Archive for July, 2008

Writerpreneur: Planning Online Events

October 2007 Family Fun Magazine By Gregory A. Kompes

Online events are a cheap and easy way to reach and stay in touch with your audience and readers. They’re also a super way to sell more books, products and services online while increasing your expert status standing. The following is an overview of a few popular online event options.

Virtual Book Tours
Most authors can’t afford a major PR package that involves a physical book tour (i.e, setting up live media events and in-person signings in a few dozen cities around the country). The online solution is creating a Virtual Book Tour. Virtual tours often include blogging, webcasts, webinars, online chats, teleconferences, radio talk show appearances, online and print media opportunities, and live readings and Q&A sessions via teleseminar. By creating a combination of these events in a short span of time (usually 30-60 days) you’ll generate a lot of online buzz, drive traffic to your website, and hopefully sell a lot of your books, products, and services.

Live Chats
Online live chats allow your audience to talk with you and ask questions in real time. Live chats are easy to set up at free chat sites like Chat Shack Network. These “one-time” events lend themselves to additional media buzz. Plus, spending time with your audience one-on-one is the ideal way to build credibility and trust with online buyers.

Webcasts are media files distributed over the Internet as streaming media–either live or as a pre-recorded download. Like broadcasting over the Internet, webcasting is a good way to deliver video and sound files to your audience. These take a bit more set-up and editing time, but once you create a webcast you have a product that will become an asset and can be used for a lot of different types of online promotion. If you webcast live, be sure to record the event for future use.

Short for web-based seminar, a webinar is a presentation, lecture, workshop or seminar that is transmitted over the web. Webinars are usually presented live and they’re often interactive so you can give, receive and discuss information with all your attendees. Vyew Instant Workspaces is a free webinar solution that offers an easy-to-use interface with all the options you’ll need to host your own webinar event.

On-Demand Seminars
On-Demand Seminars, available whenever the attendee wants them, can also help you build your following online. Whether you offer them free or for a fee, these seminars and training events can help you build your mailing lists if you require those participating in the event to register using their email or snail mail information. CourseLab is a fun, free resource for building online training seminars.

Event Promotion Sites

Event Registration Tools

Gregory A. Kompes, author of the bestseller 50 Fabulous Gay-Friendly Places to Live and the Writer’s Series, speaks at conferences and teaches Internet self-promotion courses online. Gregory is editor of Queer Collection: Prose & Poetry, Patchwork Path, The Fabulist Flash, and Eighteen Questions, a Q&A series that collects published authors experiences (chosen a “101 Best Websiteby Writer’s Digest ). In Las Vegas, he hosts the Writerpreneur Workshops and co-host’s the Writer’s Pen & Grill. Gregory holds a BA in English Literature from Columbia University, New York, and a certificate in Online Teaching and Learning and an MS Ed. from California State University, East Bay.

Writing Roots: People First

Christina Katz By Christina Katz

I credit Bertrand Goldberg for helping me learn that writing is about people, not words.

Bertrand Goldberg (1913-1997) remains an icon in American architecture even after his death. He understood that form should follow function in the most humanitarian way. He is best known for designing Marina City, a building complex that soars in two gigantic, corn-cob-shaped cylinders above the Chicago River and has been featured in movies including Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and The Blues Brothers.

According to Wikipedia, “Goldberg was known for innovative structural solutions to complex problems, particularly for residential, institutional, and industrial design projects.”

Goldberg also designed and built Raymond Hilliard Homes, a lesser-known public housing project in Chicago. Completed close to the same time as Marina City, this project put the best ideas from his private structure to use for the public good. When I interviewed Goldberg, I was touched that it was this project–not the one that had brought him the most press– that he was most excited about.

He discussed the way the shape of each unit’s interior could allow a single mother simultaneously make dinner and keep an eye on her kids in the living room. I tear up still, remembering how much he cared about that particular aspect of the form following the function. He wanted to use his own genius for the benefit of others in need.

I interviewed Goldberg just a few years before his death. Since I was a fiction MFA student, I was completely out of my comfort zone. I’d been selected by one of my professors to write an article for the journalism department at Columbia College Chicago. I arrived at his home in Chicago’s Gold Coast as a starving writing student in my twenties, bumbling with my hand-held tape recorder, nervous, and not wanting my inexperience to show–which of course it did. Quite frankly, I was a mess. That day was my first real interview. And that’s when my education in journalism began.

When the final article was published in Chicago Arts and Communications Magazine, it became abundantly clear that I had no idea how to be a decent journalist. I still wince when I re-read the article. But I learned a lesson that was worth every bit of the discomfort of doing something new for the first time.

