successful business starts with a marketing plan, and your writing
business needs one too. For years I have been teaching a plan that
has worked to make countless writers successful. You can use the same
principles to create a plan that works for you. The plan is not
difficult, but it does take time and a commitment to follow it
through to success. As long as you have a marketable product, the
plan will successfully identify and connect you to your customers.
you are just beginning to write for publication, there will be a
natural period of exploration where you try a number of different
topics or types of writing to discover what you can do best, what
sells, what you enjoy, etc. You might start with poetry, then try
some short stories, devotionals, children’s material, or feature
articles. During that process you will begin to recognize those areas
that seem to work best for you, or the ones you feel most comfortable
pursuing. This is a process we all go through, and one you
won’t want to rush, so don’t feel frustrated if you are not ready
yet to take the first step in the plan as presented in the next
paragraph. The basic concepts will still work while you are finding
those who are past that beginner phase, it is time to make some
decisions about what product you are going to offer. You certainly
don’t have to limit it to one area, but it is best if you can focus
on two or three specific topics or types of writing. The reason for
focusing is so you will ultimately be recognized as an “expert”
on certain topics or types of writing. Since the ultimate goal for
most of us is to have editors come to us with assignments, we must
begin establishing a reputation as a writer with specific skills. If
you write on a wide variety of topics and in diverse areas, your name
will never be connected to one or more specialties.
This is the introduction to a series of blogs on marketing:
interesting thing about marketing is that most of us know a whole lot
more about it than we realize. If you work in or have ever worked in
a job that involves selling any kind of a product, you can take what
you know and put it to work in marketing your manuscripts. A
manuscript, after all, is just another product looking for a buyer.
what is it you already know about marketing? Principles of supply and
demand? The importance of knowing your customer, how to reach him,
and keeping up with his changing needs? Believing the customer is
always right? Think about everything you have learned about selling
assume that you are going to start a new business selling software,
cookies or bird houses. Before you start, you will find out
everything you can about the need for your particular product, how to
reach the customer, what the customer is looking for, who your
competition is, and all the other concerns that come into play with
your particular product. You would never open up shop in a random
location without first studying all these factors critical to your
success. As I remind people in my marketing classes, you would not
make a dress or any custom-made product and then go door to door
looking for someone to buy it. The smart business person will find
out what the customer wants and create a product to fit.
many writers approach marketing like the person going door to door.
They write a manuscript and then start shopping it from one editor to
another, looking for one that needs something with that particular
slant and length, who hasn’t already published something like it,
who is looking for manuscripts, who can afford to buy something right
now, etc. It is no wonder they face rejection after rejection. Once
you view writing as a business, and approach the marketplace in a
business-like manner, you will sell your manuscripts like Mrs.
Field’s sells cookies.
Q. Is it common for an author to
stick with fiction or nonfiction, or do they cross over? How do I
know if I should stick with nonfiction, or cross over to fiction?
A. This question
is a good example of the thinking that comes from watching the
success of others and trying to duplicate it—rather than sticking
with what you know. Fiction and nonfiction require totally different
writing skills, and few writers are successful in crossing over from
one to the other. Which ever one you start out writing, it is
important to stick with that at least until you have built a strong
reputation in the genre. If you happen to be one of the writers
skilled in both fiction and nonfiction, you might want to make a
switch at that point. The problem is that often causes confusion
among your readers—as well as publishers. If they have always read
your nonfiction books, they may be shocked to find that the latest
title of yours they picked up is actually fiction—or vise versa.
Such a move needs to be carefully orchestrated so the readers are
made very much aware of your change. You may also lose some readers
who only read nonfiction (or only read fiction) and are not willing
to follow you into this new territory. If you have an agent, you will
want to discuss and plan such a change with them—as well as with
Q. I recently made an e-mail
submission simultaneously to several non-overlapping markets. The
first editor to respond was interested in buying it, but only if he
could get first rights to publish it in an upcoming issue. He assumed
that was what I was offering. Since this is a timely article, on a
film being released about the same time as his issue, that will
prevent me from selling it to any of those other publishers I
contacted. I'm sure no one will want it after the film releases. What
should I do now?
