20 Break-In Magazines for New Freelance Writers

Arnita Williams

Ever wonder where new freelance writers land their first assignments?

You know…without a lot of experience, writing samples, or a massive portfolio.

If you’re a freelance writer just starting out, and you’ve had challenges trying to:

  • Gain traction
  • Build your portfolio
  • Grow your network
  • Find Break-in magazines
  • Get your name out there, and…
  • Just trying to break into your new career…

You’re not alone. It’s easy to get discouraged. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Freelance writers (even if you’re new) can get paid to write, if you know where to look.

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Break-In Magazines

Ready to land your first assignment or break into a new niche? These 20 paying markets like working with new freelance writers:

#1 – Horse Illustrated

This magazine published monthly is all about horses. It covers every aspect of horse ownership: horse breeds, riding and training, lifestyle, and horse care.

TIP: Always seeking fresh talent. Willing to work with new/unpublished writers. Freelancers can break into writing for this pub with feature articles on:

  • Western and English training methods
  • Veterinary and general care 
  • How-tos
  • Horse sports articles 

Readers are adults and women, between the ages of 18 and 40. This age group is targeted “to reflect responsible horse care.”

Contact: Editor | Email: Elizabeth Moyer or  Elizabeth Moyer

Rate: $200 to $475 for assigned articles. Pays expenses of writers on assignment

#2 – Paint Horse Journal 

A monthly magazine for people who raise, breed, and show Paint Horses.  

TIP: “Articles must show a definite understanding of the horse business.” 

You must know what a Paint Horse is, as defined by American Paint Horse Association standards.

Contact: Editor | Email: Jessica Hein

Rate: $100 to $500 for 1,000 – 2,000 words. Pays expenses of writers on assignment.

#3 – New Mobility

A bimonthly magazine for people living with a spinal cord injury or disorder.  

TIP: It’s helpful, but optional if writers are people with disabilities or individuals who are comfortable working with people with disabilities, such as:

  • Parents
  • Caregivers
  • Spouses, 
  • Professionals

Readers are looking for articles on tips about:

  • How to live well with mobility impairment
  • Access to jobs
  • Travel
  • Recreation
  • Education

They also want to read about how others deal with similar situations, resources, suggestions, and ideas of how others function throughout daily living.

Contact: Executive Editor | Email: Josie Byzek and Editor | Ian Ruder

Rate: Contact editor. Pays expenses of writers on assignment.

#4 – Boulevard Magazine

A diverse literary magazine published three times per year and features poetry, fiction, and essays of promising writers.

Contact: Editor | Jessica Rogen or editors@boulevardmagazine.org

Rate: Nonfiction: $50 for 1,000 – 5,000 words, plus expenses of writers on assignment. |  Fiction: $50 up to 5, 000 words.

#5 – Contrary

A literary journal, publishes fiction, poetry, and nonfiction quarterly.

Contact: Editor | Jeff Mahon, Fiction Editor | Frances Badgett, Shaindel Beers | Poetry Editor 

Rate: Nonfiction: Contact editor  |  Fiction: $20 – $60 up to 750 words  |  Poetry: $20 for byline, $60 for featured work—maximum of three poems per submission.

#6 – Freefall Magazine

Published three times a year, poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, essays about writing, interviews, and reviews are covered.

TIP: Welcomes and encourages a mix of new, emerging, and experienced writers.

Contact: Managing Editor | Ryan Stromquist

Rate: Prose: $10 – $100, Poems: $25 per piece

#7 – GRIST: A Journal of the Literary Arts 

An annual literary journal that publishes world-class fiction, poetry, prose, interviews, and craft essays.

TIP: Publishes high-quality literary pieces from emerging and established writers. All styles and aesthetic approaches are accepted.

Contact: Editor | Matt Craft

Rate: Prose: 1 cent per word up to $50 | Poems: $10

#8 – Indiana Review

Published three times a year, this literary magazine prints fiction, nonfiction,  poetry, reviews, occasionally interviews, and essays.

TIP: “Always looking for more nonfiction.”

Contact: Editor-in-Chief | Bernardo Wade

Rate: $5 per page

#9 – The Iowa Review

This biannual literary publication showcases the talents of authors and writers of fiction, poetry, art, and essays.

TIP: No set guidelines regarding content but read the publication prior to submitting.

Contact: Editor | Lynne Nugent

Rate: Nonfiction: 8 cents per word ($100 minimum) and pays expenses of writers on assignment. Poetry: $1.50 per line ($40 minimum)

#10 – The Malahat Review 

Quarterly literary magazine covering poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, essays, historical, memoir, personal experience, travel, and Canadian book reviews.

TIP: Willing to work with new, unpublished writers.

Contact: Editor | Iain Higgins or  malahateditor@uvic.ca

Rate: $65 per Canadian magazine page

11. The Massachusetts Review

Quarterly publishes nonfiction, fiction, and poetry.

