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One Stop Self-Promotion
by Patricia Misiuk

Do you spend more time convincing editors to publish your articles than, well, writing? I spent years doing just that until I found a way to visit 20 to 30 prospective markets for my writing under one roof.

My old drill was frustratingly familiar. I made appointments for interviews. Then I donned my dress-for-success clothes. Next I had to persuade a budget-conscious editor that my proposed article would spike magazine sales. Then I battled lunch-hour gridlock, prowled for a parking space, and delivered yet another two-minute spiel to the next gatekeeper. Then I waited for them to give me the green light.

Then I worked smarter, not harder. I discovered one-stop shopping for writers.

I’m a sucker for freebies: pens, refrigerator magnets, notepads, and even mouse pads. I’m a slow learner so my light bulb moment came after years of attending senior extravaganzas, job fairs, health expos, and state fairs. Exhibitors promote their products. Why not do the same and offer your writing expertise for their companies?

Think outside the box. A local theme park relies on tourist dollars and probably showcases area celebrities. Think feature for the local newspaper. A growing company could boost employee communications with an in-house newsletter…written by you. The wellness center wants to promote a healthy lifestyle but hired nobody with the necessary credentials to draft a pamphlet. A start-up alternative publication’s web site is growing and receptive to column ideas. Go for it.

Below are tips I have gleaned from “working the expo hall.”

Stay in the Loop
Scout local newspapers, supermarket flyers and the Internet for events in your area. Sign up for snail mail and cyber mailing lists.

Dress Rehearsal
Casual business attire is acceptable. Lose the flip-flops, tank tops and fringed jeans.

Carry Credentials
Take along handouts: business cards, resume (keep it to one page--writer related information) and a selection of published clips.

All in the Timing
Crowds pounce when doors first open and during the noon hour. Plan your visit during lulls, usually mid-morning or mid-afternoon.

Get the Big Picture
Most expos hand out maps listing participants and booth sites. Plan your stops wisely.

The Two-Minute Pitch
Early on, visit the areas that seem the most promising and compatible with your areas of expertise. Best case scenario: No other visitors at your choice booth. Keep your presentation friendly but brief. Emphasize you will be in touch and request that they do the same.

Over the years, I’ve discovered expo sites can provide a mother lode of assignments. Like written queries, you may experience what you feel are disproportionate doses of rejection. Don’t be discouraged and remember the three Ps: prepare, pursue and persist. Assignments often tumble your way when least expected. In the meantime, load up on those free handouts. You’ll need them, especially the pens, to sign your royalty checks.

© Copyright 2008, Patricia Misiuk

Patricia Misiuk could have been the sole interviewee for Studs Terkel's "Working." Her jobs have ranged from migrant work in New Zealand to the replenishment of sanitary products in the "Big Apple's" restrooms. When she grows up (she is 61) she wants to be a columnist. She still works at "McJobs" but "writing is what she does."

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