Friday, July 25, 2008

Who Is Going To Read Your Work?

In the assignments I've marked this week, I've noticed that several students have analysed their target magazines to get a feel for where the freelance slots may be in the publications, and how many words will fit into those slots, but there hasn't been much focus on the reader. Yet it is the reader after all, who you are writing for in the first place!

Back in February, I posted a blog about using media packs to get information about readers, and I'm going to repeat it here, particularly for those new students who have recently signed up to my blog. But if you've already read it before, it's worth rereading it again. The reader is the most important person in our equation. Satisfy the reader and you'll satisfy the editor.

You stand more chance of getting published if you write with a specific reader in mind. It doesn't matter whether you are writing a letter, article, short story, novel, non-fiction book ... whatever. You need to know who you are talking too.

If you're writing for the magazine market, let me give you a sneaky little secret. Do a seach on the internet for the 'media pack' for the name of the magazine you're interested in writing for. They are often available as PDF files, which most computers can open particularly if you have Adobe's free reader programme (http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html)

A Media Pack is designed for advertisers, not writers, so it isn't all of interest to writers, but they have their uses. Let me give you an example. Eve magazine is a woman's magazine here in the UK and they have a media pack, which you can view online at http://www.evemagazine.co.uk/eveglobalmediainfo.pdf

Go through and you will discover useful information about Eve readers including:

  • the magazine views itself as a 'truly, luxurious treat for intelligent, independent and stylish women in the 30s'
  • they are well educated, interested in personal development
  • 30% of its reader earn between £50,000 and £100,000 per annum
  • spend over £90 per month on beauty products
  • the magazine has 294,000 readers

The media pack also mentions a special website for their readers about cars http://www.evecars.com

The average eve reader is 37 years old.

Wow - that's quite a lot of information. But already you can see that if the readers spend an average £90 per month on beauty products, then your "Ten Top Beauty Tips for under £2.50" clearly isn't going to fit. That's not to say that "Ten Top Beauty Tips for under £2.50" isn't a great idea - it just isn't a great idea for Eve's readers. (And if Eve's readers aren't going to be able to identify with your idea, then the editor certainly won't.)

A WORD OF WARNING

Using media pack information is NOT a short cut to market analysis. A media pack WILL NOT tell you how long the average article is. It WILL NOT tell you which pages are open to freelance written material. It WILL NOT tell you how much they pay for reader's letters.

But used in conjunction with your own magazine analysis, they will help you gain a better understanding of who your reader is.

Here are some media packs for a range of UK magazines which may be of interest:

I shan't be posting anything next week, because I'm away at the Writer's Holiday at Caerleon in South Wales (see this post for more information). I'll let you know how it went when I get back.

Good luck.

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