Get Your Work Seen: Tips on Successfully Placing Articles

by Bonnie Kristian

As a writer whose current gigs include weekend editor at The Week and contributing writer at Rare, I was recently asked for tips on how to successfully place articles with publications when you are in the early stages of your writing career. Let me preface this by saying this process will no doubt be different for you depending on your background, professional connections, target publications, and more, but here are some general ideas:

+ As you start writing, think about where you’d like to publish. Pay attention to how those outlets work. What is their tone? How do they structure their headlines? Are they publishing freelance contributors or mostly staff writers? How long are their pieces? Do they have people regularly covering the topics of your own expertise? (Speaking of, don’t try to be an expert on everything. Narrow it down.) What is their turnaround time on time-sensitive stories (i.e. if Trump says something Monday at 10 a.m., are all their op-eds on it published by that afternoon, or will they still be commenting on it through the end of the week?), and will your schedule permit you to match it?

+ Once you’ve done that, make a list of the publications that you like but also that would be a good fit for your writing style and schedule. Find the submission guidelines for those outlets and start sending pitches tailored to their shtick. Nothing will make an editor dismiss you faster than submitting an idea that is obviously a bad fit for their brand. You don’t need to write the full article to send a pitch; just a paragraph with a headline will do. Once you get your foot in the door, this process will become easier, both in terms of returning to editors you know and in pitching to new editors who will be happy to see your publication credits from other credible outlets.

+ Your blog can be useful for developing your own writing style and ideas, but it’s not strictly necessary for your goals as they’re described here. (Personal platform is hugely important for nonfiction book publishing, but many journalists/commentators don’t bother to maintain anything beyond a basic bio page because they do not need to do so.) Magazine and website editors typically do not want to read your blog. You may want to get a couple good posts up which you can link to in your very early pitch emails so editors can get a taste of your writing style if they prefer, but usually they won’t bother. They are much more likely to respond based on the quality of your pitch, because they are under no obligation to publish/pay for the completed piece if it turns out to be crappy.

+ Finally, on the subject of money: Political commentators (as well as those in other arenas) are a dime a dozen. I have been immensely fortunate in working with editors at Rare and The Week alike who are conscientious about paying in a timely and fair manner. That is far from universal. Many major publications will happily take your stuff for free and say your “payment” is the exposure they offer. (Pro-tip: You cannot pay bills with exposure.) At the very beginning, you might have to give your content away to build up your credentials, but be very careful. It is difficult to transform a non-paying relationship into a paying one. My best suggestion is to aim for permalancing gigs, where you are not an employee proper but have an agreement to contribute a given number of pieces per week or month and are paid for them on a set schedule.

This first appeared on Bonnie’s blog, www.bonniekrisitan.com.

Bonnie Kristian recently joined WordServe Literary as a client. A writer who lives in the Twin Cities, she is weekend editor at The Week, fellow at Defense Priorities, and contributing writer at Rare. Her writing has also appeared in Time Magazine, Relevant Magazine, The American Conservative, and more. To find out more, visit www.bonniekristian.com.

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Market Your Fiction with Non-Fiction

I often hear fiction authors struggling with ways to market their novels. Non-fiction authors seem to have an easier time with marketing, due to their expertise on their subject.

But fiction authors actually have quite a bit of nonfiction in their novels. Remember all that research you’ve done?

As Christian writers, our characters and story lines have a built-in message of faith. Writing articles on your own faith struggles and how they relate to your character’s journey is one way to use non-fiction.

Think about your character’s occupation. Is your heroine a landscaper? Write some posts on the best plants in your region. Or tie it in with the setting of your novel. A post on the best plants in the region of your book is even better. You could also spin it and list which plants are best transplanted in any region.

My heroine is a cook on a cattle drive. The pioneers only used cast iron, so I wrote a post on how to care and use cast iron.

How to clean cast iron

Did you find cool facts when you were researching that didn’t make it in to your novel? Then consider writing some articles on these.

These make great blog posts, but try taking it a step further. I pitched the idea to my local newspaper about a monthly column, Pioneering Today, which highlights the best of the pioneer lifestyle and how it relates to us today. The editor gave me permission to re-publish the articles on my blog after the current issue has run. I can offer links or pictures, so readers of the newspaper have a reason to visit my website for more information.

Consider magazines or ezines to submit these articles to as well.

What are some of your favorite non-writing blogs and magazines? How could you tie in an aspect of your writing or book to these? What ways have you used non-fiction to market your fiction?