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Marketing For New Writers
by Susan Miles
Like all unpublished writers, I devoured every
writing how-to book, article and web site I could find. I cant say I was
terribly encouraged by the advice offered. The experienced writers offering
these words of wisdom were painting a picture of countless rejections and years
of toil before you could hope for a sale! One depressing article described the
writers experience of selling only 6 articles for a total sum of $240 over a
period of 10 years.
I therefore proceeded to throw these books and
magazines away and try my own tactic.
My first step was to get those necessary clips
to show that I was worth publishing. A local based magazine that is part of a
globally recognized name quickly picked up two of my articles for "publish
While it is always nice to be paid for your
writing, as a complete unknown to editors, this is going to be difficult without
a track record.
The next step was to feed off these publishing
credits and submit wider afield. Sticking to my area of specialty, which is
sport, particularly running, I used the Internet to find as many running
publications in the world as possible.
I located two in the UK, one in South Africa and
about 24 in the U.S.
Rather than order copies of each and every one
of these magazines, I simply reviewed their websites to get a feel for the type
of articles they regularly published. I also read (where available) their
I then applied a "blanket approach" to
submitting; send my 3-4 finished running articles to a variety of these
publications via email. My introduction (equivalent to a cover letter) was
addressed by name to the publications editor, included a one sentence overview
of the article, a brief introduction to myself, my qualifications to write the
piece (details of the international events I had competed in) and a list of my
The article(s) were then simply pasted into the
body of the email to eliminate any fear of computer viruses lurking in a word
I received a number of acceptances this way, but
unfortunately with long editorial lead times, publication would not occur for
several months. To take advantage of these acceptances, I simply added the
details to my list of credits with the notation (accepted for publication 2002).
The result, a sale to a running publication in
Houston Texas that technically became "My first sale", i.e.: the first
publication I received a check for my writing. I have never read the magazine
(except online), never lived in or even visited Houston and the only
conversations I have had with the editor of this magazine is via email!
So how can you use this information to make your
1. Get those first writing credits anyway you
can. I suggest that you should purposely target magazines that "publish
without payment", as your chances of success are higher as you are not
competing with professional writers.
2. Dont be afraid to make simultaneous
submissions, particularly if the publications do not share the same regional
demographic. For regional publications, you can submit to different states,
for national publications, you need to think internationally.
3. Research your target magazines online, its
both time and cost effective.
4. If you have an area of specialty, dont be
afraid to submit your work either nationally or internationally to
publications in that field. We truly are a global village when it comes to
writing--take advantage of this.
5. Submit via email whenever the editor lists
their email address. This year alone I have made a dozen sales without once
having to resort to a snail mail submission. Like researching online it is
both time and cost effective.
6. Think like a marketer not a writer. When it
comes time to submit your work you are no longer a writer but a marketer. Your
job is to sell your written words, so be confident, be professional and be
just a little bit pushy!
When I look back at my first year as a published
and paid writer, I am surprised by the aspects of the process I have enjoyed the
most. I realize I have gained as much enjoyment out of developing my skills as a
marketer as I have in developing my skills as a writer. I have got excited over
discovering new markets courtesy of the Internet, of using email to sell to
publications from Salem to Sydney, and leveraging off my early "publish without
payment" articles to start generating payment from my writing. However the
biggest thrill has come from trying my own marketing tactics, (often contrary to
the advise I had read), and achieving success.
To those who take the time to read this, I
encourage you to try these tactics if they feel right to you. More importantly I
hope it gives you the confidence and the courage to try your own approach to
selling your writing.
© Copyright 2002, Susan Miles
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