Archive for October, 2008

Time Management Mastery: The Online Resumé

October 2007 Family Fun MagazineBy C. Hope Clark

Most writers are accustomed to writing short biographies for articles or query letters, but few possess a full-fledged resumé of their attributes and abilities. That’s because few editors or agents request such a thing. While you may never need to send a paper resumé, an online resumé can fill several needs with little effort and doesn’t have to be limited to one or two pages like its paper counterpart. Here are three reasons an online resumé is handy:

1. For your personal record. As you publish more, or as you accomplish more in your career, you need a place to record the facts. Flipping into your website, you can note the latest byline, possibly with a link to where it’s located on the Web. I’ve referred to my resumé often when creating or updating my short bio or promotional blurb.

2. For editors and agents. While they say they don’t want your life’s history, they may be intrigued by your previous job experience or that strange degree that has nothing to do with writing. They may check out your website before signing with you, just to have a peek at who you are. I once had an editor call me out of the blue to do a piece on agricultural careers for a teenage magazine. She found me from my resumé, which also confirmed my degree in agronomy and background with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For this assignment, my online resumé earned me $750.

3. For your readership. When a reader discovers your work and likes your writing, he wants to know more about the author. Your resume feeds that hunger, keeping him interested in your writing career and your future releases.

The items in a resumé consist of identification, employment, published material,
education, awards and professional affiliations. Make the font bold and legible and the layout professionally simple. For an example of my online resumé. For a great lesson on how to prepare an online and an email resumé, see The Riley Guide. Some free examples and templates can be found at 1st Writers.

Emphasize the writing aspect of your life and abbreviate anything else. This resumé is for your writing career.

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 &


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

Agent and Editor Spotlight: Cassie Murdoch, Assistant Editor at Workman Publishing

By Cindy Hudson

Workman Publishing is a mid-sized publisher, turning out about 40 books a year from its office in New York City. Cassie Murdoch, assistant editor at Workman, says while that’s not a lot of books by some standards, the company puts a lot of energy into each title. And Peter Workman is still very much involved in what makes it to bookstore shelves with the Workman imprint. Here’s Murdoch’s advice to writers who would like to pitch their non-fiction book ideas to her company as well as to other publishers.

As an assistant editor, do you have titles you acquire on your own?
The assistants at Workman are more involved than at other houses, and we are very much hands on. We also come up with a lot of ideas in-house.

Do you accept proposals from authors directly or do you only work with agents?
We definitely take unsolicited submissions. Occasionally something comes along that we really like and we go for it. We also work directly with authors we’ve published successfully in the past as well as agents.

What catches your attention when a proposal lands on your desk?
I look for a great idea I haven’t seen before, or a new spin on an old topic. I have to think, “I want to read that, and I know five other people who would want to read it.” Workman’s books depend on authors who are authoritative in their field, or someone who has a great, unique voice. If I’m reading and I feel like anybody could have written the book, it doesn’t appeal to me as much as something more authentic.

What else do you look for?
Does the author have some kind of platform? They don’t have to be the pre-eminent expert in their field, but if they have expertise we couldn’t find in anyone else or if they have developed something no one else has thought of, that works too. They also have to be willing to work hard for their book. I think some people have the perception that they worked really hard to write it, and then they’re done. A commitment to the idea they’re working on and a strong interest in the subject are important.

Also an online presence is a plus. The author doesn’t necessarily have to have a blog with a million readers, but if this person is part of a community the idea feels more tested. The flip side of that is there may be nothing new for the book. Ideally, an author will still have a lot more content to give.

What turns you off immediately in a proposal?
When it’s clear the person hasn’t done their research. We don’t publish fiction for instance, so if I get a fiction proposal I know this person is just throwing it at everyone and hoping somebody takes it. I like to know someone has taken the time to find out not only what house is good for a project, but in some cases what editor may have worked on projects similar to their book. Also, I won’t publish something that’s going to compete directly with what we’ve already put out there.

What’s a good place for authors to do this research?
I always recommend that you find books that connect or relate to your book and see who publishes them. You can often find out who edited a book by reading the acknowledgments page. Keep in mind I’m talking about complementary titles, not competing ones.

How far in advance do you acquire titles, and what happens with a proposal you like?
Right now (September 2008) I’m mostly looking at Fall 2009 and beyond. When we get a proposal, we often will go back and forth with the author to clarify what they’re going to write. Once we’ve bought the book, we like to agree on where we’re heading and what the time frame is. When we get the manuscript, it’s a very collaborative process that goes on sometimes for a couple of weeks, sometimes for a couple of months. It depends on the length of the book. We work hard to make things happen quickly, but it is really important to us that we don’t rush so much that we lose the standards we have for ourselves.

How long does an author spend writing after you agree?
On average maybe six to nine months.

How does your publicity department work with the author?
We have a very involved publicity department. Depending on the project, the publicists may decide to put together a regular tour, or a radio/satellite tour, or sometimes a blog tour. They are really good at finding non-traditional ways to promote our books and making sure we reach the right audience. We also highly value an author who works to promote their book.

Murdoch encourages anyone wishing to submit a proposal to Workman to read the company’s submission guidelines before sending something in.

