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How do I get a magazine to publish my article?
April 6, 2009 11:03 AM   Subscribe

I want to write a story in a nationally syndicated magazine about a friend to draw attention to childhood cancer. Where do I start?

I have a friend whose son went through Burkitt's lymphoma. He (the son) is in remission and doing fine- no small feat for a 16 year old! Over the past couple of years, the father has kept a blog documenting the whole journey, and describing other patients that suffer from childhood cancer. To raise money, he (the father) trained for and completed a marathon.

As I was reading Men's Health last month, I realized that his story would make an incredible article and would draw a lot of attention to- and potentially raise awareness of- Burkitt's lymphoma.

I was thinking about writing an article about it, but short of actually writing the thing, I don't know where to start. Does anyone have any experience with writing and submitting magazine articles for publication?
posted by monkeyman82 to Writing & Language (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
What you want is to learn about writing "query letters" from a book like this.
posted by Kirklander at 11:14 AM on April 6, 2009


The Running Room magazine has lots of articles like this that are written by the runners themselves or people who aren't employees of the magazine. It's Canadian and not a nationally-syndicated magazine, but it might be a good starting point.
posted by pised at 11:57 AM on April 6, 2009


- find the editors' email, they often are john.smith@something.com, but try different combinations/ google the sites to find what the addresses are usually shaped like

- read the guidelines for submitting articles if there's guidelines to be found on the site

- submit a pitch of about the lenght of your post - NOT MORE- but outline the content of your article a bit more. Why is it important to raise awarness of such a cancer? Is it more about the needs for funding research and how to get it, or is it about surviving cancer at a young age? Is it written for patients and families in mind? Or is for potential donors? Say 'my story would be 2000 words' so they have an idea of the lenght

- don't focus on one magazine and start small - you'll have a hard time selling it if you have no previous experience writing stories and if you're not the survivor in question (ie you can't write a first person narrative). Don't mention your lack of writing background, just pitch away

- please don't ask for payment before you hear back from them! this is bad form
posted by Sijeka at 2:31 PM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Burkitt's survivor here. I don't want to be a dick, but sounds like you need consider these questions more deeply:

Why is it important to raise awarness of such a cancer? Is it more about the needs for funding research and how to get it, or is it about surviving cancer at a young age? Is it written for patients and families in mind? Or is for potential donors?

Burkitt's lymphoma, beyond being extremely rare outside of equatorial Africa (we're talking <>Beryl Thyer Memorial Africa Trust is the first one that comes up with some very cursory googling) or aim to support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which I'm about 95% sure was the beneficiary of your friend's marathon fundraising.

If that's the case, you could contact LLS (specifically Team in Training, the marathon program) for ideas. You're certainly going to want to learn more about their program before you write your article. I don't mean to discourage you, but your friend's narrative (while heartwarming and great!) is not particularly rare within TNT (my dad has run 10 marathons with TNT, I ran one when I was 16, and I know many, many other survivors and family members who have done a TNT event.) Team in Training and similar fundraising programs have been a major force in the fitness world over the past 15 or so years, and Men's Health, Runner's World, and similar publications have certainly heard/featured narratives of this type many, many times before. Doesn't mean you shouldn't write it, but you should look for a specific hook or narrow your focus in pitching. Good luck!
posted by kelseyq at 11:32 PM on April 6, 2009


Goddamnit, live preview. That third paragraph is supposed to read:

Burkitt's lymphoma, beyond being extremely rare outside of equatorial Africa (we're talking < 100 cases/year in the US), has pretty great survival rates with relatively short treatment protocols--and it's one of the better researched cancers out there (it was one of the first to be treated with chemotherapy! Mr. Burkitt and Africa, by Bernard Glemser, is a pretty fascinating/occasionally disturbing read if you can find it.) You might look for African Burkitt's related charities (the Beryl Thyer Memorial Africa Trust is the first one that comes up with some very cursory googling) or aim to support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which I'm about 95% sure was the beneficiary of your friend's marathon fundraising.
posted by kelseyq at 11:33 PM on April 6, 2009


If your friend flew Southwest Airlines in at least part of the saga, you could submit the article to their in-flight publication SPIRIT.
posted by metaseeker at 12:05 AM on April 7, 2009


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