In 2007 I was the David St John Thomas Charitable Trust Letter Writer of the Year (unfortunately this particular award is no more). To win I had to provide a portfolio of letters that I’d had published over the previous 12 months and in the course of putting this together I picked up several tips for getting in to print:
- Be concise – usually the shorter the letter the better
- Study the publication – look at the letters already chosen for publication and use these as your template. Mimic their language and sentence structure. Take note of their subject matter – are they funny family anecdotes or intelligent comments on past features in the magazine.
- Say thank you – magazines like positive feedback so tell them if an article they published has helped or inspired you in some way
- Include a photograph – women’s magazines in particular use pictures of their readers, so including one will increase your chance of publication
- Don’t duplicate your letters – as with short stories and features, don’t send the same letter to two different publications. Letters must be ‘exclusive’.
- Target a variety of magazines – if you write too often to the same publication your name may go on a ‘banned’ list because readers complain if the same name continually appears. Once a letter is accepted, leave a gap before writing again.
- Be quick off the mark – if you’re commenting on something that’s appeared in the magazine, email your letter ASAP so that it can be printed in the next or second issue.
- Keep records – if a letter hasn’t appeared in print after several months and it’s content is not magazine specific, try sending it somewhere else.
There is a ‘How To’ article of mine covering this topic here.
Today’s writing prompt follows on from the theme of letters and is:
A sealed envelope