FOTB. If you’re new to the game of writing for magazines, you may not know this acronym, but you should. No. Don’t try to say it. Your tongue may get tangled.
This acronym is part of the alphabet soup of the writing world. It stands for “Front of the book,” and refers to sections of filler articles appearing in the front part of most magazines, somewhere between the table of contents (TOC) and the first feature. Some magazines, like Reader’s Digest (RD) and Better Homes and Gardens (BH&G), feature these short articles in the back of the book or somewhere in the middle, but as of yet, no one has taken to referring to these as BOB or MOB, for which we would like to express gratitude.
So, now that you know what FOTB is, why should you care?
Writing FOTB pieces can be lucrative business for a freelance writer. They take about as long to research and write as a blog post, typically run 50-400 words, and can pay as much as $1 per word, depending on the market. Sell a few per week and you can net yourself a tidy paycheck.
FOTB articles can help you get established in a new magazine. The editor of a big magazine will be much more willing to try out an untested writer on a small filler than on a four-page feature article. Less of a gamble for them means more opportunity for you.
Writing fillers helps you create an on-going relationship with an editor. Once you’ve worked with an editor a couple of times they are much more likely to consider you for longer pieces (and bigger paychecks).
Next time you browse the magazine rack, take a look at your favorite titles’ FOTB sections. Use what you see to pitch a few ideas of your own. It may be the easiest way you’ve ever earned a paycheck.