August 20, 2010
As an editor for an online newsletter, I receive dozens of articles via personal submissions and article directories throughout the week. Many of these articles are extremely well written, many are very good, but unfortunately, many are well below industry standards due to poorly written or structured content. So, what makes for a good article and one that will actually be picked by an editor for publication?
Understanding what elements a publisher is looking for to use in its newsletter or on its website should be a consideration of any author who wants to be published, as well as having a good grasp of the English language, (i.e. grammar and punctuation). The recent surge of new article directories on the Web has brought a deluge of so called authors who churn out article after article on a subject with little regard, or maybe I should say knowledge, on how they are being reviewed by publishers. A simple, but effective, fine-tuning of those articles for publication will be of benefit to both author and publisher.
What is a Publisher Looking for in an Article?
1. Good Content
Content on a relevant topic within our specific industry is the biggest consideration when selecting a piece for our newsletter or website. (If the newsletter is for web-programmers or web-designers – relevant topics for submission should be within that scope and pertinent areas.) There has been an influx of articles recently on article marketing and affiliate marketing. These are both great topics, but what I see is the same information rewritten over and over. Once an article has been published on this topic, unless the new article is obviously providing a different take on the subject or has new information to share…it is old news.
Therefore, authors must be creative and take a new direction on the topic; writing something that hasn’t been rehashed over and over. Be controversial. Do some research on the topic that will add value to the article by providing statistics, history, a new point-of-view – anything that is relevant and new that readers will find of interest and not just of interest to you, the author.
Make sure your first few sentences or paragraphs provide enough interest to keep your audience’s attention. You will lose them otherwise. Most people scan an article and move on if it is not compelling enough. Add compelling content! Simply stated is fine – but your content must also be interesting, thought provoking, and of value to the reader.
In addition — Spell-check your work!! A poorly written article is not only difficult to read, but takes time for the editor to proof and edit. Your articles should be well written pieces with spelling and grammar checked before submitting to article directories or directly to a publisher. This is my pet-peeve. With all the tools available to assist in most programs (i.e. Word, Works, Mac Word, iWorks, etc.) there shouldn’t be spelling or grammatical errors. Take the time to check your work, it’s well worth the effort.
2. Give the Article a Catchy Title
This is another very important point I cannot stress enough. A boring or vague title will not prompt a reader to either open an email or click on a link to your article. If your article is about Google – use Google in the title. Think about the point you are trying to make or bring to the reader’s attention and use it in the title. Strong titled articles will get the attention of a publisher and your readers.
3. Making the Word Count
Taking the time to write an article is a task in itself. Unless you are making money at article writing – your time is valuable and you want to make the most of your article writing. Getting published is your reward! With that in mind….A well written article on a hot topic should have a substantial word count, and if less than 550 words – the article may not be picked up by a publisher of a newsletter as a featured article. A featured article has substance and should be at least 750 words or longer for consideration. Still, many publishers are looking for shorter articles for their websites and a well-written article with a shorter word count will suffice.
To be a successfully, published author you must hone in your skills. Providing good, relevant content in an article that is spell-checked and grammatically correct, with a catchy title will entice and grab the attention of publishers. Experienced authors get published more often as they become a trusted source by editors to provide a professional piece which has that added attention to detail we editors all strive for!