Have you figured out where you want your writing income to come from? Fiction or non fiction? Long or short pieces? What is your area of expertise or are you a generalist? There are two schools of thought when it comes to specializing or generalizing. Proponents have strong opinions on both sides. What you need to determine though is: Do you want to be known as the “gardening expert” or the go-to person when it comes to all things pet related? Or is it your dream to know a little bit about everything?
When you first start writing, the advice is “write what you know.” That adage can put you in good stead with a writer or it could paint you into a corner. It can make your resume have an editor ohh-ing and aahh-ing or it could make an editor wonder whether you can handle the task of writing on a specific topic.
As with all writing it’s a personal preference. Perhaps it would be easier to write for the topic on which you are most knowledgeable — whether it’s tea and all things tea-related, motorcycles, or antique collecting. If you have specific knowledge in those areas and read magazines or trade journals in that topic area, then by all means submit a query letter. If, however, you’ve always wanted to know about a particular area — hang gliding, dog grooming, or herb growing — then, by all means, contact experts, interview them and approach a magazine editor armed with an article jam packed with advice from experts in that field.
Where are you shopping your writing projects? My best advice is to start with publications you’re familiar with and then branch out. Pick up a copy of any of the writer’s markets that are available either on line or in bookstores. Go to search engines and type in the topic of your choice (gardening magazines, as an example) and pull up the magazines’ editorial guidelines from there, submit your piece and then you’re on your way.
So, now a task to add to your to-do list: determine what you love and write about it!