Wednesday, March 10, 2010

How to Write For Maxim Magazine

Good evening readers,

I thought I'd try something different for this blog post, and walk you through my experiences in trying to write for Maxim magazine. Why Maxim? Because it's a popular magazine with a wide circulation; because their submissions policy is not something a Google search will sort out for you; and because it's damn near Playboy and I thought the T&A appeal might draw a few readers.

Many things seem like good ideas late at night.


The first step in submitting to any magazine is to read the magazine. Editors hate writers who don't actually read the magazine beforehand. It conjures a terrible rage in the editor's heart to read a letter selling them a 20-point guide to knitting doilies, especially when said editor is editing Fangoria.

So to start, I picked up the latest copy of Maxim at my local pharmacy. A brief scan of the cover yielded the following article leads:

-Big Bang Theory's Kaley Cuoco Splits Our Atoms

-Guzzling To Glory: The World Series of Beer Pong

-Sex: Cheat and Don't Get Caught. Women Tell You How

-Global Warming: The Hottest Girls From Australia, Turkey & New Jersey

The magazine has now gotten my attention.

In all seriousness, skimming the magazine yielded the following information:

-Fully one-third of the magazine was devoted to full-page advertisements. If I want to have something I wrote appear in Maxim magazine, I could do worse than to write ad copy.

-A full list of editors is included on page eight, including six I am likely to get in touch with.

-Pages 10 and 12 are a letters page and a jokes page, respectively. While it's not paid work, a good joke or letter could be a potential icebreaker down the line.

-Pages 18 and 20 contain four lists and a how-to guide for bracketing March Madness. Believe it or not, somebody actually writes the lists that appear in many magazines, and are paid to do so. Even better, these writers are not necessarily staff.

-Interviews with actors, comedians and beautiful women feature prominently in the magazine. These are not gigs an unknown freelancer is going to get. At a minimum, a large body of prior work is going to be required.

-Kaley Cuoco nearly killed one of her costars with a Vespa.

-There are feature articles on how to get away with cheating, beer pong championships, and a boxer's mysterious death. Subject matter aside, these all appear to be straight journalism.

I could go on, but I've got enough to figure out my strategy. If I've got a feature-length article floating around that Maxim might be interested in, or a salable pitch, I can try to submit that. If not, Maxim seems to have a high demand for lists that can be used to fill empty page space. Either way, I've got editors I can contact by name. Now all I need are...

Submissions Guidelines

Even though I've read the magazine, I still don't know how to submit anything other than letters or jokes. So, like any good author, it's time to look up the submission guidelines.

My first port of call is Writer's Market, the 2009 edition. This is singularly unhelpful: according to this book Maxim magazine does not actually exist. So it's a quick hop over to, which does have an entry for Maxim. Unfortunately it's not much better than, well, nothing: the entry includes an address, phone number, and email address; a brief description of the magazine; and a discouraging Freelance Facts section, which tells me that the magazine has a circulation of 2.5 million and does not respond to multiple submissions.

Now it's on to Google. Out of the results for "maxim writing guilelines", this site seems to be the best, letting me know that Maxim's editors expect a query letter with clips attached. Possibly - the site also wants me to pay $2.99 to acquire the email address I can send said query + clips to, and while that's admittedly have the cost of buying the magazine, it's still more expensive than going to a library or thumbing through a copy at the newsstand while no one is looking.

So at this point I have addresses to submit to, both postal and email; I have a bunch of editor's names to work with; and I have the recommendation "query + clips", which may be accurate or may be a general guideline WordHustler is using in place of actual information. At this point I cannot be sure, so it's time to ask the editor directly.

Since I can't expect a next-day response from any editor on something this low-priority, much less an editor of a major magazine, this post is going to turn into a series, the length of which will depend entirely on what sort of response I receive, whether I can actually write anything that Maxim might want to publish, and whether I can be bothered to keep at it. Stay tuned...


Author's Log

In other submission news, I found out today that I was not accepted for ING Direct's "We the Savers" blog program. This would have entailed $200 a month over the course of a year in exchange for regular blog posts about how I save money using ING's banking services. The length of time I had to put together a submission was about a day, so I'm not entirely surprised; but it's still about 500 quality words that have now disappeared into the ether, because I didn't back up properly. Let that be a lesson learned.

