Wacky Behavior for Your Dream of Writing a Column

Ask Total Strangers for Feedback!

By Jodie Lynn

Trying to get your column syndicated or maybe just sell your idea to newspapers -- then wacky behavior might be just what the editor ordered. Confirm your column through validation from total strangers and then share the feedback with the editor who turned you down!

Get opinions.

Confirm your column idea. You think you have a strong creative foundation for a column, but try to imagine what total strangers would think of it. Go ask.

Submitting Your Column: Get public feedback.

Filling a void in the field of your expertise is important. The syndicates or editorial staff are looking for a column that can be profitable and bring in new readership. While your family and friends may support you, they are not the ones you need to impress.

Make up and conduct your own poll. Public feedback is essential in helping you determine how readers will receive your column. The most crucial step in this part of your plan is asking strangers their opinions. Their answers provide you with insightful information that is not biased and, interestingly, prepares you for more rejections from the editorial staff at the newspaper or at the syndicates. Believe me, there will be a few hundred rejections. Well, maybe not hundreds, but it will sure feel like it.

As I stood just outside the path of the crowded escalator in one of the largest malls in America during one of the busiest times of the year, I had to get creative to get people to stop and talk with me.

One day, I dressed up like a witch to see how many would take the time to answer my questions. The next time, I came as Superwoman; that time, I got more than 50 responses. Another weekend, I went into the playground at a Burger King, and was barely able to hear responses. Nevertheless, moms were very willing to chat.

Yet another time that flashes before my eyes is the time I waited inside the ladies room of a nice restaurant and talked to women as they washed their hands. One asked if I would go to the stall next to the one she had to go back into, so I did. We talked and laughed at what others might be thinking as we carried on a six-minute conversation.

What was all of this about? Back in 1995, I had pitched a parenting column to a newspaper and they had turned me down because the editorial staff thought no one would be interested. Therefore, I set out to prove them wrong.

I asked every parent and grandparent I could find what they thought of the idea. My idea was to have a small column with “tried and true tips” from other parents/grandparents on family challenges. It would cover one “head-exploding” challenge at a time for quick answers. Every person I interviewed was very much in favor of it - except my own friends and family.

They laughed and said no one would ever buy a newspaper column from someone who had never written before. Boy, were they wrong.

When I presented a newspaper’s editorial staff with the findings of my survey, they looked and sounded shocked. Then they asked me to come in and sign a contract for a 90-day trial period. The column started in February 1996, and was so popular the contract was redone in 30 days.

One year later, my editor asked for an update on my plans for the column. I said that since parents from all over the United States were writing to me, maybe we could get it syndicated. Again, everyone scoffed.

Well, to make a long story short, I got pretty creative on that one, too. One year later, a syndicate wanted to syndicate the column! Today, a potential 19 million readers in the United States and Canada read it!

Jodie Lynn is an award-winning internationally syndicated family/healthcolumnist and radio personality. Her syndicated column Parent to Parent has been successful for over 10 years and appears in newspapers, magazines, newsletters and throughout the Internet. She is a regular contributor to several sites including eDiets.com, ClubMom.com and BabyUniverse.com. Lynn has written three books and contributed to two others, one of which was on Oprah and has appeared on NBC in a three month parenting segment.

Excerpted from Syndication Secrets - What No One Will Tell You! All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission. Copyright © 2006 Jodie Lynn.