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To Market, To Market
by Carol Shenold

When most writers begin to desire publication, they start looking for places to send their work, preferring high paying markets. This is a normal reaction. We all want recognition for our work and money can equal recognition as well as affirmation. However, sending and selling are two very different processes.

For every good piece received by an editor, she may receive 10 that fail to be appropriate for that market, and then the writing must be right. So, how can you increase your edge? By becoming a savvy marketer.

I understand. You're a writer, not a marketer. You're an artist. But since you want to sell your work for money, you have to become a sales person (marketer) as well. No matter how incredibly poetic, lean and precise your prose, if it fails to meet the needs of that editor, you will receive rejections. Your writing ability may not be in question, but your subject matter, writing style, word length, may shoot you down. Try the next five tips for increasing sales.

1. Write what you read.

How do you learn what your market needs? Before you write your article, before you even write your query letter, read the publication(s) for which you want to write--several issues. Notice style and topic length. Look at the advertisements to analyze your audience and to get ideas about the kind of articles your new audience may find interesting.

2. Follow the Yellow Brick Road

You need a map. Now acquire the most current writer's guidelines--which are not in the new writer's market. By the time the writer's market is published, the guidelines are a few months old. Send for the most recent guidelines, with an SASE, or check to see if the magazine has a web site and pull from that source. You can also access several writer's guidelines at Writer's Internet sites, such as Inscriptions and Writing for Dollars.

3. Back to Basics

Market yourself well by letting your first impression speak for itself with proper manuscript format--White paper, double spaced, dark ink, easy reading font, or the format required by the guidelines. If submitting electronically, read the guidelines carefully regarding formatting requests such as no attachments, HMTL or ASCII.

If all of this sounds like I'm talking to you back in the first grade as a writer, just talk to any editor and they will tell you that they receive innumerable manuscripts that are written on colored paper, or with a script font by "professional" writers. You want your first impression to be that of a real pro.

4. 'Tis the Season

Consider the season. It's July and you have the most wonderful idea for an article regarding the least expensive way to travel to Argentina. Save it. Magazines are now preparing material for their November and December issues. July would be the perfect time to fire-off that query about how to make your own Christmas tree out of dried Yucca pods you saved the year before, or those plans for making a bird house out of the turkey carcass.

5. Mirror, Mirror

Don't forget to market yourself, not simply your writing. No, you may not be able to set up a luncheon meeting with the New York editor, but begin marketing yourself locally. Offer to speak for writer's groups and schools. Offer to teach a writing course for your local junior college. Volunteer to help with the local and national writer's organizations in order to network and get your name out there. Dress professionally and present yourself in a business-like manner when you answer the phone, even if you do have that wet and wiggling three-year-old under your arm.

When talking about writing for money you have to keep the business aspects of writing as much in front of you as you do the creative process. Setting a schedule, being reliable and dependable are all attributes of a good businessperson. Until you accept yourself as a professional, others won't either. You don't have to be published to be a writer, you simply have to write. But to be a professional, published writer, you have to join the marketplace, push the fledgling pieces out of the nest and teach them how to fly... to the right editor, at the right time.

© Copyright 2000, Carol Shenold

Carol Shenold is a nurse and freelance writer living in Oklahoma City. Her newest anthology is Chicken Soup for the Nurses Soul: 2nd Dose, published in November. Her cozy mystery, Privy to Murder, was released in October of 2007 from www.eternalpress.com.au. Fairy Dust, an urban fantasy, was released this month and the sequel to Privy, Bloody Murder, will be released next spring. Please visit her blog at http://carol-carolsinkspot.blogspot.com and see the new Fairy Dust review from Simply Romance.

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