July 16, 2008
Profiting from Pets: Writing for Animal Magazines By John K. Borchardt | printable version
Animal magazines target pet owners and animal businesses and cover a wide spectrum of animals and topics. These range from common pets such as dogs (Bark, Dog Fancy, etc.) and cats (Cat Fancy, I Love Cats, etc.), to fish (Aquarium Fish International, Tropical Fish Hobbyist), to less usual pets (Reptiles, Miniature Donkey Journal) to quite large animals (The Horse, Equus, etc.). Some magazines note in their guidelines they are not pet magazines but are intended for people breeding and selling animals.
Some have a broad focus such as The Horse or Equus, which cover all types of horses. Others are narrower, covering a single breed such as Appaloosa Journal or The American Quarterhorse Journal. Some cover competitions involving owners and their animals. For example, Equestrian Magazine covers show jumping, dressage and other equestrian competitive events while The Greyhound Review covers greyhound breeding, training and racing. These are as much sports magazines as they are animal magazines.
The varying nature of these magazines means you must target your queries carefully. For example, the same query won't work for the American Kennel Club's AKC Gazette and AKC Family Dog. AKC Gazette is for people who want to compete with their purebred dogs in dog shows. In contrast, AKC Family Dog targets readers whose dogs are simply pets.
Article topics include breeding, raising and training many types of animals. Owning an animal isn't required to write for these magazines; I don't have a pet. However, it definitely gives writers a head start in developing and researching topics. Good interviewing skills can sometimes overcome this lack. However, some editors prefer writers having personal experience with animals covered in their magazine. For example, in considering giving me my first assignment, an editor of The Horse asked me what type of horse I own. I don't own a horse but getting the assignment might have been easier if I did.
Many people start writing for animal magazines because of their interest in their own pets. Some magazines such as Cat Fancy publish owner's anecdotes about their pets. An owner's own experiences with a sick pet can lead to articles about the animal's medical problem and how it was treated. Owners often are familiar with training techniques and may even have discovered some novel techniques of their own they could write about. Owners already have one veterinarian they can interview for an animal health article - their own.
Animal health is a major subject of animal magazines. Medical writers may find their human health clips helpful in selling animal health articles particularly if these clips demonstrate that they are excellent interviewers of physicians. If they are, it's a good bet they will also be good interviewers of veterinarians and academic scientists studying animal health.
There are opportunities for science writers to write for animal magazines. For example, I wrote an article about how pastures planted with new types of more nutritious grasses have resulted in a growing problem of seriously overweight horses. This was published in The Horse. Science-related stories are usually best suited for magazines with a broad focus. For example, Reptiles covers all types of reptile and amphibian pets. Reptiles also occasionally covers wild reptiles and amphibians, not just pets. Gary W. Swinford recently wrote a Reptiles article describing two rare species of rattlesnakes that live at high mountain altitudes.
Those interested in history can find interesting topics. For example, Nicole Kraft's article on the history of the most famous harness race, "The Road Through History: Trotting down the Hambletonian Trail," was published in a recent issue of Hoofbeats, which covers this sport.
There are multiple magazines for many types of animals. This means you can retarget a query to another magazine should the first you approach decline your query. The best approach is probably to reslant an article published in one narrowly focused magazine such as Appaloosa Journal to another narrowly focused publication focusing on another breed of horse such as Hoofbeats. Using this approach you will avoid the overlap of readership that could result from first publishing an article in a broadly focused magazine such as AKC Family Dog and then refocusing it to a single breed such as Labrador retrievers and querying Just Labs.
In some cases, one can reslant articles from one type of animal to another. English language animal magazines published in Europe, Australia, and other regions offer opportunities for sale of international rights to your articles published in North America.
While some writers occasionally embarrass their kids when they write about them, animal article writers never have this problem!
Paying Animal Markets
AKC Gazette and AKC Family Dog
Length: 1,000 - 3,000 words. Pays: $300-500
Editor: Diane Rice
Writer's Guidelines: http://www.appaloosajournal.com/magazine/freelance.html
Article Length: 800 - 1800 words. Pays: $200-400
Article Length: 800 - 1,200 words. Pays: $200-500
Columns open to freelancers: Health and Medicine; Training and Behavior, 500 words. Pays: $200 - 250 for columns.
Dogs in Canada
Editor: Kelly Caldwell
Article Length: 500 - 1,800 words. Pays: $100 and up.
Dogs Life (Australia, New Zealand)
Writer's Guidelines: http://www.animalnetwork.com/cats/writer.asp
**Only accepts queries from January-May. Queries sent after May will be returned or discarded.
Article Length: 1,200-1,500 words. Payment: $200-$400.
Two columns are open to freelancers. "Kids for Cats" has puzzles, games and how-to pieces for younger readers. Payment: $20-$75. "Flights of Fancy" publishes short fiction and poetry. Column length is 650-800 words. Payment is two complimentary copies of the issue in which your story appears.
Editor: Brian Sisby
Article Length: 500 - 3,500 words. Pays: $200-500
Writer's Guidelines: http://www.equisearch.com/equus/submissions/
Length: 1,600 - 3,000 words. Payment depends on quality, length, and complexity of the story.
Several columns open to freelancers. See writer's guidelines. Payment varies with the quality, length, and complexity of the story.
Field Trial Magazine
Editor: Craig Doherty
Article Length: 1,000 - 3,000 words. Pays: $100 - $300.
Editor: T.J. Burkett
I Love Cats
Editor: Lisa Allmendinger
Writers Guidelines: http://www.iluvcats.com/writguidfori.html
Article Length: 500 - 1,000 words. Pays $50-100 or contributor copies.
Pet Age - trade magazine for pet and pet suppliers
Editor: Cathy Foster
Length: 1,500 - 2,200 words. Pays: 15¢/word.
Writer's Guidelines: http://www.reptilechannel.com/writers-guidelines.aspx
Pays about $500 for a 2,000- to 2,500-word article with good photos; less for shorter pieces.
Editor: Kimberly S. Brown
Writer's Guidelines: http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=4883
Length: 250 - 4,000 words. Pays $60-850
Columns open to freelancers include News Front (news on horse health), 100-500 words; Equinomics (economics of horse ownership); Step by Step (feet and leg care); Nutrition; Reproduction; Back to Basics, all 1,500-2,200 words. Pays: $50 - 450 for columns.
The Greyhound Review
Article Length: 1,000 - 10,000 words. Pays: $85-150