Recently, I described a bit about my own freelance writing for genealogy and family history magazines. In this article, I’ll expand the discussion: I’ll explain how you can break into this market, too – and where you might do so.
In most cases, family history and genealogy magazine editors seek constructive, practicable information. Perusing the magazines, you’ll see that this preference translates into articles that give readers pointers on many topics, from navigating one’s way through immigration or naturalization documents, to investigating one’s family history via church records, to a host of other possibilities. Articles addressing ways to use the Internet to conduct family history research are increasingly popular, too.
Emphasis on practical advice notwithstanding, there’s still room for good old storytelling in these magazines. Often taking the form of short essays inspired by family historians’ experiences and discoveries, these contributions typically appear in regular departments, such as Family Tree Magazine‘s “Everything’s Relative” and Ancestry‘s “Bare Bones” sections. Reading a few back issues will give the flavor of these anecdotal essays, which are often characterized by humor and/or nostalgia.
Other personal experience pieces focus more closely on the nuts-and-bolts of individual research discoveries. These articles tend to be longer than the lighter essays, offering detailed case studies of successful research experiences that might assist other family historians.
For the writer who loves to immerse herself in research, to instruct, and to tell stories that truly keep the past alive, family history and genealogy publications offer a multitude of opportunities. Here are some of them:
This bimonthly magazine looks for articles that help genealogists and hobbyists with their research. Features follow topics/themes determined by the editorial staff. Each issue also includes a “Bare Bones” essay (600-800 words). Case studies detailing an ancestor’s life and the researcher’s methods of overcoming challenges in learning about it run 1200-1500 words. Note that this magazine purchases copyright as work for hire (buys all rights); authors are paid on publication. E-mail for full guidelines. Pays honorarium.
WritersWeekly has removed this listing from our site because the publisher won’t provide a contract to writers. NEVER WRITE WITHOUT A CONTRACT!
FAMILY TREE MAGAZINE
Published bimonthly, this magazine covers many aspects of family history discovery and celebration: genealogy, ethnic heritage, personal history, Websites/software, scrapbooking, photography and photo preservation. Seeks articles with broad appeal and specific, helpful information. Pays on acceptance (rates vary) for first rights and online rights; offers kill fee. Submissions accepted for the “Everything’s Relative” page, which features “short, amusing stories of ‘the lighter side of family history,” earn $25. Other departments include “Branching Out” (newsy front-of-the-book section) and the “Toolkit,” with profiles of new resources for genealogists, scrapbookers, and family historians.
GOOD OLD DAYS and GOOD OLD DAYS SPECIALS
According to the guidelines, these publications tell the real stories of the people who lived and grew up in “the good old days” (about 1920-1958). “We like stories to sound conversational, as if you’re sitting around the fire and Grandpa’s telling you about the time he and Grandma got shivareed. However, we are open to any way you choose to write your story, as long as it is true and falls within our targeted period of time.” Includes several regular departments for each issue. Prefers to purchase all rights, “but will negotiate.” Pays $20-$100. E-mail for their editorial calendar.
This new magazine (it launched in 2006, and is published by Family Chronicle‘s publisher) appears bimonthly. Focuses on helpful articles for Web-related genealogy research. Seeks first world serial and electronic rights. Typically pays by the published page, minimum US$75/page.
Erika Dreifus is a Massachusetts-based writer whose family history articles have appeared in Ancestry, Family Chronicle, and Family Tree Magazine. Her genealogical research has also found its way into her short fiction on several occasions. Check out her free monthly newsletter, The Practicing Writer, at https://www.practicing-writer.com, and keep up with her Practicing Writing blog posts at https://practicing-writing.blogspot.com.