Feature Writers: Make Your Work Publishable and Praised by Readers

Beginners' Guide to Writing & Selling Quality FeaturesWhen you write for newspapers and magazines, you must always consider whether your article is not only likely to be published by editors, but if it will be praised by readers. Popularity of writers leads to more writing assignments for them.

Keep these points in mind to attain your goals:

1) If You’re Having Trouble Identifying a Publication to Write for, Sample a lot of Newspapers/Magazines. Spend an afternoon at the library. You’ll also get a variety of ideas for articles from reading many publications, particularly those in other regions.

2) Know Your Audience. If you want to write for a publication, do you really understand the profile of readers who read it? If you’re still unsure after reading that publication, investigate online. For example, for a regional publication, you could first do a google search of the region the publication circulates in. Next, if you can’t get through to the editors to ask more questions, which is often the case, call up the advertising department of the publication and ask who their target audience is. This will certainly reveal the profile of readers they are trying to reach.

3) Familiarize Yourself with The Publication’s General Writing Style. That is, the style of many of its writers. Do their writers use a formal or erudite style or informal/conversational style? Is the style upbeat with “feel good” pieces or informational with entertaining aspects?

4) Write Timely Pieces. Ask your friends and relatives what topics are on their minds. Or, ask them if they are connected with a club or organization that is doing innovative things worthy of an article.

5) Search for Novel Ideas to Write About. What is novelty? Write about the unexpected or the unusual. I recently read a magazine article about a woman who writes books on food allergies and has a meal preparation business for clients with a variety of allergies. If you consistently have novel ideas for articles, editors and readers will make a note of your byline and separate you from the crowd of writers. Editors of trade publications, newsletters, and specialty magazines who are looking for writers, for example, might contact you about writing for their publication. Or readers, who have need for a writer to do a special writing project for them, such as a family history, might contact you because you are a respected writer.

6)Have Good Judgment. Exercise judgment in what you choose to write about. If, for example, you have a good idea, but it can’t fully be written about in the space the editor gives you, pick another topic. Don’t write about a topic that should realistically be covered at length in a series of articles.

7) Don’t Waste Your Time. If after interviewing someone, you find that despite your best efforts, you can’t write about that person, don’t attempt to do so. Perhaps that person had nothing informative to say and the article wouldn’t be of interest to anyone. This doesn’t happen often, but it does every once in a while.

8) Don’t Believe Everything an Interviewee Tells You. If, for example, you interview someone who says she is number one in real estate sales in your area, make sure that this is true, not just an exaggeration. Ask what organization gave her this rank. Attribution is important in your article. For example, your article should read: Mary Doe is number one in sales volume as a realtor, according to . . .” Make sure you specify how she is number one–strictly by volume of sales or by some other measure, too? If your information is untrue, your editor will hear about it, as readers will likely write a Letter to the Editor with a correction. Don’t be a gullible mouthpiece for interviewees who want to promote themselves.

9) Don’t Be Satisfied with Writing Half The Story. Check your article for gaps in information and perspective. Also, be logical and organized.

For more information, read my book, Beginners’ Guide to Writing & Selling Quality Features, that has been a Featured Selection of Writer’s Digest Book Club.

Copyright 2012 by Charlotte Digregorio.

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About Charlotte Digregorio

I publish books. I have marketed and/or published 55 titles. These books are sold in 46 countries to bookstores, libraries, universities, professional organizations, government agencies, and book clubs. I am also the author of five non-fiction books: Haiku and Senryu: A Simple Guide for All; Everything You Need to Know About Nursing Homes; You Can Be A Columnist; Beginners' Guide to Writing & Selling Quality Features; and Your Original Personal Ad. The first four books have been adopted as supplemental texts at universities throughout the U.S., Canada, India, Pakistan, and Catalonia. They are sold in 43 countries, and are displayed in major metropolitan cultural centers. These books have been reviewed, recommended, and praised by hundreds of critics, librarians, and professors worldwide. I am also the author of a poetry collection: "Shadows of Seasons: Selected Haiku and Senryu." Two of my books have been Featured Selections of Writer's Digest Book Club. I am regularly interviewed by major print, radio, and television organizations throughout the U.S. I have signed books at libraries, chain bookstores, and university bookstores. I was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize in poetry. I have won thirty-three poetry awards. I have been nominated and listed in "The International Authors and Writers Who's Who" in Cambridge, England and in the "Who's Who In Writers, Editors & Poets U.S./Canada." I am an internationally-published haiku, senryu, tanka, kyoka, haibun, free verse, acrostic, cinquain, etheree, and sestina poet. My poetry has been translated into six languages, and I have done poetry readings at a variety of bookstores, libraries, art centers, cafes, tea houses, and galleries. My poetry has been displayed at supermarkets, art galleries, libraries, apparel and wine shops, banks, botanic gardens, restaurants, and on public transit. I've been interviewed on cable television about my poetry. I also hosted my own radio program, "Poetry Beat," on public broadcasting. My poetry has been featured on several library web sites including those of Shreve Memorial Library in Louisiana and Cornell University's Mann Library. My background includes positions as a feature editor and columnist at daily newspapers and as a magazine editor. I have been a public relations director for a non-profit organization. I was also self-employed as a communications/public relations/marketing consultant with 111 clients in 16 states. In other professional areas, I have been on university faculties, teaching French, Italian, and Writing. I regularly give special lectures and workshops on publishing, journalism, publicity, poetry, and creativity to business and professional groups, and to those at writer's conferences, universities, literary festivals, non-profit organizations, and to libraries. I have been a writer-in-residence at universities. There have been about 400 articles written about me in the media. I have served on the Boards of writers and publishers organizations. My positions have included Board Secretary of the Northwest Association of Book Publishers. I served for five years as Midwest Regional Coordinator of The Haiku Society of America. Currently, I am Second Vice President of the Haiku Society.
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