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    Changes in Column Writing

    Many writers dream of producing columns like Erma Bombeck, Ann Landers, George Wills, Ellen Goodwin...any one of the many syndicated columnists whose work is or has been carried by numerous newspapers throughout their country or the world.

    "How do I get started?" "How do I write for many publications?"

    Start With Community Newspapers

    Traditionally, most writers in the print world began by writing for a community newspaper, either a weekly or daily. When they proved they could produce a column week after week, or biweekly, that readers enjoyed, they often desired to attract a syndicate and branch out to more newspapers. Or they might decide to self-syndicate.

    Writing for a smaller newspaper generally was, and still can be, the way columnists got started. Then they branched out. However, today, there is the Internet.

    Changes Today

    Today columnists will find changes which affect their writing world...some pro and some con.

    • The Internet has opened up a whole new world of writing and a call for columns in ezines and on web sites. This gives the columnist many more opportunities for writing. New columnists can find opportunities for publication that they might not so quickly with print magazines and newspapers. This enables the writer to determine whether he/she can maintain the pace and meet the deadlines.

      Some of these online opportunities are non-paying. However, they do give the new columnist a way to get started and achieve success.

    • The Internet can be a testing ground for your columns, to see if your columns have long life and would do well in a book or e-book. They also are a way to get your name known throughout the world, not simply in your hometown.

      From the feedback you receive, you'll discover whether you're on the right track or whether you want to make changes. You'll get an idea whether there are readers for your columns who would purchase them in book form. You may find print publications to carry your columns, too.

    Internet Changes Print Offers

    • In this Internet era, some newspapers now desire to retain all rights, so they can use your column in electronic versions on the Internet without paying you for reprints. The writer is asked to sign a "work for hire," which gives the publisher all rights. Previously, most freelance columnists sold their columns to a newspaper on a one-time rights basis.

      This left them free to self-syndicate and sell their columns to non-competing papers or magazines.

    • Many newspapers now are owned by a parent or umbrella publisher. Thus when your column appears in all of their newspapers, you frequently don't get paid for more than one use. This is different from the times when my "Country Kitchen" column appeared in two publications owned by one publisher. He paid me full price for use in the first newspaper, then half price for using in the second.

    On a whole, the opening up of the Internet world for publication of one's columns is an advantage and gets your name known throughout the world. From this you can collect your columns into books, e-books, or CDs. As a result, you may find more opportunities opening up to teach workshops on column writing and to speak to groups about your writing and the topic about which you write. You may have requests from editors to use one of your columns in an anthology.

    Simply be aware of the rights you're signing away whenever and wherever your columns are published.

    Copyright © 2002 Mary Emma Allen

    Mary Emma Allen has been writing columns on many topics since the 1960s. She's written a manual on column writing and teaches online and conference based workshops on this topic, too. In addition to column writing, Mary Emma writes books for children and adults. Her many publications are listed on her Web site --

    The Authentic Self: Journaling Your Joys, Griefs and Everything in Between by Shery Russ

    WEEKLY WRITES: 52 Weeks of Writing Bliss! Kick start your imagination, ignite your creativity, and begin your journey towards becoming an outstanding writer.

    Grab a copy of WEEKLY WRITES: 52 Weeks of Writing Bliss! from and receive 2 free e-books to encourage and nurture the writer in you. You'll also receive Write Memories, a journaling workbook available for free only to WEEKLY WRITES book owners. And finally, as a WEEKLY WRITES book owner, you'll have free access to e-mail courses such as JOYFUL WRITES: Celebrate Your Life through Writing

    For excerpts, reviews and what you need to do to receive the 2 free e-books, Write Memories and sign up for free e-mail courses, just head on to the Weekly Writes Book Official Site. (Clicking on the link will open a new window.)


    The Journaling Life: 21 Types of Journals You Can Create to Express Yourself and Record Pieces of Your Life

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