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« Options for sharing and collaborative editing | Main | Donald Mills on GD young people and reading »

Getting into Print: Guest post by Jennifer Roland

I've had the good fortune to work with Jennifer both when she was an ISTE staffer and as an independent writer. I was delighted that she chose some of my work to appear in her book, The Best of Leading & Learning. Enjoy her guest post about how you too can be a rich, powerful, and famous education writer! - Doug

Getting into Print

Rejection is the constant companion of both the editor and the writer. The editor must make decisions when selecting articles, turning a harsh eye on submissions that don’t fit the format or tone of the magazine. And the writer who hasn’t amassed a hefty collection of rejections is probably writing only for his or her own consumption.

The key to seeing your article in print is to follow the rules and be persistent.

1. If the magazine or journal posts submission guidelines, follow them to the letter. L&L’s submission guidelines (link to are organized as a set of guided questions and specific guidelines for formatting and submitting.

If a periodical editor prefers to receive completed manuscripts, send that in the format requested. But if the submission guidelines mention that the staff would rather hear your idea before you write, work to ensure that your idea is clear and concise, then prepare your pitch, or query letter.

2. Read at least two issues of the magazine before submitting. This exercise won’t take long, but it will give you a sense of the editorial tone, the mix of article lengths, and the types of writers a magazine is looking for. Knowing that will put you at least two steps ahead of many of the other writers vying for space.

You can adjust your tone to fit the types of articles the magazine has already printed. This isn’t to say that you should mimic—your article should still sound like you—just adjust.

If you are submitting to a research journal, avoid using casual language and unnecessary contractions. And, if you are writing for an informal magazine, you may not need to provide citations for all statements of fact that would be considered generally accepted knowledge. Follow their lead.

3. Have a trusted friend or colleague proofread your finished work. No matter how much work you put into an article, how many times you proofread it, or even how long you have been writing, you will miss errors in logic and syntax.

Typically, your brain is trying to help you out, filling in gaps and ensuring that you see what you expect. Your colleague will bring a fresh perspective, finding errors before submission. Your editor will appreciate you for turning in clean copy, which can lead to future assignments.

4. Follow up. The periodicals you submit to will likely give you a general time frame in which you can expect a response. There is no need to follow up within that time period.

But, if that time frame passes and you still haven’t received word, feel free to send a quick note to the editor.

Typically, editors all want the same thing: Well-thought-out articles and classroom stories, clean copy, and on-time delivery. There are no guarantees, but if you can provide those things, you have a pretty good shot at publication.


Jennifer Roland is a writer living in the Portland, Oregon, area. She holds bachelor's degrees in magazine journalism and political science from the University of Oregon. Her education also focused on history, economics, linguistics, and educational policy and management. Before embarking on her freelance career, she was a staff member  at ISTE.

ISTE’s flagship magazine, Learning & Leading with Technology, is where the organization’s members and industry experts share and discuss the latest and greatest in using technology to enhance education. This collection, assembled by former L&L senior editor Jennifer Roland, includes the very best articles from 2003-2008. Along with the articles as they originally appeared in the magazine, the book includes commentary and context introducing the articles as well as short essays from the original authors, who further discuss the issues and topics of their articles and how they’ve affected the ed tech world.


Jennifer is also Putin's secret boss. Not just everybody knows that...


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Reader Comments (7)

Noooooooo! Now everyone will now about my secret ties to the Russian government!

Thanks for hosting me, Doug. And thanks for the kind words. It's always a pleasure to work with you.


September 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Roland

P.S. I've got one copy of the book to give away to one lucky commenter. Leave a comment, and we'll pick a winner at random. Be sure to include your email address so I can get in touch with you!

September 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Roland

I would've written those 4 points, too, except that your picture is so much more creative than I could've dreamed up! Very funny! Good job!

What do you and the Blue Skunk Blog think about the recent news that Cushing Academy in Boston is getting rid of all of its books in favor of only state-of-the art wide-screen computers for their "library" and a $50,000 cafe with a $12,000 cappuchino machine? Hope it's goooooooooood cappuchino.

September 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKristine

I think it will be wonderful for older books and brand new books, all of which are available in electronic formats. But, kids might need to do research in the books that were published after the newer copyright rules took effect and before electronic books became widely available. Or they might need to read some of the important works of fiction published in that time frame.

I think this type of media center is what we will see in the future, but I think there is still a place for printed books for a little while longer.

That said, I think we should all head over there for cappuccino. I'm sure it will be epic.

P.S. Doug is responsible for the photo. He has a wicked sense of humor!

September 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Roland

Blogs are a great way to collaboratively share ideas and enrich ourselves as lifelong learners. For example, this guest post from Jennifer provides helpful advice to aspiring contributors of L&L. I am reminded of a moment from my past when Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. gave a speech at my alma mater in the mid-1980s. He told us that you get into writing because you love doing it, not for the money. Most writers who get into it just for the money do not make it, but that if you enjoy it then the money is incidental and would come naturally. This evening I spent some time unplugged and actually read the latest issue of L&L cover-to-cover. There is a great deal of useful information there for educators interested in technology, and I can tell the contributors really enjoy making their contributions. They write because they clearly love knowledge sharing and helping educate fellow educators. It shows through in their craft. Keep up the good work!

September 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Ligon

Excellent post, Jen. I especially like your #3 suggestion. I don't know how many times I've gotten to the end of a column, report, or article and thought I had everything covered. And whomever reviews it (colleague, editor, or spouse), there is always something I miss.

September 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRob Kadel

Thanks for all of the great comments.

Kristine is the winner of a copy of The Best of L&L. Please email me at jennifer AT with your mailing address.

September 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Roland
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