Q: Can you provide some tips for writing letters that pay?
A: Writers regularly ask how they can increase their chances of being published on a readers’ letters page to win cash or prizes. You might find the following tips useful:
1. Research! This is the first rule in writing for potential publication in any magazine. In this case, take a look at the readers’ letters page and study those letters that have been chosen for publication. Is the content of the letters funny or serious? Is it family orientated or aimed at an older or younger reader? Do the letters refer to previously published articles? All this detective work will give you a clear idea of the type of letters you should be writing.
2. Consider Your Topic! You can draw upon every-day experiences for the subject of your letters. If you refer to previously published material in the magazine, remember to include the article title and issue date. Act quickly on any topical material as today’s news will be history tomorrow. When drawing on true life, do make sure that you’re not going to regret anything that you’ve written!
3. Work on Your Delivery! Once you’ve decided on your subject matter, write concisely in a no-nonsense style and make every word count. Consider your delivery carefully. Be clear with your sentence construction so that you put your message across loud and clear. Write in a language that suits the target readership.
4. Read Aloud! You should always read through your work aloud - this applies to everything you write for publication whether letters, fillers, articles and chapters. This will help you iron out any weaknesses in the pace, style and delivery.
5. Write as a Reader! Remember that readers’ letters pages are aimed at the readers so there’s no need to send in your business letterhead declaring yourself as a freelance writer. Just send in a clear handwritten or typed letter with your name and address. Keep it plain and simple.