Apparently the reason the first editor assumed you were offering
first rights is because you did not specify what rights you were
offering when you contacted him (or he failed to notice what rights
you were offering). If your intention was to sell it to as many of
these non-overlapping markets as possible, it should have gone out
offering simultaneous rights
or even one-time rights—not first rights. If you did not specify
what rights you were offering, it was logical for him to assume it
was first rights. In your query letter, you should have made a
statement similar to this one: “Due to the timeliness of this
article, I am offering simultaneous (or one-time) rights to as many
publications as interested. I will be submitting to the following
non-competing publications.” Then list those periodicals so they
can be assured that if they purchase it a competitor will not be
coming out with the same piece at the same time.
far as what to do at this point, you can either go ahead and sell
first rights to the first publisher, convince him to buy only
simultaneous or one-time rights (since other buyers will be
non-competitors), or withdraw it and hope some of the other
publishers will accept it on a one-time or simultaneous basis. If you
withdraw it, and there are no other takers, you could go back to the
original publisher to see if he is still interested in first rights,
but it may be too late at that point.
Today I received some of the market guide files and records of what has been done so far. However, I'm still waiting for the master file that indicates what updates have already been done. Since I know I'll have to get to work as soon as that arrives, I have been decorating for Christmas, made 20 pounds of fudge, and have addressed my Christmas cards. Also went to the store today to buy all the ingredients I'll need for the Christmas goodies I need to make. Already this is going down as a very strange holiday. Tomorrow I make pies for Thanksgiving. Hope your Thanksgiving is filled with love and joy. Happy day!
The Munce Group and SuzyQ have announced a new writers conference for 2015. New York Times best-selling author Cecil Murphey’s Writer to Writer conferences equip authors with the nuts and bolts of getting published in today’s industry. The theme for Writer to Writer is “From Think to Ink,” which expresses the process of going from idea to print—and everything in between.
“While the market is changing, authors and publishers who have adapted to the new era of Christian publishing have found the future ripe with opportunity,” said Munce Group President Kirk Blank.
Writer to Writer conferences educate fiction and nonfiction writers with classes that focus on publishing strategies, promotions, marketing, branding, messaging and author engagements. Murphey will be the keynote speaker for nonfiction authors, and New York Times best-selling author Jerry B. Jenkins will be the keynote speaker for fiction authors.
The conferences are accessible in terms of cost, timing and venues across the country. The first 2015 conference begins Friday evening, Jan. 16, with a Shark Tank-like experience and concludes Saturday, Jan. 17 at 6 p.m. It will be held at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The fee for aspiring and published authors is $299, which includes the main sessions and select meals.
Writer to Writer is being held in conjunction with Christian Product Expo (CPE), a three-day tradeshow hosted by Munce for independent Christian retailers. Writers are invited to stay for CPE on Jan. 18-20 and interact with the people who work on the frontlines to sell their books.
“Bringing authors and retailers under the same roof for training is the perfect pairing,” said Suzanne Kuhn, owner of SuzyQ.
The deadline to register is Dec. 30. Attendees who register early will also be able to attend SuzyQ’s Author Boot Camp for free before the show Friday afternoon and an Editor Boot Camp after the show Sunday morning, Jan. 18.
Visit writertowriter.com for more information or to register.
Q. What kinds of complaints do you
hear from editors concerning the submissions they receive?
A. Good question.
Over the years I have heard many such complaints from editors. Here
are a few of the most common: (1) Writer has not seen or read the
publication, or for books have never read a book from that publisher.
(2) They have not read, nor have they followed, the writers'
guidelines supplied by the publisher (usually available on their
Website). (3) Too many errors; obvious the writer has not proofread
the final copy. (4) Writer does not recognize or write to the needs
of the publisher's target audience. (5) Writers who insist the
manuscript was fully inspired by God and the editor is not to change
one word. (6) Writers who have read the guidelines but indicate they
are sending a piece that they know doesn't fit because it will be too
good for the editor to turn down.
sure there are other complaints, but these cover the most common.
