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Strike While The Iron Is Hot!
by Kathryn Lay

After 1000 sales to magazines and my first book sale, I’m often asked how I make so many sales. Most of it has been persistence, obsession, and a desire to get my writing in front of editors.

But after a recent experience, I realized that one of the things a writer needs to do is take advantage of potentially great situations. Jump in when the interest is there, when an editor needs work or has liked what you’ve sent them.


Several years ago a friend told the thirty people sitting at a writer’s group weekly meeting I attended that he had met and editor from out of state with a travel magazine who was in need of some short articles on travel tips. I wrote down the name and address of the editor.

The next day, I did some research with my vet and online about traveling with pets, wrote up a 500 word article on how to travel with your pets, and sent it off that day to the travel publication editor. A week later, I had an acceptance in the mail. I couldn’t wait to tell the writer’s group and was shocked to learn that no one else had jumped on this opportunity.

How many times have you hard or read about information where a publication is looking for writers for a new magazine, a new column, or specific topics? How many times have you jumped on that opportunity?

A couple of years ago, I saw a short blurb in an online writer publication about a tourist information group who needed people to update their brochures from various states. I immediately sent in a writing resume. A year later, I received an email from the editor of this publication telling me that they needed someone in my city to update the brochure their travel agencies used for interested clients. The pay was excellent and I accepted. Two weeks later he wrote to say that the writer who was doing the next town over from me had backed out, and could I do that one also? The money paid for those two jobs paid for my daughter’s school tuition for a semester.


My first children’s book is due out in a few months. Recently, sudden inspiration struck for a sequel to the book. I feared that it was too early to suggest it because my first book hadn’t been reviewed yet, nor sales figures to use as leverage. After two weeks of holding onto the idea, I worked out a pitch and sent it to my agent. She loved it. She left a message with my editor, who also loved it and took it to the next morning’s editorial meeting. They loved it as well and asked for a synopsis and two chapters to use as consideration for a possible contract. I was flabbergasted and thrilled. I had considered waiting to suggest this sequel until months later, but now I am busily working on the proposal that will hopefully produce another contract and book.


Whenever I make a sale to a new publication, I always try to send in another piece within a couple of weeks while I am still fresh on their mind. After my first sale to the Kid’s Day section of Woman’s Day magazine, I sent in another piece as soon as possible. It sold and the editor informed me she was looking for ideas for their Solutions section. The next day I came up with a half dozen ideas and sent a query list. She picked one that she liked and asked for a more detailed query. Before long, it was approved and I was writing a feature article. In the next year, I sold them seven more Kid’s Day pieces.

When you receive an acceptance, celebrate. Then get another idea or manuscript off to that editor as soon as possible. Don’t bombard them with inappropriate material or on a daily basis, but continue to keep your name and writing in front of them. They liked your writing once; they very well may like it again and again.

Watch for those opportunities to break into a new publication, to sell more to your editor, to take a friend’s advice and contact their agent or editor or a magazine they have heard about needing writers. Don’t let those chances slip through your fingers, they may not be available later. And best of all, you may come away with opportunities you never dreamed would happen, all because you reached out and grabbed the brass ring before it was lost.

© Copyright 2004, 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

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