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How We Make Choices

choice and context

choice and context (Photo credit: Will Lion)

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

A bientot,

Claudsy

Marketing Resources:

 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.

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  1. May 20, 2012 at 9:14 am

    Lots for me to explore here, Claudsy, as a fiction writer. Thanks for this informative, USEFUL post!

    • claudsy
      May 20, 2012 at 10:06 am

      You’re more than welcome, Gerry. Glad to see you here. I try to make a swipe through the lists at least once a month to see if there’s any new markets. There always are huge amounts that I haven’t seen yet. Next time I’m going to begin at the end of the alphabet and work my way forward. I never seem to get far enough in before getting exhausted by all the possibilities.

      Hope you come up with some real winners.

  2. Veronica Roth
    May 20, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    ARGG…so much work…honestly, we should develop and ap for that! (OOH, that’s a million $ idea!)

    • claudsy
      May 20, 2012 at 11:53 pm

      It is a good idea, Veronica. I vote you take on that project and when you get it ready to test, let us all in as beta testers for it.

      I’m serious here. If you can figure out a way to do it any simpler, have at it and I’ll test it for you. I only know that this way works for me now, and that I get intriguing ideas for additional pieces as I go through the process.

      You’re also right about what could be made for such an app. Good luck with it and let me know when you’re ready to test it.

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