When 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.