How to get published – the 7 rules

by Daniel Batten on November 17, 2008

  1. Make sure its topical and timely. I timed my article for maximum impact: during coalition discussions with the Green Party and the ruling party. If its not topical and timely – yes it is, you just aren’t thinking about it right. Create an angle so that it is related directly to something of great importance going on now.
  2. Make sure you got street-cred. When I wrote the article, the Herald wrote straight back and said “could I supply information about myself please”. That’s code for “We want to publish a rather cool, but we can only do so if we think you are someone of standing – “Bob the Builder?”: yes! ; Fred the Builder: “Er, who? – no”. Again – if you think you’re not someone standing think again. Always make true statements about yourself and what you do “I’m the Managing Director of Company X” and founding member of the Y Foundation the fact that there is only one person in each of these organisations is on a need-to-know basis. If you still can’t sound impressive on paper – then use this as motivation to do something great that others will be impressed by, so your opinions get the exposure they deserve.
  3. Edit, edit and then edit. Ask “how can I say the same stuff with 30-50% of the words?” Professionally commissioned stuff I’ve written to one side – each of the things I’ve written  has been edited  by myself  at least three times and at least one other person look at them – and they have still been written in under 3 hours. It doesn’t take long, and its quicker than writing 100 things to get one publication – so polish it. Make it punchy. Short sharp sentences are good. Metaphors – essential. Humor and wit – a must! If you don’t have it, borrow it from someone else who does. Sure it has your name on the article, but you know what you are weak at (in my case, attention to detail) – so get the person to review it who you know can pick you up on this.
  4. Remove all negativity. Never make any comment which is critical without purpose. If you must be critical because your article and passion depends on it either do it with humor, or quickly follow it with a positive comment about how you believe change is possible, and what  that change would  look like in your mind
  5. Information matters less than interest. An obsence amount of press releases are  issued by most interest groups. 95% never get published – and the organization complains that its because the system hates them. If you believe this it is true. It is also true that being interesting earns you the right to be controversial, and  few will endure  a  humourless zealot. Print media want to publish stuff that people want to read – and people want to be entertained. Rather than complain that people are more interested in sport and entertainment than intellectual contemplation – borrow the sense of story, drama and narrative that sport and film have and lend it to the subject matter you care passionately about – so it gets published.
  6. Deep breaths. Throw away the first one you write, particularly if it is in response to something which are upset you. This is the copy you write to get stuff off your chest, not the one that’ll win the hearts and minds of the masses.
  7. Nailing 3 points is better than glueing 10. And here’s the kicker – nailing 3 points is often better than nailing 10 – sounds wierd, but be economical. Even if you’ve nailed 10 – pick the 3 points that you drove home with just one hit of the hammer. Imagine you want someone to listen to a demo of your music. Give them snippets of yr 3 best songs rather than the album, with the 3 singles at position 1, 7, and 9 in the play-order.   – PS: both these are applications of the point on metaphor – and yes, I am contradicting myself by including this in a 7-point list – but I’d  cull back the list  if it were to be submitted for print publication>.

I’d say more – but the really powerful tips I’d rather didn’t get into the wrong hands, but if you’re interested – contact me and if I believe that what you are doing is for the greater good we’ll take it offline and make sure you get the exposure you deserve.Here are 2 links that I’ve written that show examples of how to do this. The first is the one on the Green Party I’m talking about, and the second won “Letter of the Week” in the Listener – so this stuff works.

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