How To Get Published
Six mistakes you can’t make if you want to write for fitness magazines.
If you’ve leafed through a magazine in the past 10 years that had a half-naked man on the cover, there’s a good chance you’ve come across something I wrote or edited. (I hope it didn’t suck.) My name is Sean Hyson, and I am the training director for Men’s Fitness and Muscle&Fitness magazines.
I have worked with all kinds of trainers and nutritionists for the past decade, many of whom have become leaders in our industry. I remember asking Jason Ferruggia for a bench press tip one time—in what ultimately became his first appearance in Men’s Fitness or any magazine—and I was so impressed with his advice that I helped him get his own column shortly thereafter.
I was the first to write about Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 in a mainstream publication, and I championed John Kiefer’s Carb Back-loading before it spawned countless imitators.
I’m not writing to bore you with my resume, but to demonstrate what the world of magazine publishing can mean to your career as a fitness professional. I’m certainly not the only open-minded editor out there with an eye for talent—fitness magazines today crave fresh ideas and charismatic writers.
I want to help you hook up with them.
First, let’s look at what NOT to do.
6 Mistakes You Don’t Want To Make When Trying To Get Published in Magazines
1 Getting the wrong guy.
Once you’ve found a magazine you want your work to appear in, the next step is to find the appropriate editor to whom you’ll send your pitch. It isn’t always clear from the magazine’s masthead which of those people is the right one, but reaching out to the wrong one can delay or even bury your pitch.
TIP: If you’re pitching a fitness or nutrition story, the associate editor is usually going to be the correct contact over someone like the deputy editor (and you definitely don’t go straight to the editor in chief). Associate editors typically head up specific sections in the magazine, like food/nutrition, fitness, diet, etc.
2 Thinking too big.
Editors want expert contributors who think outside the box and offer creative, original information. But space is tight in magazines, and very few stories become big features. Don’t insist on exploring every aspect of the topic you’re pitching. If the editor needs it to be distilled into three specific tips and 300 total words, be happy with that. Also, don’t suggest serials (a story that extends to multiple subsequent issues) or columns—these are rarely done and certainly don’t go to newbie writers. Furthermore, when they’re assigned to you, be happy to work on short articles that are based around one to three quick tips. They’re not as fancy and memorable as five-page feature stories, but they get read just as often. And getting read is the ultimate reward for a writer!
3 Not knowing the magazine’s audience.
I’m always amazed when I get pitched stories about pre-natal workouts or how the elderly should train. I work at two magazines that focus on men (aged roughly 18 to 40). Pitches like this are not only laughable, they’re insulting. It’s clear that whoever sent them isn’t interested in what I do or what the magazine is about—I’m just another name on their list. They’ll keep throwing darts until they hit something.
TIP: It doesn’t matter how good the idea is or how talented a writer you are, if it doesn’t fit with what the magazine does, it’s going to get deleted from the editor’s inbox.