How to Write for WOW! Women On Writing in 2012: An Editorial Guide
Today bloggers everywhere are writing about resolutions and goals and how to achieve them. Hopefully, you’ve already made a list of what you want to achieve this year. If you haven’t, that’s okay. Take a moment to reflect on what you hope to achieve, what you need to eliminate, and how you can effectively move forward. We have a few recent posts that can help you do just that, including Goal Setting for Writers and Yes, it’s the Eve of 2012 and Goal-Setting Time. And be sure to check out the very funny and apropos guest post, Let’s Make “Discipline” Our Favorite Word in 2012 (posted last night!) by Jean Reynolds, Ph.D. You’re bound to find some great grammar goals you can add to your list.
While it’s important for individuals to set goals, it’s also important for businesses to set goals. For publishers, an editorial calendar is what keeps the ship sailing smoothly and on course to its fruitful destinations. I have to admit; last year our ship experienced some turbulent waters. One problem was we expected to launch a new website and do away with the bi-monthly publication format and themed issues, so we didn’t produce an editorial calendar at the start of the year. Instead, we ended up inching along and putting out themes when we found out that the new website wasn’t going to happen...yet again. Well, there’s no point in waiting, and we all make mistakes, right? They help us learn! And we need them to move forward. It’s very similar to freelance writing in that it’s a learning experience. A freelance writer may pitch a publication ten times on topics that aren’t quite right before she learns exactly what a specific editor wants. Hopefully, by studying the following guidelines, we can help you target WOW! effectively, and we can work together this year!
[I have to warn you in advance...this is an extremely loooong post! So, please bookmark it.]
Our editor, Margo L. Dill, wrote an article for the (now defunct) Premium-Green Markets newsletter about studying publications. She has a great system of questions she uses to figure out how to query a publication. The following is an excerpt she wrote about targeting WOW!:
[If you study WOW!, you will find that] freelancers write most sections; the tone is friendly and informative; some interviews in a Q and A format are published; 99.9% of articles are about writing issues or women writers; no fiction is included unless contest winners are published in the issue; writers can use anecdotes, questions, or facts to start articles; experts are often quoted; and some of the articles fit in certain columns such as How2 or 20 Questions. So, the ideal article for WOW! would be: an informative article of about 2,000 words on the topic of writing, perhaps to a certain theme, with a friendly tone where experts are quoted, and it begins with a personal anecdote about how I used the advice in my article to improve my writing craft. (This is not the only type of article published in WOW!, but it is one that is often published, so that’s where I’ll start my query process.)
Note about the columns: In the beginning, we had a set list of columns/departments that we filled each and every issue. For whatever reason, we never received enough queries or submissions to fill them and our staff ended up writing something to fill the space at the last minute. It started to get silly! Why put out a column just because it’s there when you don’t have any decent material to fill it? It’s not like a print magazine with allocated pages to fill, so we ended up making these columns available on an as-needed basis. And at some point, we removed them from our Writer’s Guidelines. But they are still available for freelance writers to pitch to. These on-again, off-again columns include: Freelancer’s Corner, Inspiration, Markets, Must-Haves, Photo Essay, and Review.
The following is a breakdown of all of our columns. They are all available for pitches and submissions. Please keep in mind that we prefer if they relate to the theme of the issue as well. There are some exceptions as noted below. (You can find the 2012 theme list in the lower half of this article.)
Before submitting a query to any of these columns, make sure you review previous articles by going to the home page of WOW! and clicking the gray “Archives” button.
Pay: $50 | Word Count: Varies
As the title suggests, this column is a Q&A-style interview with an expert who answers twenty questions. The expert should have some knowledge related to the issue’s theme.
How to pitch: As a freelancer, you would query us with the name of the expert you plan to interview and tell us why she would be a great fit for the issue’s theme. You would also send us a few sample questions so we can figure out if you are on track. (If not, we’d offer suggestions.)
This is one of the best places to break in because it’s open to writers of all levels. We aren't concerned if you don’t have any clips yet since it’s about interviewing an expert. If you can bring the expert to the table, write twenty questions, and have her share her expertise in a lively or informative fashion, then this is a pretty straightforward gig. You would also need to write an introduction to the interview, which usually includes the expert’s bio and a summary of what the interview covers (what questions will be answered).
There are variations to this column, including “1 Question: 20 Answers” (a round-up where we ask one question and have twenty different experts answer it), and “10 x 2” or “10 x 3” (where we ask ten questions to two different experts, or ten questions to three different experts). We use these variations when we are tackling topics or themes that need more than one point of view.
Examples of a 20 Questions interview: 20 Questions Answered By Elaine Spencer of The Knight Agency (agent interview), and 20 Questions Answered By Allison Winn Scotch (author interview). On the second one you’ll notice that we ask Allison a lot of questions about her book being made into a film. That’s because the theme of the issue was about book to film adaptation. You’ll also notice that it isn’t the entire focus of the interview and more than half of the questions focus on all sorts of topics—everything from tackling writer’s block to her best freelance writing assignment.
