Writers are dead in the water without the internet in the current publishing environment. Everything concerning the writing business is online, including, but not confined to, publishing houses, editor and other manuscript related services, promotional company services, writers-for-hire and their job sites, and the list goes on.
How do we make choices for those projects that need a market?
Not including newsletters, I receive market listings from several sources each week. Within each of those sources are seemingly countless markets looking for stories, articles, poetry, essays, etc. One listing alone can take up a single day of reading, speculating, and planning for future projects, which require note-taking.
At the end of that day, the original question stands unanswered and has bred a new one. What criteria will be used to eliminate choices?
Here’s an example. I have a finished piece entitled “A Teacher of Spirit,” which is multi-dimensional. It contains: memoir, children’s, inspiration, and instruction. That gives me four potential primary areas to search for markets.
- I plug in to the mass market magazine listings first. I want to see if I can find a paying market that will make my time worthwhile. On any given day, there will be at least five markets that accept inspiration pieces, unsolicited, and with less than a three month response time. Those factors are critical to me. I write down the particulars, as well as the differences between publications’ needs.
- I move on to children’s magazines. I scan those names I know well to check for current needs or upcoming themes. I find two that might be successful submissions. As with my previous search, I note the publications, their needs, wants, themes, etc. I also note which ones I could do similar pieces for with different slants. I might be able to rework this essay to fit a different magazine.
- Moving on to instructional/parenting magazines, I find three that could work if I make a few changes in the essay’s approach and emphasis. That could do well. I haven’t published in that area before. This market could answer for both the instructional aspects as well as inspirational aspects. I could do a simultaneous submission with these and a slightly shifted version of the essay.
- I repeat the entire process for those publications of the literary persuasion. This takes longer simply because there looks to be an endless stream of literary magazines of various circulation sizes. Here I come up with dozens of possibilities.
- The initial sorting steps leave me with a long list that needs prioritizing. Ranking markets from greatest chance for success to the lowest takes time, but that time is lessened with every use of the process. The more experience a writer has looking through possible markets, the more easily the sorting and prioritizing becomes.
- The resulting “Chances” list gives me plenty of potential. There are two excellent possibilities in the Inspirational column where I can send an original version of the essay. I choose the top three from the Literary column. I can send simultaneous submissions to those and the essay revised to reflect a different angle. Two choices come from the Children’s column for submissions that require tweaking for content needed by the individual magazine. All three from the Instructional/parenting column can be sent tweaked versions.
Once all of those choices are made, I can move on to separating out those essay copies that will go as is. Each publication gets its own query letter/cover letter, according to that magazine’s guidelines. (Doing a careful study of the guidelines is essential.)
As soon as those submissions are on their way to potential new homes, I tackle the next group of newly slanted versions, and so on to repeat the selection process.
Finding the markets is simple compared to preparing different versions of the same essay for multiple audiences and magazine needs. Getting the balance right can be difficult and time consuming. The upshot is that I learn more about writing and its needs with each round of choices I make. That’s a plus that I can take to the bank.
It isn’t uncommon to spend two or three days on this process if six or more markets are approached. Like all writers, I have other things on my editorial calendar than submitting articles or stories. I allow specific time for this task on that calendar, now more than ever before. It has as much importance as writing, more than blogging, and slightly more than social media.
Hopefully, this look at my marketing and submission process helps someone else.
That’s all for now, folks. Below are links to various marketing resources. Explore them for yourselves.
Duotrope will take you to a lovely little site with big impact. Many writers rely on this source for finding new markets, and keeping up on those online markets that are no long viable.
Sharing with Writers http://sharingwithwriters.blogspot.com/ has all sorts of industry info, including markets to watch.
Poets and Writers Magazine which has a free online sign-up that can get you hooked up with many market listings, including those for contests, grants, fellowships, agents, etc.
The Writer Magazine and it too has a free newsletter, plus market listings for publications, agents, etc. This is a marvelous site with all sorts of cool info.
The home of Writer’s Digest also has a free newsletter, market listings, writer communities and lots more.
- Tips and Markets for Personal Essays (creativityorcrazy.wordpress.com)
- Resources for Aspiring Fiction Authors: How To Get Published (tinaannforkner.wordpress.com)
- Whether You Already Have an Angle or Not (claudsy.wordpress.com)
- The Writer Magazine Online – Free Access to All Sections (barbaratyler.wordpress.com)
- Market, Submissions Guidelines and Contest Deadlines for March 2012 (keikihendrix.com)
For any of those readers out there who would like to discover any more of my “juicy secrets,” pop over to children’s writer Denise Stanley’s blog. A Room to Write. She posted her interview with me this morning.
