Freelance Writing: How To Write For The Food Magazines

Writing for food magazines can be a great way to combine a hobby like cooking with the income from writing. On the surface, breaking into food writing is no different than any other type of writing, you need to know your market and know your product. If you follow those two rules you will definitely be ahead of the game.

If you have a strong interest in cooking, eating or just enjoy food, the first step is to choose your magazine. If you already subscribe to a variety of cooking magazines, you may be ready to get started. If not, head to your local library and see what they have available. Just looking at one or two recent months worth of your preferred magazines can give you an idea of what each publication is looking for, what special columns they have, and the general tone of the magazine.

Since you are just starting out, you will probably have the best luck by writing for the "front of book" or FOB section. Most magazines have a variety of short pieces and fillers in the front section of the magazine. These short pieces may range anywhere from 50 to 350 words, and are an excellent entry point for a new writer. These pieces are of particular value if you do not have any publishing experience at all. Most magazines will want to see published clips of your previous writing, even if it is about a subject different than your proposed topic. Since the pieces in the FOB are so short, they are commonly submitted at the time of your initial contact with the editor. Of course, by submitting the piece in whole, you do have to do a fair amount of research and take the time to polish up an article that may not sale. Look at this as time invested in your writing education. The nicer, glossy newsstand cooking magazines are not likely to take a chance on an unknown writer for an assigned piece; however, by showing your stuff with a few FOB pieces, you get to know the editor, develop a relationship, and may be surprised when the editor approaches you with an assignment. The other point to consider is that the FOB pieces generally pay as well, if not better, on a per word basis than the longer, more research intensive features department. So, if you are confident in your writing abilities, and are willing to do some writing "on-spec" (meaning no guarantee of a sale), then writing front of the book pieces makes excellent sense.

Another way to break in to food magazine writing is to acquire some writing clips from smaller, more regional magazines or newspapers. The pay is usually paltry, but by writing local restaurant reviews, covering an area farmer's market, or discussing the joys of a seasonal vegetable with a smaller audience, you get the opportunity to develop your writing skills with some feedback from an editor and collect a little money, and confidence along the way.

Whichever method you choose to break into food magazine writing, it is important to remember that there are some rules of freelance writing that apply to everyone. You will get rejected; it is part of your job as a writer, so you cannot take this personally. Freelance writing is truly a numbers game. The more you submit, the more you will sell. If every rejection sends you into a hole of pity and self doubt, you will never make it as a writer. Just take the suggestion of your editor, be professional and timely, and always submit the most polished copy that you are capable of, and eventually your hard work will pay off.

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