Wednesday, September 2, 2009

why you should be writing something besides your manuscript

It turns out one of the hip, young Editorial Assistant's more pleasant jobs is to keep her finger on the pulse of hip, young indie magazines (hellooo Pirates Magazine) and scout for bookworthy talent.

At this morning's editorial meeting, she pulled out some obscure, paisley-covered music magazine and pointed to an article by some guy who specializes in urban magic. Urban magic, e.g., quickie spells you can cast to dispel heat-toting gangsters when you're riding your bike through their neighborhood. e.g. divination w/found movie ticket stubs. e.g. dowsing for $^#% public bathrooms in the city.

Magazine gets passed around. Everyone loves it. Head Ed gives Editorial Assistant the thumbs-up to contact this lucky urban warlock about the possibility of a book. And all this, without said warlock ever writing a query letter or affixing postage stamp to envelope.

And also, a week ago, INTERN's roommate dragged her to a very long and positive affirmation-heavy yoga class where the instructor took a moment to talk about her forthcoming book, which she never intended to write but was instead "prodded" to by a Person in Publishing who had read one of her articles in a yoga magazine. (then she made us listen to ourselves breathe for a very long time, and then INTERN might have fallen asleep).


Diversify. INTERN is starting to suspect that a well-written magazine article or short story is, in some cases, more likely to lead to an eventual book deal than "wading through the normal publication channels," as our brave craigslist querier put it. Even if it's a small-circulation magazine. A cool magazine article that screams "book" is especially good because a) it means somebody else (the magazine editors) already vouched for you and b) you have *some* kind of exposure or readership to draw on. Both nice things.

And, if the magazine industry is tanking as hard as people say it is, this magazine-to-book deal thing is a limited-time opportunity. So...better get on that one.


  1. There's some surprisingly good stuff online, too. I recently stumbled across Sub-Lit ( Eclectica Magazine (, and a few of the pieces blew me away. And written not even for copies, just digital air.

    Check this out:

    Or this:

  2. In my mailbox today was a magazine that had one of my articles in it. I read it and thought how cool it looks with graphics and photos, then filed it away in a desk drawer. After reading this post, now I think how much cooler it would be should someone (such as you) read it and think the same. Thanks for the encouraging post.

  3. Awesome. I have a freind who writes for Pirates Magazine - She has a HUGE following, too.

  4. I'm new to this space, but I've gotta tell you it's been quite a learning experience reading your blog.

    Great work. Keep it up.

  5. Some of my friends are doing this, and it's great advice! I hope it's not too late...

  6. I contribute regularly to Thumb Sucker Monthly. So far no one has tripped over themselves to ask me to write a trilogy on a thumb sucking whelk who becomes the first whelk to learn how to survive on land and ultimately saves the world from post-sub-prime-mortgage blues. I live in hope.

  7. Ok then. Sounds like an almost impossible venture to pursue. Gotcha.

  8. I think INTERN is onto to something here.
    *takes notes*
    *gets on it*

  9. Could you share some of the magazines you peruse?

  10. I'm off to Twitterville with this link!

  11. Too bad the only thing I'm qualified to contribute to is Smurf and Xanadu Lovers Monthly.

  12. You just yelled 'fire' in a crowded theatre.

    (You do realise that the quality of magazine subs is about to plummet, and it's all your fault, don't you?)

  13. Genella: Your friend writes for Pirates Magazine? That is so cool!
    Lucy: Everyone in publishing reads Xanadu Lovers Monthly. It's a thing.

  14. I love how Pirates' cursor is a cross hair.
    You write a great blog. Keep it up.

  15. Hollywood makes movies out of...

    Theme park rides
    Comic Books
    TV documentary subjects
    Previously published material, (zine articles)
    A day in a LA car wash
    Natural catastrophes
    urban legends, (true and false)
    Big fish

    Not just already written screenplays!

    Haste yee back ;-)

  16. This has happened to me also. A travel article written when I was just out of college had an editor asking if I had a novel. Editors read other things than submissions, it turns out.

  17. Flemmily: INTERN is a fiend for good alternative free weeklies and literary magazines. The Ed. Ass. reads indie music/pop culture magazines, and stuff like Heeb and Vice. The Ass. Eds. seem to read more mainstream/large circ. stuff when looking for non-fiction possibilities.

  18. If I don't read Prince Valiant everyday, I don't know how to act in the world!

    Haste yee back ;-)