TIP: Seeks “promising new and established writers.”

Contact: Managing Editor | Emily Wojcik

Rate: $50 per piece

#12 – Mid-American Review

Semi-annual magazine publishes “the highest-quality fiction, poetry, and translations of contemporary poetry and fiction—must include original and proof of permission to translate.” Also, seeking “more creative nonfiction.”

TIP: “Seeking translations of contemporary authors from all languages into English.” Publishes new and established authors.

Contact: Editor-in-Chief | Abigail Cloud

Rate: $10 per piece

#13 – Queen’s Quarterly 

A quarterly literary magazine, which “features articles on science, politics, humanities, arts, and letters.” The pub also does “extensive book reviews and some poetry and fiction.”

TIP: Specifically “interested in poetry by Canadian writers.” Publishes five new writers per year.

Contact: Editor | James Carson, Literary Editor | Joan Harcourt

Rate: Nonfiction and Fiction: “Payment to new writers will be determined at time of acceptance” of submission, up to 2,000 words. |  Poetry: $50 – maximum of 6 poems per submission. 

#14 – Room Literary Magazine

A Canadian feminist literary journal based in Vancouver that “showcases fiction, poetry, artwork, reviews, interviews, and profiles.”

Contact: Editor |  Kevin Larimer

Rate: $50 – $120

#15 – The Southern Review 

A quarterly magazine, which publishes contemporary literature of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry in the U.S. and internationally.

TIP: The pub needs nonfiction essays, general interest, memoirs, personal experience, and travel pieces.

Contact: Co-Editor & Poetry Editor | Jessica Faust, Co-Editor & Prose Editor | Sacha Idell

Rate: “$50 for first pages and $25 each subsequent printed page.”

#16 – Range

The magazine quarterly publishes articles on “ranching, farming, and the issues that affect agriculture.” It is “devoted to the issues that threaten the West, its people, lifestyles, lands, and wildlife.”

Contact: Editor/Publisher | C.J. Hadley

Rate: $50 – $500 for new writers; pays more for regular writers

#17 – Rural Heritage Magazine

Bi-monthly magazine publishes articles on the “training and care of draft animals.”

TIP: Wants more pieces on “plans and instructions for constructing various horse-drawn implements and vehicles.”

Contact: Editor | Joe Mischka

Rate: Nonfiction: Pays .05 cents per word and pays expenses of writers on assignment, Poetry: $5 – $25

#18 – Asimov’s Science Fiction

This science-fiction magazine publishes fiction and fantasy stories for adults and young adults 10 times a year. It also publishes “the best short science fiction available.”

TIP: In general, the pub is looking for “character-oriented stories, rather than science.

Contact: Editor | Sheila Williams

Rate: Pays .08 cents – .10 cents per word for short stories up to 7,500 words; .08 cents – 8.5 cents per word for longer stories.

#19 – Shotgun Sports Magazine

This monthly publication covers “all shotgun sports and shotgun hunting—sporting clays, trap, skeet, hunting, gunsmithing, shotshell, reloading, mental training for the shotgun sports,” and anything else pertaining to the sport.

TIP: Check-out the Editorial Calendar to get a lead on upcoming events, which can provide ideas for articles to write and when. 

When submitting nonfiction, submit complete manuscript with photos by mail with a SASE, or by email, with a length between 1,500 – 3,000 words.

Contact: Editor-in-Chief | Johnny Cantu

Rate: $50 – $150. Pays expenses of writers on assignment.

#20 – Black Belt Magazine

Monthly martial arts magazine for both experienced and lay persons.

TIP: “Needs expose, how-to, interviews, new products, personal experience, technical, travel, informational. Never uses personality profiles.”

Submit query with outline of 1,200 minimum.

Contact: Executive Editor | Robert W. Young

Rate: $150 – $300 for feature articles with good photos.

Pick a magazine that works with new freelance writers

Want to land your first assignment or break into a new niche?

Pick a magazine from this list.

Most of these are markets that help you land a byline, build your portfolio, and make some money so you can move up and earn more.

Before you pitch any magazine, make sure you:

  • Review back issues to capture the writing style, tone, and find out the type of audience that reads the magazine.
  • Study the magazine website and check for an editorial calendar and/or media kit. These are great resources to garner ideas on upcoming topics that will be written in future issues.
  • Study the submission guidelines and follow them to the letter. Several of the publications have specific guidelines for fiction, nonfiction, poetry, photography, and art. In fact, many of the pubs have editors for each genre.
  • Ask. If the submission guidelines aren’t clear, reach out to the pub’s editor. It’s better to start off on the right foot and ask questions, that waste time on a pitch that gets rejected.

What break-in magazines for new freelance writers do you recommend? Tell us in the comments.

Arnita Williams is a freelance business writer and consultant based in Indianapolis, Indiana.

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