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How to get published in magazines
By Karen Burns Booth & Ren Behan
We‟re Karen Burns Booth @KarenBurnsBooth
Ren Behan @RenBehan
We are both UK food bloggers and freelance food writers.
• Getting noticed – how to create strong editorial
• What info you should add to a recipe and/or pitch
• Developing a niche and becoming a „go to‟ person
• Tailoring your pitch and following the process through to
• Our experiences and top tips!
We‟ll each speak for 5-6 minutes and then we‟ll open the floor to
questions with Ceri‟s help.
Today we’re going to talk about –
• Blogging since June 2011
• Recipes in print - Country Kitchen, delicious. Magazine, The Simple
Things, People's Friend, Village Living, Baxter's Recipe Cards, Fish
is the Dish cookbook, The Clandestine Cake Club cookbook, The
Little Book of Tea Time Treats.
• Also writes for Great British Chefs.com, Garlic & Sapphire (Sarah
Raven), Rural Mums, Bavette (French Magazine), Living France
and Morphy Richards Blog.
• Previous career includes - Teacher (Art and
English), Restaurateur, Buyer for Harrods and Cabin Crew for two
major UK airlines
How to get noticed…
A good way to get noticed by magazine editors is to enter competitions -
many magazines ask for „readers‟ recipes‟ with the offer of prizes to those
that are published.
This was how I was first discovered by Country Kitchen.
The editor approached me to ask if I had any more images, copy or recipes
similar to the one I submitted and won with. She then sent me a schedule of
proposed articles for the year ahead, and asked me to "pitch" for any that
interested me by providing sample copy, recipes and images for them.
I submitted several articles and was accepted on to the „regular freelance
Try to create recipes that fit in the „theme‟ of the magazine you are
submitting the recipe for; if it is a „heritage‟ magazine, submit recipes that
resonate with local history or that have been passed down through the
When I wrote regularly for Country Kitchen magazine, they were known for
promoting heirloom and historical British recipes, following the festivals and
seasons throughout the UK.
I had to research ancient Saint's days and festivals to provide relevant copy
for my features, as well as develop recipes based on old recipes and
Points to remember…
Before sending an email, ask first who is the correct person to pitch to. It
might not be the Editor. It could be the Food Editor, a Features Editor or
even a Lifestyle Director.
As well as pitching recipes, ask if they will consider using your images (if
they are of high enough quality and are Hi-Res)
If the magazine is using their own image of your recipe, ask them if you can
approve images they take, as mistakes can happen where the image
published does not represent what it should look like. This has happened to
both Ren and myself!
Make sure you check the recipe before printing if the magazine asks to
„tweak‟ the recipe in any way. It is YOUR name and head on the block if it is
tweaked and does not represent what it should afterwards.
Securing a freelance commission
Make sure you are accepted on to a finance list at the same time too -
they will usually send you a form to fill in with all your bank details and
other personal information.
Ask for a written contract – to specify how you will be paid and whether
that includes expenses or whether your fee is £X + expenses
Let them know how you want paying from the start, such as BACS or
Make sure you ask them what their time-table of payments are, to avoid
nasty shocks later when it appears you have not been paid.
Invoice regularly, keep receipts and copies of invoices and remittance
advice once paid.
How to comply with editorial frameworks…
Make sure you are sent a set of guidelines so you know how to comply
with the editorial framework; this comprises:
Dates - the last date for submitting copy and a schedule of articles for
the next six to twelve months
Images - the resolution required to submit images
Nutrition - what nutritional information is needed for each recipe
Word count - minimum and maximum word count for the editorial
Style - some editors ask for a certain style of writing, such as third person or
first person - usually when you are writing personal editorial to back up a
family recipe or local festival
Originality – check whether you can submit previously published recipes (by
yourself) – usually a magazine will insist on exclusivity, so if you follow up
with a blog post, you‟ll have to point or link to the recipe, rather than re-
Sundry requirements - some editors will ask or provide a framework of other
requirements; one magazine I work with asks that all recipes I submit must
be suitable for one person too.
If you are NOT provided with an editorial framework, then ask for one, it
saves a lot of hassle in the future!
Online versus traditional print magazine
The way forward is definitely web-based magazines, and I write for several;
if you decide this is the way for you, then the same rules also apply for
online editorial as for printed.
Online time-scales will be shorter and seasonal work will be more in tune
with the current season. For example, for a Christmas edition, I used to have
to get my copy in by the end of June for print; for an online Christmas
article, work on submitting editorial by the end of October.
Some writers prefer this more "instant" way of writing - I am happy to work
with either platform, but DO remember that you may have to search for out-
of-season ingredients and they may be costly - I won't bore you with my
search for a goose in June!
Conclusion - Karen’s Top Tips
If the editorial is accompanied by high quality (hi-res) photos, they often go
to the top of the list for further consideration.
Always check your grammar and spelling before submitting editorial, it
seems obvious, but many people don't.
If submitting recipes, make sure they have been double tested at least, triple
testing is best, as if the readers find a problem, you will have to stand by
your recipe with the editor.
Apart from the basic editorial, each recipe needs an interesting introduction
and maybe how it was developed, the family history etc.
Blogging since November 2010
Recipes/articles in print – delicious. Magazine, Flavour Magazine
London, Morrisons magazine, Fish is the Dish Cookbook, BBC Three
Counties recipe factsheets
Also writes for Jamie Oliver.Com, The Foodie Bugle, Great British
Chefs, plus styling, photography and recipe development for UKTV Food/the
Good Food Channel.com
Previous career includes – Solicitor/Criminal lawyer
Following a career break, completed a Diploma in Journalism through CTJT
and a Food Styling Course at Leiths School of Food and Wine
Making your recipes
stand out to an Editor
It can help to develop a niche or to be known for a particular type or style of
food. If you can become a "go to" person or an expert you are more likely to
get repeat commissions.
