hey there! i'm glad you wrote me and glad you're enjoying the blog. i'm not sure if i'm doing things the correct way as far as getting published since sometimes i can send something out to 100 places and hear back from ONE and sometimes from FIVE. not sure if it depends on the article, the need of the editor or my writing (i have a lot to learn).
i send completed articles b/c i don't have internet access during the week and can't be going back and forth with an editor about what they want. also, the small locals (you get paid $25-50 instead of hundreds with Parents or Parenting or similar) usually want the entire submission. i did this with something to family circle recently and regretted it (1. because i sent a holiday piece in march and 2. because i should've sent a nice query instead of the whole piece).
small locals: Carolina Parent, Kansas City Parent, etc. ... much easier to break into first.
if you have an excellent piece, go for the biggies ... they are hard to find contact info for sometimes, though, or else they'd be inundated with queries. best bet sometimes would be to just mail your masterpiece to the biggies with a SASE so you may at least get a personal rejection, which to me would be better than not hearing anything, like the locals do.
sometimes, though, an editor will say, "i like this, but could you make it local ... find me local meal prep stores and local meal delivery companies and talk about them a little." and i usually have plenty of time to work on that and get it in.
the thing is: if i could make EVERY piece local somehow, i'd have more success. but i don't have the time right now for that, so i go general and THEN i figure if they like the article they can ask me to do more with it.
always talk money right when you get a gig or you could get messed over!
let me know if you need anything else. i'm still learning, too! i have lots of writing mistakes i've made over at motherwriter.blogspot.com.
i'm working on an ebook with all the local parenting mags' info ... over 100. it took me forever to collect all the info and i'd love to put it all together to save people time!