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Writing the NET
by Kathryn Lay

I was dragged onto the information highway, pulled from an ancient, windowless, mouseless, and internet-less computer. I was perfectly content to stay where I was, even though I spent countless hours searching for help and not knowing where to turn while researching for my books, articles and stories.

"Your writing sales are going to explode," my writing friends said. "Just wait until you connect to the Internet."

I had long been known as a marketing whiz with my writing. I couldn't see how the Internet would make it any better.

Yet, in the less than two years I've been on the internet, my sales have more than doubled, my writing income in six months doubling from the whole of the previous year.

Are you new to the Internet? Been here awhile and wondering how it can help you as a writer? Are you unpublished and just trying to find a way to get started? If you're reading this, the information may be old hat. Then again, it may open a new world of opportunities to your career. Here are 5 ways the Internet can help published and unpublished writers:

Research:

Although I still love going to the library, I've found that researching through the Internet is much faster and gives me a broader scope of research opportunities.

When I recently did an article on assignment from a major woman's magazine, I was required to interview experts. Through the organization’s website, I found phone numbers as well as sending emails to find the contacts I needed. Their website was loaded with information that I had immediate access to, rather than waiting for days or weeks for brochures to be mailed. My workload was cut and my experts more accessible.

If you write only what you know, you're fairly limited to the wonderful world of your imagination and interest. When writing a story on a specific topic where my knowledge is limited, I find more information than I can ever use while searching the Internet.

Cost of Mailing:

Beyond the initial setting up of an office, a writer's main and constant expense is the cost of postage. Sending manuscripts and queries with return envelopes can get expensive. Many print magazines are now willing to accept submissions and queries through email. Although I have submitted much more this year, I have also spent less in postage and envelopes.

Getting Guidelines and Finding New Markets:

In the past, I have written to magazines, asking for guidelines and copies. I've had to include enough postage and a return envelope to cover these items.

Now, my Guidelines Notebook overflows with downloaded guidelines and magazine information. Both print and online magazines often have archive issues where I can study what's been done before with each magazine.

Although there are some areas on the web that will publish anyone's writing and not pay, there are also many paying online magazines and writing contests. By receiving such magazines as Writing for DOLLARS!, Inklings*, and others, you will find lots of information on new markets.

Submitting:

By submitting manuscripts and queries through email, not only are my postage expenses lowered, but I have received quicker responses from editors than I did before my internet connection.

I have become spoiled at the fast turnaround. In the past, I've waited months before response on a query or manuscript. With email submissions, I often hear back within days or weeks, sometimes, even hours. Recently, I was shocked to hear about an online magazine, look it up, check past issues, email a manuscript, and receive an acceptance all within an hour.

Even print magazines and book editors will often respond through email when I have placed my email address alongside my phone number.

Networking:

The online magazines for writers are plenty. I know, I've written for most of them. They provide me with dozens of market possibilities each month.

There are also writer e-groups where I can meet other writers. I am on lists for children's writers, writers who are mothers, writers for fantasy and science fiction, and religious writers. Many of my recent sales have been due to market information passed among writers on these list-serves. The information is recent and often straight from an editor or writer who is dealing with a publisher at that moment.

I have met writers who have passed my name onto their editors. I have made friendships with online writers who share my passion for writing and willingness to help one another succeed.

The Internet has changed my writing life in many ways. I publish more online than off, these days. I spend less time at the post office or library and more time on the computer. But now, I have more time to actually write and to play with my daughter.

My friends were right when they said I'd burn rubber down the information highway. I only hope I'm not pulled over for speeding.

© Copyright 2000, Kathryn Lay

Kathryn Lay is the author of 26 books for children, over 2000 articles, essays and stories for children and adults and the book from AWOC.COM Publishing, The Organized Writer is a Selling Writer. Check out her website at www.kathrynlay.com and email through rlay15@aol.com

Other articles by Kathryn Lay :

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