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Become the Next Great Writer
Write it! Tell the world. Accomplished authors, whether they are known worldwide or only in smaller professional circles, are able to achieve every dream faster…and more. Want to grow your business – write. To be offered the next promotion – write. Get a job, or a new job – write. People look up to those who succeed among us. They affiliate with the accomplished. They hire, promote or buy from the expert who has demonstrated that they are a mover and shaker in their field. Are you?
what to write
You are an expert. There is something, maybe numerous things you do exceptionally well or know well. Putting your wisdom on the page lends credibility to your work, helps your fellow man in an area they want to learn or improve with, and gives you a strong sense of self-satisfaction when your work gets published.
Focus less on becoming the next multi-million dollar Harry Potter author and more on being yourself. If you’re not a storyteller, fiction might not be your thing. Also, unless you want to change careers to become a full-time author, it won’t do much to help your current career. Write non-fiction; i.e. how to do it, why it works, knowledge and educational pieces that will help others know what you know. Don’t bother writing yourself about a job, thinking that if you write it, they won’t need you anymore. On the contrary, you will become THE source for your clients and colleagues.
How to get published
“You should write a book” is a common phrase in the American lexicon that we hear or say often. Maybe a book is in your future. But, if you’re not a writer now and have never been published before, this probably isn’t the best place to start. Consider a magazine, journal, newspaper, newsletter or electronic author.
There are two common ways to do this.
The first, and most common, is finding a need and filling it. Talk to the editor of the publication you want to write for to find out what content they need. A little known fact is that most magazines and journals feature each issue and often make their editorial calendars available, outlining the themes of upcoming issues. If your expertise fits an upcoming theme, contact the publisher to see if they’ll let you try your hand at a piece for consideration.
The second, less common approach is to write. Find a topic to which you bring passion, expertise, and experience and write a remarkable article. Work it and rework it. You’re on your own time – you don’t have a deadline. Revisit it in the following days or weeks to take a “fresh look”. When you have it almost where you want it, share it with a trusted advisor for their input and feedback. Rework it a bit more. Only after it’s perfect – shop it. Send it to the editors of journals, magazines, newspapers and newsletters to see if they will accept it. Don’t just send it to any editor of any publication. Research them first and make an honest judgment on whether your article would fit well in their publication.
I have personally had much more success with the latter method; however, other authors tell me that it is the road less traveled and much more difficult to succeed. With over a dozen articles published in national publications and dozens more in national and local press, however, I have not found this to be the case.
Publications differ. In general terms, there are three different item lengths – think of it as small, medium and large. The common measurement tool is word count, as opposed to characters, found with some social media (such as Twitter); or, column inches, found primarily in the newspaper world.
A small article therefore has between 600 and 800 words. Anything smaller isn’t really an article at all; but rather an interesting fact, a very short story or a report on an event. After being laid out on the page, adding graphics, advertisements or sidebars, a 600-800 word article fills less than a full printed page.
Medium-sized articles are the bread and butter of most publications, ranging from 800 to 1,200 words with a median length of 1,000 words. They fill the printed page or span a second page when laid out and enhanced in production. It is possible that they extend to a third page, although this is rare. I recommend that you focus your first attempts on targeting this size. It’s the perfect size article to grab a publisher’s attention.
As articles approach and exceed 1,200 words, they become feature articles. Most magazines and journals have three or fewer feature articles in each issue. Newspapers have one per section. And, newsletters have one per issue. Every author wants a cover story. You have to learn it. History is full of “naturals”. Maybe you’re one of them and can go out of the park on your first time at bat. Most of us thrive on on-the-job training. We make our mistakes along the way. Learn. And improve.
All Authors Hate Editing
You should have enough to say. In fact, you should have too much to say. It is much easier to ramble on at length than to be brief. If you find yourself on the other side of the equation – looking for something to write about – you have chosen the wrong topic. As an example, after writing, rewriting, editing and polishing this article, it was 1,557 words (I cut 367 words).
Editing it down to size is always the hardest part of writing a song, big or small. It separates adults from children.
Never send a piece out into the world unless you’re convinced it’s your latest masterpiece that far surpasses all previous work. If an item doesn’t reach this level, keep it to yourself until you do.
Professional versus amateur
The pros are paid. Amateurs don’t. Again, unless you want to change careers to become a writer, use this as a supplement to your current career. Focus your efforts on writing the best piece possible and getting it printed rather than the few hundred dollars a paid author may receive. Success breeds success. The more you are published, the easier it becomes to be published. If you’re good, the editors will want you. Whether writing is your passion or you write about your passion, my advice is the same: get a few dozen publishing hits under your belt before you consider doing it for a fee. Stay an amateur writer for as long as you can. When you go pro, go fast and make a splash.
Dream big. Choose the most glorious publication in your field and progress to become a regular author. Your peers, contemporaries, clients, and boss will all appreciate your accomplishments and reward you with more success in your chosen career.
Become an author. Develop your career. Improve your life.
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