Teenage magazines can be a lifeline to adolescent girls but writing for this market is very specialised. Michelle Garnett explains what writers for teenage magazines need to know.
Life for teen girls is tough. Raging hormones, changing body bits, annoying boys and constant peer pressure, all gang up to present one huge challenge for them. And that’s where teen magazines come to the rescue, providing escapism and reassurance for their confused readers. But before even thinking about submitting your work to any teen mag, it’s vital to get a firm grasp on what they’re all about. Most mags tend to fall into two categories – ‘Lifestyle’ and ‘Entertainment’:
• The Lifestyle titles (think Bliss) provide info on anything relevant to teen girls’ lives, from reports on way-out new style trends and self-help features to dish out advice on coping with bullies to tips on bagging a buff boyfriend and gritty real life stories.
• The Entertainment titles (think Top of the Tops Magazine) focus on celeb, music, TV and film gossip with lashings of star interviews, celeb quizzes, posters and song words.
Teen mag readership
But who are these teen girls that we’re trying to persuade to part with their precious pocket money? If you’re intending to aim your features at this discerning group of individuals you’d better get to know all you can about them.
Considering writing for teen mags
So, now you’ve considered the kind of reader you’ll be speaking to via your feature, it’s time to get cracking, yes? No! It may sound mind-numbingly obvious but the first step when considering submitting material to a teen mag is to actually read a copy of that magazine! It’s amazing how many times I’ve received suggestions for short fiction pieces when we don’t actually feature those kind of stories in the magazine.
Finally… how to get yourself noticed amongst a sea of competition from other freelancers. Sometimes it’s all about timing. It may be worthwhile to find out if the mag you’re hoping to submit work to has a set date each week or month when feature ideas are discussed so that you can ensure your suggestions land in the Features Editor’s email box just when he or she is tuned into an ideas brainstorm. Don’t go the bother of sending in a fully completed article. If your idea is strong, a catchy headline and brief synopsis will grab their attention and the sheer mention of a juicy real life case study will be enough to get them salivating! And if you have a specialist subject area (style, real life stories, celebrity interviews) it could be worth suggesting a meeting with the relevant team member – if you impress them with your expertise you could bag yourself a regular commission.
Michelle Garnett was editor of Sneak magazine from April 2002 to May 2005. Previously, she worked for ten years in various roles in the entertainment industry including deputy editor of Top of the Pops Magazine, producer of cd:uk news, editor of worldpop.com, writer of pop band biographies and (her most bizarre job to date…) official news reporter for Reuters on the Backstreet Boys four-day round-the-world promotional trip (2000). She now freelances as a writer and editor for various publications.
See the yearbook for listings of media outlets for children.
If you found this article useful, you might want to take a look at our other articles on Writing for Children.