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The Magazine Writer's Handbook

So you want to write for magazines! You've got the drive. You've got the talent. You can almost see your name in print. But the competition is stiff, and getting your foot in the door has been tricky. Until now...

Franklynn Peterson and Judi Kesselman-Turkel, who have sold hundreds of articles to such outstanding publications as Fortune, Omni, Family Circle, Woman's Day, McCall's, Playgirl, Popular Mechanics, Seventeen, Science Digest, and House Beautiful - reveal their inside know-how to help you achieve fast freelancing success. With their 30 years of experience on your side, you can't miss!

You'll learn valuable hints on how to write and do business like the pros. Avoid the heartache of a woman who thought her article idea was stolen by a dishonest editor. Conserve the time and energy wasted by the man ho tried to sell a satire to a humorless magazine. With The Magazine Writer's Handbook, you're guaranteed expertise on every aspect of writing for magazines - from the initial story concept right down to the final sale.

Complete with sample magazine articles and real-life anecdotes about novice writers, The Magazine Writer's Handbook is the only advice you'll ever need on how to break into print.

What the reviewers said:

"The authors, experienced as editors and as free-lancers, have taught university courses on magazine writing.  They illustrate their points with generous excerpts from published articles, showing how articles are conceived, developed, and modified. They urge cultivation of the ability to anticipate an editor's needs, outlook, and probable reactions to submissions.  'Marketing' articles is the theme that unites sections on picking ideas, the query letter, slanting, focus, interviewing, research, exposition, using quotes and anecdotes, and generally performing like a pro. This valuable book is recommended for...practicing or aspiring magazine writers."
Library Journal

"Good book. Good advice. The authors give a realistic, detailed picture of the job of free-lance magazine writing....They cover both the creative and the business aspects of magazine writing.  They include how to study the markets, list the important reference tools, demonstrate article formats and give examples of query letters.  They discuss researching and rewriting, sales tactics and collecting money.  Along with tips on successful interviewing, they discuss the pros and cons of using a tape recorder.  There is information on taxes and the best explanation of the new copyright laws I've ever seen.  Each point is illustrated with published articles or anecdotes.  From writing techniques to preparing the final manuscript, this handbook contains everything a serious writer needs to know. The authors are generous, honest, and obviously practice what they preach."

"An essential resource for freelancers who want to break into the magazine marketplace, or lift their writing career to the next level--and beyond."
—Lisa Collier Cool, national magazine award winner and Past President of the American Society of Journalists and Authors

Find out what our readers said

Click here to order this book from Amazon.com

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Click here to order an autographed copy.

an excerpt from The Magazine Writer's Handbook:

Introduction to the Second Revised Edition

Dear Frank and Judi,

It isn’t very often that I come across a book that evokes a spontaneous “I wish I’d written that!” Your Magazine Writer’s Handbook is one of my favorites. I can’t imagine why I never found the book before this year!

Although I already knew practically everything covered, I read the book with interest and enjoyment. And I was grateful to be reminded of some areas I’d half-forgotten. This is a valuable book for the beginner, the intermediate writer, and the well-seasoned professional. The information it contains is outstanding and the writing is superb.

It is with great pleasure that I recommend The Magazine Writer’s Handbook to my writing classes. I just want to thank you again for doing such a wonderful job.


Louise Purwin Zobel, Professor of Journalism, San Jose State University, author, The Travel Writer’s Handbook (Writer’s Digest Books); contributor to Better Homes and Gardens, Bride’s Magazine, House Beautiful, Medical Economics, Modern Maturity, Parents Magazine and newspapers around the country.

This delightful letter arrived in our mail four years after Frank and I first wrote The Magazine Writer’s Handbook. The funny thing is, we wrote it because we needed a textbook. We’d been teaching courses and seminars in magazine writing, first in New York City and on Long Island, and then with the outreach arm of the University of Wisconsin. We’d been looking for a good textbook for serious students, with no luck. Most books on writing didn’t even explain what a query is, much less how to write one--and the query is the one tool you need most to sell a magazine article. Few showed how to write a good lead, or how to find live experts (and interview them once you found them). Not one demonstrated the work that must go into writing a final draft for submission.

So we wrote the book we needed for our courses--and soon began getting heartwarming letters like the one from Louise, reproduced here with her kind permission. To our pride and satisfaction, we heard that other journalism professors were using the book in colleges around the country. We also heard that several top magazine editors were recommending it to favorite novice writers. Long after the first and second editions sold out, we were thrilled when University of Wisconsin Press wanted to publish this updated edition.

Re-reading the prior editions carefully, we’ve seen little change in magazine publishing in twenty-two years. The only major innovation has been technologic. Computers are here to stay, and they’ve greatly evolved since the 1982 edition. They’re a boon to magazine writers, making short work of sending out many queries on the same topic and making it easy to resell reworked articles many times over.

Since 1982, many magazines have folded and new ones have popped up; some have moved or been bought by other publishers. Editors have retired, moved up on the masthead, or jumped to better-paying jobs. In their place are new, unseasoned editors full of drive and anxious to discover new writers. In the intervening twenty-five years, several magazines raised their fees to free lancers; others lowered already low fees. A few more fiction markets opened up, but they faded just as fast. Otherwise, every word in the first edition is as true today as when we wrote it.

This excerpt is copyrighted. Readers may print one copy for their own use. If you want to print more than one copy of any excerpt, or would like an article on another topic written for publication, email the authors by clicking here.


Copyright 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 Judi K-Turkel, Franklynn Peterson, P/K Associates, Inc. 
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