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Use the Power of Three to Maximize Sales
by Susan Sundwall

Each piece of your writing must do at least one of these things:

  1. Entertain
  2. Inform
  3. Enlighten

And isn’t that what you want from what you read? Most successful writers are voracious readers, and I count myself among them. From snatches of advertising while buzzing down the highway to huge tomes like David McCullough’s John Adams or Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings each fulfills for me one or more of the above criteria. Superior pieces of writing will do all three. For instance, a novel that takes place in medieval times should keep you turning the pages (entertain), explore the peculiarities of the time period (inform) and lighten up some dark corner where supposition and prejudice lurk (enlighten). A book like this lets the reader know that the writer has imagination, patience for the research involved, and a desire to inspire. But let’s break down our writing trinity a little.


Entertain literally means to engage the attention of so that time passes pleasantly. How that’s done is open to interpretation, but we often link the notion to humor. So if you have the gift of humor and are able to transfer that to your writing you will always find a market. In tough times or easy, people love to laugh. Fillers, essays and humor columns are the stuff that editors dream of.

In addition, the current trend of crafting thrillers or scare-the-pant off the masses writing (think vampires) will also garner sales as will tales of love and romance. Here are a few markets that are looking for your entertaining pieces.

  1. Family Handyman – Pays $100 for Great Goofs http://www.rd.com/newsletter-archive-parent/family-handyman-plus-cleaning-tips-for-the-thanksgiving-holiday/article19224.html
  2. Aurealis – Pays $20 – 60 http://www.aurealis.com.au/submissions.php
  3. The Last Page – Pays $1,000 for column http://www.smithsonianmag.com/contact-us/humour-guidelines.html
  4. New Love Stories Magazine – Pays $300 for stories and $50 for poems http://www.newlovestories.com/wrgu.htmlhttp://www.newlovestories.com/wrgu.html


Ad copy, non-fiction, self help books, articles about money, writing, current events – write about these and the world is your oyster. And when you’ve researched and written your shining jewel consider one or more of these markets:

  1. 911 Magazine – Pays .10 - .20 per word and $50 for columns http://www.9-1-1magazine.com/content/view/97/69/http://www.9-1-1magazine.com/content/view/97/69/  
  2. Escapees – Pays up to $150 http://www.escapees.com/magazine/ArticleSubmissions.asp
  3. Affordable Housing Finance – Pays .35 - .50 per word http://www.housingfinance.com/editorial/freelance.html


Oh boy, is green writing ever popular! This is where your passion and purpose can pay off big time. Explore both sides of the wind energy issue or write up a detailed analysis that sheds light on why pony pumps are a viable way of extracting oil in small areas. Pick a disaster, highlight one aspect and write a piece to help children understand it. Investigate some recent environmental mistakes like the removal of wolves in Yellowstone, how coal puts carbon into the air, or the now evident effects of the ban on DDT, which WHO now recommends using to combat malaria in third world countries. Then shoot for one or more of these markets.

  1. High Country News – Payment begins at $100 http://www.hcn.org/about/submissions
  2. E Magazine – Pays .30 per word http://www.emagazine.com/view/?1512http://www.emagazine.com/view/?1512
  3. Dawn Publications – For your excellent environmentally sound book http://www.dawnpub.com/submission-guidelines/
  4. History Magazine – Pays $55 per printed page  http://www.history-magazine.com/anotes.htmlhttp://www.history-magazine.com/anotes.html

It’s very true that writing to enlighten isn’t limited to subjects about the environment. That’s why I threw in History Magazine. But every piece of writing you do must contain elements of the three categories listed at the beginning of this article. Realizing this may cause you to scrutinize your last submission to big glossy magazine or that book of inspirational poems and wonder if you’ve done your job. I’ll bet you have, but if not, there’s time to revise, recover and move on. Don’t waste any time in doing so.

© Copyright 2010, Susan Sundwall

Susan is a freelance writer, sometime poet and soon to be blogger. Read her children’s story, "Mary’s Sparrow."

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