Welcome to Pen & Prosper

Welcome to Pen & Prosper
"Required reading" for today's smart writer. As featured on: Pro Blogger, Men With Pens, Daily Blog Tips, Write to Done, Technorati, WOW! and other popular sites.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Don't Query, Be Happy! A Post & a Preview of my Upcoming Class...


STRATEGIES AND INSIDER’S TIPS

Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned professional, what you will find as you embark upon a writing career, is there are many different schools of thought, techniques, and tools by which to achieve success. No two experiences are totally alike.

Therefore, the information that I am providing you is not to be regarded as “gospel”, but rather as a guideline to hone your craft and increase your cash!
It’s based upon my experience as a veteran freelance writer, columnist and former senior editor of a regional, lifestyle publication.

These same strategies and insider’s tips have been the basis for building my writing portfolio--- which to date consists of over 600 articles, columns, short stories, essays and poems collectively. All accomplished without a single query.
Not even one.;-)Nada.

In fact, many are surprised to discover that I’ve never been “formally” trained in writing, and my college degrees are actually in business management.

The secrets to my success?
Diligent self-study.
Additionally, I'm a self-proclaimed efficiency expert. I have had to juggle more balls than clowns at a kid's party! And my business background has helped immensely.

From a “strategic perspective,” I’m convinced that queries do not allow the average writer to work smarter, not harder.
Consider this.
By the time YOU craft the “perfect” query, submit it to an editor, wait for feedback, take his or her suggestions upon advisement and submit the final piece, I’ve written several pieces, submitted them, gotten paid, and more than likely am working on selling reprint rights, or slanting them for other publications.

Are you with me here? :-)

Time is a commodity. And much like money, how you spend it will determine the quality and longevity of your career.

With this in mind, I share with you the following tips, principles and strategies to save you time, effort and mental wear and tear.

What Jen recommends…

1. UNDERSTAND THE FUNCTION OF A QUERY
A query is simply a letter that serves as a pitch and an introduction to an editor or publisher to get permission to submit your work for publication. It’s that simple. As such, no matter how cleverly you craft them, if the idea is not a good one, or has been recently covered, or your style does not meet his/her editorial needs and preferences, you won’t get published. Bottom line.

2. INSTEAD OF PERFECTING YOUR QUERY, PERFECT YOUR CRAFT
Read. Study the works of writers in your chosen genre. Dabble and diversify. Work on your grammar and spelling.
Talk to other writers and share ideas. Follow industry happenings. Participate in contests. Find a mentor. Any effort is a step forward.

3. RECOGNIZE THAT IT’S OKAY TO FORSAKE RULES...NOT PROTOCOL
In other words, it’s okay to start a sentence with the word “but” and to use a fragment here and there if it helps your flow. But if a publication states that it does not accept submissions without queries, then don’t send one.

4. KNOW THAT SUBSTANCE IS JUST IMPORTANT AS “WRITING TIGHT”
Many writers, in an effort to impress editors with lean writing, cut and dissect their work until it has the same “flavor” and appeal as fat-free food. Don’t be one of them. Make sure that the reader has some take-away value and a sense of satisfaction and closure from your work. Never take short cuts on quality.

5. BE REAL ABOUT YOUR STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
Like a compass, it will help to navigate and guide your career path and increase your efficiency.

6. KNOW THAT SUCCESS IN WRITING IS JUST AS MUCH ABOUT STRATEGY AS IT IS ABILITY
Think outside the box. Think on your feet. Think like a business person. Identify your competition. And make sure that your strategy includes goals and a game plan. This field is very competitive and requires much more than a command of English and a few creative ideas for survival.

Thoughts? Agree or disagree?

SPECIAL NOTE: Jen will be taking a back to school break from September 3rd-September 10th. Feel free to leave comments in the interim to keep in touch. :-)

Image:Freedigitalphotos.net






7 comments:

  1. I have applied your advice for years, and you have never been wrong. Success is due to your diligence. Kudos to you.

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  2. Jennifer Brown BanksSeptember 3, 2012 at 7:01 AM

    Linda,

    ...And you should know, with your great publishing record with the Chicken Soup Series. :-) Never wrong? Ha! I've had a few "detours" on the path to success, but not many. Not many. Thanks, hon. I always love hearing from folks like you. It makes this writer's role worth it. :-)

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  3. Just as you wrote about, there are different schools of thought, and especially from a Business Perspective to write simple and effective query letters does look like a potentially very interesting tool, with even an opportunity to possibly position yourself as the 'Go to Guy or - Gall' in such a way that it might also 'pave the way' to also already build on possible future assignments at the same time.

    On the other hand building an actual writing portfolio and perfecting your craft etc. etc. also makes sense..., so I need to think about this one. It probably will also depend on skill level and experience.




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  4. Hi H.P.,

    Thanks for your input today. I appreciate your thoughtful input.

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  5. Querying is not my favorite aspect of the writer's life, but these great tips will up our success rate. Thanks for your insight!

    Have a great break! :)

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  6. Karen,

    We have that in common too?! :-) Keep plugging away at it. You're on the "write" path!

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  7. Jennifer Brown BanksSeptember 6, 2012 at 1:26 PM

    testing, 123...

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