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Posts Tagged ‘publication’

Written by:
Wendi Friend

Now that you’ve written, polished and perfected your piece, you’d like to get it published. This is where one must answer the basic questions of how to submit, where to submit, to whom you’re submitting and when to submit.

There are basic steps to take before attempting to get your work published. First, and perhaps the most arduous task, is research. “But I’ve already researched the material in my story,” you might say; but the kind of research referred to herein is that of the market.

It is imperative to know which publishing companies handle which kinds of material. For example, if you’ve written a story about a fictional character, it would be a waste of time to submit your work to publishers dealing only with non-fiction material. Certain publishers only accept manuscripts on specific topics or with certain cultural backgrounds. I once submitted a picture book text with the theme of imagination; then, I learned that the publisher I submitted to would only accept stories about bi-racial heritage for young readers. I missed my mark not once, but twice with that submission. So, the first step is to find out which publishers are currently accepting the type of material you write. To begin researching publishers, I would strongly recommend that you purchase the most recent issue of Writer’s Market. This book contains a variety of publishers along with summarized guidelines such as “This publisher does not accept unsolicited manuscripts,” or “This publisher does not want poetry”.

Once you have established a list of publishers who may be appropriate for your type of writing, it’s important to find out what books that publisher has recently published and which ones are on their release list for upcoming dates. Publishers like to keep their topics fresh and unique. I once submitted a poem for children to a magazine for children on the topic of respect for the earth. The publisher wrote me back personally saying that she’d have loved to print my story, but that they had recently published a piece on the same subject matter; although different style. Regardless of the quality of your work, it may be rejected simply due to bad timing. To avoid wasting time, energy and postage, familiarize yourself with the “book lists” of publishers you’re considering submitting to.

Before actually submitting your stories to these publishers, take the time to request and review the available publisher’s guidelines. Certain publishers have specific formats for their submissions; and if yours doesn’t fit that format, it will be returned without consideration. For example, one publisher may request a synopsis (short summary) and three sample chapters of your work. Publishers may have specific word limits to abide by. If your manuscript is received in full, or is 1,000 words over the required limit, it becomes clear to the publisher that you did not investigate the needs of the publisher prior to your submission. Most likely your manuscript will be returned.

With a specified list of well-researched publishers, you are now ready to begin the process of submitting your work. The first step in doing this is sending a query. A query is a brief letter asking permission to send your material. Many publishers will return manuscripts unopened if permission to send the work has not been granted. In your query, remain as simple and professional as you can. State only you’re writing experience, writing goals or other experience that relates to your work. For example, if you’ve written an article regarding gardening based on fifteen years experience in a green house, this is information you’d want to include. You do not want to present yourself as inexperienced or “hopeful” in your query. Include a brief summary of what you’ve written, and include a self addressed stamped envelope (SASE). Without a return envelope, you may not receive a reply. If you’re submitting through traditional mail, it’s suggested that you use plain white 25lb. bond paper and plain white envelopes. Fancy frills or pretty stationary is usually a red flag to publishers, and they are likely to bypass your envelope for the one who followed format.

If the query is replied to with a request for a manuscript, include this information in your cover letter, and mark “requested” on the outside of your envelope below the return address. As with any article, when submitting a manuscript, use plain white paper and a folder large enough that you do not need to bend or fold your material. It is often suggested that you do not clip or staple pages together, but have them each numbered and labeled with your full name and the title of the piece. Include a SASE with enough postage for return should the publisher wish to return the manuscript to you. Keep a well organized record of who you submit to and when.

Once you’ve made it this far in your endeavors, the only things left are to wait, and expect rejection. Rejection for previously unpublished writers is inevitable. My first year of submitting, I had received more than two hundred rejection letters before receiving the first acceptance. Dr. Seuss received so many rejections that he ended up self-publishing his books – so there’s proof that rejection does not necessarily reflect on the quality of the writer or his words. Expect to be rejected and keep going.

Trying to get your words into print is far from being an easy or quick task. You must know in your heart that this is what you want and you must stop at nothing to get there. Spend time in libraries, book stores and read books designed to assist you on your journey.

