Friday, March 4, 2011

Position Yourself as an Expert

Do you want to break into the world of magazine writing? Or publish a non-fiction book? One of the best ways to do so is by positioning yourself as an expert.
This is very important as, if you want to show why you and you alone are THE person to write some great article or to publish some non-fiction book, you need to show why you have the credentials. Why you, out of all the other writers a magazine might have on staff or in their cache of freelancers -- why should they take a chance on someone who is totally new, whose work they aren’t familiar with?
Sure, for a magazine, you could break in by writing some awesome spec article. But why not heighten your chances of being chosen to write the piece by determining what sort of expertise you might have and then finding a magazine that caters to that interest?
For nonfiction books, you often don’t need to have the whole book finished in order to get a book deal. You need a proposal, of course, and a few chapters. But if you demonstrate that you can write through those chapter samples and then also turn in a great proposal for how you are going to write the rest of the book, there’s a good chance you can convince a publisher to give you the money to write it. But, more often than not, they are going to also want to know the answer to that same question: why you? Why you, out of all the other writers out there, who might be pitching similar proposals for similar books? Therefore, it’s up to you to demonstrate your creds.
Maybe you want to write a book about childcare. If you’re a mom, you can spin this into a role of expertise (of course if you partner up with a pediatrician or a child psychologist all the better). The same goes for becoming a food writer. Do you really spend all your time keeping up with the major food trends? Can you show an editor that you really know what you’re talking about by showing them that you know about foods that they're not even familiar with? This is why doing a blog is so great. You have a portfolio of writing samples right there in the blogosphere. Plus, chances are, if you post new entries often, you are keeping up with the newest trends regarding whatever subject you are blogging about. 
Editors are busy people. They are often too busy to take your call. But they’re also too busy to think up all the article ideas in the world – and so they absolutely love to be pitched great ideas for stories.
This is just food for thought if you have an idea for an article you want to write for a magazine or for a book: show why you are the expert opinion on the subject.

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