This one’s for my fellow writers out there! Obtaining credibility as a writer is vital if you wish to make a long-term effort out of it…something I admit I haven’t made up my own mind about, having severe carpel tunnel and tennis elbow and all.
Still, one way to gain both cred and exposure is to guest post on the big sites…and so I thought I would attempt that myself, then, if successful, share the steps I took with you, dear readers!
Suffice it to say, I was able to get something picked up… And so, without further ado, here is:
How to Get an Article Posted on Forbes
I’m sure there are different paths to get to that end goal, but here is what I did to get my article on Turkish insult laws picked up… Of course at the end of the day, we have zero control over what interests an editor, but following these steps should improve your odds. It did for me; this was the very first time I ever submitted an article to them, or any major outlet for that matter.
And I am very grateful to the editor and staff for their kindness and support during the process. Okay, let’s go…
Drafting Your Piece
Well it starts with the story. What is your article going to be about? Does it have a broad enough sense of appeal while still being unique enough that not just anyone could write it?
In my own case, I had been talking to a Turkish friend about the Turkish insult law and the case against the guy who’d posted a meme of Gollum from Lord of the Rings and the president of Turkey. He got fired and arrested over it, and it became sort of the face of the freedom of speech crackdown going on in that country.
These days that is relevant on a larger scale because many are calling for Turkey to exit NATO, and they site lack of freedom of speech as one reason. So I was able to use this one otherwise very local issue and portray it as having a larger scope. And since I knew more than the average person about the insult law (having lived in Turkey myself), I knew I could offer a perspective others could not.
Does you have such a topic in mind? If so, great. Now go look at some of the other articles written on Forbes and try to match their formatting style to your own story.
That’s what I did… I took a close look at an article they had up, examined their format including number and size of paragraphs, then set out to tell my opinion piece but constructed in their exact same format.
As far as content, my article’s thesis is laid out logically enough to make sense but leaves plenty of room for disagreement.
Everything is linked to a source…except the opinion parts. That is what they like! Sourced stories but, for a guest poster, stories with strong opinions. Initially I submitted it with the sources at the bottom; after the editor agreed to accept it for publication I was forwarded to another individual who asked me to hyperlink the sources to their respective phrases, in a Word doc.
Submitting Your Article to the Editor
It goes without saying, your submission must be error-free, and I mean error-free. Editors aren’t going to bother with anything that needs a lot of work. That is your job as the writer. Yes, they have people to do that, but your piece won’t get to those folks unless it is already written up properly.
Note, they don’t take queries or ideas, they want to see the fully-formed article. Here’s a link to their site’s submission guidelines:
When I emailed them, I wasn’t sure of the editor’s name; generally you should try to find that information out, so you can address them specifically, but I couldn’t find it.
So the first line of my query letter was:
I am excited to pitch the below controversial opinion article regarding the Turkish insult law, including my analysis of the recent (and infamous) ‘Gollum’ court case and the implications of its outcome.”
After that was a little bio blurb; the submission guidelines didn’t ask for links to previously published works, or anything like that…so I didn’t list any. Here’s all I wrote:
“I’m a retired US ex-pat and freelance writer, and have had several items published, including: many feature articles for OMNI magazine; several Amazon eBooks and short stories; travel articles, radio ads, marketing copy, creative writing teaching articles, and English language learning materials for private clients.
Thank you for your consideration of this piece!
(my phone number)”
Next came the article itself, posted in the body of the email.
What to Expect If Selected
If you get picked up, great! Now, don’t pester them… they will get back to you. The editor’s assistant reached out to me after a day or two, and I gave my address, which they used to put on a formal contract.
A day or two later, the contract came in my email; I digitally signed and returned it. That is when I also submitted the article in a Word doc, with the sources hyperlinked. I also gave them a one-line bio (not the same as what was on the query letter) and a hyperlink to my Amazon Author page.
Here is what it looked like (note, they added the ‘Mr.’ part!):
Mr. Cates is a retired veteran, Turkophile, and the author of Haveck: The First Transhuman.
About two or three days later, I got the final article back as a locked Word doc. I agreed that it looked good, and it was live within a few hours of replying to them.
I send a very brief Thank You email back to the assistant….and that’s it!
Hope this is helpful to you all; if so, please SHARE this article!