Every so often, an excited Publicity Hound writes to tell me about a terrific idea for a column they want to write and sell to one of the big news syndicates so they can become rich and famous like Dear Abby, Ann Landers, Mike Royko and hundreds of others.
Not so fast, I tell them. Selling your column to a syndicate is a long shot because competition is so fierce. “OK,” they say. “Then tell me how to syndicate it myself.”
Again, a long shot. But Jim Miller has figured out how to do it. At age 40, he has become an expert at issues of interest to senior citizens and writes a column called “Savvy Senior,” loaded with tips on everything from saving taxes to volunteering.
It appears in more than 400 newspapers and already has gotten him three coveted appearances on NBC’s “Today” show. Here’s the bad news. He charges only $3 to $5 a column and makes no more than $20,000 a year from it.
Writing columns is a lot more drudgery than glamour. The Publicity Hound suggests that the best way to start is by offering your columns free to publications until you have a track record of being published. In “Special Report #34: Secrets to Becoming a Columnist in Newspapers and Magazines,” I show beginning columnists how to convince editors to run your column for free. This isn’t as easy as it sounds, because the news hole in newspapers and magazines is so tight these days.