In a recent Saturday edition of ETR (12-28-02), we gave you guidelines to help increase your chances of having your letters to the editor of your local newspaper published. After reading that article, Glen Strathy, a freelance writer, wrote in to suggest that you might want to write Op-Ed pieces instead. Here’s what he had to say: “If you have a good idea for a letter to the editor, why not submit it as an Op-Ed piece? An Op-Ed piece is like a letter to the editor, but it is usually printed OP-posite the ED-itorials.
Like an editorial, it is a brief comment on a topic that has been in the news recently. “The advantage to writing an Op-Ed piece is that newspapers will often pay you a small fee for them (which they don’t do for letters to the editor). Major papers pay more than small, local ones, but even a small paper often will pay a token amount. “Generally, you follow the same format as a letter to the editor, but without a salutation. Check a few issues of your paper to see how long its Op-Ed pieces are and make your piece roughly the same number of words. Don’t worry too much about a title. Editors prefer to write those themselves.
When I first decided to be a writer, I submitted an Op-Ed piece to a local paper, for which I got $30. Obviously, I wasn’t going to make a career out of this type of work — but as my first paid piece, it was a great morale booster. “Before I cashed the check, I took a photocopy of it, which I pinned to the wall over my desk to remind me every day that I was now a professional writer.”[Ed. Note. Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]