Today, we’re back again to discuss everyone’s favorite tool for author branding: guest articles! While each individual publication or blog will have its own set of rules you’ll need to follow, these general guidelines are designed to help you get started.
Side note: if you’re wondering what exactly guest articles are and why they’re worth your time, check out my previous article here. Then, return back to this page and read up on these specific writing tips.
Most outlets want first-publication rights for an article — they’re looking for content that was written exclusively for them. This means that the article you submit should not have previously appeared anywhere else, in print or online. Once it’s published, you’re free to link to it on your website and social media pages.
Tailor Your Topic
Before you begin writing, brainstorm topic ideas that both fit within your realm of expertise and meet the expectations and interests of the publication you’ll be pitching.
Ask yourself: Who is going to read this article, and what are they interested in? What is a timely, relevant topic that I can write about? What qualifications do I have that make me an authority on this topic? What makes my perspective unique, something that no one else seems to be saying right now?
If your topic is unique, timely and tailored to both your expertise and the reader’s interests, then you’ve hit the jackpot.
Self-promotion is not always your friend
This is incredibly important. While it’s our job at Books Forward to promote you and your book, it’s not the job of an editor. Their job is to provide meaningful content to their readers. Guest articles and op-eds are meant to position you as an expert, give your name exposure and cement your brand. If an editor feels like you’re blatantly selling a product, it will likely turn them off.
That said, book bloggers are a different breed. They may not mind helping you promote your book via a guest article, because their audience is primarily interested in learning about authors and the books they write. They want to hear about a character’s development, the setting, your insights into your chosen genre, your experience as a writer and how this book came to be.
Keep and eye on word count
Most media outlets and blogs will provide a word count, so try your best to stick to it. Editors and bloggers know their readers better than anyone else, so that’s why they provide specific word count guidelines. If they don’t specify how long your article should be, take a look at other guest articles they’ve published in the past.
Cut the jargon
Write as if you’re having a conversation with someone. Write in terms that readers will understand and identify with. If the subject you’re writing on is complicated, give examples or explain the concept in detail. If people can’t interpret what they’re reading, they’ll move on without a second thought.
Craft a catchy but informative headline
The editor may or may not use what you suggest depending on their needs — SEO, anyone? — but it makes their lives easier if you give them a title to start with.
Tips and lists
People love “quick hit” information that they can apply to their own lives. If you can, provide some tips related to your topic or an easy-to-read bulleted list of takeaways.
Back up your claims
If there are statistics, case studies or real life examples that support your opinions, consider including them in your article. It will lend you credibility and readers will be more likely to trust what you have to say.
If you’re referring to a specific news article, organization or anything that has a website associated with it, provide a link. This helps with website hits and can get more eyes on your piece!
Include a bio
Write a 2-3 sentence third-person bio to plug into the bottom of your article. This should at least include your name, expertise, your book title with the publication date, where you live and your website. If you’re sending along a headshot, make sure to include photo credits as well.
Prepare to make changes
If the editor or blogger looks over your article and asks you to make edits, be flexible and accommodating to their requests. It’s great news that they want to work with you on your piece! Let them know that you’re willing to meet them in the middle in order to provide the best article for their readership.
Show some love
After your piece is published, be sure to share it with your readers! This not only shows the publication or blog that you appreciate them for hosting your article but also helps your article get more attention.
With these tips in mind, you’re on your way to creating impactful guest articles. Double check that your article draft complies with the specifications outlined by the individual publication or blog you plan on pitching, and you’ll be all set!
Jackie Karneth is a publicist with Books Forward is an author publicity and book marketing firm committed to promoting voices from a diverse variety of communities. From book reviews and author events, to social media and digital marketing, we help authors find success and connect with readers.