Marketing Help for Writers

Every new writer–well, every writer, for that matter, in this day and age, could benefit by spending a little time contemplating the marketing side of their work.  After all, the book industry (in all its present upheaval) is a HUGE business and, as writers, we have a heck of a lot of competitoin when it comes to hocking our wares.

Windy Lynn Harris, a chick-lit, humor writer in Arizona, also happens to be a Marketing Coach for writers with a wealth of knowledge to share.

Ms.  Harris gave me permission to share with you all the first chapter of her forth-coming e-book that will thoroughly detail what it takes to properly market a writer’s work in this highly digitized age.

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MARKET COACHING FOR UNPUBLISHED WRITERS

With Windy Lynn Harris

WEEK ONE

Welcome to WEEK ONE of your personalized market coaching session! This week we will begin at the beginning and answer the most common question asked by unpublished writers, “Where do I send my brilliant essay, short story, or poem?”

The answer, “To the right editor for that piece.”

There is no magic wand needed to get your creative writing published, only a professional attitude toward the publishing industry and endless determination. Show editors that you deserve to be taken seriously as a writer by professionally presenting them your best work. When you submit an edited piece of writing and an interesting query letter to the right editor, you open the door to success.

Who is the right editor and how can you find him? Read on and I’ll show you how to hunt down viable markets for each and every piece of creative writing you produce. By the end of this month you will have a list of five places to send each of your current pieces and have the tools in place to find markets for your future work as well.

PART ONE: WHY IS MARKETING IMPORTANT TO ME AS A WRITER?

Marketing your work is the only way to get published. Period. Editors don’t have time to hunt you down and ask you for your best work; it’s your job to find them. For this reason, you need to allow time in your writing schedule specifically for marketing. Consider your writing time divided up into four parts:

1) PRE-WRITING: This includes journaling, reading, attending writing classes or seminars, and experiencing life-any activity that feeds your creativity before you sit and write a new piece.

2) CREATIVE WRITING: Creating the first draft of a poem, short story, or essay. This is the messy free-flowing part of the writing process.

3) REWRITING: Editing, critiquing, and polishing of that unruly first draft.

4) MARKETING: Manuscript formatting, market hunting, query letter writing, and submitting polished pieces of writing.

Although the majority of my writing time is spent rewriting, I make time for marketing my work each Monday (I like to call it Marketing Monday). Each Marketing Monday I review my unpublished pieces, study potential markets for them, and submit my work to editors. Find a way to make marketing part of your regular writing time.

PART TWO: WHAT IS MY WRITING ABOUT?

Your creative writing reflects your originality through your unique voice and writing style, but for the purpose of marketing your work, you will need to be able to categorize your pieces of writing in general terms.

First, what is it? Is it a poem, an essay, or a short story? Then, what is the subcategory attached to this piece? Is it a narrative poem or haiku? Is it an opinion essay or a mini memoir? Is it a literary short story or a noir mystery? Consider these subcategories when thinking about a specific piece of your writing:

Poetry: Lyric, free verse, humorous, romantic, sonnet, haiku, imagery, rhyming, epic, religious, etc.

Essay: Persuasive, literary, descriptive, humorous, memoir, sentimental, parenting, narrative, religious, confession, etc.

Short Story: Literary, romance, mystery, chick-lit, fantasy, sci-fi, religious, flash-fiction, children’s, young adult, etc.

Also, look at the content of each piece and list the subjects you wrote about. Examples: horses, politics, cooking, marriage, moving, safety, etc. (You are identifying possible niche markets to publish your creative work).

Identifying each piece’s category will allow you to aim your market research in the right direction. Every potential magazine will have a section for writers to read that identifies what kind of material they accept for submissions called the “Writer’s Guidelines.” Compare your category list to the market’s needs to find a match.

PART THREE: WHERE DO I FIND POTENTIAL MARKETS FOR MY WORK?

Publishing opportunities for your creative writing can be found in magazines, anthologies, and newspapers. Next, we’ll discuss all of the wonderful resources available to you to find the markets looking for writers like you.

The most widely used and well known resource for freelance writers is The Writer’s Market. This paperback marketing handbook has over 3,500 listings for book publishers, consumer magazines, trade journals, writing contests, and literary agents as well as query letter information and interviews with successful writers across the country. You can find The Writer’s Market in every bookstore as well as at your local library. At about $30, this book is an indispensable resource.

Libraries and local bookstores also have a magazine section, organized by category. Creative writing opportunities are generally found in the “literary” section, but don’t neglect the other magazines on the rack. There are hundreds of niche magazines looking for freelance writers. Maybe that humorous story about your dog can find a home in Dog Fancy. Perhaps a fitness magazine will be interested in your yoga inspired poem. For other creative writing opportunities, check the last page or two of each magazine. Many periodicals have a back page essay written by freelance writers.

The internet is another wonderful research tool. There are several online resources for finding creative writing markets including:

Writer’s Digest: (www.writersdigest.com) This magazine affiliate of The Writer’s Market has a great “get published” section with market listings.

Duotrope: (www.duotrope.com) This search engine for short story and poetry contains information on every literary magazine in the country.

Writing for Dollars: (www.writingfordollars.com) Check the database for essay and nonfiction markets by category-animal, children’s, travel, etc.

Funds for Writers: (www.fundsforwriters.com) Freelance writer Hope Clark’s freelance writer website. Sign up for her free weekly newsletter and have new markets sent to your email each week.

