Publishing Articles as a Young Professional—How and Why

By 1stLt Steven Arango

I had a friend recently ask me “how do you get published so often?”.

My response: “I pretend like I know what I’m talking about.” That’s only half the battle though. To be sure, I have been fortunate enough to publish in some leading publications at an early age (disclaimer: God’s blessing and great mentors, not my own doing). But I do think there are some applicable skills I’ve picked up along the way that have helped me publish my work consistently. Hopefully, they can help you do the same.

Before I provide that advice, I want to explain why you should publish your work. First, publishing well-written articles provides credibility to your critical thinking skills and knowledge about a specific subject. Secondly, any work you publish can help open professional doors. For example, I’ve had interviewers ask me about some of my articles several times, even if they were somewhat irrelevant to the interview.  The interviewer simply found them fascinating, and it provided a unique discussion instead of a standard conversation.

Lastly, when you list a publication on your resume, it also shows you are willing to take risks. It shows that you had the courage to take an idea, write about it, and let others discuss it. That mentality thrives in any profession.

How to find a publisher: Some people follow the traditional route and simply submit an article to a general email, like opinion@nytimes.com. But this method relies on chance too much. Thousands of people use this method, and because editors are incredibly busy, these emails naturally get overlooked. If you directly contact an editor, you have a much greater chance of being considered.

Therefore, use your network to find a point of contact. LinkedIn has helped me find different outlets and editors that have published my works. Twitter is also a place where many journalists operate and provide their direct emails in their bios. It seems a bit pushy, but in reality, it’s not. It’s simply the publication game. Embrace it.

Side note: Save their contact info. It will be helpful in the future, and prevent you from having to find those same editors again.

Also use your network of well published mentors and friends. Fortunately, I have many mentors that are incredibly talented writers. They can attest that I bother them through email or text all the time asking, “hey, where do you think I should submit this article?”. If you try to go at this alone—especially as a young professional—it will be much harder.

Which outlets: Don’t have the attitude New York Times or bust. It’s okay to publish in a less well-known outlet. With the power of social media, you can share your articles far and wide even regardless of where they are published. As you build your credentials, other publishers will start to consider your work more and more. 

What to write about: Write about something you’re passionate about. Don’t just write about Artificial intelligence because it is the sexy topic of the day. When you’re passionate about a topic, it’ll be much easier to convey your ideas and slog through any required research. Forced articles are usually awkward and boring. Keep your eyes out, constantly read the news and topics that interest you, and you’ll think of something. For example, this article is the product of a text message I received.

Not an expert? That’s okay: Just because you’re not an expert doesn’t mean you can’t write on a subject. You know how you become an expert? Research, writing, and feedback from critics and supporters. The only way to advance your thinking is having others challenge your ideas in the public domain.

And don’t be afraid to reach out to the experts. For an article I recently wrote about the crisis in Venezuela, I spoke to many experts at Brookings Institute and AEI. All welcomed the conversation and were glad to talk through the issues with me. A secondary benefit was them suggesting publications that they had used in the past for their work and POCs at these outlets as well.

People look at publishing in two lights: daunting and impressive. Although I do agree it can be impressive (not my work, but other people’s for sure), it should not be viewed as daunting. If it is attainable for a 26-year-old nobody, it is certainly attainable for you. 

First Lieutenant Steven Arango is currently clerking for U.S. District Judge ­Fernando Rodriguez, Jr. After completion of his clerkship, he will return to active duty in the Marine Corps as a judge advocate. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Marine Corps Times, the U.S. Marine Corps, Department of the Navy, Department of Defense or the U.S. government.

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