Because of your credentials and research, you’re probably the perfect person to write it.The only trouble: Op-eds and short essays are likely to get turned down in today’s saturated market.Those types of arguments are what you give up when you’re trying to reach a broad audience.
Because of your credentials and research, you’re probably the perfect person to write it.
A final note for those academics and graduate students new to op-ed and short-form writing: Learning to write for general audiences is difficult.
In a long process peppered with rejections, it helps if you start to read a lot of op-eds and short essays with a writer’s critical eye.
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The writing is too dull, too dry, too navel-gazing, too “academic,” or it’s all four of those things put together. Editors can usually tell if they’ll accept your piece after reading your lede alone. So if you have a timely topic for an 800-to-1,200 word nonacademic piece, and you want to grab an editor’s attention, the first thing you should be thinking about is the “hook” for your lede.
Typically, it is a personal anecdote or something specific and compelling from your research.
In writing for a nonacademic audience, the mirror effect works to show readers that you weren’t just navel-gazing in sharing your personal story.
The callback should highlight what you learned from the experience and how that ties back into your overall argument.
Competition is fierce and a lot of professional writers are your direct rivals for space.
One of the biggest reasons that an editor will pass on a scholar’s submission is – and prepare yourself for some tough love here – it’s more than a little boring.