The purpose of an op-ed is to explain a strongly presented opinion. Your essay will require a clear thesis, backed up by strong evidence, in order to make a persuasive argument. It is not the essay you wrote in High School, though. Good Op Eds are often mature-minded, creative and fluid.
I have helped many clients and friends publish opinion articles in magazines and newspapers because it is a place where you can have control over what is said. But there are many requirements to getting published, and, even if you meet all of them there is still a chance the writing won’t see the light of day. But the following will make it all easier—and give you a better chance of making your opinion known.
In writing an Op Ed, every sentence must grab the reader’s attention, especially the first. You want to get to the point quickly. But before you begin writing, answer these questions:
1. Why does this topic matter to the readers of this publication?
2. Why are you the person to write about it? Why would they care that you are writing it?
3. Why does your topic matter right now? Are you confident about it? You will need to be as you write.
1. Start with an idea and jot down its legs: what is the basis of your argument and what do you want to say about it?
2. Add why you are qualified to write it, and its necessary facts.
3. Take this summary and refine it so it’s efficient and tightly written—and persuasive as hell.
4. Look up publications that are interested in your topic, and note the Op Ed contact information. If you have worked with a reporter at this publication, note that.
5. Address it, individually, as instructed by the editor. Remember, you are sending a summary first. If the editor is interested, you will hear back with the standard requirements: number of words and other rules.
6. Once approved, follow the instructions (you would not believe how many do not) and write your first draft. Then, show the draft to ten people you trust, immensely. Collect their feedback and see if you like it. Then implement what you think is smart. The ten people you chose will come in handy. They care about what you think.
7. Once you have your second draft, send it back to five of the greatest people you know and trust, and get more feedback. One may realize you have a split infinitive in the second paragraph; one may offer a fact that supports your argument. If you realize they don’t have a sense of what an Op Ed takes (it happens), discard their advice.
8. After the input of the best five you have your third draft, and now you should show it to the smartest person you know. If that person has good advice, implement it. If not, send them a thank you note anyway, but leave it be.
9. Once you have all that advice, and you have checked for spelling and grammar errors (editors make such good friends), send it to the Op Ed Editor for publication.
10 . The Op Ed Editor might have changes for you to implement—make them immediately—while you have his or her interest—and resend.
11. Once published, send the proud essay to your ten advisors to place on their social media pages. Then place the article on your social media pages with a humble note about the essay’s helpfulness.
12. And congratulate yourself, Author.