"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
As featured on: Pro Blogger, Men With Pens, Write to Done, Tiny Buddha, LifeHack, Technorati, Date My Pet, South 85 Literary Journal and other award-winning sites.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Written and Sittin'? 5 Ways to find a home for "orphan" articles...

No matter how talented you are as a writer, chances are your acceptance and placement rate is not 100%.
There always seems to be those " labored" over babies we can't seem to quite find a home for.

...An interview with a local entrepreneur, a poem about nature, a relationship piece penned after a bad break-up, a travel article from a past vacation. True?

As a matter of fact, the inspiration for this post came about when I was trying to identify and target some new markets, and in the process, found some folders with articles I had written long ago that have yet to find a suitable home.
Truth be told, I had forgotten all about them, in my weekly efforts to pitch new people, break into new markets, and maintain momentum.

Perhaps you have too.
If so, let's look at a few ways to turn past pieces into future sales. Shall we?

First things first...
As Dr. Phil often says, "You can't fix what you don't acknowledge first!"
So, it's important to examine WHY those articles remain in your pending files instead of your paid files.

  1. It's a piece that requires a very special and specific market that you have yet to identify. For example, an article written about your pet rock collection.
  2. It's controversial, and you're trying to work up the courage to publish it, or decide whether or not to do so under a pen name. I have two such articles that I'm sittin' on now. 
  3. Though it's well written, it's outdated or no longer "news-worthy." Like helpful hair tips on how to maintain your Jherri Curl.
  4. It's finished but it doesn't feel "complete." You have that gut feeling that it's missing that "secret sauce."  
  5. Time is a factor. In other words, you're too busy trying to keep up with new projects to handle old ones.
Any of these sound familiar?

  1. In an effort to work "smarter, not harder" it sometimes makes more sense to work on projects from the past that require minor "tweaks," than to start from scratch with brand new ideas and new directions. If you don't want to take time from your usual routine and regular assignments, devote just one day a month to look at old pieces with new eyes. I have done this with some of my former personal essays, and as a result, was able to "find homes" for them as submissions for anthologies for women. Some were even paying markets.
  2. Give your pieces a "make-over." Add current stats or studies to old findings, to make pieces news-worthy or relevant. This works well for articles on education, travel, the economy, social media, technology, and even political issues. 
  3. Consider sending them out as guest posts to blogs outside of your niche. The benefit here is that it can help to build your following, and also build relationships with other bloggers that can sometimes lead to paying assignments in the future.
  4. If it's a controversial piece, sleep on it for awhile. Remember that in the age of the Internet, once it's published, it's pretty permanent. Many of us have issues that we are passionate about, but we need to weigh whether writing about them in a public forum is worth the potential backlash. To quote a famous expression: "Choose your battles wisely."
  5. If it's a piece that feels unfinished, have someone else read it and render their opinion.  It could be that you're being too perfectionistic, or simply over analyzing things. Perhaps an editor will still find it perfectly marketable; you'll never know if you don't try. Send that baby packin'.

Follow these timely tips to give new life to old work, and to increase the odds of publication.

Your turn.
Thoughts? Agree or disagree?

Images: Freedigitalphotos.net


  1. I agree! I recently discovered a few oldies but goodies and recycled them for some guest posts. I liken it to finding buried treasure. Thanks for the inspiration! :)

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. That's smart; move to the head of the class! Which guest post will be for us here? :-) Thanks, Karen.

    3. Thanks for your post Jennifer, I really like Nr. 2 about giving pieces a 'Make-over', because I did find some 'Orphans' on my own blog, that I recently made (Summer) News-worthy.

      For example recently I did put a little more attention on a last year summer post titled: 'Writing - Product Reviews - for Your Blog in a Relaxed Way' about reading books at the beach to write book reviews. Presenting it as a 'Summer Case Study'

      That all together with things like a Sunglasses-image, and posts about Travel Gadgets, and Waterproof Digital Camera's etc. etc also things like Sunglasses, Coffee Mugs, and Gadgets for writers look like suitable easy to buy low-priced front-end articles.

  2. How clever! Thanks for sharing these tips, H.P.