Sunday, July 03, 2022

Writing About Holidays

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

It's rarely discussed in the writing community but one of the most difficult type of writing for editors to find is tied to holiday themes. The good news is everyone has unique personal experiences during the holidays. Your opportunity as a writer is to capture the raw dialogue and unique elements, weave them into a story then submit them to print magazines. Print publications have a higher standard for their work than online (in general).
For example, when I was a magazine editor at Decision and our circulation was 1.8 million copies, we decided to do a February issue with a love theme (Valentine's Day). Personal experience stories which related to love combined with other crieria for our publication didn't naturally come unsolicited from authors. Instead, I had to create a list of authors and ask them to write what we needed. That experience and others at the magazine showed me the on-going need for holiday writing.
Your personal experience stories from holidays can be evergreen or an article which you can sell to many different magazines. Typically with a magazine article, you sell “first rights” which means after the article is published, the rights return to you. Then you can sell “reprint rights” to other publications. Depending on the publication, you can be paid more for a reprint right than the first rights. Each publication is different with different expectations. Make sure you read their submission guidelines before sending your article. In these guidelines the editor tells you exactly what they need. Many writers skip this important step in the submission process and then when their submission is rejected, they wonder why it didn't get accepted and published.
As you experience different holidays, make some notes into your computer or journal so you capture the essence of the experience and the raw dialogue. Then use these experiences to write personal experience articles and even how-to articles. After writing your article, send it out into the marketplace. I encourage you to keep track of your submissions and if you don't hear from the editor in a period of weeks, send them a gentle follow-up note to make sure they got it. I use the word gentle because if you push these gatekeeper/ editors, then you will likely get the response you don't want—a “no, thank you” or “this isn't a fit for us.” 
Are you using your holiday experiences in your writing? Let me know in the comments below. 

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