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.
ResearchThe 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 GuidelinesEven 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 WritersMarket.com, 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...