Bloggers who tend to get external recipe work or print deals usually have a
particular angle - ancestry/heritage, baking and desserts, a dietary
specialism, travel, regional cuisine, kids‟ cooking – or have strong
photography and styling skills.
Some of my recipe work with a Polish angle has been noticed as it‟s different
and „on trend‟. In other cases, my styling or photography has got me noticed.
Sabrina Ghayour, blogger and Persian supper club host agrees – “Be
unique, offer a unique insight into a subject and populate your site with that
kind of food.”
“Don‟t harass magazine editors to feature you. Just strike
up interesting conversations on Twitter and Instagram.
Keep posting photos of your food. Don‟t focus on chasing
features, they will come to you.”
“Keep recipes colourful, seasonal and interesting. Don‟t
use too many hard-to-find ingredients. Make your food
“Consider holding some recipes back so that you have
some recipes that are not already published on your
Tailor your pitch to the publication
Notice different sections within each magazine and look at who put
the feature together as an indication of who to write to.
Consider mainstream as well as specialist publications, magazines
linked to brands or kitchens, specialist dietary magazines, baking
publications and women‟s magazines with recipe sections.
Don‟t discount new and „up and coming‟ publications, or independent
publications such as The Foodie Bugle. I started writing for The
Foodie Bugle in its very first month and am so proud to see it move
to print - taking some of its favourite contributors with it! Contributors
are not always paid in new magazines, but it is a
supportive, collaborate platform. You can write in your own name and
get a profile boost.
The Simple Things Magazine, Fork Magazine, Crumbs and Pretty
Nostalgic are other examples of growing publications – as you can
imagine, there are hundreds of others!
Draft a strong pitch, tailoring it and sending it to the correct person. Ask if it
is ok to pitch before pitching!
Offer a few different recipes and ideas. Usually they like to see a recipe
If the pitch is successful, the magazine will usually test the recipe – make
sure it will stand up to rigorous testing.
Ask for a PDF proof of the feature to see how it looks and to use in your
Check back in a few months‟ time to see if the publication are interested in a
Note that magazines work 3-4 months ahead of schedule. Pitch Christmas
ideas early in the year!
Silvana de Soissons is the Editor of The Foodie Bugle and food writer for The English Garden and The
Simple Things magazine. Her advice is this:
“I know how very hard it is to get editors interested in you. The
market is flooded with wannabes. There are three really important
elements to getting your work published by magazine editors or by
book publishers: quality, quality, quality.”
“There is a tsunami of food blogs, magazines, cookbooks and
articles. The ones that stand out, stand the test of time, are read by
the cognoscenti and appreciated by discerning readers are the well
researched, well written, well photographed, well presented ones.”
“Spend lots of time researching your piece, reading lots
of material, analysing the subject matter, structuring the
article, photographing the food etc.”
“Quality speaks for itself quietly. Mediocrity needs to
shout, and is mainly ignored.”
Your best chance of getting your work
Sometimes it is a case of luck; being in the right place at the right time, or a
recommendation from someone already on the inside!
Regardless, you can and should use your blog as a visual platform – move
away from the classic “here‟s what I had for my dinner” – with a poorly
lit/blurry photo if it your intention to move into paid, freelance or even in-
house recipe work.
Imagine your blog as an online portfolio. Be professional. Don‟t use your
blog as a place to rant. Use it to showcase what you can do best.
Perfect all angles of recipe work – develop well structured and well written
recipes. Simple food styling and light, bright photography will really help you
to get noticed. Look into taking a course to improve your skills, if necessary.
Aim high! @AnnesKitchenTV’s Tips
“Even as a journalist by profession, writing a food blog has opened up many new
“The Simple Things magazine approached me to shoot a few recipes for them, as they
saw my pictures on my blog.”
“My recent delicious. Magazine article (a travel piece on Berlin) was a combination of
my journalistic endeavours following my work at Time Out and my blog work.”
“My biggest success has been pitching my own TV show and getting it
“Having worked for RTL as a regular correspondent for 2 years (doing mostly news
and features) I approached them again after starting my food blog and explained what
I'd like to do. They listened and gave me a chance to shoot a pilot. They then
commissioned two seasons (24 episodes) of my very own show. I have since created
my own TV production company, got a book deal and can now say that I can make my
living BECAUSE of my blog.”
Ren’s Top Tips
Look carefully at the way magazines are structured and notice that certain features tend to
repeat. For example, simple suppers, seasonal food, weekend favourites, inheritance
features, food + travel pieces.
Always have a business card to hand and have a clear contact page. I got some very
decent freelance work recently by going along to a press event, chatting to the editor of a
top UK food site and leaving my business card in the Editor‟s general vicinity!
Spend less time going to PR events, or writing free PR for brands, and more time focusing
on networking (but not throwing yourself at) editors and journalists.
Write original and eye-catching content.
Contact online editorial teams running alongside traditional print publications, as very often
they run separately and may be keen to use features online as well as in print. Often, an
online platform has a much higher readership per month than a traditional print publication‟s
Improve your skills as much as you can. Ask to attend a food photoshoot, or to spend the
day in a test kitchen. Look out for courses in styling or photography and consider holding
some of your best recipes back from your blog in the bank ready to pitch!