Ten Ways to Get Cheap (and Free) Magazine Samples
1 - Join a reading or writing group. Ask members to bring in theiralready-read magazines and have an exchange. Do the same with interestgroups you belong to or know about - playgroups (parenting, home, cooking, family mags), business networking groups (entrepreneurs, home business, finances magazines), church (religious, devotional periodicals).
2 - Offer to take a friend to the doctor's office. Okay, that sounds goofy but I love taking my children to the orthodontist, pediatrician, and dentist offices so I can scan the table of contents and skim the articles in the parenting, children's, family, travel and money magazines. I bring a notepad and take plenty of notes. Find an article in an old magazine that would help your research? Ask the office to make a copy of it; offer to pay.
3 - Subscribe. Remember if you subscribe to a magazine that is for business purposes, you can deduct the cost of the subscriptions if you itemize your taxes. I am a food writer so I keep all receipts for food and writing magazines, and food and writing books to deduct as business expenses.
4 - Take up publishers on their free copy offers. It used to be that all magazines would let your send in a postcard and check the "bill me" square and you will end up with two or three issues before they cut you off for not paying. These days, we cannot even be inadvertently dishonest. I get mailings from magazines offering me one free issue. I will send in the postcard and usually have a bill to pay before I have read the free issue. I then can decide to subscribe or put the bill in the postage paid envelope and decline to pay.
5 - Look for the online issues of particular magazines. It is true that many use original content online (another good market to explore) but even the different content will show you what type of material the magazine is looking for.
6 - Read newspapers online. Do you want to write travel articles? Visit the major newspapers online. Most hire freelancers to cover a great deal of their special interest articles. Contact information for, in this example, the travel section editor will likely be available on the website.
7 - Send for the writer guidelines. Look in The Writer's Market. If you are looking for parenting magazines and find one that sounds about right to you but you have never seen, send for the writer guidelines and request a sample issue. Double check the listing of the magazine to see if there is a reduced price or you have to send a stamped envelope to receive a free copy.
8 - Go to the library. This is so obvious! Make a bi-weekly appointment to go to the library and review the magazines you want to write for. Make notes. Use the library's copier to photocopy the table of contents, or an article or two to review at home.
9 - If your public library does not carry the magazines you want to know about, travel to a college library. They are set up for your kind of research. While most require student identification to use the reference materials, you can read the periodicals unimpeded.
10 - Bookstores! Grab a pile of magazines, buy that over-priced latte and carefully review the magazines you have found to study (remember, if you spill on it, you buy it!)
Pamela White is the publisher of Food Writing, an online newsletter and author of FabJob's guide to Become a Food Writer. Her newest book, Freelance Writing: Begin the Adventure is available at http://www.food-writing.com/pages/3/index.htm
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