Publishing in Periodicals? Follow These Steps
Getting published is a rewarding way to educate your readers, establish yourself as a thought leader, and gain free promotion. Submitting opinion pieces or letters to the editor to client-centric periodicals is a way to gain recognition; however, submitting articles for publication is better.
Could you simply post articles to your social media accounts such as LinkedIn and Facebook? Sure, you can, and that is a great way to build a following. But your ultimate goal should be to get in front of your ideal clients; and to do that, you need to be published beyond your own outlets. Getting your work published in periodicals that target your ideal client ensures that you’ll have a better chance of reaching that audience with your message.
What to Write About
For most people, seeking ways to get published isn’t a problem; the problem is figuring out what to write about. If you have no idea where to find your inspiration, ask yourself, “What does my ideal client need to know?” Then, try these approaches:
1. “The FAQ Response”—Collect the questions clients routinely ask you; write up your responses, then use those as a starting point for a more in-depth article.
2. The “Who Cares” Factor—If someone can benefit from your knowledge and experience, then it is worth sharing.
3. Personal Experience—Write based on firsthand knowledge or research. Provide anecdotes, advice, or ideas based on your experiences using actual examples.
4. Your Own Records—Review the last three to five memoranda of law or legal briefs that you drafted. What were the substantive topics you addressed? Are any of those areas of law ripe for a legal trade or industry publication?
Embrace Editorial Guidelines
Most, if not all, periodicals offer guidelines for submissions. Typically referred to as editorial guidelines, these instructions are posted to their websites or can be requested by sending an email to the editor. Editorial guidelines commonly address:
Length of article: the minimum and maximum word count (an optimum number of words per article might also be listed)
Editorial calendars, which include topics, themes, article types, and required submission dates broken down by publication date
Copyright ownership (temporary or permanent)
Inclusion of an author’s biography and headshot
Compensation (if any)
And much more!
Where to Search
To find appropriate places for publishing your articles, you’ll find these tips helpful:
Google the publications you’re interested in and check the website for its circulation and demographics.
Find five to 10 publications that meet your needs. Many of these periodicals are constantly looking for submissions and fresh content to fill their pages, especially when they publish on a daily or weekly basis.
Read and review several previous editions to get a feel for the types of articles that are typically included.
Locate the executive or managing editor’s name and contact information.
Prepare and submit your article pitch—a summary of the article you’d like to write for the publication. Be sure to explain why the periodical’s audience would benefit from reading your article.
If you are seeking a legal audience, contact your local bar or specialty bar associations. For a national legal audience, there are news sites such as Lawyerist, Above the Law, Attorney at Work, and Nolo. For a non-legal audience, try periodicals that are community based. Take a closer look at the ones delivered for free to your mailbox regularly.
Enter the ‘No Ego’ Zone
Make sure you comply with the editorial guidelines to maximize your chances of having your article accepted. But remember that complying with the posted guidelines doesn’t necessarily mean your article will be published as is. Changes to articles are made for numerous reasons—in-house style and punctuation are probably the more common reasons. Other more extensive changes can occur—from reorganizing paragraphs, to rewriting your intro, to cutting a chunk of text in order to make the article fit within a given space in the layout.
If the thought of having anyone make even minor changes to your writing without your approval makes your skin crawl, now would be the time to rethink this option because this calls for checking your ego at the door. Getting free promotion by publishing your articles in a periodical requires that you give up some control over what finally gets published.
No matter how you approach it, writing for promotional purposes is a long-distance run and not a sprint to the “more clientele” finish line. Stay focused. Write clearly and succinctly, write consistently and prolifically, and, above all, write to educate your audience. In the interim, be patient.