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Writer's Tips

Writing for Teen Magazines
by Mridu Khullar

I would look at the magazines my teenage neighbor and her friends stashed away in their cupboards and think, “Heck, I could do that!” So one day, while she was away at school, I broke into her room and “borrowed” the magazines.

Teenage magazines have changed since we were teens, I can tell you that. No longer do they advocate sex after marriage and accepting everything for what it is. Teenage magazines today are a whole different gamut. So, if you go into shock mode quickly, this market may not be your cup of tea.

If you want to get published in the teenage market, you have to be familiar with the slang that kids these days use. Gone are the days of the grammar appropriate “I have a crush on…” Now girls are crushing on guys, hanging with their friends and trying to achieve super cool status. And if you’ve got a problem with that, take a chill pill!

Forget vocabulary, forget grammar. Throw all the rules your English teacher taught you in the trash, because you’re not going to need many of them. That’s the deal. When writing for teenagers, you’ve got to be one. You’ve got to think like a thirteen-year old trying to figure out if the guy she’s crushing on really likes her or not. It might not be a big deal for you, but for that thirteen year old, it’s her life. It’s important.

Which brings me to another important aspect—you have to give importance to the subject matter. If you think fighting with your best friend is no big deal, you have no place writing for this market. On the other hand, if you whole-heartedly believe that the sole reason of your existence is the guy you can’t take your eyes off, then you might have a chance. Don’t misinterpret this to mean that teenagers aren’t involved in serious issues, though. You’ll often find articles and issues for the serious teen—community service, road rage, drinking and even drugs—all topics that are given their share of space in these magazines.

Writing articles, quizzes and short stories for this particular market can be a lot of fun. Connect with the younger side of you and write about the ups and downs of high school, making and breaking friends, dating and dumping guys and most importantly, accepting the person you are—in mind and in body. Teenage girls have many more issues with their bodies than do boys, and this is the reason that girl magazines far outnumber magazines for boys.

Before you start though, you might want to meet up with some youngsters to get a hold of their priorities, their interests and their lifestyle. Until you don’t have the mindset of a teenager and aren’t capable of the thought processes of one, you’re not going to find success here.

In writing a query to the editor, the most important aspect is your idea and its presentation. Through your query, the editor has to know your voice, your talent and how much you understand this particular age group. It should be apparent from your query that you understand the publication and its requirements. The study-your-market rule applies even more strictly to this market as each magazine has its own lingo and voice.

The pay rates of these magazines, like other consumer magazines, vary widely depending on the publication and its requirements. In general, you can earn anywhere from $10 to $2,000 for a single piece. Quizzes are very popular among teens and again pay quite well. If you’re a cartoonist or illustrator, you can add even more. And you know what, you can get rich writing for teen magazines!

Once you’re hooked though, you’ll find that writing for teenagers is so much fun, that you’ll want to do it over and over again, money or no money. This is one market, where the fun simply exceeds the work factor. So, what are you waiting for? Bring out those high school photographs and like, get writing already?

About The Author
Mridu Khullar is the editor-in-chief of www.WritersCrossing.com, a free online magazine for writers. Sign up for the free weekly newsletter to get a complimentary e-book with 400+ paying markets. Also check out her e-book, "Knock Their Socks Off! A Freelance Writer's Guide to Query Letters That Sell," available at http://www.writerscrossing.com/queries.html