Sunday, January 24, 2010

Psyched Up for Psychologies Magazine?

Recently, a few students have written articles aimed at Psychologies magazine for their assignments. This is a good market to consider because it does use freelance submitted material, but I thought I'd use a blog posting to look at this magazine in a little bit more detail.

Firstly, here's what the magazines website says about freelance submissions:

"Psychologies welcomes all new ideas from writers, and have put together the following guidelines for all features submissions to the magazine.

Psychologies covers relationships, family and parenting, personality, behaviour, health, wellbeing, beauty, society and social trends, travel, spirituality and sex. All feature ideas should fit into one of these areas, and suggestions should offer a combination of psychological insight and practical advice. We also publish a First Person story each month, which is an in-depth account of an emotional experience the writer has gone through, and what they feel they have learned from it.

Feature suggestions should be 1-2 paragraphs long, well researched, with a clear working title, and should refer to any relevant experts or recent research or findings about that topic. Please always send outlines rather than completed articles, and include details of other publications you write for, as well as any press cuttings that can be accessed online."

Straight away, the website states that the magazine covers:
  • Relationships
  • Family and Parenting
  • Personality
  • Behaviour
  • Health
  • Wellbeing
  • Beauty
  • Society and Social trends
  • Travel
  • Spirituality
  • Sex
You therefore need to have a clear idea as to which of these headings your article will appear under, in the magazine. The website goes on to say that your article should offer some psychological insight as well as practical advice. In other words, your article needs to explain some of the theory behind the situation you are exploring, and then give readers some step-by-step or actionable advice on how to cope/recover/deal with the issue that you are discussing. So, show the reader what the problem is, then tell them how to deal with it.

If you study the magazine, you'll see that the 'practical advice' section takes on many forms. For some sections, it may refer to a Case Study - someone who has experienced the problem and then overcome it. It is the information the Case Study offers about how they overcame the difficulty that is the practical advice other readers can use.

Some sections use a boxout or sidepanel, which means that the practical steps may be three or four paragraphs, or a list of bullet points (8 steps to feeling brighter, 10 ways to be assertive). Whatever style the magazine uses for the section you are targeting, that's the style of practical advice you need to be providing.

The website asks that feature proposals are emailed to the Editorial Assistant, and that your sales pitch is no more than 2 paragraphs. The key here, is that these paragraphs should include details of the research or findings that you are quoting and the names and experience of any experts. Psychologies places a lot of emphasis on this - the magazine aims to be authoritative - and therefore the articles it publishes have to contain expert advice.

Take a look at this example article on their website, called "Twenty Ways To Simplify Your Life." Each of these 'ways' names an expert who has been quoted or an authoritative piece of research. That's the level of detail you need to be looking for.

For those starting out, the best way to approach this, is not to email your article idea when you have the idea, but to produce the first draft of your article first, and then approach the editor. This is not the typical way to go about selling an idea, but to demonstrate that your idea is serious enough to be considered, you need to have interviewed your experts and read up on the research. In my view, the best way to have confidence in your article is to have produced the first draft. That way, you'll know which of the experts you've interviewed will be included in your article and which pieces of research you have drawn up.

Finally, don't forget the "My Way" section of the magazine that looks at a subject from the writer's personal point of view. This means that the writer themself, needs to have experienced a problem and found a way of overcoming it, rather than the writer merely doing some research about a subject and then writing about it.

Do that, and your chances of success with this magazine, will be much greater.

Good luck!