Archive for September, 2008

Writing & Selling the Personal Essay: Online Submission Forms Unveiled

By Kristin Bair O’Keeffe

If you’ve submitted essays to Smithsonian Magazine, A Public Space or NPR’s This I Believe, you’ve come face to face with a growing trend in the publishing industry: the online submission form.

If you haven’t run into this submission method yet, you will soon enough. As spam threatens to devour email boxes and more and more people are writing and submitting their work, magazine editors are looking for more efficient submission methods.

The online submission form is the (almost) perfect answer.

Here’s how it works for you, the writer:

  1. First, go to the website of the publication to which you want to submit. Then click through to the submissions page. Here, you will be directed to a form.
  2. Once at the form, type the requested information into the provided spaces (name, contact info, title of work, etc.).
  3. Paste your cover letter into the space provided (if there is a space provided) and either paste or upload your submission.
  4. Proofread all information. (The last thing you want to do is spell your name wrong.)
  5. Click the submit button.
  6. In most cases, you will receive either a pop-up message or an email from the publication thanking you for your submission.

Sounds easy, right? Efficient, yes?

Well, it is. But there are a couple of drawbacks to this system-at least from the writer’s point of view. The most obvious is the fact that the online submission form for each publication requires different information. For example, if you submit to Smithsonian Magazine’s “Last Page,” you must provide a list of publishing credits. If you submit to NPR’s This I Believe, you must include a paragraph about what it was like to write your essay.

See what I mean?

This method is a little more time consuming than the old “write one cover letter, change the editor’s name and address for each publication, and hit send or put a stamp on it.” But on the other hand, by using this method, you know that you’re providing editors with exactly the information they’re looking for-which may increase your chances of publication.

You like the sound of that, don’t you?

So, what are you waiting for? Give it a shot. But before you do, here are a few tips to help you out:

  1. Don’t be intimidated. Online submission forms are pretty easy to use (even for the least tech-savvy writers).
  2. Type out all the information for a particular form in a Word document. Then, if for some reason your online submission fails (which, yes, it does once in a while), you don’t have to re-create it from scratch.
  3. Be positive about the new submission method. Make it work for you.

Personal Essay Marketplace: Narrative Magazine is one of the few literary magazines that pays writers for their work (in something besides copies). It also features some amazing writers (including, in the current issue, one of my favorites, Rick Bass). Check it out.

Kristin Bair O’Keeffe moved to Shanghai, China, in April 2006 and has been writing about this incredible country ever since. Her blog, “Shanghai Adventures of a Trailing Spouse,” chronicles her adventures (and misadventures) in Shanghai and garners the attention of readers all around the world. Her essays about the China experience can be found in The Baltimore Review and To Shanghai With Love (forthcoming). As a respected writing instructor, she has taught hundreds of writers over the past fourteen years and is currently teaching both fiction and nonfiction writing in Shanghai.

Fund Your Writing Projects: Adjust Your Attitude

Gigi RosenbergBy Gigi Rosenberg

Nobody likes a “needy” person, least of all funding organizations. Although you will never actually write on the application, “This project will happen with or without this grant,” this is the attitude that you must foster; it will be reflected in the language you choose and in your budget.

Granting organizations want to fund writers who take responsibility for their own success and who are not always waiting for something else to take their work forward. Therefore, your application must convey that you are so devoted to your project that you will ensure that, no matter what, your project will come to fruition.

Think about it: if there are two writers who both have talent but one has chutzpah and the other doesn’t, who is going to receive funding? Chances are it’s the writer with chutzpah who will get the money because, no matter what, she will persevere.

How do you show this attitude on the application? One way is through the use of verb tense. For example, when you are editing, delete any conditional verbs. Change all “coulds” “shoulds” and “woulds” to “can,” “shall” and “will,” as appropriate.

Readers of your grant should feel that your project is already happening or is at least well on its way. Your answers should enable a reviewer to hear, feel, smell, see and, if possible, taste your project. But hey, if you make your living as a writer, this skill is in your toolkit. Use it in your grant applications like you use in your short stories or creative nonfiction.

Another way to show your grit is in your budget. If the application has a budget form, it will probably have a line to note other grants you’ve applied for. Nobody likes to be the first one or the only one to finance. In the best case, you will have already received money from another source. Funders feel more secure when they see that other individuals or groups have already contributed to your project.

