate publications, so it is well worth putting in the effort to target yours to where they have the highest chance of success.

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