Archive for July 15th, 2007

Back to School Supplies for the Parent Writer

sharonwotrhead.gifThe Parent-Writer: Strategies for Success
By Sharon Miller Cindrich

School supplies. There’s a reason that schools hand out a list of essential supplies well before the school year starts, instead of requiring a protractor by February, a highlighter mid-March and a new sharpened pencil on the first of each month. Armed with every tool they need for the year zipped neatly into their required pencil case, kids can maximize their productivity week by week, instead of wasting an entire day scrounging for a glue stick or writing implement. Like I do.

Once I drop my kids at the school door loaded down with enough number 2 pencils to build a fire tower, I often find myself scrambling for a sharp writing utensil at my own desk, sometimes settling for half a periwinkle crayon.

No more, I say! This year, as you prepare your kids for school, take some tips from their supply lists and pick up a few of these extra supplies to maximize your writing productivity week after week.

Pencil sharpeners. We seem to have pencils coming out of our ears at home, but not one has a sharpened tip. Grab a few of those primitive, manual pencil sharpeners and hide them in your desk drawer, your kitchen junk spot and tuck one in your purse.

Spiral notebooks. Paper is another hot commodity in our home––and I’ve recorded many an interview on the back of an electric bill’s envelope. Pick up a few extra spiral notebooks for your office and keep one in the car to jot down sudden inspirations.

Highlighters. Whether you’re editing, researching or trying to stay organized, these can do wonders. Grab a variety of colors.

Scissors.
For snipping your published clips out of a magazine or cutting out inspirational sayings to decorate your workstation, a few pair of kiddy-scissors make the cut on my list of must-haves.

With the right tools on hand, the right words can be liberated to appear when you need them most! Have fun stocking your tool kit.

E-Parenting, Keeping Up with Your Tech-Savvy Kids by Sharon CindrichSharon Miller Cindrich is a freelance writer whose work has been published nationally in magazines and newspapers around the country including The Chicago Tribune, Parents Magazine, and The Writer. She is a Contributing Editor at FamilyFun Magazine and writes a bimonthly humor column for West Suburban Living Magazine in the Chicago Suburbs. She is a regular contributor to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Lifestyle section and Metroparent Magazine. Her book E-Parenting: Keeping Up with Your Tech-Savvy Kids is now out from Random House. Read more about Sharon at http://www.pluggedinparent.com/.

An Interview with Julie Bennett of Ten Speed Press

Julie Bennett, Ten Speed PressIn the Spotlight: Agent & Editor Insights for Getting Published

By Cindy Hudson

Julie Bennett has been acquiring titles for Ten Speed Press out of Berkeley, California for eight years. One of the largest independent publishers in the U.S., Ten Speed Press publishes about 150 titles a year through all its imprints, which include Celestial Arts and Crossing Press, as well as Tricyle Press, its children’s imprint.

Bennett’s advice to authors hoping to successfully pitch a book proposal to a publishing house can be summed up in one sentence: Put in plenty of preparation time. Here she elaborates about what she looks for when reading a proposal and what writers can do to increase their chances of catching the eye of an acquisitions editor.

What can writers do before sending in a book proposal that will increase their chances of having it read?

One of the more important things is to research a publishing house and its imprints and send in what they want to see. If you look at one of our catalogs or browse our Web site you start to get a sense for the kinds of books we publish. If your book fits, great! Send it in! If it feels far off it’s probably going to get rejected quickly and there’s probably a different house that would be more appropriate. Try to familiarize yourself with the publishing house and submit accordingly.

How does reading a proposal help you decide to take on a project?

Writing a book and promoting it takes a lot of work. You may have a good idea, but you have to be willing to talk about that idea, think about that idea, write about it and come up with ways to promote it for a couple of years. It’s a huge part of your life, and I want to see that people have dedicated time and effort and resources to that idea before they decide to write a book about it.

What do you like to see in a proposal?

I want to have an overview that tells me, “This is my idea, this is how it fits into the marketplace and here’s my outline for the book.” But I also need to see that outline annotated with chapter summaries and at least one sample chapter. The other part of the proposal includes the marketing platform and the competition. What other books like this are out there and how is yours different? Who are you, what do you have to offer, what are your ideas for sales and marketing, how can you help promote the book?

What catches your interest?

I get excited when I read the basic concept for a book and think, “That’s a great idea. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before.” As I continue reading it’s a combination of how it’s executed, if the writing makes sense, if it’s well supported and if the author has a platform.

What role does platform play when you’re looking at projects?

It’s hugely important, especially for non-fiction. We’re looking for authors who are well known in their field, and who are going to help us reach their audience. But Ten Speed is a smaller house so we’re not necessarily looking for a national platform. It depends on the book. The author could have a really strong regional platform or a strong academic background or something else that will be interesting enough based on the topic of the book for the media to be excited about.

What questions do you ask yourself as you consider a project?