Next month, we’ll discuss the details of how to show your determination in your budget. For now, try this month’s assignment: What actions can you take to make your project more “real”? Is there anything about the project you can put into motion and write about in your application? Now change the conditional verbs to present or future tense and see how this enlivens your application.

Gigi Rosenberg writes about motherhood, relationships and the writing life. Her latest essay “Signora” appears in the Seal Press anthology The Maternal is Political. Her work has been published in Parenting, Writer’s Digest, The Oregonian, The Jewish Review and featured on Oregon Public Broadcasting. Gigi coaches writers on how to read to an audience. She is currently writing Get Your Art into the World: How to Fund Your Creative Endeavors a book to supplement her national workshops on grant writing.


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)!
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

Abigail GreenPersonal Essays that Get Published with Abigail Green
Class Begins on August 20th
Prerequisites: None
The popularity of reality shows, blogs, and tell-all books proves that it pays to get personal these days. Whether you want to write introspective essays, short humor pieces, or first-person reported stories, your life is a goldmine of rich material that all kinds of publications are pining for. Personal Essays that Get Published will teach you how to get your personal experiences down on the page and get them published. Students will learn how to find ideas, hone their voice, craft solid leads and endings, reslant their work for different markets, and submit their essays for publication.
Cost: $199.00 [This Class Fills Fast.]
Register at Writers on the Rise

Christina KatzPlatform Building 102: The Basics for Writers
Class Begins on October 8th
Prerequisites: Writing and Publishing the Short Stuff and Targeting Your Best Writing Markets/Platform 101:Discover Your Specialty are recommended or Permission from Instructor
Picking up where Targeting Your Best Writing Markets/Platform 101: Discover Your Specialty 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. At the very least, you need to have identified your speciality and your target audience. 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 topic to the all-important online and in-person presence that agents and editors look for in future authors.
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
  • Transform Your Specialty Into an E-course [NEW!]

Two Live Classes Meeting at the Wilsonville Public Library:
The Empowered Non-fiction Writer, One-day Intensive [NEW!]
Three-hour Book Promotion Strategy Session For First-time Authors [NEW!]

Freelancing for Newspapers Challenge: Business Pieces

Sue Fagalde Lick By Sue Fagalde Lick

For many of us, the idea of writing about business sounds dull. But before you scroll down to the next column, let me change your mind. Yes, business can involve numbers and a corporate mindset that we might not share, but businesses are made up of people pursuing their dreams, and that’s where the real stories lie.

Major metro dailies all have business sections. Community newspapers are filled with tales of individuals setting up shop, moving or expanding their businesses. Specialty newspapers run countless features on people with interesting jobs–for example, a modern-day blacksmith or the owner of a doggie boutique.

More than 40 major American cities have localized editions of The Business Journal (, which use lots of freelance articles. And of course, there are plenty of specialized trade publications looking for good writers.

Business stories come in many forms. If you can write about technology, stocks, insurance or mortgages, editors will love you. While not sexy, these pieces can be very useful to the readers.

Business sections also thrive on news about corporate leaders and their companies, advice for people looking to improve their careers, reviews of new technology, and trends in the various industries. Now would be a good time to write about anything being done to reduce the use of gas, for example. How are the gas prices affecting the tourist industry? What are they doing to auto sales? Are companies cutting back on business-related travel? What is it like for Joe Smith, who owns the Shell station on the corner?
You see? Business isn’t boring at all.

Your challenge: Come up with a list of business ideas and draft queries for the ones that grab your interest.

You are welcome to share your results or discuss the challenge here, as well as at my Freelancing for Newspapers blog. Remember, there are no right or wrong answers.

Sue Fagalde Lick, author of Freelancing for Newspapers, worked as a staff writer, photographer and editor for newspapers in California and Oregon for many years before moving into full-time freelancing. In addition to countless newspaper and magazine articles, she has published three books on Portuguese Americans. She has taught workshops at Oregon Coast Community College, online for and for Willamette Writers and California Writers Club. She offers an online course on reviews as well as individual coaching. See her website and visit her blog.

