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How to write a ‘how to’

Have you got useful, practical knowledge that could be passed on to readers in the form of a how-to article? Follow Clive Brooks’ step-by-step guide

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If you know how to do something useful or unusual and you’ve also noticed that it’s something that friends, family and colleagues find helpful, then it could very well form the basis of a saleable ‘how to’ article. The magazine world presents myriad opportunities for such contributions, many of which are well paid. You may, for example, have become an expert at pruning fruit trees, making a picture frame, growing tomatoes, making homemade wine, creating unusual recipes, know the best way to paint a ceiling or have some unique country walk routes you could share – the list is endless. And because you already have all the knowledge in your head, writing a useful ‘how to’ article about these pursuits – in contrast to other nonfiction pieces – doesn’t demand a great deal of research.

However, for such pieces to stand the best chance of publication, they need to be written – and illustrated – in a structured, easy-to-follow format. My aim here is to provide a straightforward guide encouraging you to do ‘how to’. I’ll cover both the writing and the photography, and outline the best way to present it to the editor of a magazine.

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