I think about sales and how we could position the project. Would I buy it? Are there people I know who would buy this book? Is there a fit for it on our list? Are there other books on our list that are similar that we’ve been successful marketing and selling so we have good contacts into whatever those markets are? Is the proposal clear? Are we really going to be learning something? Does the author have a good platform?

Is there anything specific you’re looking for now?

Because we’re a particular kind of publisher, we publish lifestyle non-fiction, so we’re always looking for the same thing. For Ten Speed it’s very practical, kind of quirky, how-to books. Most of the books we take on teach people how to do something, make a recipe or find a new spiritual path, get into college or find a new job. Because I’m also working with Celestial Arts and Crossing Press, I’m looking for inspirational, spirituality, health, nutrition, and parenting books as well. Celestial Arts publishes books on things like alternative medicine, natural pregnancy or organic approaches to feeding your kids. Crossing Press is really edgy, and that’s where you’d find things like energy healing, charkas or vibrational healing; things that are a little bit less mainstream.

We’re also dipping our toe in the craft-publishing world, and that’s been really fun. We’re looking for somebody who is doing something different with traditional craft.

Cindy Hudson

Cindy Hudson writes for national trade magazines, regional magazines, online publications and daily newspapers. Her Web site, www.motherdaughterbookclub.com, and its companion blog, www.motherdaughterbookclub.wordpress.com, publishes reading lists, book reviews, author interviews and other book club resources. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Portland, Oregon, where she writes weekly for The Oregonian. Visit her online at www.cindyhudson.com.


Boost Your Earnings and Expert Status with Teleconferencing

gregorywotr_002.gifWriter-preneur: Building Your Writing Career Using Technology
By Gregory A. Kompes

Teleconferencing, also known as phone conferencing, is when two or more people share a phone line so that everyone can speak to each other. This method of communication is a valuable tool for allowing people to share their knowledge, experience, and expertise with others. For example, Q&A sessions–– where a call moderator or listeners ask an expert questions––are frequently used in teleconferences..

Teleconferences help build expert status. You can also use them to increase your earnings. Following are a few examples and ideas about how to get started using teleconferencing to your advantage.

The SpeakerNet News (www.speakernetnews.com) teleconference series is one example of teleconferencing success. Every few months this organization holds a teleconference with an expert. They charge a fee for people to listen in on the call and they also record the conference and make the call available for sale after the event. SpeakerNet News has been conducting teleconferences for years and has built up a library of expert interviews that can be purchased at any time.

Ready to lead your first teleconference? There are dozens of companies that offer free teleconference lines. Two of my favorites are FreeConferenceCall.com and BizConf.com. These companies don’t charge any fees beyond normal long distance charges for their services. To create a free account, visit their Web site and sign up. With your account, you’ll be given a dedicated phone number and two sets of call-in instructions, one for the moderator line and one for the participant line. Both of these companies allow you to record your teleconference and download the saved call electronically. This lets you begin building a library of calls and making them available via podcast and MP3 downloads from your Web site (The topic of an upcoming WOTR Writer-preneur column.).

Next, find an expert to interview on a topic related to your niche and develop a set of questions to ask them. As with many interviews, it’s a good idea to give the questions to your expert in advance. This is especially important for a teleconference because you want the expert you’re interviewing to be as prepared as possible so they sound like the expert they are. If your call-in audience is only a few callers, you may be able to open up the call to a Q&A session. With more participants, a better plan is to have registered call listeners e-mail their questions for the expert in advance so you can include them in your list.

To set up your call, select a date and time and market the teleconference event. If you’ve chosen one of the companies mentioned earlier, you’ll have a dedicated phone line, so there’s no scheduling with the teleconference company. When people sign up to participate, just give them the participant phone number and password. Finally, hold the event and record the call.

One of the keys to freelance success is building a series of multiple income streams. Teleconferencing is an excellent way to supplement your bottom line by providing a series of quality products for people in your niche market.

Gregory A. Kompes (www.Kompes.com) is a writer, speaker, mentor and coach. He is the author of the #1 bestseller 50 Fabulous Gay-Friendly Places to Live, The Endorsement Quest, Turning Your Writing Hobby into a Writing Career, and The Everyday Gay Activist. Gregory is the editor of The Fabulist Flash, an informative newsletter for writers, founder of LAMOO Books, and Coordinator of the Las Vegas Writer’s Conference. The author holds a BA in English Literature from Columbia University, NY, and is currently a MS in Education candidate at California State University, Eastbay.

Keeping Track of Your Writing Success

hope_000.gifTime Management Mastery for Writers
By C. Hope Clark

Don’t scoff. While you might not have hundreds or even dozens of bylines, one day you will. How do you intend to keep track of those publishing credits and recall them for interested parties? Right now you can remember your writing successes, maybe count them on two hands. But downstream, you will be published online, in print and maybe even in book form. That’s why you need a series of bios––each fitting a specific need.

