Today, many writers use op-eds to get their opinion to a broader audience. Unfortunately, because of the popularity of op-eds, newspapers are forced to be extremely selective about which articles they publish. Even a good op-ed will sometimes have difficulty finding a home.
One of the best ways to attract an editor’s attention is to relate your op-ed to current news. Specifically, look through the newspaper that you are submitting to find which subjects they have covered recently. That allows you to see precisely which topics most interest the newspaper’s editors.
If your op-ed doesn’t directly relate to a recent news story, look for ways that it can be rewritten to connect to one. If you can’t correlate it to a news story without feeling forced, consider holding off on submitting the op-ed until a relevant news story comes along.
Submit to Smaller Publications
Another way to boost your chances of having your op-ed published is to submit it to smaller, local publications. Major national newspapers receive hundreds of submissions a day, often written by leading experts in their fields. When you send to these papers, you are competing for space with top academics, national politicians, and Fortune 500 CEOs.
In contrast, many local papers only receive a few op-ed submissions per week. In fact, local newspapers are often hungry for well-written, informative opinion articles. By submitting to these smaller publications, you can drastically increase your chances of being published.
Write about Local Issues
In line with submitting to local publications, you can also increase your publication likelihood by writing about local issues. These are often just as important to readers as national issues and usually, have an even more significant impact on their lives. Despite this, they don’t receive the same attention from writers as large domestic matters typically do.
By focusing on local issues, you can more easily come up with unique insights that other writers haven’t already covered, and which editors will, therefore, be more interested in including in their paper.
Emphasize your Expertise
When submitting your op-ed, you should also be sure to emphasize your expertise. Editors and readers are more likely to trust your writing as authoritative if you have experience related to the subject. Knowledge doesn’t have to be limited to work experience.
You can draw on your education, volunteer experience, and previous writing. You don’t need to explain your expertise in the article; instead, you can include this in a separate biographical sentence or paragraph.
Follow Length Guidelines
A final important tip for getting your op-ed published is to follow the newspaper’s length guidelines. Opinion articles are short–typically about 500 to 1,000 words. Each publication will have specific length requirements for you to follow. Always make sure to follow these conditions correctly, because many editors will automatically reject articles that fall outside the requested word count.
If your piece is too short, consider submitting it as a letter to the editor instead. If it’s too long, cut material until it falls within the newspaper’s guidelines.
Getting your op-ed placed in a newspaper can be a difficult task, but it is not an impossible one. By focusing on meeting the editor’s needs and guidelines, you will set yourself up for success. Although not every op-ed will find a home at the New York Times, your well-written, locally-focused piece will often have success getting published by smaller papers
Five Tips for Getting Your Op-Ed Published