Just a quick post this week as after blogging last week about Sue Johnson's new book 'Creative Alchemy: 12 steps from inspiration to finished novel' I'm determined to spend most of this week's writing time working on mine.
One of the (many) things I've found difficult about freelance writing and journalism over the years is getting hold of a copy of the magazines I think I'd like to write for. This sounds as though it should be really easy but in my experience it's not.
"How to" books, articles and some editors often say that you should study at least six issues of any target magazine. This is rather OTT in my opinion (a couple of recent issues should tell you pretty much all you need to know) but they never seem to advise on how to get hold of sample copies.
Obviously the popular weekly titles are usually available at the newsagents but monthly or quarterly ones can cause problems. If a magazine is on subscription only for instance, it is completely unrealistic to take out an expensive year's subscription on the off-chance that you might want to pitch an idea to that magazine. However, asking for a sample copy, unless the magazine has a system in place for would-be contributors (small press poetry magazines are particularly good at this) tends to make you look amateurish and rarely results in a copy landing on your desk.
Over the years I've tried several different (legal) ways of obtaining sample copies and have even considered pretending to be a prospective advertiser! I was really pleased therefore to come across Newsstand.co.uk (http://www.newsstand.co.uk/)
This site allows you to buy single copies of a huge range of magazines, whether they are on subscription or not. Postage rates are very reasonable and delivery, in my experience, is just a couple of days. There is also a way of zooming in and looking at the covers of back issues which I've found particularly useful in seeing what topics the magazine has recently covered.
So my advice would be to log on, choose a few titles that take your fancy and before you know it, the postman will be coming up your drive with a whole host of potential markets.