The day I interviewed Bertrand Goldberg, one of the greatest architects of the 20th century, is the day I realized that writing was not about me, locked away from the world in a room, composing genius on paper, but about the impact my words would ultimately have on others. From that day forward, the fantasy that had previously loomed so large — the same one that has become such a writer stereotype: Tortured Writer Seeks Greatness Through Creation of Literary Masterpiece — became obsolete.

And that was a good thing.

Christina Katz, author of Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids, is working on her second book for Writer’s Digest Books, Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Grow an Author Platform (now available for pre-order at Amazon!). She has also written over two hundred articles for magazines, newspapers, and online publications and has appeared on Good Morning America. Christina is a popular writing instructor who has taught hundreds of writers over the past seven years. She blogs daily at The Writer Mama Riffs and is publisher and editor of two zines, Writers on the Rise and The Writer Mama. More at

Time Management Mastery: Fingertip Promotion

October 2007 Family Fun MagazineBy C. Hope Clark

We all know that writers must have websites and blogs. But what about the age-old tools I call fingertip promotional items? Regardless of how much you write and promote your work online, sooner or later you have to meet face-to-face, shake hands and exchange information. Are you prepared with the tools to make those meetings productive? Business cards, postcards and bookmarks still mean business. These inexpensive promotions can make a big difference.

Business cards are a sign of good common sense and manners. You shake hands with an individual, make conversation and hand her your card as a courtesy. Some will toss them out and others collect them like souvenirs, but one card in the right hand can catapult your career. The key features of a professional card include:

  • Standard size of 3.5″ x 2″. Some people collect cards in folders or use card scanners. Unusual sizes often do not fit. Using a standard size makes it easy for people to save your information.
  • Basic information. Include your name, website and/or blog URL, phone number, email address and/or postal address. Mine has the FundsforWriters (my business) logo first and foremost, my name, the website URL, email and mailing address.
  • Define your role or title. Note briefly on the card what you are or what you do, such as: editor, freelance writer, educational writer, novelist, poet, etc.
  • Visual or graphical element. Whether logo, book cover or photo, make sure to include a visual. Using generic graphics doesn’t cut it if you want to be memorable after you pass off the card. I have one business card with just my book cover, the website URL, my name and the ISBN.
  • Individuality. For a couple of dollars more, you can get creative with business cards at discount places like Vistaprint. Can you guess how many writers have a card with a pen, pencil, typewriter or generic book on it? If you don’t want to blend in, I’d advise spending a little more to stand out from the crowd.

Postcards are a step up from business cards. At conferences I pass out postcards as well as business cards. Business acquaintances get the business card. Readers, newsletter members and fans get the postcards. Why? The postcard has more information on it, and it’s usable. I also use postcards to mail small reminders or simple requests. I want the post office to know about me, too.

Bookmarks are similar to the postcards. They are usable and large enough to print information and reference material such as where to buy your book–or even include an excerpt. Autograph your bookmark so people will want to save it.

You’ll want to keep a variety of each on hand at all times. I have a business card and postcard for FundsforWriters, my business, as well as for my book The Shy Writer. No matter the correspondence, one or the other goes into the envelope. Who knows who might get their hands on a card and wander to the website or email me about a fabulous opportunity?

TIPS: Most business card companies offer advice on designing a great and effective business card. Great FX Business Card is a good reference site. For a fantastic first impression, place your cards in a custom case from Netique.

C. Hope Clark is founder and editor of, 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. 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 &

More Fall Classes Start October 8th!


This summer everyone raised their prices…everyone except me. I am still committed to keeping my class prices as low as possible to make them accessible to as many writers as possible. I only have two increases slated that were advertised as being for classes at reduced prices in 2008, and they won’t happen until 2009.

Christina KatzWriting and Publishing The Short Stuff
Especially For Moms (But Not Only for Moms)!
Another Class Begins on October 8th
Prerequisites: None
Finally, a writing workshop that fits into the busy lives of moms! You will learn how to create short, easy-to-write articles-a skill that will make it easier to move up to longer, more time-consuming articles when you’re ready. Try your pen at tips, fillers, short interviews, list articles, how-tos, and short personal essays-all within six weeks. Now includes markets!
Cost: $199.00. [This Class Fills Fast.]
Register at Writers on the Rise

Christina KatzPlatform Building 102: The Basics for Writers
Next Class Begins on October 8th
Prerequisites: Writing and Publishing the Short Stuff & Targeting Your Best Writing Markets are recommended or Permission from Instructor
Be the first to sign up for the companion class to my forthcoming book, Get Known Before the Book Deal. Picking up where Targeting Your Best Writing Markets left off. This class helps you go position yourself as a seasoned professional, who isn’t afraid to let the world know what you have to offer. This is an advanced class, for people who have taken classes with Christina Katz and who are ready to take their writing career to a more professional level with a blog, Web site and newsletter. By the end of our six weeks, you will have a clear vision of your platform, and a plan for first and future steps. You will be ready to anchor your book proposal to that all-important online and in-person presence, agents and editors are looking for.
Cost: $199.00
[This Class Fills Fast.]
Register at Writers on the Rise

Take All Five of Christina’s Classes!

