Letters to the Editor

David St John Thomas Charitable Trust Letter Writer of the Year 2007

Receiving My Only Silver Cup Ever!

Writing letters for publication is one of the quickest (and easiest) ways of getting your name in print and there’s often a cash payment or other prize if you’re successful.

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

Sealed envelope

Photo courtesy of Oliver Gruener, Germany.

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