Current Reading

Now working on Brothers of the Snake, by Dan Abnett. It's an odd book, format-wise: it focuses on a core cast of characters (Iron Snakes Space Marines, in this case), but progresses in a series of what amount to loosely linked short stories. I'm looking forward to seeing what the finale is, and how high the body count is going to get beforehand.
Image courtesy of, by way of

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


As it turns out, the N. comic book adaptation started out as a series of web videos, available for your amusement. And here they are.


Monday, March 8, 2010

Tales of the Sick Wife

Presented without comment:

Fever is what I've got. I'm scalding to the touch and instead of taking the DayQuil, I took this Tylenol Severe Head Congestion thing. That was supposed to be non-drowsy, but I'm pretty sure I just lost 25 minutes sleeping. I feel absolutely miserable, which is just great. absolutely great. I really should have just stayed home today. I will be staying home tomorrow though if I'm worse. And I really hope that I'm not. Because this just sucks. :-(

Sorry to hear that. Not surprised, but sorry. :-( Not sure why you skipped the DayQuil for some unknown medication, but I hope one of them will help you. Give me a call if you get sent home - my major tasker for today is complete/in-progress, so if you hold out until say, noon I shouldn't have any trouble coming to get you. And yes if you still feel bad or worse tomorrow you do not get to go to work.

P.S. This is cute, but weird.

that was cute and weird. never would have thought of that myself.

i didn't notice a difference at all when i took the unknown ones. except i'm really really tired now. i just want to curl up and sleep. this just sucks. i'm really sorry that i thought i could do this. i don't think i'm going to be sent home. i'm feeling that weird dizzy drugged up feeling now. where my legs are like jelly and forming coherent sentences is hard. i've got this stack of reservations here to finish that normally i would have had banged out by now. but i keep getting distracted.

5:45 for sure at the metro, in the unlikely event i'm sent home early, i'll give you a call. i just want to nap now, but it's no where near time for naps.

oh snoogie. the continuing saga of the sick sari continues. .....wait....what? *sigh* i'm just going to leave that as i wrote it and let you see just how today is going.

i set a personal best for consecutive sneezes. 6. 6 painful, loud, rough sneezes in a row. i'm surprised i didn't dislodge any teeth. everyone has been telling me i need to go home. much work to do. i think i'm setting myself up for a burnout. i am 99.9% sure that i will be staying home tomorrow. because this cannot be allowed to continue on.

also, eating lunch was so hard. hard to chew and breathe at the same time. felt like food was either going to fall out of my mouth, or i was going to choke on it like screaming girl from middle school (tragic tale of screaming and sandwiches...)

now...i just want to be home. i just want to be cuddled up with you. and i just want to sleep. i haven't taken any medicine this afternoon. i'm debating if i should take a dayquil or not. i think i might want to. then nyquil a little early tonight. i was ok for 30 minutes last night. plenty of time to brush, floss, lysterine, and pee before bed. i hope. it wasn't until i laid down that my legs truly felt funny. i am certain now that i have a fever. i wonder how high it is. we have a thermometer right? we should use that to figure it out when i get home.

i like gnomes. just thought i would remind you of that. i don't know why. but i did.

This is so going on the blog later.

Barring the timely application of a panacea, Sarah will be staying home tomorrow.

And hopefully the dog will not disturb her too much.


Author's Log

Wrote about 500 words for an upcoming blog post, which seems to be taking on more length than I expected. This has nothing at all to do with Kaley Cuoco.

Current Reading

Just finished rereading N., a short story by Stephen King. It seems like every time King takes a stab at Lovecraft he comes back with gold, and this story is no exception. It's currently being adapted into a comic by Marc Guggenheim and Alex Maleev, and the first issue does a great job of maintaining the creepy. DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE OCD.