It's also a good list to keep in mind when submitting. Avoiding these
negatives will also make your chances of selling much more likely.
Q. I just sold an article to a
magazine that seems like a perfect fit for me. Would it be
presumptuous of me to write and tell the editor I'd be interested in
getting future freelance assignments from her?
A. I have always
encouraged writers to work at developing good relationships with the
editors of their favorite publications. Your first goal with that
publication is to show the editor that you understand their
readership and their particular needs. Selling them one article is
just the beginning. Rather than you approaching her after just one
sale, show her that you understand her needs by continuing to submit
articles and making more sales to her. If you continue to hit the
mark with your submissions, she will likely recognize you as someone
who could take on assignments for the magazine. Chances are you won't
have to bring it up, but if the opportunity presents itself after a
longer history with her, then go ahead and mention it. Since
assignments bring with them a guaranteed payment, editors are
reluctant to make that commitment to a writer they don't know well
and trust explicitly.
The Munce Group and SuzyQ will run Cecil Murphey’s Writer to Writer conferences, beginning Jan. 16, in conjunction with the Munce Group’s Christian Product Expo in Hershey, PA. Cecil Murphey will keynote for nonfiction authors, and Jerry B. Jenkins will keynote for fiction authors.
Some people myself included have claimed there’s no money in poetry. In a broad sense, that is true. However, there are always exceptions to the rules, and it’s a fact this will be the 9th year that Writer’s Digest awards a cash prize to the winner of their only poetry-specific writing competition. In fact, one poem will earn one poet $1,000 cash, publication in Writer’s Digest magazine, and more.
What could you do with $1,000? For a poem you wrote?
I’ve long been leery of contests that don’t offer some tangible benefit to writers for entering, whether they win or lose. That’s why I’m excited to announce everyone who enters this contest will gain access to a live webinar titled “Find More Readers and Success With Your Poetry” that will be taught by me and incorporate things I’ve learned first hand over the years, as well as lessons learned and shared with me by other poets. This webinar will take place at 1:00 PM EST on December 15th. Entrants that cannot attend the live event will gain access to a recorded version.
In this live webinar, you’ll discover:
How to get poems published.
Why blogs can benefit poets.
How to use social media with a purpose.
5 tips for reading poems in public.
Why to build and how to use contact lists.
The power of poetry organizations.
These live webinars usually run $79 to $99, but you will receive access just for entering the Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards. That alone is a great deal, but remember: You’ll be entering your best poem for a chance to win $1,000—or one of 24 other prizes (there are awards for the top 25 poems).
Win or lose, you’ll receive a great deal. But somebody has to win that $1,000 cash, and it might as well be you. Enter your poem today, because the deadline is November 21, 2014.
Good luck and see you at the live webinar!
Robert Lee Brewer
Senior Content Editor, Writer’s Digest Writing Community
I finally have information on the future of the Christian Writers' Market Guide. The 2015 edition apparently fell through the cracks when the Christian Writers' Guild was shutting down--but it has not been dropped. It will be late getting out, but hopefully will be out by March at the latest. The good news is that I will be back working on it once again. That work will start as soon as the files arrive here, and I would appreciate your prayers as that work get underway. We'll keep you posted on when it will be available.
I am often amazed
at how timid some writers are when it comes to making themselves
known to editors they might write for. Once you identify your area of
expertise—the topic or type of writing you want to be identified
with—you should then identify which publications specialize in that
kind of material. Even if you are writing or are planning to write
books, getting your name out there in relation to your topic is a
critical part of building your platform and reputation.
Once you pinpoint
those publications, let them know who you are and what you can
contribute to their future needs. Send a query or complete manuscript
(whatever they ask for) clearly reflecting your ability to write on
that topic area. Also include your background or whatever it is that
qualifies you to write such material, plus ideas for additional
articles. Indicate your shared interest in and understanding of their
particular audience, and volunteer to write articles for them in an
Most publications are looking for qualified writers they
can depend on to meet their ongoing needs.
