"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 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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  1. You rock! I can't get enough of your blog!

  2. These are great tips, Jennifer. I especially like number 3, for I really dislike queries. Just the whole concept sends me into uncreative spasms. (Sort of like my dislike for outlines when I was in high school.:)

    Thanks for sharing these. Have a great weekend!

  3. I think, getting your pitch accepted is more in the style and attitude than the actual substance of it! So, when you've got both - why fear? You have a good copy writing style, Jennifer.

  4. Jennifer Brown BanksSeptember 23, 2011 at 2:57 PM


    ...Just so happens I think you 'da bomb too! :-)

    Thanks much!

  5. Jennifer Brown BanksSeptember 23, 2011 at 3:00 PM


    Seems you and I are on the "same page" as far as queries. lol

    Thanks for sharing your perspective and making the time.

  6. Jennifer Brown BanksSeptember 23, 2011 at 3:02 PM


    Thanks for your
    thoughts, and the compliment. :-)

  7. I'm missing something Jennifer... are you sending completed articles over the transom? Phoning editors? Maybe I need another cup of coffee and a re-read.

  8. Jennifer Brown BanksSeptember 27, 2011 at 9:34 AM

    Hi Anne,

    Yep. I'm sending completed articles and an impressive bio. :-) Thanks for the question and the visit. B/T/W I never call. It's usually not required in this day and age of social media.

  9. Great tips now if i could ever become creative i could apply some of these tips,lol. Well done. Richard from Amish Stories.

  10. Hi Richard, welcome! Nonsense...I bet you're more creative than you confess. :-)

    I appreciate hearing from you today. Thanks!

  11. I've stopped being so dramatic with query letters and just pitch the basic ideas. I used to be intimidated, but like you said,it's just a letter of intro and story idea.

  12. 'I was just Browsing through some of the other posts here on your blog and just discovered this post....,'

    I really like the idea of a - Letter of Introduction - I do think that it can be an interesting Networking- & Marketing Tool, that can help to Position yourself as a 'Go to Person'. Just as for example on a Blog an About Page can give an impression of possible skills somebody has, or might have.

    Also from a Networking perspective, because even when an Editor contacts you only because he or she thinks that you might know somebody that can help, you never know if such contacts could also possibly offer you some new leads.

    (So because of that I do believe that it also might be an interesting idea for such a Letter of Introduction to also clearly mention that you have a Network of possible valuable people for them.)