How to get published when you aren't famous (yet)
Wondering how to get published so you can be known? And do you really have to be almost famous first?
I’ve been getting fantastic questions from new A-Listers, which makes me sooo happy. Today’s is pure gold, because so many of us who want to be famous in our field wrestle with this chicken-and-egg syndrome.
I am trying to get my works published and I keep being told that I need to become known first. Others tell me that before I can be known, I need to be published. Which is more important?
I hear you, Denise. The hardest part about publishing usually isn’t the actual writing, it’s getting our work onto the sites and publications we covet.
(And book publishing? It’s h-a-r-d to get a traditional publisher to sign a new author. Typically, publishers look for well known names, celebrities, CEOs and people who’ve built a platform. Numbers vary, but I’ve heard book “coaches” suggest that 20,000 combined followers from social media and email subscribers is the minimum a traditional publisher will consider.
Plus, you’ll do the marketing, not the publisher, so don’t think of a publisher as a fairy god mother who’s magic wand will wave all your marketing woes away. Buzz kill over.)
Here are three ways to get published before you become known:
1. Start small
Publish locally or in a niche, like a trade magazine. Trade magazines (industry-focused publications) and local newspapers both struggle to produce content with limited resources, and often welcome help from experts like you.
2. Be your own publisher.
Write for your own blog.
Guest blog for other websites.
Why? Because editors need to see examples of your ideas and your writing. It reduces their risk by showing that you’re credible and a good communicator.
Plus, it lets you hone your ideas and material. You know your topic even better once you’ve explained it to someone else, in writing.
3. Get onto the big sites through the “back door.”
Have you dreamed of seeing your name as an author on big name websites like Huffington Post or Forbes.com?
It can boost your fame factor like nothing else:
A study from Nielsen, shows that expert content—credible, third-party articles (earned media)—is the most effective source of information in impacting consumers along all stages of the purchase process across product categories. (Source: Chad Pollitt, via LinkedIn)
To put it plainly, people trust what they read when it’s on a reputable website or in a magazine.
The best part is, it can be easier than you think to get your name next to the business celebrities on Forbes, CNN, LifeHacker and Business Insider.
A number of the most popular sites on the web are also what are called aggregator sites. This means that they post articles from contributing websites on their site. (That’s what’s called syndication, in the media biz.)
Here’s what that looks like, in the wild of the interwebs:
Notice what’s circled? This article was contributed from another site, YEC Women. If you click on YEC Women, you’ll see this bio:
YEC Women syndicates articles to the Forbes.com website. And this is good news for you, because it’s often easier to get published on a contributing site.
Now, let’s reverse engineer this, baby!
On the Forbes.com website, you can cruise the various articles, or use the search function to find articles in your area of expertise.
Searching “Small business”, I found articles contributed by:
- Next Avenue
- NewTek, the Small Business Authority
- My Say
- HBS Working Knowledge
- Capital Flows
Then, I headed over to the Next Avenue website to do a little digging. It turns out that NextAvenue.org is a website focused on active and engaged seniors. The site’s tagline is, “Where grownups keep growing.”
In the Contact area of the website, there’s a form to send a story idea, article or resource. Boom! Slow clap, fist bump, etc.
Your fame boosting assignment:
Pick one of the three approaches – local/trade magazine, your own website or going through the back door – and spend the next 10 minutes making it happen. Now you’re on your way to turning that signature into an autograph!
Another great witty article as always, thanks!
As you requested, I thought I’d share a couple of recent success stories that came about strictly because I took decisive steps forward to get published.
First success story was getting picked up by a local ICT newspaper that is strictly marketed to the C-suite.
After discovering this exclusive local paper at a friend’s house, I called and then did a walk-in to offer my services as an expert E-business consultant.
A couple of months later the publisher calls me up and offers me a permanent position as their E-business columnist and E-business editor with a generous income to boot.
Second success story came about because I was the Key closer in a 3-year syndication deal with Dow Jones Factiva for the same local newspaper above (they syndicate to sites like the Wall Street Journal and other top news outlets globally).
The publisher of the paper was so thrilled with me getting the deal signed in record time that he gave me an instant promotion and immediate double my income raise.
3rd success story happened just a month or so ago when I decided to write a controversial opinion piece on a high profile local news story that was related to my expertise as a web marketing consultant and self published author.
The story was making the rounds at the time, so I simply decided to call up the publisher of one of the more popular local news blogs that seemed to be fastest in breaking news about the story.
I told them my angle, gave them my credentials as a 15 year veteran and backed it up with juicy content ideas they would get as an exclusive.
The negotiations took all of 20 minutes since apparently I was offering what was a completely unique angle on the story, and I could prove I know my onions.
They gave me a pretty tight deadline of a few hours to get the article ready and I went to work and delivered it as quickly as I could.
Result? 2 hours after that article went up it got picked up by one of the most widely visited news blogs on the continent and that instantly led to the same article being syndicated to over 130,000 news blogs locally and internationally, and shared officially and unofficially thousands of times via Social networks, all within 7 days.
I even got highlighted for 15 hours on social media as the Top news story of the day!
It was a truly humbling experience and has led to several fresh opportunities.
So, I completely agree that it is possible to get famous, become celebrated and also get paid well if you just take the step to get published locally or online.
Thanks for letting me share my stories!
Kunle, this is one the best success stories from publishing that I’ve ever heard! Thanks so much for sharing what you did and the results that you experienced. I’ll bet that your story inspires a few would-be authors today.
I love this part: “The story was making the rounds at the time, so I simply decided to call up the publisher of one of the more popular local news blogs that seemed to be fastest in breaking news about the story.” That’s a PR tactic called piggybacking. Way to go!
Wow thanks! I really apologize for responding this late. For some reason I never got notified of your response and didn’t see it until about a week or 2 later and then life just got in the way! My apologies 🙁
Well first I need to say that I am very honored that you would say that as I really look up to you and follow your newsletter religiously. Thanks for your very kind comments.
I hope my story does help some would-be authors as well and look forward to sharing more success and failures as and when they occur 🙂 I’ve been blessed by your articles over this past year or so and will continue to devour every issue as time permits. Thanks again for your time and the awesome knowledge you share.
Another option is indie publishing. There are so many sites now and so many people are making money on publishing their non-fiction books. but it takes lots of work.
Great article Lori,
This is my next step to publish on other sites. I have my blog but I would like to submit articles to other sites. Do you have a list of where to submit articles or is that particular to an industry.
Fascinating, I am in awe at how simple you have made it seem to be creative and look for those side-door or back-door options. Thanks so much!
This is a great list ~ one of the things I get all suprised about is seeing where I get traffic from on my site and opportunities! Often times it’s because of the back-door method !! Now onto discovering best guest blog sites!!! 🙂
Great list of ways to look for opportunities to become famous. I appreciate your helpful hints on the subject.
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