And when you are done — where should you submit it?
The thing with writing a piece based on your personal experience or opinion is that there is no one-size-fits-all formula. A good op-ed is one that is strong, opinionated and timely. I often use quotes from reported interviews — there are often so many parts of an interview that gets thrown out from a reported piece.
Here are a few suggestions:
Identify your expertise. For e.g. if you don’t following gender issues, do not pitch a gender op-ed just because its in news and you might have an opinion on it. It’s best your opinion is based on some experience.
Pitch opinion that can align with a news hook
Don’t get all pedantic. Use simple language to argue your points.
And, I cannot stress this enough — respect your readers. Don’t talk down to them. Don’t underestimate them.
And finally, make sure you have a strong lede (with a news hook), followed by your arguments, and a conclusion where you summarize and end on a forward-looking note.
A useful tip I got from one of my editors was not to use too much data in opinion pieces. Just lift a few important statistics or figures and weave them in the arguments.
Below are some publications you can pitch your op-ed pieces to:
Their editorial team meets once per week — generally on Wednesdays at 11 a.m. EST — to consider pitches. “If you would like to submit an idea for our publication, please use the form below, keeping our meeting schedule in mind (that is, if you submit an idea on a Wednesday afternoon, it may not get full consideration for another week). You will receive more specific instructions when you select the type of project from the drop-down menu below.” Important: If you have not contributed to Undark before, your proposal must include a brief author bio and clips of, or links to, previously published work.
The USA TODAY Opinion section publishes analysis, argument and essays on a wide variety of subjects. They are looking for timeliness (pegged to news), persuasion pitched to the other side, new information, novel arguments, revelatory insights, passion without partisanship, first-person experience, original reporting that reveals fresh angles and makes news, expert knowledge, and/or a topic that will drive conversation on social media and in the real world.
They only accept pieces that are submitted exclusively to USA TODAY. They will not accept material that has been published on blogs, social media or anywhere else.
Columns typically run 550 to 750 words. They should be pasted directly into an email and sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pieces should include links (URLs, not headlines or footnotes) to back up quotes and factual material. People featured in columns must be identified by their real, full names.
Please include a short biography, two sentences at most, to run at the end of your column.
600–1200 submitted as the body of an email rather than an attachment. Include a cover note introducing yourself, writing credentials and the story in a nutshell. Send via email: email@example.com.
The Post welcomes submissions of opinion articles on any topic for publication in print and online. Submissions must be exclusive to us and can be of any length, though they are unlikely to be accepted if they are longer than 750 words. We do not consider articles sent to other publications or posted online, including on a personal blog, nor do we consider anonymous or pseudonymous submissions.
We consider only completed articles and do not provide guidance on ideas or proposals.
The New York Times accepts opinion essays on any topic for both the daily print page and online section as well as the Sunday Review, the International edition (which is edited out of London and Hong Kong), and other themed series. Published pieces typically run from 400 to 1,200 words, but drafts of any length within the bounds of reason will be considered.
Include a one-sentence author ID at the top or bottom of the submission.
All submissions must be original, exclusive to The Times and, as a matter of security, embedded in the text of an email, not as an attachment.
Submissions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.