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Turning Old Ideas into New Sales
by Kathryn Lay

I’ve rarely had a problem with coming up with new ideas, but there have been times when I’m working on a difficult or long project and wanting to start something fresh or redo something old.

If you don’t keep a list of ideas that pop into your head or a file of old projects that never sold, you might be missing out on great opportunities.

Several years ago I wrote a short story and began submitting it. I had written it specifically for one market, but it was rejected. After that, I struggled to find other markets to send it to. After trying a few and getting only form rejections, I set it aside.

Nearly six years later, I came across a market I hadn’t submitted to in years. They only buy one short story an issue, only twelve issues a year. After going through my unsold pieces of fiction, I found a story that I thought would fit the publication perfectly. After going through it and doing a small amount of touch ups, I submitted the story.

When I wrote it down on my market sheet for that story, I realized and remembered that this was the story I’d submitted to this publication years ago. Expecting a rejection, I was surprised and pleased to get an acceptance in three weeks. It was like found money and a surprise byline. Since then, I’ve sold two more short stories to this publication, all rewrites of old stories from my files.

Most recently, I found an article for a children’s magazine that I had submitted and not sold. I had planned years ago to rewrite and resubmit it somewhere, but never did.

After recently selling a series to an educational publisher, I wondered if this might be a good idea for them.

After spending a week breaking down the idea into six possible books, I wrote a short outline for each idea as a separate book and submitted it to the editor. Within a week, she wrote back to say she loved the idea and felt it would be perfect for the kindergarten through second grade students and their curriculum.

These two different ideas had languished in files for years, waiting for the right moment and market.

Do you have ideas you had planned to write but never have?

Do you have pieces that are written but never sold?

Go through files and ideas. Make a list of ones that excite you. Are there ideas that seem perfect for now more so than they did before? After looking through an old notebook of ideas, I found several that made my heart pound and have begun working on them with new joy.

Look at each idea in a new way. Can you slant them in a different way that might be more saleable? Maybe an article idea could be a book or a nonfiction piece used for a fiction idea. My past article idea didn’t fit the magazine I’d written it for originally. I’m grateful for that as it would’ve been all rights. Now, that article will be a six book hardback series for young kids.

Did you market them before? Why not try somewhere they were submitted in the past. Editors change, needs change, times change. More than once I’ve sold something that was rejected in the past by the same publication.

I’ve learned never to truly give up on an idea until I’ve exhausted all possibilities. And even then, sometimes, I find another opportunity is waiting around the corner.

© 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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