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Keep Your Writing Samples

Yesterday, a local newspaper editor asked me for several writing samples. My heart lifted, as it always does when I get another "chance" to be published. It's happened a lot before, but the happy feeling never changes.

Thankfully, my husband was kind enough to set me up with a scanner some time ago. With a few clicks of the mouse, the scanner starts buzzing, and my screen magically displays a .JPG file of my work. I love this scanner! All it takes is a few more clicks and my samples are scooting across cyberspace. Now I'll just cross my fingers and hope the editor likes my style.

Yes, the story is simply fascinating, I know (NOT!), but I do have a point: ALWAYS keep your writing samples. Keep original copies of the published article if your can, and make copies to use as samples. Scanning is another convenient alternative. It gives the luxury of emailing your clips, or even posting them on your website.

Take care to categorize your samples, as well. If you're approaching a magazine, you'll want to find pieces that suit their style. If you're looking for a newspaper gig, try a third-person fact driven piece. While the styles don't have to match exactly, it will certainly give your stuff the extra edge.

Finding an Expert

Once you stumble upon a great story idea, you have to follow through. Sure, you'll want to write an outline, do your internet research, and read all background issues of that particular publication. But to really add meat to your story, you'll need experts.

Expert advice is priceless. An article without an expert may be functional, informative, and even fun. But experts add authenticity. They add good solid advice. They offer personal experience. They offer statistical information. Most importantly, they add meat.

For years, I fretted over the expert issue. Where would I find an expert? Would they want to talk to me? Why would they agree to talk? What would I say? But each of these questions has a simple answer: It's easier than you think.

Experts can be found everywhere: your backyard, your local store, local doctor's offices, local universities. You can step outside your box and call people from across the country. Contact people who have websites. Contact the people who write press releases. If all else fails, sign up for At Profnet, you simply ask for experts on a particular topic, and they call you.

The best part is that everyone likes to talk. Experts enjoy sharing their knowledge with others for a variety of reasons; perhaps they enjoy the subject, they enjoy the questions, or they simply want to promote their product or way of thinking. In any case, their knowledge will be useful to you. (However, if they are promoting a particular product or service, ensure that you interview several folks---you don't want to write a biased article.)

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