Josh and I received some good questions today in our TechEd 2007 talk on writing for MSDN Magazine and TechNet Magazine. Here are the answers to a few of the questions that were asked. We’ll post again with more questions (and answers) from the week as we receive them. Thanks for being interested!
Q: If I want to write an article for the magazine, does that mean I shouldn’t blog about the same thing?
A: No, it definitely doesn’t mean that. We encourage experts in particular topics to write for both magazines, and experts frequently talk about the same subject through multiple venues… doing so is one of the things that publicly establishes the expert as an expert in the first place. So, it’s perfectly fine to blog about a topic and also write articles on that same topic. What’s not acceptable is reusing the same content from a blog post in your magazine article. A good guideline: if you’re writing both the blog post and the article from scratch, and you’re not referring to one while writing the other, unless you have a photographic memory you’re probably in the clear. If you’re at all concerned, please let us know about your previous postings and we can then work together to figure out whether there’s a problem and, if there does turn out to be one, how best to handle it for everyone involved.
Q: Is there a minimum/maximum length for an article?
A: Practically, yes, but don’t let that get in your way of writing an article. It depends on the magazine, but most of the articles for MSDN Magazine are in the 3000 to 6000 word range, while for TechNet Magazine the typical article is a bit shorter. That said, we frequently have articles that fall outside of this range. If you write a brilliant article on a topic that’s really important to us, but it’s only 1500 words, no problem; we may be able to keep it at that length, or we may be able to identify pieces of it that could bear being flushed out a bit, thus increasing the length (our average lengths are based on what we feel is a sweet spot for covering the right amount of depth and breadth in most articles). And, conversely, if your article comes in at 9000 words, but after reviewing it we agree with you that all of them are necessary, again we’ll figure out how to make it work, be it splitting it up into two articles, cutting the length of other articles in the issue to account for your article’s overflow, or the like. Advice I like to give: write the article until you consider it’s done; at that point we can take stock of where we are, whether there’s material that can be cut or important material that should be added, and so forth. And as we’ve said in the past, we’re very interested in working with you to make sure your articles are the best they can be, so come to us with any questions or concerns you might have along the way.
Q: If I write about 3rd-party products, do I need permission from the relevant vendors?
A: We actually try to stay away from covering 3rd-party products in articles in the magazine. It introduces various tensions that are best for us to avoid. If there’s a specific case you have in mind, please talk to us.
Q: If I want to write about SharePoint, is that best suited to MSDN Magazine or TechNet Magazine?
A: Yes. 😉 It depends on the actual topic you’re writing about. Like with SQL Server and several other Microsoft technologies, there are dev topics and there are IT topics. For example, if you’re writing about best practices for writing Web Parts for SharePoint, that’s better suited to MSDN Magazine, whereas if you’re writing about how to best deploy Web Parts to 100,000 seats, that’s much better suited to TechNet Magazine. Of course, some topics strattle the divide, and it may be partially applicable to both audiences. The good news is that both magazines are published by the same team (our team): do your best to guess which magazine is more appropriate for your article, but if we disagree, we’ll throw it over the fence to the other magazine for consideration there.
Q: Can I submit proposals related to technologies that aren’t as mainstream as ASP.NET, Windows, and the like? For example, can I write about XNA?
A: Absolutely. We’re interested in proposals having to do with development and IT with all current and future Microsoft technologies and products (as long as they’re not too future… it still needs to be relevant to development today). If you’ve got a great idea for an article, send it our way. Submissions for MSDN Magazine can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, and submissions for TechNet Magazine can be sent to email@example.com.