Bigger windows? No. I’m not talking about a new Microsoft Operating System. Instead, I’m talking about broadening your window of topicality.
Topicality is important. Write something well in advance, with a topical hook aimed squarely at a publication’s readership and, if the editor likes it, it could be used in that topical-dated issue.
There are some subjects, though, that have a small topical window. Anniversaries (births, deaths, etc), for example, can only appear in one specific issue. On this day (26th June) in 1977, Elvis Presley performed his final concert of his life in Indianapolis. An Elvis Presley themed article, using the anniversary of his last concert performance as the topical hook, needs to appear in the issue of the publication on the newsagents shelves on 26th June.
Having such a narrow window of opportunity could work against us though. If that particular issue is already full, and the editor can’t switch out another piece, then the piece is a no go … for this year.
But broaden the theme of the article, say to Presley’s last three months (he died in August), then for a monthly publication the editor has a choice of three issues in which to use the piece.
“The thing to take into account when writing a story around a particular seasonal celebration, such as Christmas or Valentine’s Day, is that the magazines will be receiving hundreds of stories on the same subject. These stories will only be published in one or maybe two issues around that time, and that reduces the number of stories that will be accepted. General seasonal ones (winter or summer) are better as you have a window of several months but non-seasonal stories will fit in anywhere and at any time and you won’t be directly competing with other writers (including the magazines’ regulars).” Wendy Clarke
Wendy, who has had hundreds of stories printed ( and she’s collected many of them together in some anthologies ) makes a valid point about competition. Publication issues that include popular dates/celebrations will be more heavily targeted by other writers. So not only does your work have to be of a high publishable standard, but it also needs to be better than the work other writers are sending in.
So if you’re targeting a popular anniversary or theme, consider broadening your topicality window. It could improve your chances of success.