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How to propose a column
by Lynda Archard
©: July 3rd 2000

Have you ever considered starting your own column? A website is a place to put interesting good quality articles and get your work noticed. You can also write a summary or synopsis of your future column and send it to your local newspaper for consideration.

First you need to choose a subject that you either have extensive knowledge of or that you can easily research. I suggested an alternative to astrology columns to some English magazines and several liked the idea and have kept it on their files. My idea was still along the lines of astrology but a slightly different subject, which I won't go into here. A good synopsis is one that gives a few paragraphs of the subject and gives a reason why it will benefit the magazine or newspaper and why you are the best person to write it for them. It is the first point of contact between you and an editor and should be very well written and grammar checked. Revise it in the same way as you would with your articles. Take out any unnecessary words and fine-tune it as a work of art before you send it.

Self-publishing is not quite the same as vanity publishing. Sometimes, when a writer thinks like a reader, the writer is aiming for a market that isn't yet covered. I can never find the informative articles that I want to read so I try to write them, using plain language as often as I can. And as some of you know, I don't always stick to grammar rules either. I like to write as I speak.

The important thing about a regular column is that you are in control of your own work and you do need to submit your best writing. Editors could see your work and you want them to contact you if they are actively searching for new talent and admire your work if they are just browsing.

Essential research for all readers is to read any guidelines carefully before you start to consider your column and choose a magazine that prints, or might print, regular columns. If they already have some then they might be looking for fresh ideas and if they don't then they might take your idea when they update their magazine. Informative articles about your hobby could be considered as a regular feature, even personal experiences are wanted by some publications.

I know that first contact is a scary one but editors are human and every bit as normal as you and me. Some are rigid and formal but the majority are flexible. And what if you have just what they are looking for but you are too scared to ask?

Just one more thing; you should also address your submission or synopsis to the editor by name. Editorís change more often on some magazines than others and a quick phone call to the editorial desk will soon clarify the right editor.

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© Lynda Archard