Poets and Writers Magazine: (www.pw.org) This long established and well-respected writer’s magazine has a wonderful online version. Check the “tools for writers” section and look for “call for submissions.” They list anthology as well as magazine opportunities for short stories, essays, and poems.

Freelance Writing: (www.freelancewriting.com) has a database of markets by category here: http://www.freelancewriting.com/guidelines/pages/.

Writing World: (www.writingworld.com) Writing World has a list of fifteen paying essay markets here: http://www.writing-world.com/creative/fifteen.shtml.

Find another 35 personal essay markets listed by K. Porterfield here: http://www.kporterfield.com/journal/Journal_Markets.html

The Writer’s Life offers a listing of paying markets here: http://thewriterslife.homestead.com/payingmarkets.html

Writing to Heal, Writing to Grow has market listings for personal essays here: http://www.writingtoheal.com/pew/markets.html

Aylad’s Writer’s Group lists paying magazine opportunities here: http://www.publication.com/aylad/paying.htm

Dowse lists paying print magazine markets here: http://www.dowse.com/paying-markets.html

Also, use internet search engines to find markets using keywords such as: writing markets, essays, submission guidelines, anthology call for submissions, freelance writing, dog stories, poetry, etc.

PART FOUR: I FOUND SOME POTENTIAL MAGAZINES, NOW WHAT?

Once you identify the category of writing you are trying to place and find a potential market, you need to see if your work will be a good fit. To do this, you need to study the content of the magazine or find the WRITER GUIDELINES (sometimes referred to as submission guidelines). Think about the category you used to define your specific piece of writing and compare it to what you see in the magazine or read in the Writer Guidelines. Flipping the pages of the potential magazine or newspaper is a good way to see if the writing they publish reflects your style, while the Writer Guidelines will be specific directives from the editor.

For all potential markets, even ones you find in a reliable resource like The Writer’s Market, check the magazine or newspaper’s website for the most current submission information. Editors change frequently and so do the rules they want you to follow.

You can normally find the “writer’s guidelines” link somewhere on the main page of the market’s website. If you don’t see it easily, you need to do some creative investigating. Try pressing the “contacts” link or even the “frequently asked questions” link. If you still aren’t led to the right place, try doing a search for “submission guidelines” or “writer guidelines” in the magazine’s main page search box. If there is no main page search box available, you can use any search engine to try the same thing. Example: Do a Google search using keywords, “The New Yorker magazine submission guidelines.” If you still come up empty handed, it may be because the magazine you are researching does not work with freelance writers and therefore have no guidelines for you to read.

Once you find the WRITER GUIDELINES, read them completely. This is where the magazine editors tells you exactly WHAT they want and HOW to send it to them. This is an example of typical Writer Guidelines (from The Rambler, a print and online magazine):

The best stories are sometimes the most personal ones, and we want to hear yours. In each issue of The Rambler we feature stories from you, our readers, based on a photograph of a moment from “out in the world” we offer for inspiration. Your story might not have anything to do with the chosen image directly (or maybe it does), but we hope the images here trigger a story inside you that needs telling.

Be bold, be honest, don’t hold back. We can withhold your name if you request it, and all types of writing are welcome.


Send submissions to:
yourstories@ramblermagazine.com
or Your Stories, The Rambler,
PO Box 5070,
Chapel Hill, NC 27514-5001.

Note on your submission which photo you are responding to as well as if your piece is nonfiction, fiction, or poetry. We reserve the right to edit submissions and will get your approval for any changes before publishing. We ask that submissions be 1,500 words or less.

Please don’t contact us regarding the status of your submission; we will be in touch if your story is to run. As a thank you, we will send you a copy of the issue featuring your work.

From this information, you know that The Rambler Magazine accepts essays, short stories, and poems and they want those pieces to have a conversational tone. You also know that the word count must be 1,500 or less, and that they accept both email and snail mail submissions.

Do you have something The Rambler may be interested in? Check out the magazine’s website at www.ramblermagazine.com to study their current content. You may see your byline there someday!

PART FIVE: HOMEWORK

Now that you know WHERE to find markets for your work and HOW to know if they are a good fit, it’s time to put this information to work for you.

First, study each of the (up to) four pieces of creative writing you have selected for this coaching session. Define a category and subcategories for each piece.

Next, find two appropriate markets for each piece using the resources listed in this first lesson. Remember to study the WRITER GUIDELINES and, when available to you, study the magazine to decide if this magazine will be an appropriate place to send your creative writing.

Example:

My essay, “Tea for Two”

Categories: about writing, memoir

Potential Markets: Absolute Write (www.absolutewrite.com)

Long Story Short (www.longstoryshort.com)

As you study potential magazines and newspapers, create a personalized resource file by listing any market that sounds interesting to you, even if you don’t have something to send them yet. You might write your list in a computer file, a small notebook, or organize your markets in a binder with tabs. Whatever method you choose, make sure your resource file is easy to access and update during your weekly marketing time.

Send your category and market list assignment to me by e-mail this week. I will review your list of markets and do an additional search of my own, adding three more viable markets to your list.

Enjoy your research time! If you have any questions, send me an email at windy@windylynnharris.com.

COPYRIGHT 2009. WINDY LYNN HARRIS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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In addition to her weekly column in Nights and Weekends Magazine, award winning humor writer Windy Lynn Harris writes short stories and essays that find their way into magazines all across the country. Windy Lynn shares her tools for success in a program she calls Market Coaching for Unpublished Writers, where she teaches writers how to get their poems, short stories, and essays off their desk and into the hands of the right editors. See her website for full details:  http://www.windylynnharris.com/for_writers.html.

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