Order Get Known Before the Book Deal on Monday and Receive a Free Gift

3:27 p.m. You have driven Get Known to the 320 mark! Amazing! Thank you so much for your support!

1:57 p.m. Get Known hits 338!!! (I could get used to this. It’s selling more copies than The Artist’s Way and Bird by Bird!)

1:48 p.m. Get Known is number ONE in the Authorship category!!!

Oh my goodness, you guys! Get Known has reached number 596 on Amazon. That is AMAZING! Hugs to you all for your support! It is so heart warming. Truly.


Dear friends,

The first day of Fall is here! And as I’ve been promising (threatening?) for weeks now, it’s also the official help me drive my second book to the number one spot on day. (Heck, I’d settle for number one within its category.) The impact of a good Amazon spike is the same, no matter how “low” you rank (the lower, the better).

But before I invite you to help me drive my book to the number one spot on on Monday, let me share why authors do this kind of thing.

The closer my book gets to the number one spot on the more often Amazon will recommend it to readers who have read books on similar topics. That’s them doing a lot of heavy lifting marketing for me.

As an author my job is to make my book visible as much as I can before and after it is released. So that, in a nutshell, is what I’m up to.

I want to emphasize that I did my own spike for Writer Mama and I was pleased with the results. I would never pay someone to conduct this effort for me. I do not endorse any of those “you-pay-me-a-few-grand-and-I’ll-take-good-care-of-you” online offers. In all of my work I emphasize working slowly and consistently over time in order to cultivate legitimate success with integrity.

Well, it’s time to kick things off. And naturally, I’d love all the help I can get spreading the word about Get Known Before the Book Deal.

My goal is to help my title reach its intended readers. You can help me do just that by participating in my Amazon Sales Spike on Monday, September 22nd. (Obviously, if you have no interest whatsoever in my book, then absolutely do not feel pressured to buy it Monday or ever!) However, if you feel like Get Known is a book you want and need, I would truly appreciate your participation Monday.

Everyone who orders Get Known from during the twenty-four hour period from midnight on Sunday until midnight on Monday and e-mails me their receipt within 24 hours will receive a platform development checklist on Tuesday, which serves as the perfect companion to the book. Readers will also be entered in a drawing to receive a one-hour phone consultation with me. Three phone conference winners will be chosen on Frinday, September 26th, from those who submit receipts for phone conferences to take place in October (video-conference is a possibility for me, also, if the winners would like to do that).

Anyone is welcome to participate in the Amazon spike, so feel free to spread the word. Send purchase receipts to to enter the drawing. If you have another way you prefer to purchase my book or another date on which you would prefer to purchase my book, that’s great with me. Remember, if you purchase more than one book to have them shipped separately or you will have to wait for all your books until Get Known is ready to ship.

I imagine that the books will arrive from Amazon in early November. I am not able to know or predict the exact date. Everyone does a pretty good job at keeping me in the dark about that. 🙂

Thank you so much for your support no matter how you wish to offer it. If you are looking for a link, please order through my Get Known blog.

In the writing spirit,


***Now, I’m pretty sure to avoid getting thrown into jail that I need to say here that there is no purchase required to enter the drawing. So, there. I just said it. You know what to do.

Writerpreneur: Electronic Self-publishing

October 2007 Family Fun Magazine By Gregory A. Kompes

The hot topic of self-publishing vs. traditional publishing comes up at every writers’ event I attend. As publishing and printing technology improve and the competition for traditional publishing contracts increases, more writers turn to self publishing as a viable alternative. There are many ways to electronically self publish that can help build your Writerpreneur career.

Blogs & Social Networks

Smart Writerpreneurs self publish on a regular basis through their blogs and newsletters. Every word, sound and image you post on your blog is technically published. These are your thoughts and ideas put out for the world to see, read and hear.

Material posted to your blog can be reworked and reused on your social networking pages, in your newsletters, as content when you Twitter, for article directories, and as special reports and eBooks. Plus, all of this quality, online material improves your search engine rankings (SEO).

Special Reports & eBooks

Joan Stewart, the Publicity Hound, is one of the best examples of an expert creating a series of special reports and eBooks on a niche topic and turning them into an empire. Here’s how to follow Joan’s example: focus on your topic, answer questions of your audience in the form of special reports, and sell them online as immediate downloads or offline on CDs. With all the affordable print options, it’s also easy to turn your material into physical books.

