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Write From Home
Kim Wilson
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Market Research: Finding Homes For Your Work
by Erika Dreifus

You’ve heard the drill. The secret to freelancing success is acquiring assignments. And to acquire assignments you often need to demonstrate success with clips. But to get the clips you need the assignments.

However circuitous and confusing the system may seem, one aspect remains clear—markets rest at the process’s base. And whether you see your goal for the moment as collecting clips or you’re a more experienced freelancer looking to acquire further assignments you need to place your work. To do that, you must find markets. It’s that simple. Especially at the beginning of a freelance career, markets generally won’t come marching up to you.

But how do you find them? Where do you find them? And especially if you’re just starting out, or perhaps launching an additional part-time career as a writer, it’s difficult enough to simply find moments to put words on the page. When on earth will you find the time to locate the markets for them, too?

Strategize. Set aside a bit of time each day, or each week, or each month, specifically for market research. Choose the methods that suit you best, whether that means using Web searches from your desk or walking over to the library and perusing the periodical shelves. Or mix and match the strategies you’ll discover here: vow to check out just one new magazine at the supermarket or bookstore each day, or start your morning with a few minutes searching through just one database.

However you decide to pursue your search, you’ll be busy—and you’ll find lots of possibilities.

A Market A Day
If you’re just starting out and feeling a bit overwhelmed you might step into the process gradually. Check out just one market each day—quite likely you’ll soon discover that won’t be enough. This research can have an addictive quality, in addition to its sheer necessity.

But I still begin work each morning by checking the “Market of the Day” on WritersDigest.com, and quite often filing it in my “markets” collection.

When you’re ready to move on you can try:

The Weekly (Or Semimonthly, or Monthly) Electronic Newsletter
Many e-newsletters specifically targeted for writers include sections of market listings. Some are accessible for free; some offer limited access without subscription. You'll find several markets listed in Write from Home's Busy Freelancer, for example. Shop around and find others that suit you.

But perhaps you’re willing to invest in a print subscription, and you’d rather have your regular mailbox (rather than your e-mailbox) contain your writing news. If that’s the case, then you might consider:

The Monthly Print Magazine The Writer's recently redesigned market listings are remarkably numerous, comprehensive, and well-organized. In addition to the listings section the magazine regularly includes longer pieces to help readers understand and make the most of specific trends and niches. Recent examples include family history magazines and how-to pieces.

But these days, many people do appreciate the information access the Internet affords. Which includes:

Some Web sites offer databases of writers’ guidelines; these are always available, 24/7! These can be extremely useful and time-saving, especially if you wish to limit your search, by category of pay (only high-paying markets, for instance), or by keyword (travel, parenting, fiction, etc.). You might begin with these:

FreelanceWriting.com Magazine Guidelines Database

WritersWrite.com Writers' Guidelines Directory
WritingforDollars.com Guidelines Database

And perhaps the giants of all databases are:

Search Engines
As someone who prides herself on her training and talents in research I wish I could take the credit for the tips David Geer shares in his terrifically useful ”How to Locate More Markets." While also offering some print sources, Geer suggests some very simple strategies for using search engines to locate markets (and guidelines). Did you ever realize, for example, how many markets you can tap into by typing the words “editorial calendar” into a Google search? And then narrowing the search with your favorite relevant keyword such as “travel,” “parenting,” or “fiction”?

But if this all just seems a bit too calculating and mechanistic—aren’t we writers because we just love the written word? Don’t forget:

The Tried-and-True
Some of us are old-fashioned. But we just may be the kind of writers the editors really want to be working with, anyway. Because we’ll actually read the magazines before sending out queries and manuscripts. In fact, we’ll have discovered the magazines by seeing them up close and personal in the first place.

Maybe we’ll go to the library. The bookstore. If we have extra time before meeting someone at the train station or if a flight is delayed it’s no problem—we’ll just spend some time scouting out the shelves at the newsstand.

Erika Dreifus (Ed.M., M.F.A., Ph.D.) is a Massachusetts-based writer whose recent work appears in The Boston Globe, Family Chronicle, SCBWI Bulletin, The Writer, and Writer's Digest. She edits the free monthly newsletter, The Practicing Writer," and is author of several e-books for writers, including "The Practicing Writer's Primer on Low-Residency MFA Programs," "The Practicing Writer's Directory of Paying Short Story Markets," and "The Practicing Writer's Guide to No-Cost Literary Contests and Competitions." Visit her Web site at http://www.practicing-writer.com and read her latest writing-related blog posts at http://www.lulu.com/erika-dreifus










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