Writing an op ed? Follow these rules of thumb

Pen and Paper

Image Credit: Pen and Paper, Dinurah K CC flickr 18APR2015.

Op eds can be a great way to promote your book and research, but a well-written op ed piece capable of catching the attention of a busy editor is a bit of an art form. How often should you pitch? What about timing? If the piece is accepted, how do you handle the edits? It’s a bit overwhelming, but don’t fret! If you’re interested in showing off your thought leadership in an op ed style piece, there are some specific steps you can follow. In a recent blog post for The American Philosophical Association, former editor at Al Jazeera America, David V. Johnson, offers ten helpful tips that will get you on the right track. Where to start? First and foremost, find your voice:

Consider the best prose stylists in philosophy. One thing they have in common is a unique voice. Their essays never read as cold, clinical, or canned. Rather, they read as if the author is standing in the room with you, making his or her points, and it could be no one else but that person saying it that way.

The same holds for public writing. The best writers cultivate a unique voice that makes their arguments come alive. It will take time to find your voice, but always be striving to realize it.

You can read about the other rules of thumb here. For additional advice on writing a successful op ed, check out this excellent piece, “Op ed and you” from The New York Times, and these guidelines from  The Guardian as well.