Custom Publishing Magazines are Customized for the Freelancer By Behlor Santi

According to a “white paper” at, custom publishing – the creation of magazines, newsletters, websites, and other media for a particular company or organization – is the fastest-growing and youngest segment of the media. About 60% of the US companies that custom publish started their in-house or standalone operations in the last ten years. The industry’s trade association, the Custom Publishing Council, is still in its relative infancy, and no particular company looms in profits and prestige. While a handful of custom publishers make between $20 and $50 million in annual revenue, the majority are small in-house and standalone firms.

Companies and organizations as varied as Verizon, American Airlines, World Vision, and Texas A & M University all have custom-published magazines, newsletters, and websites. With all this diversity, custom publishing provides great opportunities for freelance writers. You can write on a variety of topics, and get paid well. It’s not uncommon for magazines like American Spirit Magazine and Continental to pay $1 and up per word.

Custom-published magazines are great to write for. Yet how do you know which ones exist? It’s not like they have writers’ guidelines posted on the Web like regular consumer and trade magazines. Finding custom-published magazines to write for take a bit of detective work. The rewards, though, are worth the hard work.


First, go to the Custom Publishing Council website. The site is constantly updated with new custom magazines, and even more importantly, the site has contact information for custom publishing firms like McMurry, Hammock, Redwood, and Spafax. The Custom Publishing Council leads you to links for McMurry, which in turn lead you to magazines like Arrive and Ritz Carlton Magazine.


After you find a magazine you’ll like to write for, call the custom publishing firm. Ask for the number and email address of the appropriate editor. When you contact the editor, ask for a sample copy and the most recent editorial calendar. Unlike customer and trade magazines, many custom publishers do give out sample copies.


Read your sample copy thoroughly. Get a sense of what the publication is looking for. When you get ready to write your query, realize this:

1) Most custom publishing magazines are B2B (business-to-business). If you’re writing for Ritz Carlton Magazine, it’s safe to say that you shouldn’t submit ideas critical of Ritz Carlton. Also, don’t submit ideas critical of your company’s rivals. Custom publishing magazines want to keep their copy upbeat.

2) Be willing to submit a letter of intention, resume, and clips. Many editors of custom-published magazines prefer to work with experienced writers; your resume and clips can showcase your talent.


After submitting your query, wait at least two weeks for a follow-up. Editors at custom-published magazines, on the average, receive less freelance queries than customer and trade magazines. Waiting to contact the magazine gives the editor enough time to consider your query.


Contact: Julie Case, Managing Editor –
Description: “This is the in-flight magazine of Midwest Airlines. Midwest Airlines flies from Milwaukee and Kansas City as far as San Francisco, San Antonio, Ft Lauderdale, and New York. Editorial content is geared primarily to business travelers in the Midwest and includes regional business, travel, and general interest topics.”
Rights: First North American Serial Rights
Pays: $0.25 – $0.40/word

Contact: Rhonda Reinhart, Managing Editor –
Description: “This is the in-flight magazine for Southwest Airlines. We’re seeking accessible, entertaining, relevant and timely glimpses of people, places, products and trends in the regions Southwest Airlines serves. Newsworthy/noteworthy topics; well-researched and multiple source only. Business, travel, technology, sports and lifestyle (food, fitness and culture) are some of the topics covered in Spirit.”
Rights: First North American Serial Rights
Pays: $0.75 – $1.00/word

Contact: Anna Tatro, Managing Editor –
Description: “This is the in-flight magazine of United Express and Delta Connection. It promotes the places and people served by SkyWest Airlines, the nation’s largest independent regional airline. They publish two editions – Delta Connection and United Express, which combined has 1,500 daily flights to 118 cities in 38 states and three Canadian provinces.”
Rights: All Rights
Pays: $0.45 – $0.75/word

Contact: Karlin McCarthy, Managing Editor –
Description: “This is an in-room lifestyle publication for Ritz-Carlton hotels.”
Rights: First World-wide Rights
Pays: $0.50 – $1.00/word

Contact: James Tarbox, Editor –
Description: “This is the official magazine of The History Channel Club. This magazine is licensed by the publisher from The History Channel, owned by A&E Network, and is part of the membership in The History Channel Club. The editorial strives to provide members with entertaining and educational information to enhance their knowledge of, understanding of, and interest in American history. It does not duplicate television material.”
Rights: All Rights
Pays: $0.50 – $1.00/word

Contact: Jennifer Worrell, Managing Editor –
Description: “This is the in-flight magazine of American Airlines, American Eagle and AmericanConnection. Since American Airlines has acquired TWA, the American Way magazine will be distributed onboard all TWA airplanes, beginning in June 2001. This is a bi-weekly magazine, “catering to busy travelers who want to be in-the-know and desire information quickly and easily.” The magazine opens with the UpFront section, which delivers short bits on everything from food to wine to travel to sports to music to events. Next, Departments and Features make up the bulk of the magazine and provide glimpses into the “world-at-large.” Leisure, business, or travel topics, it’s all here. Celebrated Weekend, a Weekend American Way signature exclusive highlights an A-list celebrity taking readers on a tour of his or her favorite city. Additionally, the magazine publishes annual special editorial sections on topics like Cruising, Europe, Technology, Music, Latin and South America, Executive Education, Holiday Gift Giving as well as special advertising sections on Texas and Luxury Real Estate.”
Rights: All Rights
Pays: $0.80 – $1.00/word

Contact: Don Begley, Editor –
Description: “This magazine highlights the people and places of New Mexico and focuses on the issues facing rural Americans. This magazine is mailed monthly to 125,000 electric co-op members in rural New Mexico. It is the second largest publication in New Mexico.”
Rights: One Time Rights
Pays: $0.05-0.07 per word

Contact: Jeremy Taylor, Editor –
Description: “This is the in-flight magazine of BWIA West Indies Airways, which flies to destinations in Europe, Canada, the US, the UK and in the Caribbean.”
Rights: All Rights
Pays: $0.10-0.15 per word

Contact: Dee Reed, Managing Editor –
Description: “This is the membership publication of the Good Sam RV Club. It is a specialty magazine for RV enthusiasts who are members of the Good Sam Club.” Writing tip: “All of our readers own some type of RV–a motorhome, trailer, pop-up, tent–so our stories need to include places that you can go with large vehicles, and campgrounds in and around the area where they can spend the night.”
Rights: First North American serial rights
Pays: $0.12-0.30 per word

Contact: Leigh Flayton, Managing Editor –
Needs: “This magazine is intended for business travelers. It is carried aboard all Amtrak passenger trains in the US Northeast as well as in the Club Acela station lounges. It strives to provide passengers with information and entertainment to help make the most of visits to the major destination cities of the northeastern United States. It is a particularly valuable travel tool for guests aboard Acela-the world-class service for people who value their time.”
Rights: All Rights
Pays: $1.00 per word for features

Behlor Bernice Santi is a 26-year-old freelance writer currently living in the East Harlem section of New York City. Her email address is She loves to chat.