In this month's Editor's Life post, I am sharing some practical tips for anyone who is interested in becoming a 91 Magazine contributor, or would like to pitch an idea for a feature, but isn't sure how. All magazines work differently and all editor's will manage their contributors and submissions differently, so this is really a little bit of a guide to how we do it here at 91....
NOTE: This guide is for individuals wishing to contribute editorial content - writers, photographers, stylists, illustrators etc. It is not for brands or PR agencies. We do love working with brands though, but you are best to check out our WORKING WITH BRANDS page.
1. KNOW THE MAGAZINE - It may seem hard to believe, but I occasionally get emails from people who want to contribute, but have clearly never laid eyes on the magazine, apart from possibly spotting a pic of it on Instagram! Before even thinking of ideas to pitch, make sure you know the magazine really well. Most magazines will have a loose structure that they adhere to each issue, so you'll be able to see a pattern for the regular features, and for the types of topics and style of article they run. The majority of 91 Magazine focusses on spaces - homes, shops, cafes, restaurants, creative workspaces etc. - so for example, it is unlikely we will run a feature solely on an online business, although if the owner has a lovely home, this could work for a home tour. If you have a great idea but not sure it would fit in the magazine, then perhaps suggest it might suit our blog instead. (Again, make sure to get to know the blog content too!)
2. PLAN AHEAD - All magazines work quite far in advance, most are putting together their Christmas editions in the summer. At 91, we publish two print editions a year - S/S and A/W. S/S publishes in April and A/W in October. That means, that we are planning each issue at least 6 months in advance. So for example, if you are interested in contributing to our S/S issue, then you would need to start thinking about submitting ideas for this in the Autumn, as we will have our editorial meeting to plan the content in October.
3. JOIN OUR MAILING LISTS - We have a contributors mailing list, and this is how I contact our contributors as a group to let them know when we are looking for content, when we are looking for a contributor to cover an event or shoot something, and generally keep you abreast of the projects we are planning etc. If you are keen to be added to this, then please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and tell me a little bit about your work, with links to it ideally. It's also worth being on our general mailing list, as this goes out once a month and keeps you in the loop about what kind of content we are sharing on our blog, when our new issues arrive etc. You can register your email address for that here.
4. CONSIDER PITCHING FOR OUR OTHER PLATFORMS - As we only publish the print magazine twice a year, it is worth considering contributing to our other ongoing platforms, so that we can work together regularly. We currently post on the 91 Magazine blog twice a week, so there are lots of opportunities to write guest posts. We can only offer a minimal fee for blog posts, generally just to cover minor expenses, but it is a good idea to start with this, as it helps for us to get to know your work, and we are then more likely to be comfortable commissioning you for the magazine. We also publish a quarterly e-zine - Seek Inspire Create by 91 Magazine - which is a 12 page digital magazine, which is free for our mailing lists subscribers. (Another good reason to sign up!) This publishes in Aug, Nov, Feb and May. We do pay a small fee for print magazine features and a very small fee for the e-zine, but we are always striving to grow the magazine and increase fees over time.
5. FOLLOW AND ENGAGE ON SOCIAL - It always helps to engage socially first as we will then potentially know of you and your work before you get in touch. This is absolutely not mandatory, and you certainly won't get priority this way, but it is definitely nice to engage and chat like this. You can find 91 on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
6. WRITE A SHORT SYNOPSIS / PROVIDE VISUALS - Once you are ready to submit your ideas, the first thing to do is find out who you are emailing and address them by name! This should be easy if you have done point no. 1 here! It's a small detail, but does make a difference. Then simply introduce yourself if you haven't already (including links to your work) and then write a short paragraph about the idea/s you've got.
Writers - you may have an idea but don't have professionally shot photographs. That is totally fine, but it is ideal if you can provide some kind of visuals, whether they are snapshots, a link to images online, or an Instagram page etc. Great photography is paramount for us, so it's worth considering whether it's a space that we might be able to arrange to shoot.
Photographers - If you've got a shoot you'd like to share then low res files or a PDF initially is fine, along with some details of the space. If you'd like to pitch a space to shoot that is great, but again, it would be ideal if you can give us some visuals to look at to see if it will be suitable.
Stylists - We use stylists for a few of our magazine features, either working on our brand collaborations, or producing a styled story shoot. You can either put yourself forward for these, or you can submit a story idea - this might be trend led, or diy/craft ideas etc.
Illustrators - It's slightly different for illustrators as you are not generally pitching an idea. Please do just get in touch with a link to your work, and we will be in touch if your style suits one of the features that we commission illustration for. Let us know if you want to go on the contributors mailing list.
7. DON'T BE DISHEARTENED - Please don't get disheartened if your first idea is not accepted. Sometimes we may have already ran a similar feature, or it's just not the right fit. Do feel free to submit more ideas and hopefully we can find the right thing to work on together.
I hope that is helpful to anyone who has perhaps been thinking of getting in touch about contributing but has been nervous or unsure how to go about it. If you have any questions about anything I haven't covered here, feel free to comment or drop me an email, I promise I am not a scary 'Devil Wears Prada' editor! :)