Example of a round-up 20 Answers interview: 1 Big Question, 20 Answers From Website Owners: How Do You Monetize Your Website? (So far, these have been done in-house, but we are welcome to suggestions. A tip for finding experts is posting a query on HARO.)
Examples of other variations: What’s Your Forte? 10 Questions Answered By 2 Niche Experts: Kelly James-Enger and Nancy Hendrickson, and 20 Questions Answered By 5 Professionals: The Future of Digital Publishing.
As you can see, there is some flexibility to the format, but at its core, it’s a straight Q & A.
Pay: $50 | Word Count: 1,100 – 1,800 (ideal: 1,500)
We are changing the focus of this column, so I’m not going to bore you with past details. Okay, one quick sentence...we originally added this column (back in '06) as a way of giving back to women writers. We featured pieces that were too short or didn’t quite fit into our other columns or features. But that’s changed. Now the column focuses on some aspect of the freelance writer’s career only—whether it’s breaking into the craft market (Get Crafty: 7 Tips for Success in the Craft Market) or snagging free writer’s goods (Get in Great Writing Shape for Free: Free Classes, Conferences, and Contests). Ideally, the article should be of some benefit to freelance writers. Articles about writing for a particular market is a good fit here.
How to pitch: Send us a detailed query on the topic you are proposing. Include a title suggestion and hook, a brief sample (opening paragraph or two), and a detailed outline of how the rest of the article will be organized. Include a list of any experts you will be interviewing and their bios. Be sure to tell us your estimated word count and the name of the column you are pitching to. List any possible sidebar material, such as a markets list, tips or resource links. Paste clips in the body of the e-mail so we can get a feel for your writing.
If the article is already completed, you may send the entire article pasted in the body of an e-mail.
Pay: $75 | Word Count: 1,500 – 2,000
The How2 column is undeniably everyone’s favorite column. This column teaches writers how to do something. We’ve had everything from How 2 Pitch to an Agent at a Writers’ Conference to How 2 Run a D.I.Y. Writers’ Retreat. We’ve had straight takeaway articles such as How 2 Format Your Manuscript for Kindle and Nook and How 2 Format a Screenplay. We’ve had articles from How 2 Set Up a Retirement Plan to How 2 Use Technology References in YA Fiction. This column rocks! Make sure you check previous issues and do a search using our Google search box to see if your topic has been covered previously before querying.
How to pitch: Query us with your idea, title/hook, and opening paragraphs. Provide a detailed outline with what will be covered. Paste sample clips in the body of an e-mail. Include any experts you plan to interview (if necessary), and tell us why you are qualified to write this particular article.
Pay: $75 | Word Count: 1,500 – 2,000
This is one of the most queried columns, yet it’s the least understood. Maybe it’s the word “Inspiration” that causes writers to send in personal essays or stories written in first person, but that’s the opposite of what we are looking for. This column is for interviews. Interviews with an inspirational woman who is either giving back in some way, has overcome something, or is a role model to other women and writers. We’ve interviewed everyone from Julia Cameron to the late Rue McClanahan, from cancer survivors like Kris Carr to Cami Ostman, a woman who ran seven marathons on seven continents. We’ve interviewed patrons of the arts, such as Darlene Chandler Bassett, founder of an organization that grants women $50,000 and a room of her own, and Kyle Zimmer, founder of the non-profit organization First Book, a charity that gives children with almost nonexistent access to books their first books. We’ve interviewed women who aren’t writers but are going through something we think will help our readers...like Cindy Ballman, a mother and police officer’s wife who lost her husband in a mass shooting in Kirkwood, Missouri.
How to pitch: Send us the name of the woman you plan to interview and tell us why she’d be a great fit for the Inspiration column. Please give examples of how she’s either given back, overcome an obstacle in a unique way, or is a role model to women writers. Include sample questions and an introduction paragraph.
You’ll notice that the Inspiration column and the 20 Questions column are both interviews, but they serve different purposes. The 20 questions column is a straight Q & A, with the majority of the questions being asked for straight takeaway information; whereas the Inspiration column is all about highlighting the woman who is being interviewed and is much more conversational. This column, at times, is like listening in on a delicate conversation, full of respect and grace.
We ended this column back in 2007 but would be willing to consider opening it again to a regular contributor. If you enjoy research and are familiar with compiling writer’s market listings then contact us with your experience. Keep in mind that you would need to obtain permission from individual editors of the publications we will be featuring before posting their submission guidelines. That’s probably the toughest part of this gig, but if you do this on a regular basis for another site/blog, then it may be a breeze for you. We're also open to taking the column in a new direction...perhaps a "How to Write for" column.
