Submitting your article ideas to an editor might feel like an overwhelming task. I like to simplify it by thinking that writing is similar to selling a product. You’ve just got to know how to market it! If that feels overwhelming, don’t worry. Here are some tips on how to write article summaries that editors will want to snap up.
The Bright Side of Summaries
If writing an article pitch makes you fret, bear in mind the benefits. Summaries enable you to submit a paragraph or two on your idea instead of wasting time writing an entire article that gets put on the backburner because it was not what the publication had in mind.
Summaries are a way to show off your writing skills while giving your editor a better idea of what you want to write. Added to this, summaries also benefit you as the writer. They give you a chance to formulate the crux of what you will tackle in the article, which creates a much clearer outline. Should your idea be accepted, a pristine summary will make writing your article much easier. Remember, planning is half the work done!
Great Things Come in Small Packages
Keep your summary short. You don’t want to bore your editors with long, waffling summaries. Stick to the basics of what it is you want to say. A paragraph or two should be sufficient (aim for 100 words per summary).
Make your sentences quick and crisp. Get to the point so that you don’t lose track. Remember that editors might not want to sit and read long summaries; chances are they will skim over the ideas, especially if you’ve sent them a long list of topics. Keep your summaries brief and you’ll hold their attention all the way through.
Grab a Great Title!
According to a quote by David Ogilvy who is regarded as the Father of Advertising:
The point is your article title is important. It’s the first thing editors will read and so you want to make it fresh, interesting and memorable.
Consider the following titles:
Now, look at how they can be improved just by using sharper, more focused words:
These last examples are much more powerful because they give the reader ideas of how they can improve their life, business and fashion sense. Remember: the reader needs to take something away from the article after he/she has read it. When writing titles:
- Be clear and concise. Make the titles short, no longer than 10 words.
- Use catchy words. Instead of ‘improve,’ consider ‘boost.’ Choose words such as ‘great’, ‘how to’ and ‘easy tips’ that will keep the reader—and editor—interested.
- Number it. Sometimes it can be a good idea to offer a certain number of tips in your title, as can be seen in the second example: Five Summer Fashion Tips That Will Turn Heads. This shows the reader that they can expect five tips. It encourages the reader to read the article because they know that in just a few steps they will be able to overhaul their summer wardrobes.
- Motivate the Reader. Show how the reader will be able to change their life for the better by reading your article. Instead of merely saying they can learn how to eat healthier, write that they can eat their way to better health. Instead of telling them they can learn some summer fashion tips, explain why this is important—that is, it will make them the centre of attention at their next social outing.
Now we get to the nitty-gritty of the summary body. What should your summaries include? Here are some important pointers:
1. Ask Yourself: Why Are you Writing the Article?
Think about why you are writing the article.
- Is an article based on a news item about eco-friendly leather interesting to readers because the world is embracing greener initiatives?
- Are you passionate about the topic?
- Is the topic important?
- Is an article about pregnancy food tips helpful to women who want to conceive?
- Is the topic something that has been trending on social networks because it is important?
Figuring out your reasons for writing the topic helps you settle on your motivation for it. If you think it’s important, others will too. But you have to touch on why this is so in your summary.
2. Are there Facts to Strengthen Your Views?
It could help to touch on statistics or studies that reinforce your idea. For instance, when writing about first date tips, mentioning a recent study that looked at what mistakes people commit on a first date makes the idea more topical.
3. What is the Publication About?
I have seen freelance writers send ideas to publications without even reading up about what the magazine/website is all about. This is the equivalent of going to a job interview without knowing what the company does. No matter how good your ideas, if they do not fit in with the publication’s content and aim, then they will fall on deaf ears.
Understanding the publication strengthens your summary. For instance, pitching the idea of eco-friendly leather to a green lifestyle publication that strives for environmental awareness is a great step. In your summary you can appeal to the editor, explaining that eco-leather is a move forward in green living and how it can save animals, be kinder to the environment, and so on. Show that you understand both your idea and why it is suited to the publication to increase your chances of your idea getting chosen.
4. What Points Will You Include in the Article?
Mention a few points that you will make in the body of your article. For instance, if you are writing about how men can choose a winter fragrance, it helps to give your editor an idea of the paragraphs that you will include in the article. Each paragraph will be a new idea to tackle. So, the summary could state: ‘In this article, paragraphs could include the following: factors men should bear in mind when shopping for a fragrance; the types of fragrances that suit various personalities…’ and so on.
If you list four or five paragraph ideas, the editor will have a good outline of what to expect from the complete article should it be commissioned to you.
5. What’s Your Angle?
An editor will want to know the approach you’ll be taking with your article. This is where a good angle comes in. Fresh, creative stabs at a known topic can be a great way to infuse the editor with interest in your idea.
When coming up with a good angle, try to broaden your perspective on the issue. Let’s take the example of writing an article about the chemical dangers in make-up. This is a topic that has already been written about in various publications, so you will want to make it stand out against its contenders. Perhaps the topic could look at how to replace such make-up with organic choices and why this not only benefits women but also the environment. An easy way to pinpoint your article angle is to flesh out the idea of what you’ll be writing. This will help you brainstorm creative ways to present the information.
Spell and Grammar Checks
Ensure that your summary displays excellent spelling and grammar. If there are errors, they can put a dent in the power of your summary. It’s not enough to rely on computer spell-checks! Print out the summary and check every word with an eagle eye to ensure that it is perfectly polished. In the world of writing, spelling and grammar make important first impressions.
About the author:
Giulia Simolo is a freelance journalist who has always been passionate about writing. A regular contributor to various websites and publications, Giulia has garnered a lot of experience as a freelance writer and enjoys sharing this with others who wish to enter the exciting field of journalism. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
Also by Giulia Simolo:
1. When Words Meet Pictures (article)
2. How to Write Riveting Book Reviews (article)
3. How to Write Web Copy that Sells! (article)
4. Writing E-Mails to Editors (article)
5. How to Write Gripping Subheadings (article)