"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Thursday, September 27, 2012

How to Succeed in Selling Your Words

Guest post by: Anjali Amit
I will write you your tale
Good sir, without fail
If you would but put money in my pail.

That’s an old, old ditty but the sentiment it expresses is still current. We all write tales, others and our own, hoping to make enough to put bread on the table. I started down the word-strewn road rather late in life. Although I have not reached the dreamed for six-figure income level I’d like to share the steps that garnered me my first guest blog post.

1. Go where your passion leads you.
Think about it, it is the same advice given to incoming college students: choose a major that interests you. A deep and abiding interest can turn any knowledge into a paying opportunity. It is hard to write well on a topic you are indifferent about.

2. Contrary as it may seem, once you have chosen your topic read other (but related) subjects.
The advantages of such reading are many:
a. You get a broader perspective. Say you want to pitch an article on the latest aircraft to an aviation magazine. You read all about that particular plane. Now if you read about the physics of flight you will be able to give a much more detailed analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the plane.
b. You will get fresh ideas. To continue the example, after understanding the physics you may decide to write a second article on the Coriolis Effect.
c. You will know all the angles that have been dealt with and so will not end up
writing an article, even unconsciously, that has already been written.
d. It will help you decide where you want to pitch your article: blog, magazine , newspaper, or scholarly journal.

3. After the choice of topic start the market research.
Now you are sure what you want to write about and will not be swayed by the latest market demand. It is good to be aware of the market, but obsessing on the latest, greatest trends only weakens your writing.

4. Craft your best essay.
Then put it aside for a day. Soups and essays are tastier the following day. Reread it. Make the edits you think are essential, and send it on its way.

Some market links:

Funds for Writers http://www.fundsforwriters.com/ provides the most carefully curated links.
FirstWriter http://www.firstwriter.com/ has categorized its links so you can hone in to the particular market you are looking for.
Media Bistro http://www.mediabistro.com/ is a veritable gold mine of information, with detailed market analysis and advice.
ProBlogger http://jobs.problogger.net/ lists blogging and other writing opportunities.
Poets &Writers lists Literary magazines and poetry markets.

This is just a very tiny sample of what is available on the internet. Do exercise caution. Not all postings are for honest and fair opportunities. And as Hope Clark says, do not undervalue and underprice your writing.


Image: SPFF


  1. I think the advice to read related information is helpful. I can see how it would add depth/layers or a unique angle to an article others might not think of. Thanks for the resource links too, some of these I hadn't heard of.

    1. Sarah,

      Some time back I researched information on The Silk Road. The article I ended up writing, after all that study of the trade route, was about the 'ship of the desert'. The more we read the more prepared our mind is.

      Thanks for reading and commenting. Love your post on public speaking.

  2. Jennifer Brown BanksSeptember 27, 2012 at 7:11 PM


    Glad you found this piece useful. Thanks for starting the "chat" off. :-)

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  4. Yes, I also think that it's good to also read about related info, because - besides getting possible ideas for original angles on articles - you might want to write,

    Along the way you also might be getting all kinds of ideas that you can collect into a File Folder for future reference.

    For example for writing things like Fillers or Readers Letters as wrote about sometime ago in a post titled:
    4 Engaging Ways for Writing Fillers

    1. Jennifer Brown BanksSeptember 28, 2012 at 8:45 PM


      Very interesting ideas here. Thanks for the
      feedback. :-)

    2. HP,

      You are so right about garnering ideas along the way. I love your suggestion about creating a folder of ideas for future reference.
      Thanks for reading.

    3. Jennifer Brown BanksSeptember 30, 2012 at 1:02 PM

      I love your word play on "Auth-entic" and "Author-ship". Thanks for sharing.

  5. I think that the advice to start your market research after settling on a topic is interesting. I can see both sides of the argument. I've written a couple picture books that were straight off rejected because they were too similar to what was already in the market. Even if the only similarity was the topic. On the other hand, trying to write what others seem to think is popular right now has gotten me nowhere. It's when I write something wacky and very me that I seem to be successful. Hmmm...
    I also appreciate the reference to reading connected books/articles once you start writing. Sometimes, "random" leads from such reading benifit my writing greatly. Often they help flesh out characters, time periods, answer holes in the first draft, etc.

    1. Jennifer Brown BanksSeptember 28, 2012 at 9:13 PM

      Welcome back, Rebecca.

      Success can indeed be unpredictable and "wacky" in writing. Good to hear from you today.

    2. Although in May 1, 2011 (on my Home Business) Blog, I actually wrote a post about being Auth-entic as an Auth-or, and about how Authenticity Sells.

      Only since I sometimes have my doubts about it being so, and about sometimes possibly being to 'Wacky', it's great to hear about some real live successful experiences.

    3. Rebecca,

      So true. You have to be true to your voice and not worry about the latest greatest market trend. Don't they say that by the time something is trending it is already on its way out?

      Thanks for commenting.

    4. Jennifer Brown BanksSeptember 30, 2012 at 1:05 PM


      You're spot on here. "To thine ownself be true." :-)

  6. Good advice! Love the illustration of soups and essays being better the next day. So too, is pasta or macaroni salad. :) Thanks so much for the encouragement and the links.

    Happy weekend!

    1. Jennifer Brown BanksSeptember 28, 2012 at 9:27 PM


      Loved the reference to soups and essays too! Happy weekend to you too. :-)

    2. Karen,

      Thanks. I like the idea of setting aside pasta and macaroni salad too, to improve the flavor Guess that is true of everything: leave it aside to let the flavor steep and stew.

      Thanks for reading and your comment.

  7. Succinct and to the point. And I love all the market links. Quite valuable. Thanks, Anjali and Jen!

    1. Susan,

      Thanks for your kind words. I love all the wonderful stories you have on your blog.

  8. Susan,

    Thanks so much. We appreciate hearing from you on this. :-)

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