Wednesday, August 25, 2010

How to Write Your First Article for Suite

My last post made me think it might be helpful to talk about how to write your first article for Suite101.

Like I mentioned in the last post, the first time I tried to work with Suite, I couldn't get past the editor. I had picked a technical topic that I have a ton of first hand expertise in and even though I added citations, my citations were not good enough.

Since when was the US Government with an in text linked citation, not an acceptable source?

I couldn't figure out how to make it work for the editor and I thought, if this is how the editors are, I don't want to work with Suite.

So I left.

When I came back, I was more strategic in selecting the topic for my first article.

I avoided anything technical or legal or with lots of facts and details.

I avoided sections like Health, Science, Law, and Business that typically require a lot of citations and enforce higher journalistic standards.

I actually wrote about a product category and made a shopping guide based on customer reviews on the internet. Not much for an editor to get hung up on there, fact-wise. My sources were from Amazon and unless they were going to read 300 reviews like I did, there was no real way to make life difficult.

If I had to do it over, I would probably write a craft or recipe article. Those topics probably represent the lowest barrier to entry for a first article on Suite101 because they are personal and not really authoritative. (Although note that those sections have some formatting requirements.)

I would also be sure to visit the forums and get a feel for each of the section editors. Most editors post their own section guidelines in the forum and it is well worth your time to become familiar with their requirements above and beyond those of Suite101.

It's also good to pick a simple topic since you will spend a lot of time learning Suite101's format and article structure in your first post. Don't complicate things with a complicated topic.

Oh and for the love of God, avoid the en dash--don't use two hyphens, like I just did here. You will be burned in effigy if you do that. If you don't know how to make an en dash or have no idea what I'm talking about, just avoid using dashes. Parentheses work really well.

Lastly, be sure to run your first few articles through Copyscape as Suite does check for plagiarism and scrutinizes new writers particularly closely.


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