Saturday, 29 September 2018

Writing for foreign markets

Here I have a Q&A on writing for foreign markets. I responded to the questions with answers below.

1. How do you find potential foreign markets?

I use Writer's Market to find US clients, and work through it from A-Z in the magazine section. The Australian Writer's Marketplace lists all Australian titles, but so far, I've found Australian magazines just by searching Google: "Australian magazine *insert topic*". This has the added benefit of bringing up magazines that aren't always listed in writers' yearbooks.

2. What steps do you take to get to know that market?

I look at articles printed on the magazine's website. I don't usually try to get physical copies. I have occasionally asked for a sample article to help me get the style right. The editors have then sent me a copy of the magazine or a PDF of a similar article.

3. Do you resell pieces you've already sold in the UK, or do you write slightly differently angled material for the foreign readerships?

I try to resell British articles, but almost invariably find that the foreign markets want something slightly different. They also want first world rights.
I write a fair bit about food and you have to be aware that in foreign countries, food preferences differ, the names of some foods differ, and what's popular and in season differs too. I've had to make considerable adjustments to British health articles, modified for the Australian market, to take account of climate differences and dietary differences. I've had to research which vegetables grow well in Australian gardens at different times of year. You can't assume the same vegetables that are popular among British gardeners are popular in Australia too. I've also used different research studies to illustrate my points and make my work more relevant to Australian readers.

4. What difficulties have you encountered with foreign markets? Have you had problems getting paid, or finding out when a piece has been published?

Yes. One of my first pieces published in the USA was in Auto Week, who commissioned a time-sensitive piece and then had some editorial changes. My emails got lost. No one replied. I didn't know if my piece had been published. I certainly hadn't been paid. I finally managed to get hold of someone, nearly a year later, only to find out about the editorial changes. They did however, use my piece (updated) and paid me. But I never got to see a copy, either electronically or in print. I gave up at that point, just happy to have been paid!

5. What advice would you give to writers considering approaching a foreign market for the first time?

Make sure you tailor your pitch to their domestic market. Use information relevant and topical to the country, and know the language differences. So try to write in American English if you're approaching the American markets, for example.

My book, Freelance Writing: Aim Higher, Earn More, has a chapter on writing for overseas markets.

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