Writing articles for publicity

By Pat Bemis

© 2009 The Medical-Legal News

Most legal nurse consultants (LNCs) know that writing and publishing articles in trade magazines will bring attention to their firm.
However, they don’t think they can write. They wish they could write. They want to be published, but they don’t believe they can. I believe each LNC has at least one story inside him or herself. Most can tell the story to another nurse. If you write in conversation style, you can also write your story.
I sometimes think of an imaginary nurse sitting beside me at the computer when I write. I tell the story to her as I’m typing. Before I know it, I’ve completed an average-sized magazine article (1,000 words) in no time.
So, I want to tell you how to find the magazine to publish your article and how to write and present an article query in order to receive publicity for your business. Publicity that is professional or educational and not commercial in nature is good marketing.

Finding the magazine
Trade magazines target specialized groups of readers. They accept articles related to their specialty. Since legal nurse consulting is a specialty of nursing, any nursing magazine is a target. Also, consider business publications, city newspapers, and association newsletters. Today’s hottest item is the electronic newsletter. You can find all these publications at your public library. Ask for the directories at the research desk. Some directories are online and charge a fee; but, the library is still free. You can copy (on the library’s copy machine) pages of information.
You don’t have to stay in your local market. I once wrote an article for an Arkansas newspaper while living in Florida. I sent a query regarding remedies for summer bug and insect bites. I didn’t make up the information. I researched and found all the information I needed at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website (www.cdc.gov). You are free to use (and copy) information from a government website. It is not copyrighted. Make sure you reference the source to give even more validity to your article.

Presentation to the magazine
There are two ways to present an article to a magazine (or newspaper). One is to write the article and submit it. The other is to write a query to a magazine about a potential article not yet written. Writing a complete article and submitting it to a magazine is not the best choice. It wastes time. The article may be rejected and the writing time is wasted. It seems that editors always want a different twist or angle, and time is needed to rewrite the article. For me, writing a query to the magazine is the best choice. A query is simply a question asking if the editor is interested in your article. If you send a query and the editor wants a different angle, you haven’t lost any time writing it.

Writing the query
A query is written to the magazine’s editor. If there are multiple editors, look for the one who handles your area of expertise, such as a healthcare editor or legal editor if you are writing about legal nurse consulting. The editor is looking at your query with the following questions in mind.
1. What is the writer going to write about?
2.Is this what our readers want?
3. Can this person write an effective article?
A query can be written and sent by email. If you send it by regular mail, write the query on your letterhead. The query contains the following items in the order listed.
• Date.
• Name and address of the person you want to receive the query including his or her title.
• Salutation.
• Title of the article.
• Write the specific focus of the article and explain how you are going to handle the information, or include the first paragraph of the article.
• Selected biographical information.
• Your contact information: name, address, phone, email, website (if any).

Queries written on letterhead should fit on one page. Queries sent by email should be kept within what will be seen on the computer monitor (one screen-full).
Queries must be error-free and written in the writing style of the magazine. Editors will throw away queries with typos, misspelled words and grammatical errors. They think, “If this writer can’t write a query correctly, most likely she can’t write a complete article.”
The honorarium for an article by an inexperienced writer is typically $150 and up. The magazine will probably want a signed agreement that spells out the rights of the magazine and the writer. The copyright of the article or the first right of publication usually belongs to the publication.
As always, I’m here to answer your questions. Good luck.

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