I’ve been published in a few industry magazines over the past year. Some of you might like to do the same. If so, here are a few tips. I’m no expert, but you might find them useful.
What do you mean by ‘ELT magazines’?
I mean publications in the ELT industry. Specifically, I mean online and print magazines, newsletters, and journals that you could label as non-academic (as opposed to those based on formal, academic research). Some examples include…
I’ve suggested these are non-academic as they have a more general readership. That’s not to say they don’t cover or reference academic research, just that they differ from more academic publications like ELT Journal.
What do you know about this?
Well, I said I’m no expert. However, I’ve being trying to get a few articles published over the last year. I’ve had 3 articles in English Teaching Professional (ETPro) this calendar year, had 3 publications elsewhere (including one in IH journal), and I have a couple of upcoming publications, including one for the IATEFL Young Learner SIG magazine. It’s not a bad return for a year, but there are plenty of teachers out there who will have the same and more. I recommend checking comments on this post (if any) as others may have different views on this topic.
Why write for ELT magazines?
Here are some reasons why it might be beneficial:
- What you write could help others in the profession
- It might give you further motivation to reflect on your experiences inside and outside the classroom
- It’s a good way to engage with a wider ELT community
- You might find your voice in the industry!
- If you’re a blogger it might help you reach a wider/different audience
- Writing in magazines may encourage you to read them more and get some great ideas for improving your own practice
- It can be a fun short-term project
- It’s nice to see your name in print (bit egotistic maybe!)
- It would be a good thing to put on your CV
- You can follow in the footsteps of your idols… I only sent something to ETPro as I wanted to be like John Hughes, a teacher training guru!
- It leads to further opportunities. If you’re published in one magazine, you might be contacted by another…
Who reads these magazines?
Teachers, ELT managers, researchers, prospective teachers, publishers – I guess it depends on the magazines but there’s often a varied readership. Some magazines are specific to certain countries, some are online so the readership could be pretty broad, some are promoted heavily through social media (like British Council Voices) and receive monthly views in the tens of thousands! Some of the mags in print form will be passed around staffrooms – ETPro and Modern English Teacher had a dedicated shelf in the staffroom at my previous school.
One important tip when you write for magazines is to know your audience. Read the magazine yourself first to familiarise yourself with the style, and research or contact magazines to ask about their target audience if this is not clear to you. This will guide your writing.
A lot of people have said that to me. Many of those people are diploma qualified teachers. They’ve spent months agonising over action research projects or experimental practice lessons on courses like the Cambridge DELTA, but seem convinced that they have nothing of value to share with an industry magazine! I keep telling them ‘come on, your work is so interesting! Edit it down and send it to a few mags. Someone will publish it!’ So far, only one person has listened (cheers Anthony Ash!).
My first articles in industry magazines were based on my DipTESOL project work. One thing to remember is that you don’t have to be an expert for your writing to be of value. Flick through one of the aforementioned magazines if you get a chance. Look at the ‘biodata’ for each author (the info about them next to the article). You’ll find they have a whole range of experience – some are teacher trainers, some are finding their feet in the industry, some are well-known academics. I guess the authors’ experience reflects the varied experience of the audience.
My biggest tip is to write about what you’re interested in! That interest will no doubt shine through!
(I’ve linked to some of my articles in the About Me section if you want to get some ideas for content and style)
I still don’t know what to write about, but I kind of like the idea now!
You could try writing a book review. Some of the magazines accept reviews – some will even send you a book to review if you’re very lucky! I’ve just had my first thing published in IH Journal, that was a book review.
Right! Or should I say ‘Write!’ I’m going to do it! I’ve got an idea for an article…
Then I guess you have some choices. You could contact a magazine and explain your idea. They might be interested. However, I get a lot more responses when I send a complete article I’ve written – I guess there is something tangible to cast an eye over straight away. My advice would be just to write your article and send it off. If one magazine doesn’t like it, send it to another (which might require a bit of editing for style). You might get lucky eventually. Having said that, if your idea is specifically meant for a certain publication, you probably want to run it by them first!
Don’t fear rejection. My success rate is currently about 50/50.
What magazines should I contact?
Ah. Well, I can’t answer that – it depends on what you’ve written. I’m just going to list some ideas – I’ll let you research audience and style for each.
English Teaching Professional and Modern English Teacher – I think these are the best print magazines in the industry. I don’t want to sound like I’m selling subscriptions for them, but they’re full of interesting articles and the editors for both are really friendly and prompt with responses, so you’ll know where you stand quickly. ETPro is published 6 times a year, MET about 4 times I think.
EFL Magazine – this is a relatively new online magazine. It’s actually done in blog format (of sorts, powered by WordPress). The editors seem to really welcome content, and a flick through the list of authors on the site shows you’ll be in very good company.
IATEFL Voices – I’ve never written for Voices but I read it. There is a caption on each mag explaining that they welcome contributions up to 1500 words (or larger if discussed with them first). It goes out to all IATEFL members, some of which are institutions.
IATEFL SIGS – a lot of the IATEFL SIGs (Special Interest Groups) publish their own newsletters, and welcome contributions. This is a good avenue if you’ve an article which is quite a niche topic.
IH Journal – there are about 4 issues a year of this journal. It has a broad range of articles and authors have really varied experience, which is great. Each issue will often follow a particular theme so this is worth asking about.
British Council Voices – I’ve been in contact with Voices and hope to contribute soon. Articles written for this magazine are normally shared on the British Council Teaching English facebook page, meaning they have a pretty large readership. They seem to like relatively short articles sharing practical advice for teachers, but not exclusively.
Humanistic Language Teaching – not a magazine I’ve written for, but I’ve heard a bit about it from ELT Experiences. Might be worth contacting Martin if you want to know more, or looking at their site. Looks like they’ve had some big name authors!
The Teacher – this is a very interesting one. This magazine contacted me after reading one of my articles in another magazine. They are a print publication with a subscription base in Poland. The editor welcomes copy and if they want the article they don’t mess about! From the moment I sent my piece I was published within about 10 days!
Feel free to add more ideas in the comments.
So what should I expect once I send my article off?
Often you get an email of acknowledgement quite quickly. In my experience, magazines then normally express interest in your article between one day and one month after sending it (one average about a week or two). If they like it, some mags will send you a copyright form to sign, meaning you agree to share the rights to the article with them. Not all will do this though. After that, it’s normally a waiting game, and things can go pretty quiet! Once you know your article is accepted, great! However, it doesn’t mean you know when it will actually appear in the mag! The shortest time I’ve waited is 10 days, the longest about 5 months. Just be patient! Sometimes magazines will have certain themes for upcoming issues, so might be holding your article back until its more relevant. I find that the wait is quite exciting. Note: before publication the magazine might ask you to edit the article, and they’ll probably ask you for a little biodata.
Well, that’s about it. I hope that’s useful for budding authors – please share any success stories with me! Happy writing 🙂