Saturday, August 22, 2009

Steps to "Banking By-Lines"

(Image of Maccho Picchu)

According to last year's PNWA keynote speaker Gayle Lynds, it takes an average of 10 years for a writer to get her first book published.
Not very encouraging is it?
So what can a writer do in the meantime?
One option is to write articles. Lots of articles.
Freelance writer Roy Stevens, the presenter of the workshop Going from Good Idea to Sold Idea: Seven-Step Process for Banking By-Lines, has done just that. In less than 2 years he's cranked out more than 350 articles for over 30 magazines.
Presenters such as Roy offer great advice on how a writer can at least draw a steady income despite not having a book on the New York Times Best Seller List.
During the workshop, Roy discussed implementing a step-by-step plan for getting published in diverse markets--even without having to be an expert in the fields you're writing about.
Step 1: Create an Action Plan

Plan your articles and submissions--use a timetable. Also never decline a story suggestion from an editor.
Don't blindly fire-off query letters to editors in a "scattered" approach, but develop a schedule. For example Roy adhered to the following procedure:

Week 1--Pitch to Running magazines
Week 2--Pitch to other fitness magazines
Week 3--Pitch to travel magazines
Week 4--Pitch to military and travel magazines

Step 2: Diversify to find more story ideas

Write about different topics.
Write about subjects you're passionate about.
Combine interests and travel.
Search for magazines and e-zines that cover the type of stories you're interested in.
Step 3: You Don't have to be an expert!
Consult a subject-matter expert.
Get others to review your work.
Fact check every story--this is critical.
Acknowledge your consultant in the article.

Step 4: Research your article before you pitch it

This increases your chances of getting published.
Shows the editor you're prepared.
Incorporate research information in your query letter.

Step 5: Find magazines and e-zines you want to pitch to. Information on these magazines can be found in/on the following:

Local bookstores
Specialty news agents
Writer's Market
The American Writers and Artists Institute (AWAI)

Step 6: Read the writer's guidelines of the publication you're interested in writing for

Check out the publication's website.

Examine the tone, style and average length of the articles, along with the number of articles in each issue and the topics covered in the past 6-12 months.

Read the payment details.

Contact the right person in the right department.

Understand the format requirements for submissions. If no guidelines are listed then "fly blind," but indicate you can be flexible.

Examine the distribution of long vs. short articles.
Determine who writes the articles: Freelancers? Staff?

Step 7: Pitch your story
Send out a blizzard of query letters and e-mails.
The more queries you send out the more articles you'll get published.
Don't be afraid to pitch to any magazine, e-zine or newspaper.
Don't be put-off by rejections!
Some final notes:
How to manage multiple submissions--
-Give it to the first editor who accepts it
-Pitch slightly different topics or variations of the original story.

How to squeeze the most out of your articles--
-Submit to publications whose circulations don't overlap, such as regional and overseas magazines and newspapers.

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