So you’ve been reading a magazine or an industry newsletter for a while now, and you’ve got an idea for an article that you just know would be perfect for it – and would hopefully send a little business your way, too. How do you get your article published?
Truthfully, it’s not rocket science. You just have to understand these six simple rules of publishing…
1. Know which publications are right for you. Not all publications are relevant to your market; others are extremely competitive and might not be likely to accept your ideas if you’re not already a published author. Be smart in targeting publications for your article.
2. Know what topics will interest the readers. Remember, you’re trying to provide helpful information – which is NOT a sales pitch for your business. You can usually find readership statistics on the publication’s readership under the About Us section, or sometimes under the Media or Advertising sections. Read this carefully, and consider how you can you target your article (or your idea for an article) to appeal more directly to the publication’s specific demographics.
3. Know what the editor wants to see. Look on the publication’s website for a Guide to Submissions (or something similar); you may have to conduct a search to find this, as sometimes it can be buried on a website. If you can’t find it, email the editor and see if he/she can email it to you. Read through this Guide very carefully; it will tell you precisely what to do. For example, what topics is the editor interested in? Does the editor want to see a completely written article, or does the editor only want to hear the idea for the article (called a “pitch” or a “query”)?
If the editor wants to see a query letter, this should include the general idea of your article, why your article will interest the publication’s readers, the approximate length of the article, and why you’re the right person to write the article. On the other hand, if the editor wants to see your complete article, know if you should attach a Word document to an email, cut and paste the article into the body of the email, or send it via snail mail.
Also, look on the publication’s website for an Editorial Calendar. Not every publication makes this public, but if yours does, you can see what topics the editor has planned for upcoming issues and you can try to target your pitch to one of those topics.
4. Know the timing for certain articles. Editors typically are looking fairly far out into the future. If there is a seasonal aspect to your article, then you need to start marketing that article at least 6 months in advance – or even earlier, to be on the safe side.
5. Know how the publication handles rights. Is it okay if the article has been previously published? Do you retain the rights to the article after the editor publishes it – for example, can you post the article on your own website, or can you see if other publications will accept your article also? Once the editor publishes your article, does the publication retain the rights to publish it again elsewhere, for example, on their own website or in a newsletter? Every publication handles rights a little bit differently, so it’s critical for you to understand what rights you’re keeping and what rights you’re giving away.
6. Know how to work with the editor. First, understand that editors are overworked and underpaid. Second, understand that editors have to work with many, many other writers – so make sure the editor finds it easy to work with you. If the editor asks for changes to the article, do so graciously. And third, understand that every publication is like a jigsaw puzzle, where everything has to fit together smoothly for it all to work. Your article may be wonderful, but if important breaking news means that a new article needs to be included last minute, which means there’s no room for your article, well, that’s life in publishing. Don’t take it personally, and don’t take it out on the editor. Simply buck up and try again next time.
That’s it – six simple steps. Before you know it, you’ll be enjoying that rush of pride that comes from seeing your name in print. Good luck!