Even if you don’t
get an immediate positive response from an editor, keep submitting to
them and work at building that positive relationship. Some editors
may be reluctant to trust you until you prove you can write
appropriate material, meet their deadlines, understand their needs,
etc. Persistence is often the name of the game.
Author Cynthia Ruchti took home a top prize in this year’s CLASS Christian Writers Conference Book Contest. Ruchti’s All My Belongings (Abingdon Press) received the Award of Excellence for Fiction. The book explores the idea of what happens when changing your name for anonymity, running away, and searching for a place to belong doesn’t go as you had hoped. The win comes after a strong showing with multiple wins and nominations from other literary programs previously announced this year.
Nelson Books, a nonfiction imprint of Thomas Nelson, is pleased to announce the hiring of senior acquisitions editor Jessica Wong. Effective Monday, November 24, Wong will become the newest member of the Nelson Books team, filling the role previously held by Joel Miller.
Nazarene Publishing House will not close for business, but undergo a restructure, according to Interim CEO Mark Brown. All imprints of WordAction Curriculum and Beacon Hill Books, will continue uninterrupted. "It's true that our business model will change December 2, 2014 based on our current financial situation," Brown said. "However, NPH management is developing a new strategic plan, and we look forward to continuing to meet the literature needs of the Church of the Nazarene and our Wesleyan partners." The newly appointed NPH Board of Directors approved the go-forward plan, which will be implemented December 2 so there will be no interruption of services to NPH customers. "The Nazarene Publishing House is open for business," Brown said. "We are grateful for the outpouring of support we have received from our customers during these recent challenges. God is helping us imagine a new future, and we gladly anticipate serving you."
From Jeanette Gardner Littleton: “We’re looking for materials for a book for Bethany House called Jesus Talked to Me Today. It’s about children’s experiences with miracles, angels, and God. It’s a paying opportunity. If you’d like submission guidelines, you may email meat firstname.lastname@example.org.” This is a compilation and many of our members have contributed to earlier compilations assembled by Jeanette and others. A great way to get a byline. The deadline for submissions has been extended to December 15, 2014.
Since the announcement that Jerry Jenkins would be closing down the Christian Writer's Guild, there have been questions about what is going to happen with the Christian Writers' Market Guide. At this point I don't have any answers to that question, but will contact Jerry tomorrow and see what I can find out. Please pray that God's will will be done in this situation. I will let you know as soon as I find out anything.
“Start telling the stories that only you
can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and
there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be
people who are much better at doing this or doing that – but you
are the only you.” ― Neil Gaiman
e-queries/e-submissions continue to increase in popularity, we may
need to be reminded of proper e-mail etiquette.
sure that the publisher you are approaching is open to e-mail
contacts. More are each year—but not all yet.
whether they want the query or manuscript copied into the message or
attached. Some don’t want it in the message because the material
loses all its formatting. Others won’t open attachments because of
the fear of viruses. The market guide or their guidelines will tell
you which they want.
subject line is also critical. You want it to reflect exactly what
you are sending. It might say such things as “Article Query
Enclosed,” “Requested manuscript: article title,” or “Article
for Consideration.” If you are known by the editor, it might say
“Article Submission from Your Name.” The important thing is to
make it very clear what is included in the e-mail and/or attachment.
letter itself needs to be the same type of formal query you would
send by mail. Make sure it is professional, well organized, with no
misspelled words, poor grammar , or the like. Always include your
full contact information—not just an e-mail address.
though it is sent by e-mail, don’t expect an immediate response.
Editors tend to handle e-mail queries/submissions in two different
ways. Some may shoot back an immediate response—or at least an
acknowledgement that they received it. However, others handle them
in much the same way as they do hard copy submissions. They will
simply print it out and put it in the same pile as other unsolicited
mail or e-mail submissions. In that case, you can expect to hear
within their posted time limit for responses.
the length of your query letter. Unless there’s a good reason for
it to be longer, keep your letter to one page (meaning it won’t be
more than a page when the editor prints it out).
finally, don’t assume a No on this query is the end of your
relationship with this editor/publication. Many writers make the
mistake of trying a publication once and if they are rejected never
try that one again. Editors are looking for writers who want to
write for them. Writers who understand who they are, who their
readers are, and who share their vision for that audience or reader.
