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How To Optimize Your Market Search
by Kathleen Ewing

When you are searching for the perfect market to query for the article you plan to write, what do you do with the markets you pass over along the way? If you simply file them for later, you are not being frugal with your time management. You have already studied the market once. You have a fair idea of what the editor wants and you know what the market pays. Why would you squander your valuable time by going through that same process every time you have an article on your drawing board?

  1. While you're looking for that ideal market, identify secondary markets for your article just in case your primary target passes on your query. Make a list of these markets and shuffle them around in the order you will send queries to them while you still have the information close at hand. Better yet, create a standardized submission form for your article and list these markets on it in correct order so you won't have to transpose the information later. The fewer times you write something, the more time (translation: money) you save.
  2. During you search, be on the lookout for markets for other articles you may have in the hopper. If you find a likely match or an idea pops up unexpectedly, don't assume you will remember at a later date what you had in mind when you first studied the market. When you save the market to your files, make a notation designed to jog your memory. (Ex: Indoor herb gardens; bonsai for stress relief.) It won't do you much good if you come across the market in six months and find yourself asking, "Why on earth did I save that market?"
  3. If you find a market that will work for a reprint piece from your published inventory, print a copy of that market and set it in your to-do basket for the first thing tomorrow morning. Again, make a notation about what article to send the editor, so you'll remember if you get side-tracked by an unexpected assignment. If you are making these notations in longhand, make them legible. Print, if you must. Remember you need to be able to decipher your notes in the future.
  4. Another possibility is that you might come across a market for a subject that you have never written about. It might be a topic you've been chomping at the bit to explore or simply a market that pays those elusive big bucks. You can save it to your miscellaneous file or your to-do basket with a note to pursue a specific train of thought in the future.
  5. Once you find that perfect market for your existing article, consider what else the editor might like to see from you. That way, if you receive a rejection on your existing article, you can follow it up immediately with another query while your name is still fresh in the editor's mind.
  6. Enter a date at the top of every market you save. You don't want to waste time submitting a query or an article to a market that is no longer current or has ceased publication. A lot can change in the publishing industry in a few months. If the date is over six months old when you re-visit your market, update the listing for your files before you proceed.
  7. Be especially cautious about sending your article to a market with information you gleaned from a secondary source such as a writer's website, a market book or another publication. Before saving a market to your files, always check the guidelines information directly at its primary source, whether it is online or print. This is the best way to assure that it remains a viable market and that the publisher hasn't changed the policy regarding freelance material.

By practicing these time-saving techniques during your next market search, you can save yourself that most valuable of commodities - time. Time to do what a professional writer does best—write.

© Copyright 2008, Kathleen Ewing

Kathleen Ewing is an award-winning freelance writer headquartered in Central Arizonas high country. Among her credits are feature articles for Art Calendar, American Falconry, Bend of the River, TrailBlazer and Hobby Farms magazines. Visit her blog at www.rodeowriter.blogspot.com

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