Twenty-six days to go
Online student to virtual professor:
hi, I am needing more clarification on what I am suppose to research and whereto find information for the assignment market research. can you please explain.
Your benighted student
Every goddamn semester, SOMEone who signs up for the online magazine writing course sends an e-mail almost identical to this. “Please regurgitate your instructions in some other words.” Occasionally when I barf up a new dumbed-down set of instructions, they’ll send another e-mail claiming that they just. don’t. get. it.
The instructions for the kick-off assignment are laid out in the syllabus. They also reside on the website, on their very own page. I think they’re very clear, and I think they explain in detail exactly what needs to be done:
Market Research. Due Oct. 26 by 11:59 p.m. To assist with this assignment, read Garrison, chapter 1; and in our site’s page 5, “Lecturoids,” see “Scoping Out a Magazine.” For a grasp of what feature articles entail, see Garrison, chapter 8, chapter 9, chapter 13, chapter 14, and chapter 15; and also on our site, page 5 “Lecturoids”: Lecture 1, “What’s a Feature” and Lecture 2, “Types of Features.”
This semester, we’ll write a how-to article, a profile, a seasonal piece or personal experience article, a brite (i.e., a short-short piece). I’d like you to investigate possible markets for each of your efforts in these genres.
Take yourself to a library or large bookstore and search for some magazines that are likely to publish these kinds of articles on subjects that interest you. Depending on your subject matter, you may be looking for certain niche publications that focus on specific subjects (hobby or crafts publications, for example) or for more general-interest publications with sections that feature how-to articles (Sunset Magazine, for example).
Using the techniques described early in our course, study several issues of this publication (you’ll may need to be in a library to do this, since bookstores generally carry only the current issue) and examine such things as the type of articles the magazine publishes, the length of such articles, their language and tone, and the way they’re organized and illustrated.
Also get the name of the appropriate editor, his or her title, and the editorial office’s address.
Then, still in the library or bookstore, go to the reference section and find a copy of Writer’s Market. Look up the most likely markets for your proposed four articles. Take some notes on what the editors say they’re seeking and how much they pay.
Then, for each type of article (how-to; profile; seasonal, roundup, or personal experience; brite), write up what you’ve discovered in a convenient, easy-to-read way. You may use bulleted points, if this is easiest for you.
Here’s how to submit this: I will publish a post on our site titled “Market Research.” Open a comment to that post and paste your discoveries into your comments, and then click “post comment.” It’s very easy.
Part of the point here is to share what you learn about markets with classmates. Understanding and comparing markets is extremely important for magazine writers. With this assignment, you not only can begin to develop some markets for yourself, you also can perform a service for other budding writers. 100 points.
Maybe the problem is, this assignment requires the students to have actually learned something from the video lectures, the PDF lecturoids, and the book. Maybe that’s more than they can cope with?
I find it frustrating and annoying to have to repeat everything that I’ve already spent a great deal of unpaid time composing, revising, editing, rewriting, and posting. Even more frustrating and annoying is to be asked to repeat it again. Last semester I told the person who kept pestering me in this way that I’d described the course assignments as clearly as I knew how, and if she couldn’t understand the instructions, maybe she really should take the course in-class. Mercifully, that one dropped.
Virtual professor to online student, October 2012:
Try it in a few steps:
1. Think about topics that you might write about for your profile story, your how-to, a personal experience or seasonal piece, and a brite.
2. Consider what KIND of magazines might publish stories like this. (For example, if you’re profiling a musician, maybe a magazine for rock fans would be interested; if your how-to is a gardening piece, maybe Sunset or a magazine for gardening hobbyists would like it).
3. Go to the library or a Barnes & Noble and get your hands on a reference work called Writer’s Market. Look through it and try to find those types of magazines. Look for some that are big enough that you can find them in a bookstore or library — although sometimes smaller publications will appear for free online. Check.
4. For each article type, select a magazine that would be a good fit for your article idea.
5. In Writer’s Market, look for the names and titles of editors who would be likely to receive queries for freelance stories. (A query is a proposal written in business letter format.)
6. Also, try to track down some back copies of the magazines you’ve chosen. Often large public libraries will have these. Read back issues and try to get a good feel for who reads each publication and why. What is their demographic? Are they affluent, middle-class, working-class? What do you think a typical reader’s age might be? What interests do they probably have?
7. Write a report for each of the four likely markets for your upcoming articles. Include the name and address of each publication’s editor, managing editor, or feature’s editor, the title of the magazine, and a description of what the magazine publishes and what its readers are like.
I think there’s an online version of Writer’s Market, but you may have to pay for it. Most libraries carry the annual hardcover book. You probably can find it at the Heavenly Gardens library, but if not, you almost certainly will find it at your local branch library.
Hope this helps!
Can you think of a better way to say this? I sure can’t.
* * *
Twelve more class meetings of the English 101 class.
Today one of the nineteen-year-olds presents herself after class. She wants to know why, after she got a 65 on the draft, she ended up with a 50 on the final version, since she worked so hard to add more material and make the requested changes. I try to get into G-mail to check the papers she’d submitted, but the system hangs, and besides, I have the two graded, commented-upon compilations of golden words stashed on my home computer. I say I will review them when I get home this afternoon, which is exactly what I do.
Going through the e-mail between Ms. Aggrieved and me, I’m reminded of the backstory:
When the time came to turn in the final version of this paper, Ms. A appeared in class and reported that her computer had crashed just as she was finishing her paper. I couldn’t prove it, o’course, and besides, she looked pretty distressed (the drama department at Heavenly Gardens has quite a good reputation…). So, I gave her a brief extension on the deadline.
On October 14, two days past the official due date but within the period she negotiated, she turned in the final paper, word-for-word identical to the D paper. So her ever-lovin’ instructor, moi, subtracted another 15 points for not having done one darned thing to improve the magnum opus, as instructed in the draft. This resulted in the 50-point “F” for the final paper.
Once I get back to my home office, I open the two files and see that yea verily, as I recalled during our conversation, the version she turned in as “final” is a clone of the “draft.” Checking to be sure I didn’t make a mistake, I go back to G-mail, redownload her e-mailed draft and final papers, and observe that indeed the paper I’d read as the final version was the paper that she’d sent as the final version.
Consequently, I paste each paper into a two-column table, the draft on the left and the final on the right. They are so exquisitely identical that the lines wrap in perfect unison: not a single word has been changed. I send this to her with the explanation that this was the reason she got a 50 on the final version.
Dollars to donuts, her next ploy will be to tell me she mistakenly sent the draft and that she really had revised it and would I please please please let her submit the alleged revision. Effectively, then, what she’s done is to generate two extra weeks in which to rewrite the paper—or to get someone else to do it for her.
Is there any question why I so love teaching freshman comp?
Twelve more days: twelve days too many.