Q: My first pitch just got rejected after I answered a call for submissions at a magazine. I don’t know where else to submit and I’m feeling discouraged. Can you recommend something feminist and forward-thinking?
A: First, congrats on your first pitch! Woo! This is a really big deal and deserves a moment’s pause to take it in. You reached out to an actual editor! And got an actual response! Sure, the answer was no, but you’re going to get a lot of “no’s” throughout the pitching process, as everyone does. Don’t ever let that stop you. Every “no” brings you closer to a “yes,” as cheesy as that sounds.
There are currently tons of magazines publishing feminist and forward-thinking content, like Bitch, Lilith, Bust, Jezebel Teen Vogue, and so many others. Traditional women’s magazines like Glamour and Marie Claire have also moved with the times and developed a decidedly more feminist tone. They run the gamut in terms of difficulty breaking in, so make a list of those that interest you and think of them the way you did college admissions: which are the ones you have a really strong chance at and which are the reaches? (If you’re not sure, think about the overall circulation and notoriety of each magazine). The difference here, though, is you get to attend all the schools and never stop reaching for the top tier. In fact, the more bylines you garner, the more likely you’ll be to get work accepted by the most well-respected publications, especially as you continue fine-tuning your pitches, gaining confidence, and building connections.
You’ll notice I haven’t actually told you where to submit next and there’s a reason for that. There are so many publications out there, it’s hard for me to tell you which you would like. Instead, do some googling. Look up “feminist magazine” and see what you find. Likely there will be big names you recognize, and many you don’t. Start with the unfamiliar but eye-catching ones.
Next, you have to read them. Editors want pitches that are on-brand for their magazine. They don’t want pitches on topics they published a year ago. The best way to understand a magazine’s brand is to be one of their readers. If you like what you see and it inspires you, then that’s a magazine to aim for. The “About” or “Contact” pages can tell you who the editors are and often includes information on how and where to pitch. If you can’t find info there, join freelancer writer groups on Facebook and crowdsource the info. Consider going to readings promoting collections, or other events focused on essay-writing and journalism. The people you’ll meet there could be helpful allies and mentors. Many editors’ email addresses and other trade secrets are passed from one writer to another.
In short, there’s a whole world of publishing out there for you to explore. Getting started can seem daunting, but you’ll find you ask the questions you need to ask as they arise; you don’t have to know it all from the start. For now, focus on finding magazines you love and would want to be featured in. These will help you get to your dream publications by building the path one stone at a time.