The 5 Best, Surefire Ways to Break into Yankee

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“How do I break into Yankee?” I hear that question over and over from hopeful writers. Through the years, I’ve spoken to hundreds of freelancers at writers’ conferences, as well as on the phone and through letters and e-mails. The earnestness and hope in that question are not to be taken lightly.

The desire to be published runs wide and deep among us, and Yankee, for many people, has seemed like part of the family. Even a colleague, when she finally saw her byline in the July/August issue, confessed to me the other day, “It was one of my dreams, to be published in Yankee.”

The other day I gave a speech to the Sanford-Springvale, Maine, Chamber of Commerce. I enjoy this part of my job: getting out, meeting the people of New England, the very heart of why Yankee Magazine matters. We’re not an abstract part of their lives; many of the people I meet grew up with Yankee in their homes, and now their own children are doing the same.

I met a wonderful, gregarious man who grew up in Sanford, left for a while after high school, and then came back to stay. He told me about his two teenaged children, and his pride in them fairly made his sport coat pop off. He told me about his son, who loves to write. As I was leaving, he pressed a few pages of his son’s writing into my hands and entreated me to read it. “He’d love to write for Yankee,” he said.

I understand, and that’s why I’ve compiled here the “5 Best, Surefire Ways to Get into Yankee.” They’ll seem simple. They’re deceptively difficult to pull off. But it happens. It happens. Stories do come to us “over the transom.” That means we haven’t assigned them. They come like a knock on the door, and we open the envelope and here’s this rare treasure of a story we must accept and publish.

We also receive dozens of queries each month. A query is basically a job interview. If a query is fascinating to read, if the writer shows that he/she has a passion and knowledge of the subject, we’ll often want to know more. This list will serve you well, whether you send a query or a completed manuscript.

1. Know the magazine. A magazine isn’t static. A magazine lives and shows what it is every issue. If you’re going to get in, know what we’re doing now.

2. Write about New England. That seems obvious, since Yankee is “New England’s Magazine,” but a surprising number of submissions arrive that have little to do with the region.

3. Tell us what we don’t know. This is key. Yes, we know New England, but we want to be surprised. If we can be surprised by what you write, we know the readers will be. Take a look at the March/April 2008 issue. The story Hidden Trails of Cape Cod delivers the surprise. It came in with that unexpected knock on the door.

4. Write with authority. This applies to both queries and finished stories. Make sure you show us that you know what you’re writing about. Any one of us can find information now on the Internet. What we want is a real sense that you have a depth of knowledge about whatever it is you write about.

5. Write so that we pay attention to the first words. Again, this is imperative for queries as well as finished stories. Many query writers send us lengthy resumes. The best resume is that page that shows us how you use words, how you want to write the story. We want to discover new writers. It’s why we come into the office every day: to put out a magazine that excites us. The competition is stiff; the bar for what we publish is high. But I have so many stories over the years about unpublished writers breaking in that I know it can happen for you.

See our Submission Guidelines for Writers and Photographers.


Yankee editor Mel Allen is the author of A Coach’s Letter to His Son.

  • This article is just what I’m looking for. I moved to upstate NY about 2 1/2 years ago and try to get to the New England area on several day or weekend trips a month. Since I’m originally from the midwest most of New England is new to me, the scenery, the history there is nothing like it in the middle of the country. I’m starting a blog on a local website and would love to expand my writing to other publications. So thanks again for all the info, I’m sure it will be used in my other pursuits!

  • oops, I bet one of the surefire ways NOT to break in is NOT proofreading before submitting. Pardon my excessive apostrophe use in the previous comment. Am I in? :) (Darn, no capitalization at the beginning of this comment either.) Out. lol

    Nice blog, and the website is looking great!

  • I immediately thought, “Why would anyone want to -break into- Yankee and why is the editor telling them how??” lol Selling pre-press Almanac’s to spies? Switching all the furniture around as a joke? Was it only my slippery mind or did anyone else see it that way?

  • Excellent advice for having your work accepted, and read by Yankee magazine (and any publication, for that matter) by Mel Allen. Thank you, for posting this, Mel.

    Allow me to add my own top three basics of writing list.

    1) Write what you would want to read. Ask yourself, “Would I want to read this?” I know this sounds simplistic, but if you aren’t writing about a subject that you care passionately about, there’s a good chance that your reader will recognize that fact, and not be very interested in reading it, either.

    2) Write about what you know well. If you aren’t too familiar with a certain subject that you intend to write about, then do research on it first, and write it later. With that new-found knowledge at hand that you can draw from, your writing will translate to your reader with much, more clarity.

    3) Write, write and then write some more. From my experience in working with many writers what appears to be the biggest impediment for them is, they just can’t seem to find the free time to finish what they have started writing. Even, if it’s only for one hour each day, find the time to write, every day and then do so. The more you write, the better you will be at it, and the more work you’ll actually complete. Any craftsman/woman improves with the act of doing what it is they want to do well, and so will you in the craft of writing.

    R. Jeffreys, Boston, MA

  • I am the photo editor for the magazine. Thanks so much for your interest in Yankee Magazine. We are already hard at work on our January/February issue and photographing year ahead stories as well for next autumn. Generally, we use images on the cover related to stories within the magazine and often these cover images are photographed on assignment for us. However, we do review work from professional photographers for possible stock and assignment work. Please check out our photography guidelines (see link below) for a little more information. Thanks again.

  • Thanks for all the great tips. I have always been fascinated with Yankee over the years and love driving by our doorstep when we travel to Saratoga Springs, NY for our family reunion each summer. One of these days I’d love to stop in to say hello in person.

    I am a freelance photographer and would love to submit photos to Yankee. I have one particular shot that would be great for the Christmas issue or possible the cover, it’s of a white fence with pineapples on the tops of the posts with red bows and swags. I used it as a Christmas card and everyone fell in love with the shot. It’s shot on the diagonal. The contrast of red and white really make it pop and I was wondering if it would be possible to submit that one photo for your consideration for the Christmas edition or is it too late. I have a website at http://www.betterphoto.com?kathyinnh
    Kathy in NH. http://www.rcsradford@aol.com

  • dorothy

    This article will be helpful as I expand my writing markets. The query information is expecially helpful not only for submission to Yankee but for all publications. Thank you for the tips and I hope we can do business soon.
    Dorothy E. Morris (note the email name is wrong above). Thanks

  • Vey helpful to folks like me. It would be nice to have a small section that has to do with “Off the Beaten Path” type stories for folks like me who can submit articles and pictures about other regions that the editors find interesting for their readers. Thanks for the “How to” though, helpful in many ways…Elvis Milic, Phoenix, AZ http://www.imagezs.net


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