Monday, February 9, 2009

Star for the Month

I would like to say that as a tutor, I get just as big a kick out of the news that one of my students has had a piece of work published, as they do.

I think that many writers who are just starting out, forget that EVERY writer who has had anything published (article, short story, book, novel) has been where they are NOW. I began writing over 20 years ago in my mid-teens and it took me several years to see my first published piece. I know EXACTLY what every new writer goes though. I've been there, done that and got the rejection slips!

This means that I can identify with that moment of elation that a writer experiences when news of publication arrives.

So when I turned the page of my copy of the March issue of Writing Magazine, I was delighted to see a name I recognised. I had arrived at the Letters Page and as I read GEOFFREY ROUTLEDGE's letter, I realised that this was one of his assignment pieces. Not only had Geoffrey got his letter published, but it had been selected by the editor as the issue's Star Letter!

So congratulations to Geoffrey! Proof indeed that assignment work can lead to publication. It's also proof that writing in the English language offers many more opportunities. For whilst Writing Magazine is a British publication, Geoffrey's letter originated from his home town of Taupo in New Zealand.

So my top letter writing tips are:
  1. Write your letter to the appropriate length. If all the letters are shorter than 50 words in your target market then yours needs to be less than 50 words too.
  2. Consider pictures. Pictures are often paid more money than those letters without. Check your target market. If every letter has a picture then your letter MUST have a picture.
  3. If the letters in your target market refer back to an article in a previous issue, then your letter needs to do the same. (Geoffrey's refers back to a previous letter on the letters page.)
  4. You can be controversial. Editors enjoy a good debate, so if you have strong views write in anyway. Your letter could be used to provide 'balance' to other more praising letters.
  5. And finally - if your tutor tells you that your assignment work should be sent out, then do as he says :-)
Good luck!