I also just read a short story by Benjamin Rosenbaum in the latest Fantasy & Science Fiction. It's called "The Frog Comrade", and it's an amusing semi-Communist take on the Princess and the Frog fairy tale. No Disney here, just a very vocal frog and a few unexpected developments.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Review - Alice in Wonderland

I don't think I've done movie reviews here before... Nope, nothing in the archives. So, this will be a little bit different. Bear with me, we'll get through this.

Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland is not technically a remake of the Disney cartoon - rather, it's a sequel of sorts that shares the same title. Alice Kingsley (no relation - but it might have been fun to see HIM turn up) is a young woman facing a marriage proposal that she doesn't want, but which everyone she knows expects her to accept unconditionally. Rather than say yes or no, Alice goes chasing a white rabbit down a rabbit hole, and...

...well, if this were a remake you'd know what happens next, but again, it's not. Wonderland has fallen on dark times, and only Alice can set things right. Except this Alice isn't the Alice that Wonderland's inhabitants expected, and she's not at all interested in putting her neck on the line for what she thinks are nothing more than figments of her imagination.

The story falls into a fairly standard journey of the reluctant hero - in some scenes, you feel as if Burton has been borrowing set and story from the Lord of the Rings. It's a passable plot, but nothing out of the ordinary, and certainly not as demented as you might expect from the subject matter.

Everyone in the cast turns in an adequate or above performance, with some of the CG characters (the Cheshire Cat, the March Hare and the Caterpillar in particular) doing sterling work, both in actors and animation. Johnny Depp is suitably mad as the Mad Hatter, especially when he's at his tea party. Unfortunately the script puts too much weight and screen time on the character for him to carry, and towards the end you just want him to get off the bloody screen.

Helena Bonham Carter and Crispin Glover play the villainous Red Queen and Knave, respectively. Both characters are suitably villainous, but not nearly as mad as you'd expect. Aside from their strange appearances (and Glover is oh-so-subtly creepy), you'd be able to drop them in any Tudors episode and they'd fit right in.

Anne Hathaway, as the White Queen, plays a sort of demented fairy godmother with aplomb. She's nice, yes, but spend too much time with her and you'll start to feel nervous about what might happen if she stops being nice. Very well done.

The score is good but not memorable. The 3D effects work well most of the time, but sometimes come out blurred from trying to follow small flying objects; I doubt you'll miss anything if you go see the 2D version.

Overall Alice in Wonderland is good, but not great. It tries to fit Wonderland into a coherent story structure, and succeeds. But by doing so, it loses a lot of the lunacy and manic energy that made the original so much fun. Worth seeing, but not something to go out of your way for.


Author's Log

Laying out plot for a short story. I'm not entirely sure where it's going to go, so I need to beef up my characters and let them figure it out for me. Should be fun.

Current Reading

I'm just finishing up Salamander, by Nick Kyme. It's a solid Space Marine story featuring the Salamanders, probably the most humane (relatively speaking) Space Marines in the Imperium of Man. Lots of conflict, brutal warfare, and ugly aliens getting blown into sticky bits; with more to come, as its the first book in a trilogy.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Excuses, Excuses

My sincere apologies not posting over the past... almost a month now? Dear God. Well I've officially botched my weekly posting resolution, but no matter.

In place of my own excuses, I'd like to point you towards Writing Excuses. It's an excellent round-table style podcast featuring fantasy novelist Brandon Sanderson (various), cartoonist Howard Tayler (Schlock Mercenary), and horror novelist Dan Wells (I Am Not a Serial Killer). Topics discussed vary, but all of them have to do with writing in some way, and I haven't found any episodes yet that weren't worth listening too.

Also, they update regularly. This is something I could learn from.


Author's Log

About 250 words of a short story. 'Nuff said.

Current Reading

Just read A Thousand Sons, by Graham McNeill. The latest book in the Horus Heresy series from Black Library, A Thousand Sons explores the sorcerous Thousand Sons Space Marines at the height of their powers, and traces their fall from grace into damnation. Like most of the Horus Heresy novels, A Thousand Sons takes a historical story that fans of Warhammer 40,000 already think they know, and adds enough twists and surprise revelations to keep the reader engrossed right up until the end of the book. Highly recommended for Warhammer 40,000 fans, and encouraged for any science fiction or fantasy reader.