Are you interested in writing or contributing to Sparky, or writing blog posts or articles for any online publication or platform? Here is a quick guide with hints and tips for producing good copy that caters for the short attention span of most online viewers.
Your Quick Guide to Writing for Sparky … and beyond.
One thing the internet has taught us about is the human desire to publish. A big percentage of us want to broadcast our thoughts, to see our activities and opinions right out there: published and public. To me as a media professional, a “legacy” newspaperwoman, this was one of the surprises of the digital revolution. Back in the day, in the news offices, we were rather proud of ourselves as the keeper of the flame, not only of news but of putting ourselves out there to tell it. Guess what – everyone (more or less) wanted to do it, and once the tools were universally available, a lot of that “everyone” did.
But – if you aren’t content just with your own twitter feed or blog, maybe a few hundred followers, and would like to be published on an established platform with a regular big audience, there are some ways to make sure you succeed.
Firstly, choose a platform that runs [publishes] the sort of material that you respect and enjoy yourself, and want to participate in. For example, if you are an advocate for refugees, don’t seek publication on a site known for its right-wing white superiority attitudes. (Did anyone say Daily Mail?) Know the site’s content. Just as in the print years, it was important to know what material was being published in a newspaper or magazine, the same applies to digital versions.
Next, acknowledge in your head that you are not the only person who is looking to contribute to this site. There are queues everywhere. You have to make it obvious why your copy should be published, rather than other submissions.
Put yourself in the mind of your viewer/reader
Are your ideas original?
Is there a relevant point to what you are saying?
Can you construct sentences that are intelligent, but easy to read and easily understood?
Grammar, punctuation and spelling are all part of this; they are the floor, walls and roof of the house, with the foundation being the publication or title, and your ideas being the design and plan in relation to its environment.
God gave us the spellchecker, but you have to read through copy yourself to find better construction, context and flow. Unfortunately the spellchecker won’t know the difference between mad, made, mead and maid, so don’t underestimate the value of editing and sub-editing.
It’s all just words right? – ok, the spellcheck gives the nod, but who knows if it’s change for the better, or is the fix you intended.
A lot of sites will want either a suggestion or actual images to accompany the article. But it’s best policy to send one, and find out what the platform does regarding pictures and illustrations.
Now … you have your wonderful, topical, clean article. Make sure you send it to the correct email or submissions box. Keep a copy.
Check back in a week later if you’ve heard nothing. Be friendly, polite, but “just checking.”
And with luck, if you’ve followed all the previous steps, the answer might be” “Yes! That’s a great piece. Just what we’re looking for.”
Guide to submitting to Sparky in particular
Here at Sparky we like to talk about collaboration, rather than contributing. It’s a much more collective attitude to content than the traditional bargaining and manoeuvring I’ve just described. But some of the same points apply. The material you want to share with us should in some way reflect the Sparky ethos.
This is about recognising the variety, spirit and potential of our world, and turning away from the harsh militarism and capitalism that has ruined so much of the recent past and brought us to a point where many people in the West feel desperate about the future.
It’s about looking at the positive end of the wedge: the refugee crisis has brought out the worst in some politicians, but also the best in many individuals who have been selfless and heroic to help their fellow humans.
Photos, essays, short articles, drawings, paintings – all sorts of creative work, is welcome, as long as it can be reproduced on the site. That means both technically and legally [copyrights and permissions].
We’re a broad church, an open canvas, a wide blue sky.
Help populate it.
Show us your best.