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Seven Steps for Better Marketing
by Kathryn Lay
As a writer, coming up with an idea and writing
it down is only two-thirds of the steps you must take to becoming a published
writer. Without marketing your piece or idea, it will only look good on your
computer or in your desk drawer.
There is no mystery or secret code for
marketing. You dont need a doctorate or crystal ball. You dont need to know
someone in publishing.
The only requirement is hard work. But that
doesnt mean there arent helpful steps that will make your marketing work
easier, your goals attainable, and the results satisfying.
Plan and Organize
Do you keep market information where it is
easily accessible? Market books, magazines, website links? What about markets
you feel sure youll want to approach? Once I go through market books and
magazines and e-zines, I put information about the publications I am most
likely to want to write for onto 3 X 5 cards that are easily grabbed when I am
ready to market. Some writers prefer a spiral notebook with tabs for genres or
types of publications. Some prefer to keep these types of records on their
computer in an Excel or other type of program.
Once a month or a season (such as summer or
back to school time), I make a list of the markets I hope to sell to during
that time. Then I work on matching current projects, old unsold projects or
reprints, and query ideas with those magazines or anthologies on that list.
This gives me a plan and a goal and I am now
organized enough that marketing time wont be stressful and
Become a Better Writer
To help ensure that your marketing time isnt
wasted, make sure that your actual writing is the best it can be. The
competition now is fierce, there are fewer magazines available than there were
years ago, and editors are often too busy to rewrite your piece or hone sloppy
writing into good, readable writing.
Writers can always learn something new through
writing articles, conferences, a critique group, writing course taught by
published writers. A selling writer is always learning more, always willing to
learn more, and always seeking to learn more.
The time and investment in improving your
skills as a writer is well worth the effort and will increase both your
chances of selling and of selling your pieces sooner.
Writing TO the Market
Do you have specific markets you really want
to sell to? Sometimes I am writing TO a specific market as opposed to coming
up with an idea first. As I mentioned above, I make lists of publications I
have either sold to and want to sell to again, or new markets Ive yet to
This is the time when I begin studying that
particular market, the magazine or anthology. Ill look at past issues and
guidelines. Even when Ive written for them before, if its been several
months Ill look for a current issue (or more if possible) and see if they
have new departments, gotten rid of other columns and departments, or changed
their look and style. I check the masthead to see if the editor has changed or
who the editor is if I havent sold to them before.
The more I can prepare and specifically come
up with ideas and execute my writing and my queries for that publication, the
better chance I have of making a sale, and hopefully a sale the first time
You have a great idea and write it
immediately. Whether fiction or nonfiction, youre not thinking market first,
but just getting it completed. Once done, you feel a deep sense of
accomplishment, followed by a bit of fear. Where can you send it now? How do
you begin in finding a market?
If youve already done #1 in this article,
planning and organizing, youve got a list of markets, perhaps even separated
by type of nonfiction, genre or age of fiction, and so on. When you finish
your article, story, or essay, its an easy step to go through those markets
youve found and search for a match for your written work.
The more you keep up on this market
information, the easier itll get searching for and locating the right market
for your finished project.
Follow the Rules
When putting together market information, or
if pulling it straight from a market book or magazine or set of guidelines,
always make sure to know and follow that publications rules.
If they say they want articles ranging from
400 to 1200 words, dont send a 100-word piece unless they also mention they
want fillers, or a 2500 word feature or essay. If their short story
information says that they dont want romance stories or childrens stories or
stories fewer than 5,000 words, dont assume theyll make an exception for
you. If the information says they prefer e-mail queries or manuscripts, make
sure you send it IN the email or as an attachment as they require. If it says
no email queries or manuscripts, send the piece through the mail (unless you
have old information, then its best to call and find out for
The more your manuscript meets their needs and
their requirements, the closer it is to getting
Dont give up when that first rejection hits
your mail or email. Ive sold pieces on the first time out and some on the
16th time out. Ive had editors love something every time Ive sent
it out for First Rights and then Reprint Rights, and other pieces that got
form letters until it finally sold after rewrites and continued marketing.
Ive had pieces that editors said it wasnt well written or a true short
story and then later sell to a large and bigger paying magazine.
Writing is sometimes a frustrating business,
especially at the marketing part of it. But writers who persist and continue
in their marketing, their assessment of their work, willingness to rewrite,
and, did I say, persistence in marketing
Those are the writers who will
The Internet Is Your Friend
The Internet is an amazing and useful tool for
writers. It has saved me a lot of money in requesting samples and guidelines,
in stamps and envelopes. It has saved me time in traveling to the library to
research (though I still do it at times because I love the library and the
books all around me) and in waiting for mailed guidelines and manuscripts. It
has given me the ability to reach sample issues of magazines online and print
out guidelines to put into my own guidelines notebook. I now send the majority
of my manuscripts and queries through email, receive many of my acceptances
and rejections through email, and teach my writing classes online sitting in
my home office.
Finding markets and guidelines by Googling (or
Yahooing) specific magazines and topics for publications, reading online
magazines full of writing articles and market information, and sending a query
or manuscript with the push of a button is exciting and has made my life as a
freelancer easier, faster, and cheaper.
If you want to see bylines and checks rolling
in, then take control of your marketing and see what happens.
© Copyright 2005, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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