Though newspapers have declined over the last few years, they still provide a great way to reach a larger audience. Newspapers still reach local communities and national audiences in a way that’s difficult to replicate elsewhere. With a little bit of time and energy, you can use letters to the editor to promote a conservative worldview.
Here are 6 tips to help get your letter published.
1. Pick a timely topic
Picking relevant topics to write on is crucial. No editor is going to publish your letter if it doesn’t contribute to important topics of the day. However, timing matters too. If your piece is the latest in a long line of writing on the same topic, it might be too talked about to publish.
Hitting that sweet spot right as the news is accelerating can make your piece valuable not only to an editor looking to find good content but also to readers who might not have heard much about the issue yet.
2. Provide a unique perspective
If you’re writing about issues that affect you personally, your ideas and opinion will have much more weight. For example, a parent with kids in the school district writing about school board issues will be much more compelling than similar opinions from somebody without kids who lives across the state.
Having a personal stake in your writing, whether it’s because you’re in the same industry, your family might be affected, etc. ups the ante, giving your perspective even more validity.
3. Write for the right outlet
As important as it is to pick the right topic, it’s even more important to pick the right paper. As important as your county commission’s decision on potholes may be, it likely won’t be something the Wall Street Journal is looking to publish. That said, you can still get published at premiere outlets like the Journal. When I was in college, they published a letter I sent; if they’ll publish me, they’ll publish anybody. You just need to make sure your perspective and topic are compelling and timely to the needs of the editor and their readers.
The Grey Lady might not care about your neighborhood’s potholes, but you local newspaper probably will. Also, don’t forget to look at online outlets. Web publications are always looking for writers and content, much of which can be niche to your community.
4. Get the formatting right
First and foremost, make sure your letter is well written. Ensure the facts are checked, your grammar and spelling is impeccable, and that it’s understandable. Your letter should be accessible to people with little to zero knowledge about your topic.
Finally, make sure your writing is formatted well for the publication. A print newspaper is highly unlikely to run your 3,500 word think piece. They just don’t have the room for that length of content. Review the publication’s recent letters to get an idea of the right length, but as a rule of thumb, keep it under 300 words.
5. Don’t take it personally when they say no (or don’t say anything)
You’re going to be told no, I guarantee it. When you are, don’t take it as an insult to your skill as a writer or the opinion you’re expressing. There isn’t a conspiracy to keep your ideas from the printing press. Rather than launch an email tirade against the editor who said no, politely ask them for feedback.
You are not asking them to justify their decision not to publish your letter, you are asking for advice to make the next letter you send them something they’d love to publish. They still might not respond (many outlets get hundreds if not thousands of letters), but if they do, use their feedback to improve your next piece rather than fight over the last letter.
6. Do it all over again
Did you get published? Great! Tweet it at me and let me know, I’d love to read it. If nobody wanted to publish you, that’s fine too. In the age of the Internet, you can be your own publisher with almost no effort at all. Post your letter on your website or Medium page and send it out on your social media platforms.
Regardless, the last step is the same; do it all over again. Continue to practice writing letters and you’re sure to be published. As the businessman Jim Rohn said:
Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so that when important occasions arise, you will have the gift, the style, the sharpness, the clarity, and the emotions to affect other people.