Companies like BookLocker and LightningSource offer digital book sales and print on demand (POD) publishing options that will make your books available without the overhead.


Sound is powerful. Publishing online audio is a super way to harness that power and reach your audience. Audio products are easy to create. Record your teleconference events and online radio shows and you’ll have audio products. Personally recorded messages (think audio books) are also popular with most audiences. Reading your special report into a digital recorder is a simple way to create an audio product.

You don’t need to spend a lot for quality these days. I’m rarely without my plug and play Olympia WS100 recorder (retail: $79). While there are many generations of recorders that have followed, this powerful and affordable little device remains my favorite.


The fastest growing online delivery option is video. While still in its infancy, I predict that online video will become expected by site visitors. Why not get in early and learn how to take advantage of this online technology? A few publishing options include recorded video versions of your live seminars and teaching events or video conferences of you interviewing or being interviewed by other experts in your niche.

To see a few video examples, visit Stompernet. They use video as a sales and marketing tool as well as for member education.

By putting your career in your own hands with self-published media, you can extend your reach, increase your impact and even boost your earnings.

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.

September 1 – 30: The Writer Mama Back-to-School Giveaway

Writer Mama Back to School Giveaway Badge

This giveaway was a huge success last year! This year we’ll have more books to give away and more thought-provoking career questions for you to answer to qualify to win.

Participants last year commented on how much they learned both from answering the questions as well as from each other. You don’t have to be a mama, just a writer. Don’t miss it!

Please share the WM Back to School Giveaway badge with all your friends with a link to the Writer Mama blog. Thanks!

Writing Roots: I (heart) Steve Jobs

Christina KatzBy Christina Katz

1984, besides being the title of a once futuristic book by George Orwell, is the year I matriculated college. Thanks to the generosity of my parents and the technological acumen of Steve Jobs, I received a brand new 128 K Macintosh computer complete with floppy disk drive. What seventeen-year-old kid from western Massachusetts wouldn’t have been thrilled? Cutting open that gigantic, white box and carefully lifting out the Styrofoam-encrusted tan-colored computer, mouse and keyboard with the curlicue cord was one of the most promise-laden moments in my seventeen-year-old life.

Looking back, I became pretty attached to that rectangular plastic box of chips and gizmos. Not only was my Mac cute, it was user-friendly like a little R2D2 buddy. My first Mac spared many a professor my atrocious handwriting. More importantly, it prepared me for the current Internet age. And thank goodness for that.

While many people avoid computers most of the time, writers and authors cannot afford such luxuries. Besides, who would want to miss out on all that the Internet has to offer? It is not only a powerful tool for distributing content, sharing ideas, and promoting visibility, it’s also just plain fun to explore and diddle around with new technology. Today I’ve become a writer who can: build a website, manage a blog and distribute an e-zine without a floppy disk drive in sight.

I’m typically a late adopter, allowing others to work the bugs out and prove or disprove the worthiness of the latest, greatest technological advances. But, I stay current with what’s going on online and stay abreast of the latest technological breakthroughs and what they mean to me as a professional communicator. In the meantime, I meet people online every day I would not otherwise meet. I use the World Wide Web to spread the word about my books and classes. I catch up on my friends’ and former students’ lives via their blogs. I keep in closer touch with friends and family thanks to email.

And while I would be the first to admit that there is a lot more to life than the Internet, I would be hard-pressed to imagine my life without it. Today, we are a four-Mac family. My daughter plays on on the old eMac for limited amounts of time. My husband swears he didn’t twist the screen off of my old iBook (even though I know he did). I still gave him the free iPod that accompanied my purchase of “Mabel,” my new laptop. For the majority of my workday, I sit at the desktop iMac in my home office much the same way I used to sit in my college dorm room tapping away on my first Mac’s keyboard twenty-four years ago.

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for getting me my first Mac. And thank you, Steve Jobs. If I had to use a PC, life just wouldn’t be the same.

