Interview with a fitness magazine editor: what models should know

MS&F May 2011 Cover

May 2011 Cover

This blog is geared towards models (or really any creative agent) looking to pitch themselves to a publication but are not sure how to go about it. This is one of the main questions I am asked by talents I work with. “What can I do to get myself seen by magazines?” or “How can I go about submitting myself?”

I recently had the opportunity to chat with the LaRue Novick, the Editor in Chief of Max Sports and Fitness Magazine. I’ve had the privilege of working alongside her for awhile and am really excited to share the results of our conversation.

In this exclusive interview, she shares a little about her background in journalism and publishing as well as what their magazine looks for when it comes to models and creative agents pitching themselves.

Hope you enjoy!

So how long have you been the Editor in Chief of Max Sports & Fitness Magazine?
I have been with the publication since May 2006.

What got you started in the journalism and editing field?
Well, I always knew I wanted to be involved in journalism and editing somehow. I earned a bachelor’s in communication/journalism from California State University, Fullerton in 2000 and the rest is history!

MS&F February 2011 Cover

February 2011 Cover

What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Providing a magazine that inspires people to want to live and be their best inside and out – ALWAYS!

And what would you find to be the most challenging aspect of what you do?
Putting a 64-page magazine together every month from scratch – from planning, assigning articles and photo shoots, to writing, editing and designing (basically doing the job of several different people) – can be quite challenging.

There are inevitably multiple things that can and do go wrong each month, but as someone once told me, working on a newspaper or magazine is like changing a flat tire on a moving vehicle.

But to answer the question, the most challenging part of my job is overcoming the feeling that I’ve let someone down (i.e. a model we don’t end up using for whatever reason, a photographer who doesn’t do what I ask because I wasn’t clear enough in my direction, a writer who is excited about an article pitch they want me to run but it’s not a fit for the magazine, or my readers – especially my readers – if there are errors of any kind in the magazine).

Could you describe what a typical deadline day is like for you?
Every day is different! And since I do everything for the magazine, it could be a crazy day of designing, editing, proofing, writing, or all of the above!

Understanding a fairly hectic schedule, how often do you get pitches from models, trainers, writers, photographers, etc?
I probably receive a handful each week.

MS&F March 2011 Cover

March 2011 Cover

When it comes to models pitching themselves to you; and taking into account how many pitches you have to get; how important is it for a model to have a unique pitch story?
MS&F is different from other national magazines in that it is Max Muscle Sports Nutrition’s No. 1 marketing piece. To explain, this magazine, which is more than 100,000 in circulation, is distributed to more than 140 Max Muscle stores across the nation. From the stores, the magazines are distributed into their local communities at drop off sites that include gyms, doctor’s offices, high schools, yoga studios, YMCA’s, etc.

The magazine is intended to “sell” Max Muscle products, but it’s more than that. When I took over, the magazine was more about driving ads and the body-building industry, which sometimes embarrassed some of the Max Muscle franchisees who wouldn’t be able to drop off particular issues because of the racy, super-muscled content. Today, the magazine is a true lifestyle magazine covering everything from beauty and fitness to nutrition and supplements.

With all of that said, most of the profile pieces in our magazine have to do with Max Muscle customers and franchisees. So, if a fitness model comes to me with a unique and inspirational article (particularly a weight loss story), I most likely can’t do a profile piece unless that person takes Max Muscle supplements.

MS&F Interior Page

MS&F Interior Page

However, we do feature people who aren’t Max Muscle customers from time to time, especially if they have a big name in the industry. For example, fitness models in our workout articles do not necessarily have to be Max Muscle customers.

 

What are some of the things which help some applicants stand out over others?
If you are a fitness model and a trainer AND a writer, we’re in business as I always need interesting, well-written, innovative workout articles. Also, if you let me know you are willing to travel to do a shoot and you are always photo ready (trust me, some are NOT), it helps you stand out.

We have a tiny budget, so our models work for Max Muscle product and for clips for their portfolios, plus the national recognition that comes with being in a national magazine!

Do you prefer when you get pitches via e-mail, fax, regular mail or other?
E-MAIL! There’s only so much room in my office!

How many photos do you like to see included with a pitch?
Doesn’t matter, but definitely want to see a variety. Please, do not send me contact sheets from photo shoots because I don’t want to see images where your eyes are closed or you’re making a funny face (haha!). I want to see finished photos.

Have you come across some definite No-No’s when it comes to applicants contacting you
Don’t be pushy and tell me you’re the best for the job and why and then keep emailing me to see if I got your previous 10 emails. Also, if you are a huge bodybuilder (male or female) with veins popping out everywhere, we’re not interested.

Without names, do you have any stories about a difficult experience you had in working with someone?
It’s frustrating when you choose fitness models because of their pictures and they show up for the shoot all flabby and not at all like they looked in the photos. It wastes everyone’s time and that is just unprofessional. I’ve had that happen a few times. Now, I ask potential models to send me a picture with their camera phone. And it better be current.

How much contact is too much contact?
One follow-up e-mail will suffice if you haven’t heard from me yet. I save all e-mails from models in a specific “models” folder and will refer to that when necessary.

What are some of the best pitches you think you have seen?
Truthfully, pitches from photographers such as James Patrick and Mike Byerly have been better than pitches from fitness models, especially when the photographer says, hey, I’m shooting so-and-so in 2 weeks, is there anything you need me to get while he/she is shooting with me?

Any parting comments to readers?
Just understand that editors are super busy and inundated with e-mails from hundreds of people every day wanting something. It’s hard to keep up sometimes. That doesn’t mean we don’t like you or don’t care or will never use you. The more information you provide (i.e. available for travel, are a writer, have an idea for a story, specialties, upcoming shoot dates) will help you stand out over other models vying for a coveted spot in national magazines.

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One Response to Interview with a fitness magazine editor: what models should know

  1. Pingback: Pitching Yourself to a Magazine « Fire Your Agent

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