Does that sound like self-promotion? Well, I supposed it is in some respects, but it’s more to the question of where to have promotion confined for the moment. Denise does good interviews. She asks great questions and goes a bit further to get good answers. Then again, I like to talk. It worked out well for both of us.
I’ll be stopping by there off and on for the next couple of days for those who wish to comment or ask another question.
Now, back to my poetry. I’ll be posting this afternoon to the Poetry Asides prompt and here, as usual. If you get a chance and really like poetry, stop by Robert Brewer’s site on Writer’s Digest and sit back with a large cup of whatever. You’ll be there a while. Poets from around the globe congregate there every day.
© Claudette J. Young 2012
I’ve talked these past two weeks about various aspects of writing. For those who still feel adrift because they just came into the field, I’m going to use this opportunity to provide a few paths to explore. These are ones I’ve found especially helpful over the past few years.
Wherever a writer goes or whoever she talks to in the field, she will always find help and guidance along the way. David Farland, the best-selling author and teacher, says, “Nobody makes it alone. We each build on one another.” Farland should know. He’s well-known in two genres and still teaches.
Take small opportunities to grow as a writer. If you swing it, attend a two-day event or conference in your area. You’re not any less a writer if you don’t have the cash for hotel expenses. If you can drive to the event each day and be home at night, so be it. The important thing is to meet and mingle with the writers who are there to talk about words, their use, and how you fit into that picture.
Many online opportunities recur each year.WriteOnCon is a free online writer’s conference with plenty of firepower to begin on the writing track. This year’s conference will take place on August 14 and 15, with the theme “Back to Basics.” The only thing you’ll spend on this one is your time and effort.
If you have the ability to pay a bit for instruction, but have family duties and a family; take a course, either on-line or at a local college. Many courses and workshops are available for varying costs. Currently there are a double handful of free online writing classes from major universities across the country. Their subjects range on everything from poetry reading and writing basics to academic and research writing, along with levels of editing prowess and technical work.
Several major writers offer workshops and classes as well. David Farland has several classes that will work for all levels of writing experience. He also puts out a free newsletter called “Daily Kick in the Pants” for jump starting a person’s writing day. This one is a real winner.
Learn how the business operates. For those who still think that being a writer is nothing more than putting some words on paper, handing it in to an editor, and sitting back to wait for royalty checks to roll in, get a grip on the nearest heavy support. Reality is about to slap you hard and send you reeling.
If your budget simply won’t stretch to include any kind of off-site conference or workshop, hop over to Suzanne Lieurance’s website. Suzanne knows this business inside and out and is one of the best writing coaches around. Her Working Writer’s Club was developed to help guide and encourage those who’re serious about writing. She also has a free newsletter that outlines everything that’s available for free or for members only. Check it out. You won’t regret it.
Writers and Editors Network also takes the business seriously. Check out its offerings, newsletter, and help. There are competitions and insider news as well.
Writer’s Digest also offers a free newsletter and free writing tutorials. Take the opportunity to see what’s offered and what will work for you. Julie Oblander is the Online Education Manager, who provides so much for the student who will listen.
Writer Magazine has its own benefits for those who will invest in a subscription, which in this case is a steal. Listings of markets complete with a dedicated search engine, listings of agents and book publishers, contests and other competitions, as well as teaching articles and archives can keep the writer reading, learning and happy for weeks. Beware: you may not want to come back to your daily reality once you start down this road.
And finally, one of my absolute favorites; Poets and Writers Magazine has more between its covers and on its website than you can read in a week. Tutorials, archives, contest and competition listings, and more. Don’t overlook this one. It’s a treasure.
Know that writing takes time to master. You can take formal training through a college or university, online or on campus. You can also learn through specialized workshops, conferences, online forums and free classes. Regardless of the path taken, you can learn to write.
The most important piece of knowledge to remember throughout the process is that it takes time and practice to write well. Some “naturals” have been fortunate enough to grab that brass ring the first time out. I’d be willing to bet that most, if not all, will tell you that the second time round came harder for them.
There’s nothing wrong with being new at this game. Believe in yourself and define your goals with as much precision as you can. Those two necessities will help for years to come as you begin to navigate your way through the sea of sometimes conflicting demands of writing. This is a business, after all. You will be an entrepreneur as a writer. All new businesses have a learning curve. Yours has just begun.
I’ve provided links to those online helpers who raise the flag of possibility for us all. Take advantage of this small opportunity, if you’ve never explored some of these sites. Take the time to discover what’s available to you.
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