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

The Get Known Book Tour Begins in November!

Come hear me talk about Get Known!

If you are in the area, I’d love to meet you in person. I’ll be speaking at:

Wordstock, Portland’s Book and Literary Festival
Nonfiction Writing Rhythms
Saturday, Nov. 8th from 12:45-1:45 p.m.

Willamette Writers Monthly Meeting, Salem Chapter
A Platform Development Checklist
Thursday, November 13, 2008 from

Willamette Writers Monthly Meeting, Portland, Oregon Chapter
A Platform Development Checklist
Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

Northwest Author Series, Wilsonville, Oregon
A Platform Primer
Sunday, January 25, 2009

Meeting Schedulers/Event Planners:
If you would like to invite me to your conference or event, please email me at

Ask Wendy: Your Writing & Publishing Questions Answered

October 2007 Family Fun MagazineBy Wendy Burt Thomas

Q: Some argue that there’s no such thing as “writer’s block.” But procrastination is certainly real. How do you avoid it?

A: There are a few tips you can use to help fight procrastination on almost any project.

1) Always get plenty of information on the direction of your assignment. Beyond word count and deadline, this means asking specific questions about content. I’ve found that in nearly 100 percent of the cases, the projects that keep getting bumped off my daily to-do list are the ones that I feel somewhat confused about. Then, because I’ve waited too long, I’m embarrassed to call my client to ask for clarification. I’ve learned to ask a lot of questions up front and no one has ever complained!

2) Break your project down into specific and small tasks. Instead of “write 3,000-word feature article on public policy,” try:
· Make phone call to set up interview with lobbyist.
· Create list of questions for lobbyist.
· Find paragraph that explains what bill H-2356 is.
· Email chamber to see if they have any info on their public policy stance.

3) Make your first step the one that will likely garner you the most information: a phone interview, a visit to a website, or an email to a company’s media relations department. Oftentimes, just a short summary of the topic will create a snowball of momentum to help you (at least) write an outline.

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 four years ago. With two women’s humor books for McGraw-Hill and more than 1,000 published pieces, Wendy’s 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 children, Gracie and Ben. Visit to see books by Wendy and her award-winning dad.

October is Publication Month for Get Known Before the Book Deal!

It’s Not Too Late…
Pre-Order Get Known Before the Book Deal!

Lots of books talk about what to do once you become an author. No other books go into as much depth about how to position yourself to become an author before you have a book and even before you have a book deal! Order Get Known Before the Book Deal from Amazon between now and November 17th will receive a platform-development checklist! Everyone who orders Get Known from and e-mails me their receipt will receive a checklist, which serves as the perfect companion to kick-off the book, within 48 hours. Here’s an ordering link, if you need one.

Will I accept pre-orders from other vendors?

Of course.

Beyond “What You Know”: On Poetry & Prosperity

October 2007 Family Fun MagazineBy Sage Cohen

When I majored in comparative literature as an undergraduate, my friend Jayne’s father, an accountant, asked me what kind of job I intended to land with such an ambiguous degree. “It will teach me how to think, and I’ll be good at any number of jobs if I’m a capable thinker,” I countered. His sons and daughter were getting practical degrees: accounting, journalism, medicine. Each knew what he or she would be doing with their education. Jayne’s father shrugged his shoulders and wished me luck.

Five years later when I was a year into a master’s degree in creative writing, Jayne’s father asked me why in the world I would get such a useless degree and how I intended to make a living when I graduated. The smart aleck in me responded, “I’m going to marry your son Abe, and he’s going to support me.” Jayne’s father never inquired into my career path again.

I think this conversation reflects a typical cultural fear: if you pursue the arts, you will starve. You will become ill suited for the workplace. No one will hire you. End of story. This is why many a parent has discouraged many a poet over the years from embracing such impractical passions.

I never bought into the starving artist archetype. For me, starving is no fun. Being penniless is a grind. Just as you can’t plant potatoes on a bridge, it’s hard to build a creative practice on a life that has no foundation on solid ground. A roof over my head and the certainty of being able to pay my monthly expenses have always been the foundation of my creativity.

When writing poetry, there’s a very simple way to sidestep the starving artist archetype: don’t expect to make a living writing poetry. Jayne’s father was right: poets don’t make a living writing poetry. A creative writing class may refine your use of metaphor to a surgeon’s precision, but that won’t buy you a cup of coffee. There is a very important distinction between money and prosperity. It’s easy to lump these together, but I propose that you don’t. Instead, I’d like you to consider how you define prosperity. For me, a leisurely afternoon in a coffee shop with a pile of poetry books, a notebook and a pen, and a regular refill of tea is prosperity. A good conversation with a friend is prosperity. My dog licking my face is prosperity.

This is not to say that we who write poetry are somehow above earning a good income. I’m just pointing out that income is one thing, and prosperity is frequently something else. Wallace Stevens, one of the most wildly imaginative poets on record, was an insurance adjustor by day. William Carlos Williams was a pediatrician. Mari L’Esperance is a therapist. The great blessing of poetry is that a “day job” can’t take poetry away from you.

Nor do you need poverty to write poetry. You simply need to know what prosperity means to you, and create a balance of what you do for money and what you do for poetry.

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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