The way to approach publications with article ideas

A reader emailed me recently, wondering why editors of various publications wouldn’t print an article he had written.

The article was fine, and would be good for his target market.

Here’s the problem: His approach was wrong.

The way to get articles published is by sending first an inquiry letter to an editor. The letter should state that you have a few article ideas of interest to readers. List each idea, starting with a catchy title and 4-5 sentences about each article. Explain why you are the most qualified person in the world to write these articles.

Then follow up politely.

This approach does two things:

First, it saves you the trouble of writing an article no one wants.

Second, it lets you open a dialogue with the publication about what kinds of articles they want. If they like your bio, they will work with you to develop an idea of interest to their readers.

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  • Sojan80

    But what about this though. Switch it around a little bit.

    You have an idea for an article. You know you’re not “the person” to write it, because you don’t know enough about it to make it useful to everyone. But having read a certaina uthors work you know this article idea would fit well with what that author normally writes about.

    How is it best to “suggest” to them “Hey, I have an idea for an article you should write. My idea is…” and not come across sounding like a total boob?

    Would you still approach it the same way?

  • aneitlich

    Sojan80:

    What would be your goal with this approach? The idea of writing articles is to establish yourself as the go-to professional in your field. How do you achieve this goal with your approach?

  • http://www.vitaleffect.com Gamermk

    I like this concept, but I would do it based on an article I have already wrote.

    Even if there are no publications that want my work, it would still be valuable for my website. If I do your approach and my ideas get shot down, I lose any motivation I might have had to write these articles and as a result my website doesn’t get any new content.

    So my spin on this is.
    1)Write the article
    2)Send the catchy title with brief description and reason why I am most qualified
    3)Follow up

    This approach still establishes dialogue with the publication. I also think it would increase the chance they would like the article because my description would be based on the article already wrote rather than the article I was going to write. Furthermore, if their response is positive, but they need the article immediately, I already have it done. This way I do not miss a valuable opportunity to get into a publication, I don’t run the risk of not being able to finish the article in time for a potential opening in the publication, and I don’t run the risk of rushing the article for a deadline and releasing work that is potentially unfinished.

    And like I said before, worst case scenerio its more educational articles for my website.

  • http://www.sitepoint.com/ mmj

    List each idea, starting with a catchy title

    Good point – I think a catchy title helps an article seem real – publishable.

  • http://www.vitaleffect.com savagefire

    I agree entirely with Gamermk.

  • http://www.crystalcleardesigns.com ccdesigns

    I disagree with Gamermk ;)

    You do need content for your site – thats understood; but getting an article syndicated is much more powerful for your site than a bunch of content that no one is interested in. I think what Andrew is saying is that in the time it takes you to write an article, you could have pitched 10 different article ideas to 50 different presses. If the press picks up your idea – get the work done. Then they publish it and it validates the actual content of the article as well as getting your stuff in reputable sources.

    There are only so many hours in the day, and for most of us, I can’t spend that time writing articles that I think are important, but no one else does. I need the most bang for my second – so thanks Andrew, I have been putting off writing articles because I am not sure I want to put in the risk of several hours yielding nothing. I am going to setup this strategy for myself over the weekend and I’ll let you know how it goes!