We call them op-eds, because they usually appear next to the editorial column in the newspaper. You don’t usually get paid for them, but they are a wonderful way to express intelligent viewpoints, without whining, ranting or preaching, and give you far more scope than just a letter to the Editor.
Timeliness is of the utmost importance. If you think it’s difficult to give an opinion without editorializing or writing emotionally, do your best to avoid using the pronoun “I”.
Use humor wherever possible. When you address serious subjects with humor, you’ll find there’s a rhythm to it. Write a funny line and then -boom – right to the heart of the matter – suddenly serious to grab the reader’s attention.
Add verifiable statistical information and direct quotes. This will back up your opinion e.g. about the growing crime rate among young people. You can add quotes from politicians, as well as the rate of growth of that particular area of crime. Make sure your sources are reliable, and your research is truthful.
Write on topics that you really care about – women’s issues, social issues, religion … especially if you have specialised knowledge on a particular subject. Anticipate anniversaries that are coming up and are of significant importance. Don’t cover “tired” topics unless you have a fresh viewpoint.
Don’t overwrite – 600 – 750 words is the usual length for an op-ed. You won’t make much, if any, money from opinion pieces, but your name will become well-known and an editor may think of you when he has an assignment for a feature article – this has happened to me on many occasions.
Keep on writing – that is important. I am having a break from writing novels (I’ve published 14) so I’ve been enjoying writing some short stories for a change, as well as some op-eds. I am having some lovely feedback from my recently published novel “Searching for Sarah” – copies available if you write to me direct at: firstname.lastname@example.org Although it’s short – really a novella, the Jerusalem Post published a full-page color book review that was most heart-warming and unexpected.
I’m happy to help you with any writing queries.