Two tips to help you get your article bought…

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I’ve been an editor, forever, and along the way sold 1,700+ freelance articles of my own to other editors. Two things you must know that will help you get bought regularly.

One, don’t start your article with a question, either in the lead or the title.

The editor will change the title anyway, so just put the key words or point at the top–unless the item is humorous, in which case you must write a title as funny as the prose.

Why don’t you start the piece with a question? Because most of the editors have a newspaper background, and there it’s considered a “cheap lead” and thus taboo. So you usually get rejected before the work is even seriously considered.

That’s not to say that the article isn’t the answer to a question. In your mind or on a working sheet of paper you can write all of that down. Just reorganize it so the lead grabs the reader’s attention and gets into the text immediately.

Which sort of leads to the second tip. You almost always need a “transitional paragraph” after the lead. It’s usually the second or third paragraph, and its purpose is to tell the reader where the article is going and how it will get there.

If the lead promises an unforgettable walk through downtown Novato, California, the transitional paragraph might say, “Find San Francisco, cross the Golden Gate Bridge heading north, and take the freeway 25 miles. If you see the Buck Institute on a mountain on the left and the swampy airport on the right, you’ve gone too far.”

Or if you snagged the reader in the lead with something harrowing about today’s open heart surgery, and the piece has three points to make, your transitional paragraph might say, “Survivors today live an average of __ years after the surgery and repair, but there are three things they must do before they start rearranging their diets and buying walking boots.”

Just study articles in print and the transitional pagraphs will leap out at you. At times the organizational instructions are more cleverly hidden, but you can hardly ever go wrong grabbing the editor’s eyes with a hook lead, then telling where the rest of those words are going.

Good luck! (This reduces the luck factor.)

Gordon Burgett

P.S. I talk about dangerous stuff like this in my free monthly newsletter.

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You want your name in print with the leaders in your field?

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You want to instantly establish and strengthen your reputation in the field where you want to empire build? Then get in print with your field’s top leaders!

I’m presuming you can ask questions, share answers, and write usable copy—you can even hire out the writing part.

It starts by identifying one key question that your audience wants answered. Let’s say you want to position yourself in the ink-on-paper printed booklet market and there is a new binding that looks like it could replace the old saddlestitch (or stapling) process. Let’s call it zip binding.

Form the operating (or key) question: “When should you start zip binding your booklets?” Then expand it to “Five industry experts answer, ‘When should you start zip binding your booklets?’”

Now make a list of the specific printing or publishing magazines or newsletters that ink-on-paper bookletfolk read. Put them in order by where your name with the leaders will do you the most good, since it’s unlikely you will be paid for the prose!

Get the editor’s name and address from the last issue, guesstimate the length of an average article on its pages (you may have to reduce it to “three industry experts” if the pieces are small), and send a well written one-page query letter that gently sells your idea, what zip binding is, why the readers would benefit from knowing about it, and (if you have credentials) why you should write the item. (If you are still building credentials, keep mum. The editor wants solid information, not you.) Then ask, if the editor is interested, would they please suggest an ideal or maximum length and a delivery deadline, plus any other guidance they can offer.

As for the experts, if indeed you know the field and topic, you might suggest that you plan to interview X, X, X, X, and X. But if the editor has other preferences or feels uncomfortable with any of your choices, you’d be grateful knowing that before you set to the task.

Will the experts let you interview them? I’ve had 1,700+ articles in print, with about three people interviewed for each, and as long as it was clear what I was asking, where the copy would be used, a ballpark date, and I kept it to a few questions and not much time, I can’t remember more than a dozen rejections. It should be obvious to those being interviewed why their thoughts in print would benefit them. That’s why they are experts!

You are a conduit, a scribe making solid, needed information available. Usually only your by-line will appear. But at the same time you are meeting (if only by phone or e-mail) those in the know. So you become a person in the know too, and a valuable contact for the editor for future articles. And all that top-level contact (if only the association as the writer) can be invaluable as your empire starts growing.

