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How To Sell To The Regional Parenting Publications
by Jodi Forschmiedt

Looking for an easy way to break into print and collect some clips? The regional parenting publications (RPPs) offer a huge market for beginning and intermediate writers.

Nearly every medium to large town has at least one parenting publication. You’ve probably seen these free magazines at the library, at the bookstore, and anyplace frequented by moms. Some are slick and glossy, others are printed tabloid-style on newsprint. But they all have a constant need for content.

What do they want? Articles on children and child-rearing, of course… but more specifically? In three years of selling to this market, I’ve developed some general submission guidelines of my own.

Keep it short. The magazines have limited space and want brief, punchy copy. Submit articles no longer than 800 words, preferably less.

Keep it young. Parenting magazines are read primarily by people with babies and small children. The content mix reflects the readership. You’ll get more sales with a great piece about toddlers than a terrific article about teens.

Non-fiction only.

Reportage sells better than essays. While most RPPs run essays, they tend to be columns written by a staffer or already owned by a freelancer.

Make it personal. RPP editors love anecdotes–your own or the experiences of parents you’ve interviewed.

How-to’s are heavily favored, especially by editors in smaller markets.

Make it timely. A piece related to a holiday or season will outsell an evergreen article every time. If you can get hold of the editorial calendar, follow it religiously.

Go multicultural. If you have an unusual ethnic or religious background and have insider knowledge about little-known traditions, capitalize on it. RPPs love pieces that educate readers about celebrations outside the greeting-card holidays.

Submit manuscripts rather than queries, unless a magazine’s guidelines say otherwise. An email submission of a strong piece sometimes gets me a sale within minutes!

Submit your reprints. Editors are just as happy to purchase reprints as original articles, so anything you’ve published on a parenting topic is fair game.

What do they pay? These advertising-supported publications have small budgets. Some pay as little as $10.00 for a piece; some pay $50.00. But because the magazines are regional, they don’t compete with each other. And they buy non-exclusive rights. That means you can sell the same piece to multiple magazines. (Note: large cities may have more than one RPP, so don’t submit a piece to more than one magazine in a given region.)

How do you find magazines outside your city? Parenting Publications of America maintains a database of members. For a free search by state, go to http://www.parentingpublications.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=MemberSearch

Be sure and request copies or tearsheets from the magazines that print your work. You won’t be able to pick up publications outside your region at the corner store!

© Copyright 2005, Jodi Forschmiedt

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