How to Break into Print

The writing business is hard to break into. Everywhere you look someone is writing something and hoping to get published. Because of the abundance of writers, the market has become tight and selective.

Potential customers — employers, editors and publishers, want to know what you have done in the past. Have you ever been published?

If you are just getting started as a writer this can be discouraging. Try as you might, you can’t get that first article, short story or poem published. However, there are ways to get around it.

Small newspapers exist in every community. These publishers operate on a slim budget and cannot afford the staff to cover everything that’s newsworthy. Although some can’t pay you, they will often accept contributions and give you a byline.

After a few submissions your name may become well-known to the community. You could be given assignments, film for pictures and a token salary ($25 – $75) per story. This will be similar to a contractor fee. Still, you have become a writer who earns money for his/her work.

What type of articles or stories are these newspapers looking for? Most want feature stories about local people doing interesting things. For instance, imagine your neighbor Jack Smith makes the best apple cider you ever tasted. He worked on his recipe for years and now he has perfected it. He shares this delectable drink with friends, family and neighbors. So why not write an article about him?

Remember, in the newspaper business you need to concentrate on the who, what, why, when and how, words covered in the first few paragraphs.

Start with the subject matter. Jack Smith, of 4070 Queen St. has long-loved New England apple cider. After seven years of trial and error, he has finally mastered the elusive apple-cinnamon recipe. Although Indiana has its share of apple cider, there is nothing to compare with Smith’s recipe.

In this first paragraph, you have answered all the important questions. Who? Jack Smith. Where? 4070 Queen St. What? Apple cider. When? Currently or finally. Why? Because Jack loves apple cider. How? By trial and error.

Mention the subject again as a reminder in the middle of the article, Smith became interested in the apple cider recipe in 1998 while visiting an aunt in New England. It was his first taste of the unique concoction.

When he returned home to Indiana, he could not find anything that compared with that perfect blend of apples and cinnamon.

End your article with the same subject. Imagine tying it up into a package. If you have a hankering for apple cider, drop by and visit Jack Smith. He always has a cup of his special recipe on ice for a thirsty neighbor.