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.

Research

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 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...

--David

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 egotastic.com, by way of fanpop.com.

6 comments:

sharkguy said...

Shame to have to go through Wordhustler...seems like an annoying middle-step.

marshall j. gruskin said...

I was thinking along the same lines - doing a "piece" for Maxim - did you mention that when the typical Maxim reader gets bored or confused or both after 2-5 pages they can - some months - flip the magazine over and think they've discovered a new entirely different publication, of course, not really knowing it's the same deal, just backwards or upside down or whatever. Also for the older "set" it might be good to use a magnifying glass when trying to read the "who-cares" lists - good luck to you sir and if you make any headway submitting short of sitting next to an editor by mistake on a plane somewhere, please update us.

mamay2 said...

Hi David,

I really enjoyed your post. Thank you for this. It's unfortunate that Writer's Market makes you pay, and overall isn't very helpful. We are starving writers as it is! I suppose nothing is free, right?

Anyways, I was curious to see if you we did a follow up to this, and if you had any success if getting published? I have never attempted to get published, but after keeping a whimsical blog for quite some time, I decided to consider it.

Check it out, if you like... http://mamay2.wordpress.com/

I had an internship for Maxim back in college, and now I am wishing I kept that contact! Grrr...quite frustrating.

David said...

Thank you everyone for the positive comments!

My email to Maxim's editors requesting submission guidelines went unanswered, and at this point I'll need to pick up a recent copy of the magazine to get accurate contacts. Not to mention I still need something to submit! If/when I submit, I'll have another post up here.

mamay2 - Nice blog! By all means explore publication, and let me know if you have any luck.

Cary said...

If you have "Maxim-like" articles, please send submissions to Party Cove Magazine at articles@partycovemagazine.com

Anonymous said...

Is there any update to this? Would love to hear what happened or if you have any additional advice for people looking to write for magazines like Maxim. Thanks!