Pitching queries for magazines can be a bit like playing fortune teller. You have to be in tune to what the audience will want to read six months from now. In my post “Are you thinking about Christmas yet? You should be…” I talked about the long lead time for magazines, how writers need to use their insider contacts and hunches on trending topics to pitch specifics to mags and how they should look for new angles on evergreen topics.
What if you don’t have a talkative insider? To get a future cast, all you really need to do is talk to an expert. Experts and angles on evergreen topics can be found just about anywhere.
Keep your ears open.
Go where the people are – if you are interested in what college kids will be thinking and talking about next October, go to where they are now and soak up the atmosphere and information. Pull up a chair and your laptop in public places and eavesdrop. It’s not as creepy as it sounds, if you’re a real writer you’re naturally nosey and would be listening in anyway so you might as well use your natural curiosity to generate ideas and income. Use your Twitter and other social media to see what people are talking about.
Keep you eyes open.
Eavesdropping is fun and informative, but I have to argue people watching is more fun. I write a lot about parenting and kids issues and let me tell you there is nothing more inspiring than sitting at the mall in the middle of the day watching people with their kids. I get ideas about ways to keep kids safe, helpful tricks and time saving techniques from inventive parents, social interaction issues like “Should you discipline other people’s kids,” “Settling playdate disputes,” “When parenting styles clash,” and more!
Beyond people watching, watch for events in the field you’re interested in covering. I look for and go to parenting seminars, family festivals, lectures from experts, advertisements for new products and services, etc. Subscribe to free pr distribution sites and set up your filters to screen for topics geared toward your beat/interest or niche.
What’s past is prologue.
If you have your eye on a specific publication, often reading what they covered a year or two ago will give you a good idea on what they will cover in the future. Studying a publication is not only good way to find out what evergreen topics they’ve covered, you can also get a feel for what angle has been covered. Interview experts who proved they had their finger on the pulse of the future last year. When querying you can point to their knack for being ahead of the pack.
Got any tips for predicting publication futures? Tell us below!