Before you fork over a chunk of money to subscribe to a writer’s market database, try your hand at compiling your own market list by using the power of search engines. You will discover markets better targeted to your specific needs at no cost other than a few minutes on the computer.
At www.thesearchenginelist.com, you will find a list of search engines. It’s a fairly comprehensive list, which includes a brief description of the type of coverage you can expect from each search site. Of course, Google, Bing and Yahoo are the three most popular. Select the one you prefer, or that most closely defines the type of material you are seeking.
Enter a plain language search string such as “fiction markets” or “freelance writing markets” or “magazine editorial guidelines.” By placing the quotation marks around your search string, the search should produce only that exact phrase. Try capitalizing “Fiction Markets” to find results for the title of an article or website page.
If you are finding the horror genre markets included in the results and you wish to eliminate them, type this phrase: “fiction markets” not horror. Some search engines will give you different results if you type this: “fiction markets” –horror. For more targeted results, add your genre to the search string: “romance fiction markets” not paranormal or: “fiction markets” +romance. Always try the plain language version before you try the +/- option. When using the symbols, don’t leave a space between the symbol and the word you are adding to or deleting from the search.
Experiment with various keyword combinations to find what works best for you and for the search engine you are using. Discard any search strings that yield poor results, but make sure you write down each of your successful search strings so you can apply them later. Each search engine produces slightly different results.
Don’t be intimidated by the “Advanced Search” feature of the search engine. It is simply an additional device used to refine your search. Some tools, such as Ask.com, permit you to type a search string in the form of a simple question. (Ex: What is the current population of the world?) In addition, most search sites have a page that offers tips and shortcuts on how to search that are specific to that site. Check these options to assure you are getting the best results.
Finally, to find what method works best for you, try mega-search engines that pull results simultaneously from several search engines. Three of the top meta-search tools, Dogpile, WebCrawler and MetaCrawler, all compile results from a variety of major search sites such as Google, Bing and Yahoo as well as many others.
As a finishing touch, you might check to see who is looking for a writer by typing in “call for submissions.” Or skim the sites at zinio.com, magazines.com, mrmagazine.com and tradepub.com for magazines you might never find at your local newsstand.
No more paying someone else a fee to do the searching for you. No more hours wasted sifting through dozens of generalized market lists. Soon you will have your own database of markets, every element of which you targeted specifically for your writing products.
Kathleen Ewing is an award-winning freelance writer who lives in the central mountains of Arizona. Her feature articles have appeared in Hobby Farms, American Falconry and Living the Country Life among many others. She is currently writing a series of romantic adventure novels set in the deadly international black market of endangered animals. She is online at LinkedIn.