Like the Markets column above, this column was a staff-written column that ended in 2008 when a staff member moved on. We’ve had several staff members write for this column, but ultimately decided to put it to rest until we had something truly unique to feature. Well, we’re bringing it back! If we can find the right person, that is. We’re looking for an avid shopper with a fun voice who loves to write about products of use to women writers. Products can be anything—from home office supplies and tech gadgets to comfortable writing gear and durable book bags. We’re pretty much open to anything that fits a writer’s lifestyle. In the past, we’ve featured writing retreats, skin-care products, greeting cards, candles, office chairs, planters, and recording devices...you get my drift. Anything that will help make a writer’s life easier and more fun! If you already do this for a blog or website, please e-mail the editors (email@example.com). Also, please take a look at some examples of what we’ve done in the past by clicking on the gray “Archives” button and finding the link for “Must-Haves.” The products usually coincide with the issue’s theme in some way.
Pay: $50 | Word Count: 750 – 1,200 words
We launched this column in January 2010, but have only published three photo essays to date. So far, we’ve had an essay on a home office makeover, the writer’s conference experience, and a study of various critique groups. We are open to any writing-related topics. You can write it as an instructional essay where you walk readers through the process, or it can be a personal essay where you compare your white water rafting trip to writing. Get creative!
How to pitch: Query us with your idea, a sample of a similar essay (pasted in the body of an e-mail), and direct us to some of your photographs online. If you’ve already completed the photo essay, send us the essay pasted in the body of an e-mail before sending photos.
Pay: $50 | Word Count: 1,100 – 1,800
This column is open to in-depth reviews that complement the issue’s theme. We’ve reviewed everything from the Tom Bird Retreat to Gadgets for Bloggers. One thing we rarely review (oddly enough) is books! Unless it’s a round-up of books related to a specific theme, such as the article Finding Creative Inspiration Through Prompts & Exercises, which reviews books and websites that offer creative inspiration. We are open to book reviews if they are writing-related books—particularly a comparison of a few on a related topic. We’re also interested in reviews of writing-related programs, like the one we did about the Institute of Children’s Literature.
How to pitch: Query us with your idea, what products/books/programs you’d like to review, and send us a couple samples of previous reviews you have written. Include your estimated word count. If you’ve already written the review in its entirety, please paste in the body of an e-mail.
Pay: $150 | Word Count: 1,500 – 3,000
Ah, the features. The highlight of any magazine. Feature articles must fit with the issue’s theme and are flexible in format. The ideal article is approximately 2,100 words in length, may start with a personal anecdote, hook, or fact the writer has learned about the topic, includes interviews with experts to support points, is formatted with heads/subheads, bullet points, and is exciting to read.
We produce more of these than any other area of the e-zine, so it’s hard to pick out just a few to highlight. Off the top of my head, some great examples from 2011 (I had to narrow it down!) are: Write From Your Own Backyard: How to Craft a Travel Article About Your Hometown, People Are Characters Too: A Guide to Bringing the People in Your Memoir to Life, Recovering From Injury: Bouncing Back from a Rejection Letter, and The Smell of Success: Transitioning the Pen and Paper Crowd to E-Books. When I look at our archives, I have to say I’m impressed by the collection of impeccable articles by such talented writers. I’ve been told by many readers that our content is better than a few (unnamed) print magazines on the craft of writing, and I have to agree. These ladies knock it out of the park! We hope you join them.
How to pitch: Send us a fully fleshed-out query, title/hook, and an outline of the piece you are proposing. Include any sources you plan to interview. Please also include your bio, writing samples or clips, and any other information or links you feel are appropriate for consideration. We prefer queries for feature articles (instead of pre-written submissions) that are specifically written for us and the issue’s theme.
Pay: $75 | Word Count: Varies, try to keep it under 3,000 words
These are special interviews where we highlight one person and have a conversation with them related to the issue’s theme. Interviews are fun and casual, chatty in nature, but informative. We want readers to pull up to the screen with their favorite beverage and enjoy a good conversational read. The guest should be someone our readers have heard of and want to know more about. We interview authors, editors, agents, and publishers. Some examples include Robin Swicord, Ellen Hopkins, Debbie Macomber, and Mary Roach, for example. Please review our archives for a full list.
How to pitch: Query us with the person you plan to interview and why she would be a great fit with the issue’s theme. Include some sample questions you plan to ask, and tell us why this interview is timely (a book coming out, making news, or?). Please include your own bio and samples of your writing.
Pay: $50 | Word Count: 1,100 - 1,600
SLAM columns are usually feature articles where we cover one topic of interest—even if it’s a general topic like freelance writing—and include 2 – 4 articles on one page. This is our way of including more articles in the issue—articles that are shorter and work better in a collection of supporting articles. Sound confusing? Here are a couple of examples: Writing Through Distractions: Mothering, Time, Social Media, Writer’s Block and The Fiction Writer’s Toolkit: Voice, Pacing, Law.
