Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ditch the Advent Calendar - Find the Editorial Calendars!

Children in Christian countries are busy opening the doors of their Advent Calendars but as writers you should be looking for any Editorial Calendars you can find. Not every magazine produces one, but many do, and some are available online.

Magazines are often produced months in advance - most monthlies are produced three to fours months ahead, whilst many weeklies are put together six to eight weeks ahead. So in December, writers need to be thinking about June pieces if you want to have some time to do some research and write the piece in order to ensure that you can submit it in time.

Because of this, many magazines produce a calendar of what editorial content they will be producing in the coming year. Some of you will know that I produce a regular walking column and feature for Country & Border Life magazine. The editor contacts me and tells me where they want me to do the walk because they like to balance the area coverage in each issue. This means they are planning many months ahead. How far ahead? Well, let me tell you that this month (within the next week) I have to provide the article and walk for the March 2009 issue. I also have to produce the feature for the September 2009 issue, the October 2009 issue and this coming Sunday I'm off to do an interview for next December's (2009) issue! So yes, the magazine is planning at least 12 months in advance. (And yes, this full time freelance writing is full time - what's a weekend?)

You may recall a few months ago I posted details of a new magazine that was launching called Scotland Outdoors. Well I was browsing their website and found their 2009 Editorial Calendar. Click on the link to view the document (in PDF format).

If you look through the document you'll see that there's quite a lot of detail. The magazine has decided what the features will be all that way in advance. Now just because they've decided what their articles will be about, that doesn't mean to say that they have allocated the job to someone yet! So if you know about the topic, then pitch your idea, because it could turn into a commission for you.

The eagle-eyed amongst you will spot that most of the information is geared towards the advertisers. This is so they can make the most of their adverts. So if you look at the next Winter issue, you'll see that the magazine plans to cover the Aberdeen and Grampians area of Scotland. So any advertisers in that region who are thinking about advertising in the magazine, would do well to advertise in that specific issue. The magazine will probably place the adverts next to the pages in the magazine where those features will appear.

So the editorial calendar is like a magazine's media pack - it's aimed at the advertisers not the writers. But it would be foolish for us writers to ignore all that information.

To find out if a magazine produces an editorial calendar type the magazine's name and the phrase 'editorial calendar' into an Internet search engine. Many magazines produce 'media packs' that provide information about the average reader. Occasionally, editorial calendars are tacked onto the end of the media pack, so if you get no joy with the editorial calendar, then search for the magazine's media pack.

Once you start finding editorial calendars, you may find it opens new doors to your writing. It;s not just advent calendars with surprises behind their doors then!

Good luck.