By Paul Gallagher, Associate Director, Editorial
- Be informed. Read widely, especially the publications you hope to appear in.
- Be aware. There’s often a lot of competition. Most publications get more content than they can publish.
- Be original. Either say something new, or find a new or interesting way to say something that isn’t. Boredom, not bias, is your enemy.
- Be considerate. Editors need time to read and make decisions. Give them as much lead time as possible, and don’t keep emailing them.
TIPS FOR WRITING A GOOD OP-ED
- The purpose of an op-ed is to persuade. Don’t take a strident tone, call names, or assume bad motives. Pretend you’re speaking to a person who’s on the fence about an issue.
- Every good op-ed has one main point. Try to determine what it is before you write. But don’t be afraid to revise, or even rewrite, until it’s clear.
- The most important part of any op-ed is the opening paragraph, or lead (lede). You have to woo the reader.
- Provide supporting evidence to make your case, but don’t include everything you know. Two or three examples often suffice. Tell stories, if you can, to show how your policies help people.
- Make the op-ed as concise as possible. Just because you can write long doesn’t mean you should. Make your case and wrap it up.
- Avoid clichés.
- Give the piece time to sit, at least for a little bit. Read it out loud and/or give it to a trusted friend for feedback. Proofread it carefully and make sure you’ve fact-checked it, even stuff you “know.”
- Feel free to put a headline on it, but be aware that headlines are the editor’s province.
- The best time to pitch an editor is late morning, preferably early in the week. The later it gets in the day, the busier an editor will likely be. The worst time to pitch an editor is late on a Friday.
- Avoid sending the piece out simultaneously to several editors, especially if they’re competitors.