The editors will compile a SLAM feature when we receive a lot of queries or submissions that are good but we don’t have room to fill them in our regular columns. Submit or query as you normally would, and we will contact you with instructions on how to write for the SLAM. Most of the time you’ll end up writing the article like you normally would for a column or feature but cut some words to fit the count.
2012 EDITORIAL THEMES
Finally! It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for. I hope you have a better understanding of our columns and features and the opportunities available to you. We also have some opportunities available for work right here on this blog, The Muffin, but if I make this post any longer my blog editor will kill me! (Wink) So we’ll get to that later. Please remember, these guidelines and themes are for the WOW! Women On Writing e-zine only. (Not this blog!)
We’ll also be conducting a new experiment this year. We will be creating compilations of the best of WOW!’s content and publishing them in e-book format for e-readers--with exclusive content that hasn't been published. So, if you’ve been previously published on WOW!, we may be contacting you about inclusion in the e-book anthology. We will also be looking for personal essays for inclusion in the anthologies and unique articles, tips, and anecdotes for the anthology (not in the e-zine). We will be announcing these calls soon. Stay tuned!
A Writer’s Action Plan
Issue 48: January/February
FILLED (this issue will publish around January 17th)
The Art of Storytelling
Issue 49: March/April
Deadline for queries: January 15, 2012
This issue is only a quarter full, so query now! We are looking for topics on the craft of fiction writing and storytelling in general. That may include personal essays, multimedia forms of storytelling, innovative techniques, why story is often more important than structure, secrets of great storytelling, short stories/flash, etc. Currently, all columns are OPEN except for the Inspiration column. We also have a couple of features filled. Make sure you review previous issues to see if we’ve covered a topic already. One to check out is The Fiction Writer’s Toolkit. You can use our Google Search Box (left-hand sidebar of any page) to search for topics. We look forward to hearing from you...ASAP!
The Portable Writer
Issue 50: May/June
Deadline for queries: February 15, 2012
This issue is all about being a self-sufficient, independent woman. You have the ability to pick up and go at the drop of a hat because you have a portable career! You may be a travel writer, blogger, teacher, website owner, or expat who knows the importance of not having to rely on anyone or anyplace for income. Spark any ideas? Travel writing articles are welcome. This issue is wide open, and we’re looking for solid tour guides to help us achieve this dream lifestyle!
Self-Publishing & DIY Guide
Issue 51: July/August 2012
Deadline for queries: May 22, 2012
We responded to your suggestions on Facebook about issue themes! Here is your issue on self-publishing. (Freelancers: for hints, check out our Facebook Wall to see what types of topics our writers/readers want to know about.) There are so many topics that we seriously doubt we’ve even skimmed the surface, but you may want to check out The E-Publishing Revolution and The Self-Publishing Travel Guide (published in ’07!) for covered topics.
Make Money: Freelance Topics
Issue 52: September
Deadline for queries: June 18, 2012
This issue is all about making money, and sharing the wealth of experience. We want to help women gain financial independence and make money from home. WAHMs encouraged to submit. WOW! has dedicated an issue to the theme of money before (specifically Money Matters), and many, many issues on freelance writing, including the most recent: Freelancing Freedom. So, be sure to check our archives before submitting. You can also shoot us an e-mail to and ask if we've covered a particular topic before, or even ask us in the comment form below!
Blogging & Social Media Guide to Success
Issue 53: October
Deadline for queries: July 24, 2012
To survive as a writer online you need to have a blog or website and be actively engaged in social media. If you have expert advice you’d like to share with our readers/writers on this topic, this is your issue. There are so many topics to discuss!
The Gatekeepers: Agents & Editors
Issue 54: November/December
Deadline for queries: August 22, 2012
This will be an interesting theme! We will see where we are (and how publishers are faring) at the end of this year. We’re specifically looking for interviews with agents and editors. We’re interested in industry topics, how to submit/write for articles, and any other creative ideas you can think of.
A New Year, A Fresh Take: Editing & Revision
Issue 55: January 2013
Deadline for queries: September 25, 2012
This should be a fantastic issue full of tips and advice on how to edit both fiction and nonfiction manuscripts. Writers and editors: we want to hear from you!
How to submit: You may either query or send the completed article in the body of an e-mail. We do not open attachments. In the subject line you must include the words “Submission” or “Query.” Send to: firstname.lastname@example.org. You will receive an auto-response notifying you that your submission has been received. Payment for articles is as stated above ($50 - $150 per article), paid by PayPal or check upon publication.
We look forward to reading your queries and submissions! Here’s to a fruitful and productive 2012!
If you have any questions you may post them below.