Posts Tagged ‘Poets & Writers’

How We Make Choices

May 20, 2012 4 comments
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,


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 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.

Day 4 of April’s Challenges

April 4, 2012 4 comments

This is going to be a long month. And one in which little outside of challenges gets done. Today I have three separate challenge styles to post.

The first is from Poetic Asides. The poem format used is of my own decision, since no specific form was required—a common occurrence. This prompt was so wide-open that my mind reeled from the assorted immediate mental flashes of subject.

The following is what I selected, purely by Muse. I sat down and just began writing. The results were unexpected. I hope you enjoy the efforts.

April 4, 2012 Day 4 Prompt—100% (blank) Fill in the blank and make title


100% Humidity Out There Folks


And still pavement waits for rain,

Disguised under its carpet of dirt

With footprints scarring its surface,

Waiting for fat drops to splat and stain.


Prayers danced in circles, call forth

Relief from Earth’s ravishing thirst,

Call forth dancers to join rhythm beats

From drum and foot, always circling.


Belief of dancers rises to Heaven’s ears,

Creates wind to drive Rain’s stampede

Across land cracked by Sun’s gaze while

Voices join drum in supplication.


Soon Rain’s front strangles ground’s throat,

Rushing, pounding, driving those beneath.

Feathered dancers glory in prayer’s end,

Glorying in The Creator’s answer.


100% Correct


“The little lady down front is 100% correct!”

How can that be correct, when factors flow as water,

During each second of the question’s answer?


Each breath creates new conditions, redirecting life’s steps

Onto paths as yet unseen, unknown until actuality appears,

To add to previous knowledge concerning that path.


Each thought, word, and action take the user

On a joy ride, designed within the user’s response,

Determined by perception and intent as to correctness.


Does consensus decided something’s correctness,

Leaving each person knowing one reality

While others live in separate aspects of it?


Should I believe what you say, knowing I

Have a different reality from your sense of right.

Can anyone be correct about anything in life?


In a short while I’ll post my offerings for Poetic Bloomings. The In-Form challenge for today is: tanka. Tanka is a Haiku form that has five lines instead of three. Those five lines have specific syllabic counts: 5-7-5-7-7. Some of the finest tanka examples I’ve seen tell a complete story in those five lines, containing 31 syllables—no small feat, but breathtaking when done well.

I’ll do my best to not disappoint when I write mine.

I also have a poetry challenge on BlogHer for a Sestina poem. Sestina is a long form, comprised of six stanzas of six lines each, and followed by one “envoy” or triplet stanza. The complication with this form arises from the necessity of re-arranging the end words of each line of each stanza into a specific use pattern. The point of a sestina is to tell a complete story in lyrical form, since its origin came from French troubadours.

I have one of those yet to create, as well. When I finish it, I will post it here.

I won’t be posting my task-of-the-day work for Robert Brewer’s Author Platform Challenge. That’s a separate and different kind of challenge that will go elsewhere.

To there you have it, folks. Check back often today. It’s going to get crowded on this blog for April 4th.

I Don’t Want to Teach!

September 24, 2011 4 comments

Writers complain on occasion about not being taken seriously by those close to them. There are lines like “My parents just don’t get it. This is what I intend to do with my life!” Or, “Why can’t people just accept that I’m a writer and leave off trying to get me into another kind of work? I don’t want to teach!”

If you’ve ever made a complaint like either of those above, you’re not alone. One of the problems with becoming a writer in this country is that creative expression isn’t seriously encouraged.

Those who want to pursue such fields and careers aren’t cheered on as they struggle to gain the necessary skills to “make it” in an ever-increasingly competitive arena.

Comparably, those who pursue sports of any kind get so much encouragement and financial help along the way that milk on the table of a would-be writer would curdle from the mere thought of said athletic enthusiasm. You don’t see business sponsors lining up at the high school or college to grant financial aid to those who excel in literature.

When was the last time you saw a poet praised in the local paper? You don’t see entire newspaper sections devoted to academic achievement or creative honors, either.

With an MFA a person can legitimize their calling, but only up to a point. Unless they’re uniquely talented and begin the publishing process early in life, that degree may get them a teaching position, but it won’t guarantee success as a writer.

Perhaps it would help if the public knew what the writing process is, what work is involved, and how long the publishing phase can be. Not many consider how much effort and man hours go into a simple news story. They don’t see all the time spent in research to verify sources and information.

After all, it isn’t a regular feature on television. In fact, the creative arts list will be a short one when you count TV channels. On national channels other than PBS—which has lost most of its federal funding—you won’t find much that smacks of the arts or creativity. Given some of the series remakes in the past few years, you won’t find much creativity in prime-time programing either.

That leaves one impression. Writers seem to have little value to American society— sad commentary, to be sure. If you look at all the written material out there, you begin to get a taste of how many writers of different types there are putting words to paper every day.

That doesn’t insure that the reader will notice. The truth is, one of the biggest uses of writers in this country is bulk mailings—junk mail. Not even other writers like getting a mailbox exploding with unwanted print material. The writer isn’t to blame. The business using the writer is the one sending everything out. Still…

But what about the little newbie just starting out, you ask. Having the wish to make a career of writing can only take the person to the foot of the working staircase. With constant and consistent hard work to learn everything possible she/he can move up that staircase. A strong sense of purpose will keep the newbie working.

Talent and “breaks” also play a role in how far someone will rise in their pursuits. Those two factors can’t be negated. Desire alone won’t move someone into prominence without the necessary abilities. There are always exceptions, but they usually don’t last long.

Whether a lack of appreciation comes from ignorance or concern doesn’t change the impact on the ones striving to make the top in the literature field. In this age of technology and faster-is-better, changes dominate each day. No one can say with impunity what the status of writing will be next year or in a decade.

Time and patience, strength of purpose and hard work, must act as champions for those who wish to achieve as an artist of any form. Passion for the art form—writing is art, after all–has more power than discouragement.

And for those pursuing that career, a day job is almost certainly a necessity. Whether the writer began with the desire to write full-time or not, today’s work environment is a challenge that is eased by a steady income from another source. The alternative to writing full-time fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction is to become a working copywriter with regular clients or enter other such writing venues.

The glossy surface of the dream may be dimmed by the daily reality, but that doesn’t take away from it. Sometimes it makes the dream stronger for being so hard to grasp. It depends on the writer, as always.

A bientot,