(from the archives: originally interviewed and published while on assignment for Writer’s Market on December 2, 2008)
Kate Lawler, Executive Editor of Ladies’ Home Journal, is still giving the same advice to beginning writers that I received a decade ago from an editor who took me under his wing: start local and use that experience to pitch the national publications. It is practical advice that writers would be wise to heed, especially in a tough, competitive market where hundreds of queries cross the desks of editors at every national publication with only a few slots available for the brightest and best.
When I call Kate at her office in New York at our appointed interview time, other responsibilities have invaded her schedule “She’ll call you right back,” her assistant tells me. “She says within fifteen minutes.”
True to her word, the phone rings a short time later, and we talk first in generalities of the common mistakes writers make. We talk of trends in the marketplace and of the shifting demographics within the country itself.
“I think magazines are always aware of demographic changes,” Lawler says. “Take, for instance, the rise in Hispanic language magazines; that is directly due to changes in demographics. And we are all aware of the enormous Gen Y/Millennial generation. The older end of this group is in their mid- to late 20s, and they are magazine readers.”
And then she speaks to my question, “But specific magazines – their demographic doesn’t really shift; they tend to maintain their core readership. For us, that’s women in their forties. That doesn’t really change.”
I ask this powerhouse of an editor if she has always liked to write. She stops to think for a moment before she answers. “Yes. Yes, I did. I must have. You know, I majored in English in college.” After beginning as an editorial assistant at Self Magazine, Lawler says she spent the core of her career within a broad range of women’s services magazines. “Until recently, I was Executive Editor of Parents,” she says, “and now, I’m here at Ladies Home Journal as Executive Editor.”
I think of the advice she gave at the beginning of our visit – start small and use that to move on to bigger things – is solid. Lawler ‘s own career mirrors this path. It is refreshing to see someone living the advice given to others.
Update: Lawler still serves as the Executive Editor at Ladies’ Home Journal. You can read a bit more about her here.