I’d like to start by stating the obvious, which is how not to approach the editor of a magazine. Never send an email telling the editor that you want to be published in their magazine and ask how much they pay. This is the worst possible approach; it’s unlikely you will get a reply at all.
So, what is the best way to make an approach? Well, if you really want to be published in a magazine, as well as get some guaranteed future promotion of your photography, there is a certain procedure that you need to follow. There are no half measures or cutting corners in these situations: patience is the key. Here are some steps that you need to be aware of and then follow:
The first and most important part is to become familiar with the magazine. It will be very embarrassing if you are asked a question about it and you cannot answer due to lack of knowledge. As such, you should:
1) Buy the magazine or get a subscription for a while. Follow the magazine, read it, study it, find out what the editor likes or dislikes, and become familiar with his or her style.
2) Once you have gained enough knowledge about the magazine’s style, contact the editor via email:
a: Make sure the email is well written. Remember that you are sending an email to someone whose job it is to make sure all the writing in the magazine is top notch. A very well produced email means that you have a good chance of being taken seriously. This will be your first opportunity to display your writing skills. If your email is badly presented, your chance to convince them you are a good writer is very slim.
b: Introduce yourself and describe your style. Tell them that you are a subscriber and that you read the magazine every month and love its content. You guessed right: being complimentary can earn you points.
c: Make sure you add a link to your website in the email so the editor can view your work.
d: Include a link to an article or blog you have written so the editor can see some of your work.
e: Keep the email short and to the point. The last thing an editor is going to do is to read your 1000-word biography.
f: Be patient. Do not expect to get a reply within a few hours; it might take a few days or even longer. If you have not received a reply within two weeks, send a follow-up email. Persistence can often pay off.
g: Make sure you use an email provider such as ‘Gmail’ that will allow the editor’s emails to come through to your inbox (and always check your spam folder). Providers such as AT&T, BT and so on are notorious for blocking emails because they consider them ‘spam’. Make sure that the editor’s reply will reach you.
You got lucky
If you receive a reply and you are asked to provide any further information or an article sample, take your time to do so. Remember, they are not in a hurry to see your work. A week’s time will allow you to make sure you have included anything they have asked for and that your work is good and professionally presented. It is always a good idea to ask your family and friends for a second opinion on the content.
If you send any images, make sure they are free from sensor dust. Sizes and all other details should be as requested. If the editor has to do the work that you should have done with the images, they will not be pleased.
Follow my advice and you could get lucky. In case you wish to introduce yourself, my own email address is: email@example.com.
PS: The same goes for all people who wish to contribute images for publication. Magazines display a variety of sections. Unless you are familiar with these sections, how do you know which section you wish to participate in? Personally, I would not want to publish my images in a magazine that I haven't looked inside it before.
To cut a long story short, be part of a magazine before you can contribute.