1. Read as many magazines as you can and narrow down to the ones that are in sync with your style. Do they carry the kind of content that you would like to write about? It is understandable that you may want to see your name on the pages of Cosmo but chuck the idea for now. High-end publications usually have their own panel of in-house writers and do not accept freelance contributions. Start-ups and mid-level publications are the best to begin with.
2. Once you get a hang of what the publication is all about, scan atleast ten back-issues and select a topic that has not been covered recently. You may also select a topic that has already been done and approach it with another angle (but make sure it is unique and gives the editor enough reason to consider it).
3. Write an outline of the story along with an opening paragraph. Include any contacts or references that you may decide to use along with the rough para-by-para structure of the feature.
4. It is now time to pitch the article idea. Write a covering letter to the editor or the contact person mentioned in the writer’s guidelines with a brief introduction of you. The covering letter should succinctly explain why your story is special and how it would be of interest to the magazine’s target audience. Remember, the cover letter is your only chance to get noticed by the editors.
5. Most cover letters and article pitches go straight to the trash box but if you are fortunate enough to receive a positive response, give it your heart, soul and all that you have.
6. If your query is rejected, don’t take it as a personal failure – it certainly does not mean that you are a bad writer! Someday, somewhere, you shall see your name dazzle in print.