The Vagenda

How to Make it in the Magazine Industry

So, Louise Court recently gave Cosmo readers some career tips re: breaking into the magazine industry. We thought of some of our own.
1.) Prepare yourself to work for free for a really, really long time. 
Just accept that if you want to become a mag hag, chances are you ain’t getting paid for a couple of years at the very LEAST. Although technically slave labour has been outlawed in this country, if you’re middle class, white, and living with your parents, the rules don’t apply, especially not when all you’re doing is providing the editorial staff with skinny chai tea lattes and repeatedly googling “cupcake recipes” with a glazed expression, or locked in a fashion cupboard with a steamer, a cardboard cutout of a reality TV star, and a sense of acute nihilism.  
2.) Tailor your CV to the job for which you’re applying
This means that if you’re applying for somewhere good, like the New Statesman, you probably shouldn’t be including the “Kate Price’s Puffy Eyed Post-Divorce Makeover” article you wrote for Grazia. It works the other way around, too: Grazia couldn’t give a shit about your needle-sharp analysis of the post-feminist fetishisation of erotic capital. They don’t even understand it.
3.) Get ready for the Sloane invasion
Magazine offices are rife with Sloanes, i.e. the kind of people who still use the word “chav”, subsist solely on a diet of laduree macaroons and vogue cigarettes, and say things of such staggering, mind-blowing stupidity that you wonder how the human race has succeeded in becoming the dominant species. Imagine Patsy’s colleagues in Ab Fab, twenty pounds lighter and clinically depressed. You’ll need to come to terms with the fact that you’re working with people who have never had a one night stand, not even a cheeky finger behind Bargain Booze. And you’re expected to get on with them and say things like “yeah, me too” when they’re talking about how they once broke into the boys dorm at school and stole a chaste kiss from a minor member of the aristocracy. Take comfort in the fact that there are successful journalists out there like Grace Dent and Caitlin Moran, who, like, didn’t grow up on the King’s Road, and then realise that those days are over and gone and that your regional accent and lack of anecdotes relating to late night shenanigans in the JCR means you’re pretty much doomed.
4.) Have a parent who already works in the industry
If you’ve got this then you’re pretty much made. There’s some kind of weird assumption going on in society that talent and intelligence are genetically inherited, when in fact your mum could be Polly Toynbee and your dad could be Will Self but you’re still, to all intents and purposes, lacking in that indefinable stuff which differentiates genius from polyp. Don’t worry: no one will notice. Hang onto those coat-tails, girl, you’re in for one hell of a ride. 
5.) Write for the Huffington Post
Absolutely everyone, and I mean everyone, who wants a career in magazines writes unpaid for the Huff Post. It’s like a law or something. You don’t even need to be good. Once you’re article’s up, post it everywhere from twitter to facebook accompanied by the words “My piece in the Huffington Post”, as though it’s an honour and you were chosen on the basis of merit alone. 
6.) Be nice to PRs
PRs basically run the whole industry. They have access to important things like shoes, and if you’re nice they’ll even write your articles FOR you. However, it does mean that you have to buy into the whole lie that you’re, like, totally best buds. This means using an over-familiar tone of voice on the phone and saying things like “How ARE you?” and putting “xxx love you babez” on the end of all your emails. When you meet them at parties they’ll say stuff like, “oh! you know [insert Shakespearian girls' name here] at Vogue. Me too! We’re very close. We’re like that.” When they call, resist the temptation to just hang up out of crushing boredom and accept that you’ll be saying “yes, I did get your press release about how moisturiser can cure depression” for at least another 50 years, 60 if the government ups the retirement age. 
7.) Sell your soul
It’s not that difficult. OK, so maybe once, a long time ago, you slept with someone who was so attached to their copy of Das Kapital that it fused with their anatomy. You wore baggy jumpers and went to protests and had arguments about structuralism and believed that if people could just, you know, get on, then we’d fully be on our way to political utopia. But that was ages ago. Now you’re a mag hag (or even better, can claim the prestigious title of Daily Mail Reporter) and you’re dutifully submitting weekly copy about how Kim Kardashian is a post-feminist pioneer, and yes, Samantha Cameron may be married to an evil toad but LOOK AT HER DRESS! LOOK AT IT. Before you know it you’ll be including yourself in that sector of society known as “taxpayer” and shopping at Whistles. It’s OK, though, because no one over thirty has liberal politics. Socialism’s for kids. 
8.) Be thin
It is a truth universally acknowledged that, the more you look like an emaciated model, the more likely it is that you’ll end up working at a magazine which features emaciated models on its pages. As you already know from the back to back eleven hour shifts you’ve been working to cover the cost of your internship, food is overrated and not, like, actually necessary for survival. Plus you can write articles about how great it is to be thin, and national newspapers such as the Observer might even publish them. 
9.) Move to New York
Then you can write articles from a “New York” angle and be in high demand. This shit will be your bread and butter. You can write about how “New Yorkers do multi-dating” or “The Sex Trend that is Sweeping New York” or “Move over, Cupcakes, it’s My Time Now (Says Macaroon), all in that faintly snarky Gawker tone, and you’ll earn loads of money and people will love you. Even if you’re ordinarily a pretty sensible, erudite hack, all it takes is one anecdote about Ryan Gosling saving you from being run over by a yellow taxi and everyone will be like, “Wow” and ask you to write about it on Jezebel. 
10.) Don’t, under any circumstances, start a blog about how women’s magazines are full of anti-feminist shit, even if it’s funny
Turns out Mag Hags don’t have much of a sense of humour (WHO KNEW?) so steer clear of making fun at them AT ALL (otherwise you’ll have some journalist at a women’s mag going “You’ve destroyed your chances of ever working in magazines”- actual quote said to one of our writers). The world of women’s magazines is po-faced, over-sensitive and hungry, so stick to that and you’ll be well on your way. DISSENT IS NOT AN OPTION.
Good luck, aspiring Grazis!

2 thoughts on “How to Make it in the Magazine Industry

  1. “You’ve destroyed your chances of ever working in magazines”

    Awww, I bet you were gutted! They certainly don’t seem to be very happy about being criticised.