Before you query an editor, you need expert sources for the magazine feature articles you’re writing! Leading your article or query letter with a “real” story is a great way to hook readers (and editors). People love reading about people – which means editors love articles that include compelling anecdotes. But in order to include anecdotes, you need sources.
Before the tips, a quip:
“I think I am starving for publication,” said American best-selling author Tom Wolfe. “I love to get published; it maddens me not to get published. I feel at times like getting every publisher in the world by the scruff of the neck, forcing his jaws open, and cramming the manuscript down his throat – ‘G*d d*mn you, here it is – I will and must be published.’ You know what it means – you’re a writer and you understand it.”
If you’re a freelance writer seeking publication (more, more, more articles and books in print, please!), read Writing for Magazines: A Beginner’s Guide – it’ll help you solidify your writing career. And, here are several tips for finding expert sources for feature magazine articles…
Writing an Article? How to Find Expert Sources for Magazine Articles
1. Email bloggers who write about your article topic. When I’m looking for sources for an article, I Google the topics I’m writing about and contact bloggers who write about the subject. They’re excellent expert sources and real people! This worked just yesterday for an “eco friendly lifestyles” article I’m working on for alive magazine. Some bloggers have even written books and given talks about their subject, which increases their credibility.
2. Try HARO (Help a Reporter Out). One of my favorite way to find both expert sources and real people for magazine articles is HelpaReporter.com by Peter Shankman. He (his people, rather) sends requests to hundreds of possible sources every day; if sources think they have what you need, they’ll email you.
3. Use ProfNet for more “professional” sources. My long-established favorite way to find experts to interview for articles is ProftNet.com. I’ve found it to be a little more formal and business-oriented than HARO – not in the way they run things, but in the sources I find. I use ProfNet for my “hard” feature articles, in which I need doctors, lawyers, psychiatrists, etc…and HARO for my softer stories that focus on real people.
4. Ask your expert sources for more expert sources. To find more expert sources for magazine articles, I sometimes email my list of experts (which I’ve developed from past articles). They’ve quickly and easily led me to people on the street. And, if I’m including a particular expert in my article, I usually ask for real-life examples of their topic, or contact info of people they’ve worked with.
5. Email your friends. I tried this method of finding real people for my “eco-friendly living” article, and found it wasn’t hugely effective. Maybe my friends aren’t green enough, or maybe my request was daunting. Maybe I need to get me some more friends! Still, if you’re looking for expert sources or real people to interview for a magazine article, emailing friends is worth a try.
6. Ask the magazine editor. “If you’re writing an article for a trade magazine, or on a topic that near and dear to the general readership of the publication, your editor will often have a Rolodex or PDA crammed with the names of experts, industry analysts he’s met a trade shows, or authors who’ve written seminal books on the subject,” write Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell in The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success . “Often, your editor will happily provide you with several names and appropriate contact information.”
7. Find forums related to your magazine article. To find both expert sources and real people to interview for articles, search for forums on the internet. If I wanted to find forums about eco friendly lifestyles, for instance, I’d Google an assortment of searches: eco friendly forums, green discussions, etc. Many forums provide contact info for the posters, and many people use their real names, websites, and even email addresses.
8. Contact relevant (and not so relevant) organizations. If you’re writing an article on, say, self-publishing a book and need experienced self-published authors, email the organizations that work with self-publishers or print on demand writers. If self-publishing associations or support groups exist, call them up! Or, contact the public relationships department of big organizations when you’re looking for expert sources or real people to interview for magazine articles.
9. Call public relations people — they love publicity! I really enjoy using PR people as a source for experts; however, since they’re the middle man, their turnaround can be a little longer than direct contact with experts. Formichelli and Burrell warn writers about the potential pitfalls of working with pubic relations people in The Renegade Writer – and they also discuss the many benefits.
Do you have any questions or thoughts on finding expert sources for feature articles for magazines? Please comment below…
What have I missed? I welcome your questions and tips about finding expert sources for magazine articles below…