Our guest contributor takes advantage of the flexibility freelance life affords, and brings us her expertise on writing for canine, feline, and avian markets all the way from her current abode in the Caribbean. She has written for Cat Fancy, Animal Wellness, and several other notable pet markets. Today she gives a few tips on how even pet-free writers can tap into these publications.
Breaking Into Pet Glossies
By Nadia Ali
Did you know there are about 140 million companion pets that are either cats or dogs in the United States? That gives you an idea of the kind of demand pet magazines are under from inquisitive pet parents who want to know more about their beloved pets. There are national and community pet magazines which are growing in number, so how do you break into them?
As a cat owner, I broke into this market by relating factual and informative or quirky and fun articles about pets. I had a dog as a child so that also gave me some insight into looking after a dog. But you need not be a pet parent—with great research skills and a love for pets you can also pitch to these markets.
Where do you start? There are various subjects to entice an editor’s attention. Nearly all magazines have small ‘departments’ that require research, facts, and supportive quotes. These areas are a good starting point as the word count isn’t as long as a feature and are so broad in range one should pique your interest. The areas include:
- Pet profiles – Description and history of breeds
- Rescue profiles – Articles documenting individual animal rescue groups
- Health – Exercise, diet, travel, vacationing with pets, kids & pets, air travel, first aid
- Grooming – How to choose a groomer, apparel, products, equipment
- Issues – Time-sensitive items, news headlines, breed bans legislation
If you enjoy opinionative pieces where you get to express your creative writing side while exploring the pet world, some magazines include poetry, craft, and kid sections. Ensure that you are familiar with the philosophy/guidelines of the magazine you are querying so that you don’t pitch ideas which goes against what the magazine stands for (declawing cats, for example). Avoid submitting poems to pet magazines that don’t accept poetry. Some of the regular departments areas in most magazines include:
- Personal essays – Tales that are a little bit unusual, entertaining or contain information which will benefit readers
- Poems – Short verse and narratives dedicated to pets
- Projects – How to make pet toys or accessories
- Crafts – Geared towards kids in the form of puzzles or craft
- Pet picks – Opinion on the best pet videos, books, or websites
Once you have determined what topic you want to cover, then comes the pitch. You will need to research to ensure you can give an outline of your proposed piece. Editors like to see that you have an introduction, middle and conclusion which has supportive quotes and evidence that readers will enjoy. Beware, most publications assign medical features to veterinarians or other health experts, so don’t venture into these areas.
Pet Statistics and Associations
There are specialized organizations you can Google that can provide you with a host of pet statistics to support your article:
The Pet Food Manufacturers Association
The British Veterinary Association
The Royal Society of the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals
The United Kingdom Animal Rescuers
The International Cat Association
British Trust for Ornithology
National Animal Welfare Trust
The Royal Society of the Protection Birds
Pet magazines are a viable market that writers can access as a means of boosting their bylines. To find markets, all you need do is type in ‘pet magazines’ in your favorite search engine and find one that is open to submissions, then pitch. The pet industry is steadily growing and now you can even spread your wings to lifestyle magazines which have started pet columns. So, put your best paw forward and dig in to a wealth of writing!
Nadia Ali is a freelance writer whose published credits include Cat World UK, Cage & Aviary UK, Dogs Monthly UK, Cat Fancy USA, Animal Wellness Magazine Canada, and I Love Cats USA. You can follow her on Twitter @NadiaAwriter.