  • Writing and Publishing the Short Stuff
  • Targeting Your Best Writing Markets
  • Pitching Practice: Write Six Queries in Six Weeks
  • Platform Building Basics for Writers
  • Craft a Saleable Nonfiction Proposal


In the Spotlight: An Interview with Jenna Glatzer, Author & Founder of Absolute Write

Jenna GlatzerBy Cindy Hudson

In her 11 years as a freelance writer, Jenna Glatzer has achieved the kind of success that most writers dream of. In addition to the seventeen books and hundreds of magazine articles she’s authored, Glatzer has also ghost written books, as well as penned greeting cards and slogans for bumper stickers and magnets. She founded and is former editor-in-chief of Absolute Write a popular, free online magazine for writers. Glatzer has written three books for writers: Outwitting Writer’s Block and Other Problems of the Pen (The Lyons Press, 2003), Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer (Nomad Press, 2004), and The Street-Smart Writer (Nomad Press, 2006).

Here Glatzer talks about some of the secrets of her success and shares ideas for writers of all types.

How did you get started freelance writing?

I became a freelance writer because I was agoraphobic, and I had to figure out something I could do from home. I was fresh out of college, so I decided to go with what I knew and I queried college-focused magazines, like College Bound and Link (which no longer publishes). For my first real credit I profiled some friends who had started up a web hosting company. From there I built up slowly and started writing for more and more magazines and websites.

How long was it before you made a living as a freelance writer?
For me it took two years but it varies a lot depending on how much work you put into it.

What’s a good way to get clips when you’re just starting out?
Getting those initial clips was more important than anything for me, and as long as it was a respectable publication I didn’t really care about the pay. You just never know where something is going to lead. I’d write this article for some low-paying magazine and some larger editor would find it and hire me to write something better down the line. I also recommend looking at local freebie magazines, like the ones you’ll find at delis and grocery stores. They are often looking for writers who can do local stories.

What other venues do you recommend?

I’ve written greeting cards and slogans for bumper stickers and magnets. And of course there are newspapers, websites, books and screenplays, and copywriting for businesses.

Is it easier to break into writing greeting cards and slogans?
It probably is easier, because there’s a lot of it and not a lot of people who know about those markets.

How do you find out about those markets?

I did a ton of research on my own. Some of the companies are listed in Writer’s Market every year. I wrote to every company I could find to ask if they use freelance material and I put together an ebook about it that has all the markets I could find. It’s a little bit out of date now, but it is available on It’s called, Sell the Fun Stuff.

How important is it for writers to market themselves?

Very important, especially in the beginning. For the first couple of years I wrote more query letters than actual articles. I also wrote lots of articles for low-paying magazines. Once I broke into the national, grocery-store-type magazines, things began to snowball. Now editors come to me with assignments, so for the last six or seven years I’ve had to send out very few query letters. In the early years I also sent out general letters saying, “Hi, here’s who I am and I’m interested in assignments if you have anything available.” Sometimes I got calls years after I sent in samples and wound up with assignments.

Can you make much money selling reprints of articles?

Definitely. There’s one article that was rejected by Family Circle, which is where I wanted to place it. So I decided to try some of the local parenting magazines. Then I realized I didn’t have to stick to my own local parenting magazine, so I queried parenting magazines in other states. I wound up reselling it 18 times to different parenting magazines all across the country, making more in the end than I would have if I had just sold it to Family Circle in the first place. There’s also a market for re-slants. If you think about different angles for the same topic that you’ve already learned about, you can re-slant the article and you’re not starting from ground zero each time. You can use the same interviews and the same research you started with.

Tell me about your books for writers.

When I started in 1999, I would hear from writers all the time wanting to know how I became a freelance writer. To give them a step-by-step on what made me successful I had to write a book. Maybe the most important book I’ve ever written is The Street Smart Writer. I got scammed a couple of times at the beginning of my writing career by literary agents who weren’t real literary agents. They took my money and didn’t do anything with my work and didn’t have the ability to sell it. So I wrote this book because I don’t want to see other writers taken like that. It’s now free online at Search for it, and you can read it for free.

