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Reading Your Way to Writing Sales
by Kathryn Lay

Most writers are readers. It’s part of our love for the written word. If you aren’t using your love of reading to further your own career, you’re missing out on possibilities.

Read and Study:

When I teach my online classes, the first thing I expect my students to do is to read and study the type of publications and writing areas they are writing or hoping to write.

Study magazines and anthologies by not only reading the articles, stories, essays and seeing what they’ve done and how much is done by freelancers as opposed to staff, but by also studying for ideas. After reading several issues of a publication, it almost always sparks several ideas that bounce off of or are opposite a topic they’ve done. Read them to study the types of writing they seem to use most. And read to discover the voice and approach that publication prefers.

Recently I found a devotional publication for kids that was new to me. I wanted to break in so I signed up for the daily devotionals. After a couple of weeks, I printed each one off and read them to get a strong feel for how they are done. I found a pattern, apparent preferences, and that the stories were done in ways that most of the publications I’d written for kids did not want. After coming up with a few ideas, I sat down, wrote one, and submitted it. Four days later I received an acceptance. Took another of my ideas, wrote it, and again, a sale.

Read Market Guides:

When I buy market books or read market information online, I first look through the areas I usually write for: kids, teens, religious publications, women, writing, family, parenting. Once I’ve studied and marked those, I go through and look over the other publications for new ideas, new markets, and new opportunities. Occasionally I see something that reminds me of a recent experience or person I could interview.

Read the Paper:

Many of my story ideas have come from the newspaper. An interesting story might spark an idea for a short story or compel me to contact the person in the piece to interview for an article for a magazine. Even weekend sections on upcoming events have given me ideas to go to an event and write it up for a publication. Many years ago after reading about an old fashioned tent circus coming to town, I quickly called a publication for children and asked if I could write an article about the circus. Then I called the circus to get a contact person. I was given free tickets for my family and time with the youngest member of the circus.

Read Guidelines for Changes:

Magazines and book publishers change. They change editors, focus, ways to submit, payment to writers, and more. If your guidelines are old, look online for more recent guidelines or write for them. Pick up copies of a publication to see if there are editorial changes. If you send in submissions to an editor who hasn’t been there in 5 months, the new editor will assume you haven’t looked at their magazine for awhile. If you are submitting to book publishers and send to an editor who’s long gone, they will assume you aren’t keeping up with the industry and probably aren’t members of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers, and so on.

When you take time to read and prepare both before, during, and after you write, you up the chances of making that important sale.

© Copyright 2010, 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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