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Written by:
Wendi Friend
10-14-04

Forgive what I’m about to say, but writers, particularly those who are on the up-climb in their career, can be some of the most arrogant, selfish, and self-centered people to be encountered. This does not apply to each and every person who writes, – but far and wide there’s a frustrating sense of “all about me” syndrome sweeping the field of writing. This is not to say that writers are bad people, or that they don’t deserve credit and reward for their hard work. But escalating success does not warrant a bad attitude or lack of appreciation for those who supported them along the way. The sad part is that most of the time, these people don’t even realize how they’re coming across to others! In fact, the energy they’re exerting is anything but arrogance in most cases, but rather an over-abundance of self promoting, which is a must if one is to get their work noticed! Writers get so caught up in self promotion that they forget to pay attention to anything besides their own portfolio! One thing to keep in mind is the transition from aspiring writer to self-focused professional is not an instant transition. Instead, it’s a slow progression based on what aspiring writers are taught!

New writers, for the most part, care about getting published, yes. More importantly, they’re consumed with what’s being written. There’s a unique, unbridled passion that takes place in which the writer forgets about his or herself, delving completely into the world of the storyline they’re creating. When writing begins, it doesn’t begin with an overwhelming need to see a byline. In fact, many writers will attest that they began writing in early childhood, as a need – a need as important as breath! Writing is a way for them to escape a reality in which they have no control, and create other dimensions in which peace is found internally. The writing, in and of itself, is the dream. As we age, completing a major writing project becomes the goal. However, once the masterpiece has been created, the writer steps into another world– the desire to have their work read by others! Somewhere between the phases of passionate writer to published author, something changes inside; but why?

I blame the internet, personally. Prior to the World Wide Web, writers didn’t often communicate with each other, unless attending specific functions designed for writers to meet and greet each other such as workshops, book signings, promotional events, and the like. But with instant access to thousands of on and offline publications, the number of writers dramatically increased, making the field that much more difficult to enter. The submission process became, in large part, electronic, saving writers both time, and materials such as envelopes and postage. On the same token, writers learned that there’s an easy way to avoid rejection, getting their work into print virtually immediately. I’m talking about self or co-op publishing. While self publishing has existed for many years, it was not nearly as popular as it has become with online advertising. Now, anybody can be an instant author, if they can afford it. One can even choose to use a source as inappropriate as CafePress.com to create and sell their own print on demand books in the event they can’t afford to self publish in mass quantity.

But the real problem with writers converting to self-consumed publicists is writing groups and communities. There are thousands upon thousands of online communities, websites, and resources for writers to engage with other writers. Amidst these groups, advice surfaces by the sewer-full from writers of every caliber. Of the advice given, the most popular is: promote, promote, promote! Even big house publishers don’t offer much in the way of promotion, so a writer’s success depends solely on how much effort they are willing to put in themselves! Thus begins the metamorphoses causing people to lose themselves (and often times, friends and respect) to their own desire to succeed.

We start by joining as many writing groups as we possibly can – because networking with other writers seems to be the best way to build a “following”. We join a group and introduce ourselves by kindly commenting on the work of others, befriending many. We do this until in turn, writers (often out of obligation or their own self promotion) return the service. The more responses to an article or poem a writer receives – the more replies the writer hungers. As people discover there’s talent in the work, and more responses come, the writer slowly regresses in the amount of reading and responding they do to the work of others. Before long, the writer is no longer showing support to anyone at all, but greedily seeking out more favor for their own work. The writer builds their own website, creates their own message boards, develops their own self-promoting newsletters, and thus the transformation becomes complete.

For a while, while the fan base is new, the support is plenty and encouraging. But eventually, those visiting the writer’s site, subscribing to their newsletter, and commenting on their work, get sick and tired of hearing all about that one writer and their endeavors. In some cases, just watching the writer self promote can be exhausting! What’s worse is that by this time, the writer no longer takes the time to show support to anyone else. They become far too busy to visit anyone’s website but their own, or subscribe to anyone’s newsletter but their own, or join any group outside of the ones they’ve created!

Writers aren’t bad people. In most cases, writers who advance far enough to warrant such self promotion do produce high quality material worthy of being read. Unfortunately, by the time the writer’s next work is released, people are sick and tired of the name and the self love. People begin to realize that a writer is not returning the support, and the support stops. Sadly, the writer may never see the damage in their own actions.

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