By Erik Bean, Ed.D.
Associate University Research Chair
Center for Leadership Studies & Organizational Research
Preparing a Successful Practitioner Publication Submission
Preparing a Successful Practitioner Publication Submission
Not unlike academic or theory-based journals that often rely on publishing a variety of research studies that can offer outstanding author career visibility and advice for the profession, so to do the practitioner periodicals afford the type of visibility and advice that also can build career strength and author notoriety, an accolade no one can take away. While these periodicals can suffer from many of the peer reviewed flaws such as little concern for immediacy as evident in extraordinarily lengthy publication time, nepotism and cronyism, just the same, understanding how to approach a practitioner periodical before submission can improve the chance of acceptance since some do not accept unsolicited articles and may only review a query letter, the latter of which is seldom used in academy geared publications.
What We Covered and the Potentials
In earlier blogs Ryan Rominger, Ph.D., Erik Bean, Ed.D., and Fiona Sussan, Ph.D., discussed what practitioner publications are and how they can be challenging to discern, but we agree reputable ones are indexed in most library databases, afford a large well documented circulation in the form of a journal, magazine, or prolific website particularly in this age of non-traditional periodicals. These practitioner periodicals are typically geared to the profession more so than the academy but can include targeting both or either and might be published daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or bi-annually. Practitioner publications can often be under the guise of an association or trade (Marketing News, School Library Journal, Diverse Issues in Higher Education) or a journalistic entity (Crain’s Detroit Business, Crain’s New York Business, Business & Leadership, Wired, Entrepreneur, The Chronicle of Higher Education), to name a few.
Open Markets for Submission
Practitioner publications typically differ from academy periodicals in that most do not use a blind peer review process, but are reviewed by a managing editor, editor, or editorial team in general. These periodicals often seek manuscripts via their detailed guidelines that specify how much freelance work they most notably accept (as opposed to academic journals that may indicate their acceptance rate of content that is typically almost 100 percent vetted from academicians). Those practitioner periodicals that accept 25 percent or higher can be worth targeting. Such percentages of publications open to freelance may be found on their websites or in long standing publications such as Writer’s Market (by Writer’s Digest a for profit providing freelance information since the 1920s) and the International Directory of Little Magazines and Small Presses (2017-2018, 53rd edition) by Len Fulton. If guidelines are not readily available, it is recommended to avoid submission since such periodicals are not actively seeking content because they most often have their own editorial team (Bean, 1999). Select periodicals that complement your doctoral or masters degree career discipline.
The Query Letter
Those practitioner publications open to submissions will either be open to a query, typically a one-page letter proposing an article, or a full manuscript based on their guidelines.
- The art of writing a query is generally one that combines a proposal with the writing voice typically found in the periodical. Meeting the writing tone is crucial for success.
- Be direct, but do not editorialize that readers may enjoy the piece. Rather, let the query reveal the concept itself to allow the editor to see for herself if the proposal is a match.
- Selling an idea that has already been covered will lead to a fast rejection. That is why it is recommended one review the periodical over the last 12 months to two years focusing on the voice, paragraph style/length, headers and sub-headers, and accompanying pictures which prospective authors may be required to furnish.
- If images are required, check for resolutions and save formats whether PC or MAC. The goal is to prepare all portions of the submission meticulously: font style, spacing, margins, pictures, or other media content, to lesson any chances the piece may be rejected for not being compliant. Most such practitioners periodicals may not require APA or MLA style and may in fact have their own style or utilize AP (Associated Press) style.
- A query letter need not be accompanied by any other materials.
Quick Manuscript Advice
For complete manuscripts most of the query requirements are still important, but one will likely still need a simple cover letter properly addressed to the current editor simply informing him or her the title of the article and the section it is targeted and contact information. Whether snail-mail or electronically, failure to acknowledge the current staff members could result in rejection since it shows the periodical the prospective author is not familiar with it. Voice, above all, is the draw as well as offering contemporary information the profession, whether business or the academy, needs through one’s empirical experience, with little or no literature review.
Such periodicals are typically looking for solutions, advice to meet the demands of growing markets, customers, and technological fixes (hacks) or they may want pieces about grassroots and community efforts that individuals in the field have experienced, pieces that speak to immediacy. Most will require a third person authoritative writing voice, a voice that imbues passion with careful selection of nomenclature the field will be ready to absorb. With such attention to these query or complete manuscript details one stands a higher chance for preparing a successful practitioner publication submission.