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Breaking into a New Magazine
by Susan Denney

An Interview with Georgia Solorzano, managing editor of Nuestra Gente Utah Magazine.

Have you ever looked at an announcement of a new start-up magazine on the Writers' Market website or elsewhere and wondered how new magazines come about and whether you can break into them? Writing for DOLLARS! talks today with Georgia Solorzano who is the managing editor of a new Spanish-language magazine called Nuestra Gente Utah. She tells us how Nuestra Gente Utah came to be and how she found writers for her first issue. She also gives advice to anyone trying to break into a new publication.

WFD: How did you come up with the idea for the magazine in the first place?

SOLORZANO: Luck. The two original partners of the magazine were brainstorming together on how they could give back to the Hispanic population and they came up with Nuestra Gente. One of the partners grew up in Mexico and came to the U.S. when he was eleven. He is a success story beyond the norm, coming straight out of the poor Hispanic district in Dallas. He has always wanted to give back to his people and help others succeed as he did. He has experience in publishing and sales. Our other partner spent two years volunteering in Bolivia and has a great love for Latin Americans. He is a fabulous designer and has extensive experience in designing magazines. All this combined to became Nuestra Gente Utah.

WFD: What is the market for Nuestra Gente Utah?

SOLORZANO: Our market is the Hispanic population in Utah. We cater our material for an up-scale audience (not affluent, more middle class I would say), but we hope that all types of Spanish speakers read it and can gain from it.

WFD: How did you find writers for your inaugural issue?

SOLORZANO: I put ads up on several different freelance websites including: WritersMarket.com, FreelanceWriting.com, and inkygirl.com. I called all of our local writers' groups and we set up our own website with information for new writers.

WFD: Did you receive a lot of queries for the first issue?

SOLORZANO: I received hundreds of emails from interested writers for the first issue. Only a small percentage of those actually came through for me and sent in final submissions. I would suggest to new writers to always find out the magazine's market and guidelines for submissions before you contact the editor for the first time. Mention that you already know this information, give the editor some clips of your published work (or a really fantastic example of your writing if you haven't been published), and several queries right away.

WFD: Did you prefer email or mailed queries?

SOLORZANO: I think I would laugh out loud if we received a query in the mail. I do all correspondence through email.

WFD: What kinds of queries interested you the most?

SOLORZANO: Quite simply, I noticed the queries that had our audience in mind. I was also very interested in new ideas--things we had not already thought of. The freelancers who told me right away that they shared our enthusiasm and excitement for our dream stood out to me as well.

WFD: What kinds of queries were automatically rejected?

SOLORZANO: I automatically reject anything that does not fit into the scope of our publication. I also reject work from writers who do not bother to copyedit their work before they send it to me. I spend a lot of time making sure my correspondence is professional and I expect the same from our writers. If their curriculum vitae or emails are full of errors, I will not consider their work even if it is something that I especially need. However, since our magazine is in Spanish this only applies to the Spanish correspondence. Most of our writers speak English as a second language.

WFD: Since your magazine is in Spanish, did you receive queries in Spanish or in English?

SOLORZANO: I receive queries in both languages, but only because I know the final version will be in Spanish. We only accept work in Spanish with very few exceptions. If a writer wanted to send in a translated work, I would need to see the English version first. I would hate for a writer to spend money on a translator just to find out that I am not interested.

WFD: What advice do you have for writers who want to break into new magazines?

SOLORZANO: The main thing I tell all of our writers is to remember your audience. I can tell when a writer is just spamming a certain pre-written article to tons of different editors. This might be the easiest way for you to find an outlet for your work, but it is just a waste of time for all the other editors who cannot publish it. I can't speak for all editors, but I will notice you if you care about our readers and write with them in mind. We love our readers; everything we do, we do with them in mind. I want the same from my writers.

Secondly, never--under ANY circumstance--should you ever be rude or condescending to an editor. I recently received an email from a writer who had submitted an article for consideration. I really wanted to publish this person's article, but he/she really let me have it in their email. This writer was angry that I had not notified him/her of any decisions concerning another article already submitted and that I had not explained the payment/contract process. I had never received the said article and I always send information about when we write up contracts to new writers. Even if I hadn't, all that information is on our website. Needless to say, I will not be publishing this writer's article.

Remember, unless the new magazine you want to write for has an amazingly rich investor (and don't count on it) most editors will be doing several different jobs at once. We started with three employees (none of whom were being paid) doing all the work. This means that the editor considering your work is very busy. Be sensitive to this and be patient. We changed our first publication date four times. Our first deadline for submissions was in January and we didn't publish until June. I want more than anyone to pay our writers in a timely manner and to take care of their needs, but I cannot always be in control of these matters. Starting up a new magazine is expensive and complicated; most never make it past the first year. If you stick with them, they will never forget your patience through the difficult times.

Also, I hate travel queries--they are a dime a dozen. If I am going to consider one it will probably be especially catered to our market and REALLY well written.

WFD: How can we find out more about writing for your magazine?

SOLORZANO: Information about Nuestra Gente Utah is available at our website http://www.nuestragenteutah.com/. Under the "writers" tab you will find our guidelines and needs and you may also submit a query through the website.

© Copyright 2006, Susan Denney

Susan Denney is a freelance writer living in Pennsylvania. She has published childrenÂ’s fiction and nonfiction as well as adult articles on a variety of topics. Check out her website at www.susandenney.com.

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