How to Get Your Articles Published

Article by C.J. HaydenWriting articles as an expert in your niche or specialty can help you become more credible as well as more visible. A well-written article on a subject of interest to your target market will get their attention, demonstrate your expertise, and increase your name recognition.

The first step in getting an article published is to identify some appropriate writing venues. What do the people in your target market read? Consider newsletters, ezines, websites, magazines, trade journals, and newspapers. Ask your clients and prospects what online and print publications they subscribe to or regularly buy. Notice which periodicals are lying on their desks or coffee tables and poking out of their briefcases. Find out what websites they frequently visit.

You can also look up publications by subject in directories of writing markets, such as those published in print and online versions by Writer’s Market or online by WritersWeekly. To find websites, ezines, and the online editions of print publications, just type your specialty and the word ”articles” into your favorite search engine.

If you are new to getting your writing published, start with small publications that don’t require writing experience. Association newsletters are an excellent first target. Other possibilities are the many websites that publish informational articles to attract traffic; online article directories; employee newsletters for companies you would like as clients; newsletters, ezines, or websites produced by your referral partners; neighborhood newspapers; and advertising periodicals that list items for sale, job openings, or workshops and events.

When you have a venue in mind, don’t just write an article and submit it until you check their editorial guidelines. Many print publications and some online ones prefer that you query them first. Look for the submission guidelines posted on the publication’s website, or listed in a box near the table of contents, inside the front cover, or for newspapers, in the editorial section. If you’re not sure, call or email the appropriate editor (usually listed in one of the same places) and ask.

Some publications accept queries by phone and others want them in writing. If you contact editors by phone, be prepared to pitch your article idea on the spot. Tell them your proposed topic, why it is of interest to their readers, and why you should be the one who writes it. If you’re convincing enough, a small publication might give you the assignment right there. A larger one will probably ask you to send a query letter and include some samples of your writing.

When a publication requests queries, don’t try to skip the query step by sending a completed article in the hope that it will get printed. Many editors won’t even look at it, and you will have wasted a great deal of time. Only if the guidelines state they accept completed or previously published articles should you send the article instead of a query.

A query letter should begin with a strong lead paragraph, written just as if it were the opening paragraph of the actual article. You want it to capture the editor’s interest, introduce your topic, and show that you can write. Continue the letter by describing two or three key points you intend for your article to make. (For an example, see Sample Query Letter for Writing an Article.)

Then propose the article itself: “I would like to write a 1500-word article on the benefits to employers of integrated disability management programs. I plan to interview three employers who have experienced significant cost reductions…”

Conclude your letter with a brief description of your background that indicates why you are qualified to write the article. If you have previously been published, include two sample articles or links to them with your query. When querying by postal mail, be sure to send a self-addressed stamped envelope. When you email, don’t send attachments. Put your letter and any writing samples in the body of the email, or link to published samples on the web.

The elapsed time it takes editors to respond to a query varies widely. Unless you have been told otherwise, follow up after 30 days if you haven’t heard anything. This is particularly important with a publication that only accepts articles which haven’t been previously published. With first-run articles, you shouldn’t send the same query to another editor until you are sure the first one doesn’t want it.

For publications and websites that don’t require queries, submit your completed articles according to their published guidelines. With venues that accept previously-published articles, you can submit the same article to as many publications as you like.

Once you successfully place a number of articles, consider finding a venue for an ongoing column. Landing a regular column with a publication or website respected by your target market is a major milestone in establishing your expertise, and can significantly boost your name recognition.

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