Thursday, September 22, 2011
Ditch the Pitch! 5 Ways to Sell Your Work Without Working Your Tail Off...
Forget what you’ve been told. It is entirely possible to break into the publishing world without perfecting the “sacred” query letter. And I should know. As a professional writer with hundreds of credits under my Bic Pen, I can attest that it’s just a matter of working smarter, not harder.
But before I share the secrets of how, allow me to establish the mindset of why…
Unlike many scribes, I didn’t discover that writing was my purpose until I had worn many other professional “hats.” I was a late bloomer.
Not to mention, when I did decide to seriously pursue it, life and its hectic pace had already settled in. I was working full time, managing the obligations of a home and juggling other commitments. Long story short, I had to learn how to make up for lost time, and how to use my limited hours wisely.
And you should too. There’s great truth to the adage, “time is money.”
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 articles, submitted them, gotten paid, and more than likely am working on selling reprint rights, or slanting them for other online or print publications. Hello?
There's a better way.
With this in mind, here are a few tips to make more money in less time, with less effort.
1. Know the nature 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. No matter how cleverly you craft them, if the idea is not a good one, has been recently covered, or you get your facts wrong, you won’t get published.
2. Be strategic---Don’t slant your work so narrowly, that if the publication that you initially intended to submit it doesn’t accept it, you’ve spinned your wheels for nothing.
Instead, craft well-written, clever, topical pieces that can be placed in multiple markets.
3. Don’t concentrate on perfecting your query, perfect your skills. Learn research techniques. Read. Study the works of writers in your chosen genre. Dabble and diversify. Work on your grammar and spelling. Stay abreast of industry trends. Find a mentor. Any effort is a step forward.
4. Increase the odds of success by checking the archives and perusing past issues of your targeted publication. Has anything similar been done in the past 6 months or less? Does your tone and focus fit? Have you read and understood the writer’s guidelines carefully? These are important things to assess.
5. Consider crafting a (L.O.I.)---Letters of Introduction are often used as an alternative to query letters. As the name implies, this letter merely is a way to make initial contact with an editor, express your interest in writing for his publication, and briefly state your related experience and credentials. It’s intended to pitch you as opposed to a query letter which pitches an idea. It’s shorter and sweeter. I should also mention that I have even had the good fortune of breaking into publications by crafting a short, professional email to editors with whom I have wanted to work. To quote some famous words, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.”
Of course I would be remiss if I didn't mention that some of the big "glossies" will not consider your work without a query. But, you can cross that bridge when you get there.
Also keep in mind that conversely, there are a number of online and print publications that do not make queries mandatory. A few examples are Writing for Dollars, Funds for Writers, and Writing World.com.
Follow these five timely tips to earn more money and to have more time to spend it.
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