I noticed on your website that you've written for Cooking Light. That is one of the publications I'd like to target, so do you have any suggestions or anything not to do?
Funny - I don't normally devote entire posts to specific magazines, but for some reason, I've received a lot of personal emails about Cooking Light, so I thought I'd just make this answer public and share what I know.
First of all, let me say that my advice stems solely from my experience - this isn't a market guide in which I've interviewed editors or anything like that. So don't use my post as golden verse. That said, I do write for CL fairly often - at least 3-4 times a year - and the magazine is one of my favorites to work for. Also, I should note that the editor with whom I work did chime in on the Editor's Dos and Don'ts (scroll down) post from back in August, so you night want to review that post to glean some more insights.
I think the best way to break into CL is in their First Light section. Nearly every FOB on these pages is written by a freelancer, which makes this mag particularly freelancer-friendly. It's also the place that I broke in, and the place where I see many bylines of friends who have told me that this is where they broke in too.
Take a look at the section, and you'll see that there's a wide variety of subjects you can propose. When I was pitching, I tended to stick to new health/diet/fitness studies or research that I'd read about. But there are blurbs on food and restaurant trends and general lifestyle info too. When pitching, I'd suggest sending in more than one idea - I used to send in 4 or 5 in one blast. As I've mentioned before, you simply up your odds of landing a story in doing so, and the editors can pick and choose what might work for them.
I think it's pretty unusual to land a feature straight out of the box at CL, unless, of course, you're a well-established writer with strong clips. In addition to health and food features, they also do a travel round-up each month, so if you're a travel writer, this might be a good place to explore. They also usually include a Q/A with a food expert - a chef, an organic grocer, etc - so again, if you have inside access to these folks, you might try pitching.
I'm hesitant to offer specific names of editors to pitch, but I've worked with several folks there, and they're all gracious, savvy, and most importantly, smart. In fact, the editor I work with most often is in my top 3 faves of all-time. If you're aiming to break into First Light, however, I do believe that the associate editor (whomever that is on the masthead, I'm not sure) is the right person to contact.
I hope that helps! I'm happy to answer further questions if you have them.
Until then, I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday - whichever one you celebrate! - and spend some wonderful and cozy time with your friends and family this weekend!