Your persistence in approaching that publisher will get their
Q. - I have a book
contract that was issued for a book that was completed at the time
the contract was signed. That was over a year ago and I received a
$2,000 advance at that time. Now, they have informed me that the
publishing company is changing directions and my book no longer fits
that new direction. For that reason they are not publishing it and
want their advance back. An advance that was spent long ago. Do I
have to refund their advance under these circumstances?
quick answer is No. There are certain circumstances under which you
would be obligated to return the advance. For example, if the
contract had been offered on a book that wasn't completed, chances
are your contract would have indicated that the contract was valid
only if you submitted an “acceptable” manuscript—and they were
not happy with the finished product. In that case you would have to
return any part of the advance you had already received. However,
since your contract had been issued for a completed manuscript, it
could be assumed that it was acceptable at the time the manuscript
was received and the advance was paid. For that reason you are not
obligated to return the advance if it was their choice not to publish
it. Keep in mind, though, that the publisher may still ask for such a
refund in hopes that you will not question it and do as they ask.
(Always check the contract to see under what terms you have to return
Do you feel deeply you have a calling,
and that your desired destiny awaits?
My friend Peggy McColl is hosting a
FREE online training event tomorrow.
Use the link below to learn more:
Peggy's going to show you how to
take a simple idea, quickly and
painlessly write a book about it,
and turn it into a million dollar business.
What I just said might have blown your
mind. If so, that puts a smile on my face.
Register Now for The Millionaire Author Event:
Space is limited, so register right now.
Even if you've never thought of writing
a book in the past, you don't want to
miss this one. Peggy's sharing all
her valuable secrets.
To Your Writing Success,
P.S. It doesn't matter if you've already written
a book or have never even considered it
before... you'll learn a lot from Peggy
at her FREE Millionaire Author Event:
Sometimes, you just know you’ve written something special. And a poem that is singular deserves to be read and appreciated by a wider audience. So if you want a chance to receive all the recognition and rewards that come with winning this competition, send us your finest poems, 32 lines or less, in any style.
The prestigious prizes for top winners are:
Up to $1,000 in cash
Your poem published in Writer’s Digest and promoted on WritersDigest.com
A copy of the 2015 Poet’s Market
NEW: All entrants will gain access to a live webinar titled “Find More Readers and Success With Your Poetry” that will be taught by Robert Brewer and incorporate things he's learned first hand over the years, as well as lessons learned and shared with him by other poets.
DEADLINE FOR ENTRIES: NOVEMBER 21, 2014
One of “Four Top Schools You Should Consider” by TheWriter
The MFA in creative writing offered by the Whidbey Writers Workshop is the first program of its kind to be offered by an organization of writers and not by a college or university.
The program strives to produce productive, publishing writers who participate in the local, regional, and national writing community. Although the majority of coursework is completed online, students and faculty spend ten days together on picturesque Whidbey Island every January and August. Individual five-credit courses empower students to work at their own pace and complete the program in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, or children/young adults in two to six years.
The Whidbey Writers Workshop is a program of the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts, which is also home to the Whidbey Island Writers Conference, the Whidbey Island Writers Association, and the Soundings Review literary magazine.
Northwest Institute of Literary Arts, 5611 Bayview Road, Freeland, WA 98260
Patricia Anders was promoted to editorial director and Jonathan Kline hired as editorial associate for Hendrickson Publishers. Kline will manage and edit biblical studies and acquire new books focused on biblical scholarship. He will report to Anders.
The Christian Writers Guild, owned by novelist Jerry Jenkins, has shut down after 50 years of operation. Jenkins, who purchased the group in 2001, announced the closing at the CWG website, citing no reason but noting that students would be able to finish writing courses offered through the guild, begun as a correspondence course in the 1960s.
“I’m saddened to see the end of what was a powerful training resource for writers,” said agent Steve Laube. “One of our clients, Jan Watson, got her start as a novelist through CWG and continues to publish marvelous books with Tyndale. Jerry's vision and desire to give back to the industry have been an inspiration to us all.”
