Archive for May 11th, 2007

Ask Wendy Your Writing and Publishing Questions

wendywotr.gifBy Author/Editor Wendy Burt

Q: I’ve heard a lot about marketing plans. What do you put in the marketing plan section of your book proposal?

A: There’s so much that goes into this one section of a book proposal that I couldn’t mention it all here. I will suggest that you start by reading Michael Larsen’s book, How to Write a Book Proposal.

You can also find fabulous information on his Web site, As a general rule, you’ll list (in descending order of importance) what you plan to do to promote your book for the first one to three months after its launch. It might be “Author commits to contact 10 local radio stations and 300 national radio stations,” or “Author will create a media package and send to 30 national magazines.”

You’ll want to look for ways to promote your Web site, get speaking engagements, set up book signings, teach classes so you can sell books, and write articles/columns that will promote your book.

DO NOT expect your agent or publisher to do all the marketing. In fact, nowadays, you’re better off expecting that they won’t do ANYTHING to promote your book when it comes out. The big-budget national book tours are usually reserved for big-name authors, so expect to spend your own money.

Q: Can you really win money entering writing contests? If so, how do I know which contests are legit and where do I find them?

Although there are a lot of scams out there, you can win money – and other prizes – in legit writing contests. From poetry and short stories to personal essays and screenplays, there are plenty of contests to fit your interest, mood and budget.

First, the scams. Here are some of the most common:

  • HUGE entry fees for very little prize money. While I expect most contests to charge fees to cover their costs (some pay semi-famous writers/authors/editors to be judges) or to raise money (some nonprofits do this), be wary of ones that charge, say, $15 to enter, when first prize is only $50.
  • A promise that “winners” will be published in an anthology, when in reality, EVERYONE’s piece, no matter how horrible, will be published. The catch is that entrants are then pressured to buy the (expensive) anthology. Many newbies are so eager to get published that they buy one, thinking it’s a real honor to be included. These are generally called “vanity anthologies” and will mean nothing on your resume.
  • Some contests calling for book manuscripts list the top prizes as agent representation. In the fake contests, most or all of the entrants may be offered this bogus representation – all for a hefty fee.
  • The worst I’ve seen so far? The fine print of two contests that said, “All entries become the property of our company.” Seriously?

Although I can’t guarantee the legitimacy of every contest, here are a few Web sites where you can generally find some good ones:

Articles, books, greeting cards, oh my! Wendy Burt is a successful full-time freelance writer and editor who has more than doubled her income since leaving her job as a newspaper editor just three years ago. With two women’s humor books for McGraw-Hill and more than 1,000 published pieces, Wendy’s typical day might including writing ad copy, greeting cards, health articles, personal profiles or her marketing column for Her Business magazine. Her work has appeared in such varied publications as Family Circle, The Writer,,, Home Cooking Magazine and American Fitness. Wendy teaches “Breaking Into Freelance Writing” and still finds ample time to spend with her beautiful baby, Gracie. Visit to see books by Wendy and her award-winning dad. More info at

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