Re: A weekly column

Subject: Re: A weekly column
From: "Deborah S. Ray" <debray -at- raycomm -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 19 Apr 2003 08:50:29 -0600

Hi, Mary,

> I'm going to be pitching a weekly column

FWIW, I would suggest being open to writing a biweekly
or monthly column as well. Depending, a small newspaper
may not be able to publish a weekly column because space
is particularly limited.

> a local, small town newspaper,

You might look at the article on the TECHWR-L site
called "Extending Your Tech Writing Skills: Pitching
a Newspaper Column Idea," which offers advice, how-to
information, and food for thought about pitching a
column idea to your local newspaper editor:

> but I have no idea what is reasonable compensation. I've written columns
> before but within the framework of full time job, not as an independent
> freelancer.
> Any suggestions as to what kind of price tag I should place on a freelance,
> weekly submission that is public service oriented?

In our experience, we've found that Sharon's comment
is right on:

>>payment varies from $20 to $100 a column. Smaller papers
>>pay less. A name gets paid more.

Along those same lines, I would imagine that
most newspapers have an established rate (or
range) for columns--with some wiggle room,
depending on the author, value of the topic
to the newspaper's readership, availability
of similar information, and so on. I'd say
that you're not needing to figure out what
price tag to put on the column, so much as
you're needing to find out what the local
market/paper will pay.

Otherwise, the article mentioned above provides
a series of questions to help you focus the column
and identify/overcome the competition. The same
aspects identified in the questions could also
help you assess how valuable your column might
be to the newspaper.

> Is there such a thing as pitching it to other
> small-town newspapers as well, thus reducing the "fee" by spreading
it > around?

Ahhh, syndication. Although you could theoretically
make your column less expensive by doing this, consider
that some editors would view the non-exclusiveness (hmm...
is that a word?) of a syndicated column as a downside.
Newspapers have a plethora of non-exclusive material
available to them through the Associated Press and
other syndicated columns.

> Does anybody out there have any experience with weekly newspaper
> columns?

Yes, Eric and I authored a biweekly column for our
local newspaper, which was later picked up by a syndicate.
And through that syndicate, we also authored another

You might also read the TECHWR-L article called
"Extending Your Tech Writing Skills: Becoming a Columnist"

Good luck with your new adventures!

TECHWR-L: Empowering Technical Writers Since 1993
Eric -- Listowner Deborah -- Webmaster/Editor

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A weekly column: From: MN Mary

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