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


Christina KatzWriting and Publishing The Short Stuff
Especially For Moms (But Not Only for Moms)!
Class Begins on January 14th
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.
Register at Writers on the Rise

Abigail GreenPersonal Essays that Get Published with Abigail Green
Class Begins on January 14th
Prerequisites: None
The popularity of reality shows, blogs, and tell-all books proves that it pays to get personal these days. Whether you want to write introspective essays, short humor pieces, or first-person reported stories, your life is a goldmine of rich material that all kinds of publications are pining for. Personal Essays that Get Published will teach you how to get your personal experiences down on the page and get them published. Students will learn how to find ideas, hone their voice, craft solid leads and endings, reslant their work for different markets, and submit their essays for publication.

Cost: $199.00

Register at Writers on the Rise

Christina KatzPlatform Building 101: Discover your Specialty
(Formerly “Targeting Your Best Writing Markets”)
Class Begins on January 14th

Prerequisites: None

Identifying your writing specialty is one of the trickiest and most necessary steps in launching a writing career today. This class will help you find your best audiences, cultivate your expertise, manage your ideas, develop marketing skills, claim your path, serve editors and become portfolio-minded. You’ll learn how to become the professional you’ve always wanted to be and, most importantly, how to take your writing career more seriously.
Cost: $199.00.
Register at Writers on the Rise

Christina KatzCraft A Saleable Nonfiction Book Proposal
Winter Class Begins on January 14th
Prerequisites: Former student or Permission from Instructor
Most writers underestimate the comprehensiveness needed in a book proposal that will garner the interest of agents and editors. They also mistake the definition of platform and importance of alining their proposal to a solid track record. A two-time author, Christina has helped hundreds of nonfiction writers succeed over the past seven years. Now she’s making her proposal-writing advice available in a six-week e-mail course to aspiring authors who want to nail the proposal the first time around. The best way to have a short, tight proposal that will impress agents and editors is to start now!
Cost: $299.00 [Priority to former students]
Register at Writers on the Rise

Time Management Mastery: Making the Most of a Writing Conference

October 2007 Family Fun Magazine
I admit it. I used to adlib at conferences. Planning for what is heavily a social event seemed over the top. But after missing a few opportunities, I’ve changed. Coordination before a conference saves time, improves your odds and possibly opens doors for your writing future.

When you decide to attend a conference, list what you hope to derive from the trip before you go. You’re paying serious dollars to participate, so get your money’s worth. Research the conference inside and out beforehand. Study the speakers’ and panelists’ accomplishments to better prepare for their presentations. Become familiar with the conference chairman and active organizers of the event. Tell them thanks and hand them your card. Who knows? Maybe the next year your might come to mind as they’re seeking speakers and panelists.

Have your one-liners ready. Ponder what you’d be inclined to ask another writer and prepare a one-liner answer. Of course there’s the one-liner for your book, but what about the ones that explain: what you write, what you’ve published, why you write, what’s your latest project, what your goals are for your writing career. Memorize those answers and jot them in your notebook.

Make a point of greeting and conversing with at least six people per hour–that’s one every ten minutes. Of course you’ll speak with one for five minutes and another for fifteen. Don’t worry about being precise; just work the room. As a shy person this is painful, but setting a goal gives me a sense of determination to accomplish the task. I’m always glad I followed through. Have your business cards, postcards and bookmarks on hand-and share them with the people you meet.

Have your notepad handy to jot down items to remember after you finish a conversation. Make notes during breaks. You will not remember those blinding flashes of brilliance by the end of the conference. Be sure to come equipped with your list of goals so you can make any impromptu additions.

Write on the backs of business cards to remember which opportunity goes to which person. At the end of each day, review your notes, jot down any scattered thoughts, and prepare for the following day.

Finally, plan your wardrobe carefully, packing with clear definition for each day–down to the shoes that are comfortable and the shoes that look good at a banquet. Business casual is fine, but make it crisp and sharp. The better you look, the more confident you will feel and the more memorable you will be.

TIP: The best source for finding writing conferences is Shaw Guides. Another is Writers’ Conferences & Centers.

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 &

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  • This Blog Moving to as of December 30, 2009… December 27, 2009
    We’re moving! Writers on the Rise archives have been here for years. I hope that WordPress will let the archive live on for a good long time. However, it’s time to move on, bittersweet as change may be. Please come and find me at my new digs: And while we’re both thinking of it, […]
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September 2008

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