Saturday, September 17, 2005

Becoming a Columnist Is Easier Than Ever

Marketing with Fran column by Francine Silverman

Before the Internet, columns were largely the purview of newspapers and news magazines. Anyone who yearned to be a columnist had to send clips to syndicates and the competition was fierce. Today, there are websites that are actually seeking columnists.

Okay, so there’s generally no pay, but what better way to gain recognition? I got my column by emailing John Kremer. He was familiar with my newsletter and had a copy of my book so my credentials were already spoken for.

Here are some examples of how other authors became columnists:

Guidebook writer Tim Leffel, author of The World’s Cheapest Destinations (Booklocker, 2002), had written a few articles for Transitions Abroad magazine. So when his book was released and he got the editor to write an advance review and cover blurb, Tim “pitched him an article related to the theme of the book. Since he liked it and also liked what I had done previously he asked if I’d like to be a regular columnist. Doesn’t pay much, but a great pipeline to the people I’m trying to reach.” Web:

Meta Newell West is author of The Kirby House Cookbook (Kirby House Publishing, 2001), containing more than 200 recipes in use at the historic Kirby House restaurant in Abilene, Kansas. The book includes the history of the building from 1885 to the present day and offers a glimpse of life and dining during the Victorian era. “The Kirby House Cookbook was my first published book,” says Meta. “I now write a monthly column in my local paper and give those articles with recipes to the Historical Society – they are reprinted and sold in booklet form as a money maker for the historical society.” Web:

Patricia Paris is a columnist and author from Tennessee who delivers her unique, tongue-in-cheek style of writing in her newspaper column, currently running in six newspapers: The Tylertime Times (MS), Bristol Bugle (IN), The Knoxville Independent (TN), The Seymour Herald (RN), Smoky Mountain Herald (TN), and The Post (AL), as well as online newspapers:, North Texas e-News, and The articles are reprinted weekly on three online magazines:, and ZIK Magazine.

The column, Patricia’s Porch Talk, covers many topics. “Sometimes I talk about a memory, or perhaps a holiday,” Patricia explains. “Sometimes the topic covers a current issue and for this I have visitors to my porch, Aunt Mildred and Sam.” (These two are semi-real explains Patricia, but the column reflects her elderly aunt’s “true, peppery personality and is a way of keeping her strong forever.” Sam is a compilation of all the Sams in her family).

It all started when one of the newspapers, which had done a favorable review of Patricia’s second novel, The Spiritual Side of Sarah (1st World Library, 2003), talked with her about doing a column. “They had space opening up due to a retiring columnist,” she recalls. “We talked about doing an everyday life-southern style column and the idea appealed to me. Then I contacted several other newspapers who had done favorable book reviews and two of them agreed to take the column also. So Patricia’s Porch Talk started out in three newspapers strong.”

Patricia is also author of Connections (1st Books Library, 2003), a poignant novel about relationships and memories of being raised alone by an emotionally disturbed mother, laced with humor and heartwarming chuckles, all woven into a fictional storyline. Web:

Susie Hawes, a dark-fantasy/horror author who actively promotes on the Internet, has a column at EpicSFF called Spook Central. “I got the column by getting to know the site,” she says. “Then when they posted that they were looking for a column writer, I applied. They knew me and had seen my posts in other forums so they went for it.” Susie is author of Eva's Son (Ore Mountain Publishing House, 2005). Web:

Kathi Kamen Goldmark has a column with Sam Barry called The Author Enablers in BookPage, a print publication that I found in the library ( In 1992, Kathi founded the Rock Bottom Remainders, an all-author band. Mid-Life Confidential (Plume Books 1995), edited by Dave Marsh, is about the band.

“We've had our BookPage column for six months and it's great fun to do,” she says. “We have good publishing connections and some name recognition because of my novel and the Rock Bottom Remainders. Even so, we knocked on a few doors and got a lot of 'love it but we have no space and no budget'-type answer before connecting with BookPage.” Kathi is author of the novel, And My Shoes Keep Walking Back To You (Chronicle Books, 2002). Web:

Aaron Lazar says that most of his networking connections “have come from befriending authors (editors) in a natural, genuine fashion and keeping them abreast of my activities via emails.” Among his e-friends is Bob Burdick at “Bob offered up his Library, where authors could submit samples of their work for inclusion,” says Aaron. “I sent him a chapter of Double Forte.” While browsing the site, Aaron noticed that Bob had just published a mystery novel and Aaron was hooked after reading the first chapter. “I ordered it, loved it and reviewed it.”

This began a “nice correspondence with Bob, discussing his book and mine,” recalls Aaron. “He invited me to write a feature, A Writer's Life, for the June issue [of Burdick's newsletter]. After that was written, he asked me to be a regular columnist for the newsletter.” Web:

By keying in “How to Become a Columnist” at Google, I found several sites looking for columnists. Among them are (topics needed are wedding preparation, event planning, entertaining, food/recipes, health/nutrition, gardening, senior issues, Virginia destinations, education, music, and outdoors). Send sample column along with your name, address and phone number to

Another is, which claims to be the “world’s largest platform dedicated to the Textile/Apparel/Fashion industry,” attracting more than 390,000 visitors from the industry. Fill out the form on site.

Finally, visit if you have fresh business perspectives, or can offer views on trend-spotting, family issues and solutions, lifestyles, or balancing work and leisure. Write to

The list goes on and on. Good luck!

Francine Silverman is editor/publisher of Book Promotion Newsletter, a bi-weekly ezine for authors of all genres, and author of Book Marketing from A-Z (Infinity Publishing, 2005), a compilation of the best marketing strategies of 325 authors from all over the English-speaking world. Please visit
blog comments powered by Disqus