By Ari Kaplan
Ari Kaplan is an attorney and writer who teaches professionals the mechanics of getting published and the art of promoting their work in New York City. He can be contacted at
Good lawyers are well respected, but great lawyers also are well known. They have strong reputations that are supported by lasting impressions, demonstrated knowledge of the law, and positive name recognition. Many of them have crafted this status over time by getting published.
Writing for publication is particularly powerful in professional services. It shapes your standing in the community, organically helps to expand your network, and inspires your day. Writers tend to meet more interesting people, develop stronger relationships with them, and find continued reasons to interact. They master the fundamental techniques that are associated with business development by concentrating on a few key points that contribute to their publishing success.
Craft an appealing story. Although everyone has an idea for an article, few can articulate it well enough to share it with an editor. Start by reviewing your most interesting work and identifying areas of the law where you can provide clarity. If you are unsure of where to start, visit Web sites that are related to your practice and read trade publications that focus on
your field. Most importantly, discuss your ideas with colleagues, particularly those with more experience and insight. Use the writing process as an opportunity to meet others and enhance business relationships. Also, consider how your interaction will affect your reputation within your peer group and in the wider community.
Find the right publication. To properly manage your reputation, methodically select the right home for your idea. Consider what your target audience is reading and why. Is your idea regionally focused or practice specific? Are you trying to reach other lawyers or non-legal business professionals? The easiest way to identify an ideal publication is to ask clients or prospects what they read. This will again provide a great opportunity to connect or reconnect, while demonstrating your sincere enthusiasm for answering a pressing question in the industry.
Craft a persuasive pitch. Despite that enthusiasm, you should not write the article and then try to find a home. Rather, draft a pitch describing your idea in one or two sentences. Explain how your background is relevant and why the timing is appropriate for a piece of this type. Remember that editors, particularly those responsible for producing trade-related publications, are genuinely interested in your ideas. Pitching your idea first also manages your time more effectively so that you can make the investment once you are guaranteed a return.
Make it relevant. You can secure that guarantee by understanding that timing is a critical factor in getting published. Your proposal needs to address an issue on the minds of the publication’s readers. For that reason, writers who review editorial calendars have a tremendous advantage over their peers when pitching article ideas to publications.
An editorial calendar outlines the general coverage a magazine or newspaper will provide on a particular subject over the course of an entire year. They are often available on the publication’s Web site and typically list the submission guidelines as well (e.g., length and editorial style). Understanding editors’ calendars also demonstrates to them that you have conducted the necessary background research and are serious about your interest in writing.
Once your idea has been accepted, use the process as a chance to connect with mentors, colleagues, clients, and prospects by calling to interview them or co-author with them. Identifying a specific date for an article will provide you with the ability to calendar its development and completion.
Getting published is more about motivation than mechanics. People do not write just to see their names in a byline or to send their articles to others. They write to inspire. Ironically, in the process, they are the ones who become inspired.
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