Some day (soon) another soul will be asking to include you in an interview of top experts!

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

P.S. This is the kind of stuff I talk about here at the blog and at my free, monthly newsletter. Join in—and please tell friends!

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How to get your magazine article accepted and printed 99% of the time…

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The trick is to have the editor ask you to submit it—better yet, also to give you a length and a deadline. Then you send it in on time, at length, ready to go.

That usually happens in one of three situations.

(1) You are the expert about a topic the editor wants, you have a current publishing string, and you cross the editor’s path—often at a gathering or in conversation—or you query, clearly defining what you want to share and perhaps why the readers might benefit.

(2) You have written for that editor before and (s)he wants more good stuff from you. (It helps if you query about a specific topic that you are currently working on or are particularly interested in exploring.)

(3) You realize that something you are doing or know about directly fits the editor’s needs. (It helps if you’ve been on those pages, or somebody’s printed pages, recently or often.)

An example of the third got me a “send it by x date x length” email yesterday—a 99% sale if I do my part. The target in this case is a key magazine for small publishers. The subject is how one of my top authors sells books to “book clubs” in our publishing field. (He has written four niche books for us and in his specialization he’s a “star” speaker and prize winner.) We feature the “book club” idea at our website, he mentions fun book club incidents in his talks, an interested group orders books for its readers, and the author offers to talk to the group free (by phone or via a conference device) for an hour at one of their sessions. The results? At least the sale of the books used, but usually his being invited to speak to their district (where scores or hundreds of books are usually sold) or to a conference (with a $2,000+ speaking fee, all his, plus, usually, more boxes of books being sold).

Why did that editor respond so positively (in a few days) to my one-page query? The topic is mouth-watering garlic butter for her monthly bread. It’s what almost all of her readers want to know about. And the query letter was clean, clear, and she had read my words before (on her pages). But the last was just a bonus. Even with nothing printed in any magazine before, that process has a 50% chance of getting a go-ahead. Then the next query is 80% likely, and the third, 99%.

Why not 100%? Because the damn editors sometimes die between yes and print. Or they get canned, and so does your almost foolproof prose.

(I’ll share that published piece here at the blog when it appears in January or February.)

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

P.S. I talk about this topic, and publishing and speaking, at my free monthly newsletter. Your friends may want to know too.

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Is B&N’s Pubit! the newest ancillary publisher?

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Sort of, but not quite.

It loads easily enough but right in the middle of proofing the pages it says END OF E-BOOK. Not hardly.

Three other reservations and three more problems.

My full review is at my December (7) newsletter, so check the archive copy for the details. (Then if you want to subscribe, free and monthly, it tells how–or go to www.gordonburgett.com/free-reports. Yes, you get free reports too.)

When, if Pubit! gets its act together and I hear good things about it, I’ll report back to the newsletter.

In the meantime, my book (How to Get Your Book Published Free in Minutes and Marketed Worldwide in Days) tells you how to zip through the techie tongue at Lulu, CreateSpace, Blurb, Smashwords, iPad, Kindle, and Scribd.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

P.S. I’ve turned the comments off for a while because I’m getting buried by unintelligible spam. Just email me at glburgett@aol.com. Or check www.gordonburgett.com. Sorry.

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How to create four e-versions of your bound book

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Once you send your book off to the printer to get bound copies, you still have immediately salable copy on hand. That book can be sold in as many as four electronic versions, even all four simultaneously, if you wish.

In a summary, they are the digital download version, the modified electronic copy version, the third-party e-book version (through ancillary publishers), and the chapters and sections version.

Since I just sent out my December newsletter that explains each format in detail, let me link you to the archive version.

Then, if you want to subscribe to the free monthly newsletter, it tells how–or just go to www.gordonburgett.com/free-reports. (You get three free reports too!)

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

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