Saturday, 9 February 2019

Help with writing non-fiction

Would you like to get personal advice from Alex Gazzola, an expert on breaking into the magazine non-fiction market, and be in with a chance to win one of his helpful books on the subject? As you're still reading I'm going to assume you do!

Taking part is simple – just put your question in a comment to this blog. Alex will be back on 1st of March with answers.

Alex is a journalist. author, editor, writing tutor, enthusiastic supporter of his writing friends and all round good egg. He runs a blog to help writers, especially new writers, of non-fiction to avoid making mistakes and improve their chances of success. He's also written two books on the subject (and lots of other interesting books). Alex knows what he's talking about – I've had more than one piece of non-fiction writing accepted for publication thanks to the help and encouragement he shares in these ways.

One of the people who've asked a question will be awarded their choice of either Alex Gazzola's book 50 Mistakes Beginner Writers Make or 50 More Mistakes Beginner Writers Make, which he'll post to them.

The rules!

1. Anyone may ask a question about breaking into non-fiction writing for magazines, by posting it as a comment to this post.

2. In order to be eligible to win the free book you must include your name with the question – don't supply your address yet.

3. The closing date for questions/entries is 19th February.

4. The answers and name of the winner will be posted on this blog on 1st March.

5. The winner of the book will be asked to supply a postal address for the book to be sent to. It will be dispatched shortly after that information is received.


Julie Day said...

What was your very first non-fiction success?

Patsy said...

Hi Alex. Is it a good idea to supply my own photos and if so should I mention that in the pitch? (I know that's technically two questions, but it's my blog so you pretty much have to let me off.)

SJM said...

Hi Alex,

It's been a good few years since I tried submitting non fiction. What is the best way to approach an editor with a pitch or a completed article?


Gina Gao said...

Hi Alex,

I would like to know how to begin the process of going from fiction to non-fiction (i.e. did you find a mentor to help you or was it just practice)?

Seaview said...

Hi Alex,

I was wondering about how to go about selecting topics for articles. Is it a case of write what you know about/are interested in, or should you be prepared to do lots of research in order to come up with a piece on a subject you know little (or nothing!) about? I'm thinking that a lot of time could be spent on producing an article with no guarantee it will be picked up...although I guess that's where a good pitch comes in...


carrie said...

Hi Alex,
I've written a few non fiction articles but am having trouble knowing where to place them. What is the best way to go about contacting an editor and asking if they're interested in what one has written about?
Thank you!

Sharon Boothroyd said...

Hi Alex
I'd like to know how difficult it is to break into non- fiction articles.
Don't most women's mags have their own writers?
Why would editors consider pitches from freelances, when they have staff on the existing pay roll who can produce articles 'in- house'?

Ann Hodgkin said...

Do editors publish non fiction guidelines about article lengths etc?

Unknown said...

Would you recommend that authors use a different name for writing non-fiction than the one they use for fiction?

Celia said...

You're going to be answering some of the questions I had, so I'll go for this one.
Assuming at some stage one's work is accepted, what sort of payment for how many words? (trust me to lower the tone and talk dosh, sorry folks)

Patsy said...

Thanks for all the questions so far!

btw, although I've asked a question, I'm not in the competition. I can be sneaky, but I'm usually more subtle about it.

Jenny Worstall said...

Do magazines generally take all rights for non-fiction articles?

Anonymous said...

Hi there, Alex. My very first paid writing project was an Astrology column for a regional magazine. The pitch for it was pretty straight forward - sort of 'Would you like me to write an astrology column?'. I'm guessing pitches for articles are a bit more in depth than that, so my question is 'How much detail do I need to deliver in a pitch for an article?' Thanks.

Good wishes

Kate Hogan

klahanie said...

I personally don't need any personal advice from Alex. My writing is just a bit of therapy. However, big respect to Alex. Which means, Patsy, consider this posting shared.

Thank you.


Julie Perrott said...

I have a similar 'subject' question to Kate's except, mine involves a country relocation. I worked in the Spiritual arena in the UK (London), relocated back to Western Australia, where the industry is smaller & more underground, but I would like to use my expertise to write non-fiction, unfortunately.....the publishing arena is smaller here as well. So, how do I get a leg-in? Plus, I totally lost motivation & enthusiasm after my mother's passing.

Thank You,

Anonymous said...

Just a little word to Julie, I too have, and still am struggling with the loss of motivation and enthusiasm for writing after the passing of loved ones. So hard. May the light come back in your heart to inspire your creativity soon, and may you find the outlets you need to share your gifts with others. Good wishes. Kate Hogan.

Mark said...

Great advice! Even though I write fiction, much fo this still applies:)

Julia Pattison said...

Hi Alex, I write memoirs for war veterans, would a magazine be interested in an extract from the memoir of an ex FEPOW veteran for an August 2020 issue when it'll be the 75th anniversary of VJ Day? Many thanks. Julia

Anonymous said...

Women's magazines always ask for fiction writing that is 'uplifting' and tend to shy away from 'difficult' topics. Is this requirement the same for non-fiction writing for magazines? If so, it could limit the topics available to non-fiction writers. Do you feel that this is a problem?
New girl on the block

Ann Williams said...

Hi Alex
I have found quite a few magazines publish guidelines online and usually state if they prefer a pitch first or accept unsolicited articles. In the absence of this advice is it best to send a pitch first or write and send a complete article? I just wondered, if the editor is not familiar with your work, is a pitch sufficient?
Many thanks

Bea Charles said...

Hi Alex. Is an editor interested in knowing about my previous writing experience? For example, if I pitch a camping article to a travel magazine, is it relevant to mention I have had Fiction published by various womags? And would an editor be interested in seeing an example of such earlier published work? (Sorry, that is technically 3 questions but they are all cv related.)

Brenda McHale said...

Hi Alex (and Patsy), are there any resources like Patsy’s excellent blog that detail some of the best publications for freelancers to pitch to? I use Artists and Writers yearbook but wonder if there are any others, or even really good blogs and websites, specifically for non fiction feature articles. Thanks,

Sheila, Canary Islands said...

What can we learn from clickbait, and whatshould we not copy?