Cindy HudsonCindy Hudson writes for national trade magazines, regional magazines, online publications and daily newspapers. Her website and its companion blog, 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

Ask Wendy: Your Writing & Publishing Questions Answered

October 2007 Family Fun MagazineBy Wendy Burt Thomas

Q: Queries seem to be hit or miss. What’s the best way to keep a steady income as a writer?

A: There’s a difference between gigs and clients. By my definition, gigs are one-time assignments –such as an article that you write for a magazine. Although you can certainly get repeat assignments from editors, they can still be sporadic, and therefore you can’t always count on that income. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t continue sending queries. You should. But consider any assignments you land as supplemental income.

Build your security by obtaining clients. These are people for whom you do regular work–weekly, monthly, quarterly or even annually. Here are a few examples from my own clients:

  • Weekly: I do 10 hours of PR a week for a national company. I write and send press releases and articles and do one-on-one media consulting with the franchisees.
  • Monthly: I write a regular column for a women’s business magazine.
  • Quarterly: I write and edit articles and ad copy for two quarterly magazines.
  • Annually: I write and edit articles three to four months out of the year for a national magazine that comes out once a year.

I still send occasional queries and write greeting cards, but I don’t count on that income to pay my bills.


Wendy Burt-Thomas is a full-time freelance writer, editor, copywriter and PR consultant. Her more than 1,000 published articles, essays and stories have appeared in such varied publications as Family Circle, American Fitness, ePregnancy,,, Woman’s World and Home Cooking. Wendy’s columns – on business, marketing, parenting, writing and healthy living – have appeared in countless newspapers and magazines. Wendy’s first two books for McGraw-Hill include Oh, Solo Mia! The Hip Chick’s Guide to Fun for One and Work It, Girl! 101 Tips for the Hip Working Chick. Her third book, The Writer’s Digest Guide to Queries; Landing articles, agents and book deals comes out December 2008. She lives in Colorado Springs with her husband Aaron, toddler Gracie, baby Ben and two black labs.


Beyond What You Know: Take the Wide-Angle View of Your Writing Career

October 2007 Family Fun MagazineBy Sage Cohen

Because I write poetry, for most of my life I thought of myself as a poet. And because poets don’t make a living simply writing and publishing poetry (even the most famous ones supplement their income with teaching, speaking and lecturing), I resigned myself to a fate of scribbling poems in the margins of my life while I got paid to do other things.

Then a few years ago, I took Christina Katz’s platform-building class where it dawned on me that the scraps of margins I’d been filling year after year added up to pages, even books. Through the exercises in that class, I discovered that somehow under my own nose I had already built the framework of a platform; I just didn’t know it. And I certainly hadn’t claimed it.

As it turns out, my primary love of writing poetry was fueling many secondary activities and accomplishments: publication, awards, writing residencies, teaching, public speaking and running a reading series. For the first time, I also understood that the marketing communications business I’d founded more than a decade ago-the one that pays the bills-is also a part of my poetic process. Being paid to write in the corporate sphere has honed my ear and kept my pencil sharp.

In short, I discovered that “poet” was far too limiting of a descriptor for what I do. “Writing the life poetic” felt more inclusive of how I live and work; I claimed this phrase as the umbrella platform of my writing life. By stretching my own self-definition, I started to see the work I was doing in my community through a new lens. Suddenly, so much more seemed possible and within reach. Within months of this realization, I was circulating a newsletter, had updated my website, had been invited to read and speak at several conferences and events, and had pitched a book. A year later, I’m putting the finishing touches on my book Writing the Life Poetic, forthcoming from Writer’s Digest Books. The old idea that being a poet doesn’t pay has been kicked to the curb.

What I learned from this experience is that the name we assign to our writing work and our writing life can be a cage or a limitless field of potential, depending on what kind of lens we’re looking through. How have you named your writing life and your role in it? Might you be seeing yourself too small-and as a result selling yourself too short? What if you were to take a wide-angle view and give yourself a little more room to move and grow? You just might find that as your identity expands, your writing repertoire and audience will expand proportionately along with it.


Sage Cohen is the author of Writing the Life Poetic, forthcoming from Writer’s Digest Books, and the poetry collection Like the Heart, the World. Her poetry and essays appear in journals and anthologies including Cup of Comfort for Writers, Oregon Literary Review, Greater Good and VoiceCatcher. In 2006, she won first prize in the Ghost Road Press annual poetry contest. Sage holds an MA in creative writing from New York University where she was awarded a New York Times Foundation fellowship. Sage teaches Poetry for the People and Personal Essays That Get Published.


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