Sunday, 22 November 2009
Send those letters out
While you're busy enjoying your Sunday morning lie-in (lie-in? What's that I hear you say?!) perusing the Sunday papers. Don't just lie there doing nothing but mindlessly reading the papers. Get them out, read them slowly and jot down the articles/columns/letters/features that interest you. Then have a go at writing a letter to the letters page. Read the letters they've published over the last couple of weeks and, check for style, tone, language, topics and length and write one and email or post it in. Some of the newspapers pay money or give prizes to their letter of the week so it can be worth your while to have a go.
I had a lovely surprise this morning when I opened the pages of The Mail on Sunday and saw my letter had won letter of the week and I've won an overnight stay in a top luxury posh hotel for my trouble (not bad for about 100-150 words and five minutes work!) So writing letters to magazines and newspapers can be quite lucrative.
Once you've had a few letters published why not up the ante and try writing an article/feature. Again, you need to read the papers you're targeting for a couple of weeks to get a sense of the style/word count and topics that they publish and then put pen to paper/finger tips to keyboard and write an article in their style. And don't forget to read the whole newspaper, the adverts etc too and their colour supplements and mags.
I did this with one of our local daily evening papers and got a feature published in there. Okay, I didn't get paid for it, but it was my name on there - valuable experience and a cutting for my portfolio plus the paper knows my name now so there's nothing to stop me from pitching other ideas to them!
I might try one of the nationals with a feature next so why don't you have a go too? Yes the competition is fierce and the chances of having a feature accepted my a national newspaper is pretty low, I should imagine, But NEVER say never - you won't know until you try and someone has to get their features in there - the papers have to fill their pages so it might as well be you who fills them!
Even if you don't get them published in the nationals, nothing is ever wasted, just revamp it and send it somewhere else until you run out of outlets (that will be a very long time!
And I now have more potential article material at my disposal from my win!
Happy reading (all in the name of research, of course!)and writing