While sample copies of
magazines are tax-deductible for freelance writers, they're a small expense
that can add up to a big cost. Try these tips to find free and cheap sample
copies--and a few markets you might not otherwise come across.
1. Swap with friends. Network with other local writers who subscribe to
magazines. When you're done with back issues, you can trade or give them to
other writers with different needs. Ask professional friends who receive
trade, alumni, or association magazines if they'd be willing to give you a
few back issues.
2. Search library book sales and thrift stores. Library book sales and
thrift stores often offer a variety of relatively recent magazines for
$0.10-25 each. You can often find some of the paying association magazines
that aren't on the newsstand here, like Elks Magazine and American
Automobile Association publications. Some libraries even offer free magazine
boxes for patrons to exchange their unwanted magazines.
3. Use your Frequent Flyer Miles. Are your frequent flyer miles about to
expire, or do you have some miles for an airline you rarely fly? Consider
trading them in for magazine subscriptions. If you write (or want to write)
for the big-name glossies, you can get free subscriptions to magazines like
Wired, Food & Wine, and The Wall Street Journal for your unwanted frequent
4. Visit the website. These days, most magazines offer at least a few sample
articles free online. Be sure to check whether the web content mirrors the
printed content--some magazines offer different content (and have different
writers' guidelines) for their websites.
5. Keep your eyes open. Not all markets are glossy newsstand magazines:
alumni magazines, speciality magazines for grocery stores and doctor's
offices, trade magazines, magazines aimed at college students, and small
local publications are everywhere. While not all of these markets pay, many
do, and it never hurts to pick up a free magazine and check it out.
If you really enjoy a magazine, a full year's subscription usually costs
about as much as three newsstand issues. Remember to pick up some cardboard
magazine boxes at an office supply store to organize your sample copy
collection--and to recycle or give away really outdated copies to keep your