Jenkins told PW in an email that he was narrowing his focus back to his own writing and personal coaching, the latter to be done through blogging and private consultation. He has two books coming out next year, the nonfiction title The Matheny Manifesto, with St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny (Crown Archetype, Feb.), and the novel Empire's End (Worthy, May).
The Believers Group has announced that it will form a nonprofit educational arm, Believers Trust, to offer education to aspiring writers. A for-profit arm, Believers Media, will offer a menu of services across media for content creators. Believers Group is run by Dave Sheets, who was president of CWG until his resignation earlier this month.
Sheets said he and Jenkins remain friends. “I needed to take publishing services in a different direction,” he said, noting that the arrangement of services under the Believers Group umbrella was a matter of rebranding to clarify what the group offered. Earlier business iterations, including Believers Press and 1Source, will fade, he said.
“We’re trying to make it not confusing to people about what we’re doing,” he said.
Also moving to the new Believers Trust group is Julie Boynton, former marketing coordinator for CWG. In 2013, Jenkins had launched Christian Writers Guild Publishing, to provide publishing for CWG clients.
Q. If I submit an article to a
publication that does not return rejected manuscripts, and don't hear
from them, how will I know if it has been rejected or is just
languishing in a slush pile somewhere? Can we feel free to send it on
to another publication after a certain amount of time, or must we
send a registered letter withdrawing the article from publication?
A. Generally when
a publication does not return rejected manuscripts, they do give a
certain time frame within which they will be considering it. If so,
and you do not hear within that time, you are free to submit the
manuscript elsewhere. If they have not indicated a specific time
frame, then generally speaking you can wait eight weeks and if you
don't hear, you can go ahead and submit it to another publication. A
letter withdrawing it is not necessary, although you could send a
brief e-mail to that effect if you like.
Q - This question is from the editor
of a Christian periodical: We buy articles from freelancers, and then
give permission to online publications to put those articles up on
their Websites. I have assumed that if we assigned a piece it
belonged to us and we were free to give that permission, but an
author recently told me we were wrong. Can you clarify this rights
understand it, the question is whether or not you have the right to
give others permission to use an author's material that has appeared
in your publication. This should be spelled out in your contract, but
apparently it isn't. It all comes down to what rights you are buying.
If you buy all rights—and your contract needs to state that in
order to be valid—then you are free to do whatever you want with
the material—reprint, use elsewhere, give permission to others or
whatever. In essence it belongs to you. (The copyright law says that
in order to buy all rights it has to be stated in writing.)
on the other hand, you buy first, one-time, or reprint rights, then
you can only print the material once, at which point the rights
automatically revert to the author—so you cannot give anyone else
permission to reprint or put on their Website. You need to refer the
person asking to the author who will make the decision as to whether
or not they will give permission. Again, if you indicate in your
contract what rights you are buying, there is no confusion about
this. If, for some reason, you want to have all rights, then you
should be prepared to pay more for that and realize that some authors
will not sell all rights.
or not the piece has been assigned has no bearing on the rights
issue. Again, the contract needs to specify which rights you are
buying--which can actually vary from author to author or article to
article—depending on what terms you come to with them and put in
the contract. As far as an assignment is concerned, some publishers
assume that if they make an assignment it is work for hire—which
would give you all rights—but that is not true. Work for hire
refers to work you do as an employee of the publisher—something you
might write as part of your job—it does not apply to assignments
made to freelancers.
Crown Publishing Group announces that Steve Cobb has decided that he is ready to embark on the next chapter of his life and will be retiring in March 2015. In his capacity as President and Publisher of WaterBrook Multnomah, Steve has provided inspiring and dedicated leadership for our religion publishing program for nearly twenty years. Steve joined our company in 1996 as a founding executive of WaterBrook, when the imprint was launched as an autonomous evangelical Christian publishing division of then Bantam Doubleday Dell. He subsequently played an instrumental role in the purchase of Harold Shaw Publishers in 2000 and the acquisition of Multnomah Publishers in 2006—both of which contributed to the dramatic growth of our Christian front and backlist program.