The E-mail Bio – Some call it a signature block, but this little jewel is worth a mint. It needs to clearly state who you are and what you’re known for. Make sure a Web site address is included. Make it too long, and you give the impression of a novice or someone reaching to look impressive. Keep it simple––no more than four to five lines. But remember that many people read it, and it gets forwarded to the world––even in the jokes you send your sister.

The Short Bio – This bite-size resume fits in a query letter and consists of a simple paragraph. Include your Web site, your best credits and awards, and the information that’s most relevant to your career. It may start out as a three- or four-sentence paragraph and grow to a bit more, but keep this baby updated. It’ll come in handy when you’re interviewed, attend an online chat or submit a query to a magazine editor. Create several if you write in different genres or arenas. Have one about your parenting writing, your fiction, your poetry or your business articles. An editor only wants information about what pertains to her, so having a few of these is a bright idea. Also, your biggest publishing credits will change as time goes on, and you want to present your best side. Keep your short bios current; you will use them often.

The Resume – This one-page document tells a prospective reviewer, editor or employer your employment history, publishing credits, education, awards and references. It can be included in a press release package for a reviewer, an application for employment or in a packaged pitch to speak. Keep it updated with your brightest work accomplishments.

The Whole Ball of Wax – The difference between this history bio? and the three above is that this one maintains just about everything you’ve ever done. Mine is online, and I’ve had editors peruse it without my asking. It’s ever ready and constantly maintained. When I have a new credit, I pop it in there so I don’t forget. I will delete old, freebie pieces, especially those on Web sites that no longer exist, as my paid pieces increase, but this bio covers me head to toe, educating anyone interested. I earned a $750 gig once by an editor Googling my name and reading this resume. It must include your mailing address, e-mail address and phone number.

The Database – If you wish to know everything you’ve ever published, keep a simple chronological database or spreadsheet. A database will allow you to recall sorted information in case you wanted all business articles or pet articles or all paid articles in magazines.

A writing career grows faster than you think. While you may sometimes feel rejections are beating you down and acceptances are few and far between, the credits eventually accumulate if you stick with the business. Plan now for when you have too many bylines to count. Nice thought, eh?

C. Hope Clark is founder and editor of FundsforWriters.com, annually recognized by Writer’s Digest in its poll of 101 Best Web Sites for Writers. She delivers four newsletters each week to thousands with her specialty being grants and income opportunities for writers of all sizes. She’s published over 200 articles on paper and online. Her magazine credits include Writer’s Digest, The Writer Magazine, ByLine Magazine, NextStep Teen, College Bound Teen, Landscape Management Magazine, TURF Magazine, and American Careers Magazine. Hope is a motivational soul known as “Freelance Hope” in many circles. Those reluctant to promote their writing cherish her trade paperback The Shy Writer: An Introvert’s Guide to Writing Success. Find more hope for your writing career at www.fundsforwriters.com & www.theshywriter.com.

Ask Wendy Your Writing and Publishing Questions

wendywotr.gifBy Wendy Burt

Q: Are there ever any instances where you think writing for free is OK?

A: Yes. Here are a few examples:

  1. Writing for a charity or organization you support, such as your church newsletter, college newspaper, alumni newsletter, or your child’s school’s Web site.
  2. Writing to get free publicity for your products or services, such as a book, CD, e-book or even to drive readers to your blog or Web site, where you DO have products for sale.
  3. Writing to get a client publicity. Technically, you’re probably not writing for free. You’re getting paid by the client to do publicity, but the magazine isn’t paying you for your work.
  4. Writing for friends or family to build your clips while getting them publicity (or notoriety!) I’ve edited several of my father’s books without pay, but when he won the Bram Stoker award (tying with Clive Barker!)––I put THAT on my résumé!

Q: Are writing conferences worth the money?

A: If you get a good one that’s tailored to YOUR needs, absolutely. There are lots of different types of writers’ conferences, though. So if you’ve been to one (or two or three), don’t assume they’re all the same. I taught a magazine writing workshop at the Pikes Peak Writer’s Conference back in 2001 and was shocked that there were almost no other non-fiction-focused workshops. Almost all were geared to the craft of writing (fiction), finding an agent, writing dialogue, developing characters or plot, etc. Some conferences are more diverse, offering fiction and non-fiction (or even things like copywriting, editing, and script writing), while others are very focused. Most will give very accurate descriptions on their Web sites, so do your research.

To find an upcoming writers’ conference, visit http://writing.shawguides.com. You can search by date or region. Or learn about the latest and greatest conferences at the Writers on the Rise Conference Confab column by Pamela Kim.

FYI, if you’re a magazine writer, I’ve heard great things about the “One-on-One” conference in Chicago. Supposedly you get much better face time with editors from major national magazines that pay upwards of $1/word. One sale could pay for your trip! Please note that, unlike most, this conference requires that writers apply and be selected in order to attend.

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, MSNBC.com, NewYorkTimes.com, 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 www.BurtCreations.com to see books by Wendy and her award-winning dad. More info at www.WendyBurt-Thomas.com.


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