About April Michelle Davis

Founded in 2001 by April Michelle Davis, Editorial Inspirations provides exceptional editing, indexing, and proofreading services to both publishers and authors. Each task is approached with a greater understanding of the various aspects of the publishing process. The intent of the author and the publisher is always kept in mind—from the first word to well beyond the end.

A Great Start to the New Year

It’s an honor and a pleasure to start the new year as a member of NAIWE’s Board of Experts, especially with networking as my area of NAIWE expertise. As many of you know, I’m a long-time passionate believer in networking, as evidenced by the many professional associations and online communities of colleagues that I belong to, along with the Communication Central “Be a Better Freelancer”® conference that I host every year. Even more important to the concept of networking is that I’m far more than what I call a “checkbook member”—I don’t just pay dues and wait for the membership to do something for me; I’m active and visible in every group I belong to (yes, it’s OK to end a sentence with a preposition).

For organizations such as the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA), Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), ACES-The Society for EditingGreater St. Louis Association of Black Journalists (GSLABJ), International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), Association of Independent Information ProfessionalsAssociation for Women in Communications (AWC) and National Association of Independent Writers and Editors (NAIWE), I do everything from write for and edit newsletters to  present webinars, workshops and conference speeches; write booklets; contribute to online conversations; manage and update websites; organize events, etc. That may seem like a lot of work, but I enjoy it (I’m the poster child for extroverts) and it means that I’m constantly learning from, not just sharing knowledge with, colleagues at all levels of professionalism. Even better from a professional success standpoint, it means I become visible and known within these groups, which often leads to being hired or referred for projects. I even make a few bucks from some of these activities in and of themselves.

In addition to the professional advantages of networking, I’ve also made great friends through many of these organizations and found resources that have made my work life easier, more diverse and more interesting.

My point is that networking is a two-way process. You don’t get much, if anything, out of joining an organization or group and waiting for it to do something for you. When you engage in genuine networking, the group benefits you in a number of ways, many of which can be quantified in terms of income and renown. Do keep that in mind as NAIWE makes it possible to do more for ourselves and each other in this new year.

Here’s to a successful, profitable, enjoyable year of writing, editing, and networking for all NAIWE members. To coin a version of a popular phrase, may we live well and prosper!

 

Ruth Thaler-Carter has been a full-time freelance writer, editor, proofreader, and desktop publisher for more than 30 years. She has been published locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally in, and does editing and proofreading for, publications, websites, service firms, and businesses. She sold her first freelance articles when she was still in high school. Renowned as a skilled networker, Ruth is a newsletter editor, publication author, speaker/presenter, blogger, program host or planner, and chapter leader. In 2006, Ruth launched the Communication Central “Be a Better Freelancer”® annual conference to help aspiring and established freelancers find greater success and connections with colleagues. Ruth received the Philip M. Stern Award of Washington (DC) Independent Writers for service to freelancers; the Writers and Books Big Pencil Award for teaching adults and contributions to the literary community; EFfie awards for writing, editing, and newsletters; and the APEX award for feature writing. Ruth was also the IABC/DC Communicator of the Year.

Improving Your Vision

I attended an academically rigorous high school, where As were hard to come by. My senior year, I taped a handwritten note above my desk that simply said HONOR ROLL. It was a constant reminder of what I wanted to achieve.

Truth be told, I missed the honor roll by one letter grade in the final term. Still, it was the closest I’d ever come to making it . . . and I was confident that putting my goal in writing (and in a place I couldn’t ignore) had pushed me psychologically.

Fast forward to life in the working world. During my early career in magazines, the goals weren’t of my choosing, but they were clear: Brainstorm the topics, assign the articles, hound the writers, edit the copy, get it into the art department’s hands, and stay up late gorging on pizza when it was closing week and we had to send everything to the printer. Rinse, repeat.

 

Putting Your Goals in a Place They Can’t Be Ignored

As freelancers, it’s on us to determine our goals. At least once a year, I sit down at a local coffee shop for a few hours and write down an unedited list of things I want to achieve over the near and long term. But I made a mistake two years ago: I left the list inside a notebook, which I filed and forgot about for months.

If I’m honest with myself, it’s probably because it’s a bit overwhelming—and maybe counterproductive—to look every day at a piece of paper with 50 or more handwritten goals on it. That’s where a vision board comes in. Much like my honor roll reminder way back when, being able to glance at a poster board helps with inspiration. (If you’re interested in some great info about vision boards, I highly recommend Christine Kane’s process.) For me, it’s an extra step toward keeping the big picture, quite literally, right in front of me.

Obviously, a vision board doesn’t solve everything. You also have to create systems for your freelance business, a broader topic for another day. Nonetheless, for a daily reminder of why I’m doing what I’m doing, investing in a poster board, some magazines, and a glue stick pays significant mental dividends—especially since a vision board is far too big to tuck away and forget!

Here’s to a fantastic, prosperous 2019—whatever your vision is!

 

Jake Poinier made the leap into freelance writing and editing in 1999 after a decade of positions in the publishing industry, giving him key insights from both sides of the desk. As the founder and owner of Boomvang Creative Group, he has worked with a diverse array of Fortune 500 and small businesses, consumer and trade magazines, and independent authors. Jake is committed to helping freelancers improve their businesses and shares his knowledge and experiences frequently as a speaker at industry conferences, through webinars, and on his blog.

Make Yourself a More Professional Writer

It’s a bright, sunny day. Your horse or lottery ticket just came in. Your significant other is happy and loving. You had a great breakfast and you’re feeling fine. Of course you’re in the zone where you can crank out a great story, possibly in record time, and feel just wonderful not only while you’re doing it, but also afterward.

But that’s not such an amazing triumph. Millions of people can do that.

It’s when the weather is crappy, your horse or lottery ticket came in last, your significant other is feeling difficult and dissatisfied, you burned your eggs and dropped your toast on the floor (butter side down!), and you ache all over that it takes true professionalism to crank out that same great story and feel proud of yourself for having done it, though perhaps not in record time.

Professionalism isn’t always about overcoming a mountain of obstacles, of course, but it does tend to distinguish the best writers from the rest of the pack. It also promotes a high level of self-confidence and satisfaction with your efforts and your results.

Here are some hallmarks of professional writers and how to move closer, if not all the way in, to their ranks.

 

Setting Up an Office

I’ve written on my NAIWE blog about this subject. Lots of other people have written on the same topic. Through all of these writings, the basic guidelines encourage you to do the following:

  1. Assemble the right tools
  1. Put them into an environment that’s comfortable for you
  1. Spend a lot of time there.

 

Until someone comes up with a robot that does your writing for you (and does it as well as you), there simply is no substitute for putting in many hours of concentrated time. And that’s far easier to do in an environment conducive to your work. This shows why establishing a great working space brings a tremendous boost to your professionalism.

 

Choosing Specialization vs. General Writing

Professional writers can go either way on this one: choosing to be a specialist or a generalist. Some people find their writing more valuable because they have become experts in some particular field of information that’s valuable to the audiences of a certain set of publishers. Others find their work more valuable because they have special points of view or insights (think George Carlin or Rebecca Solnit) they can apply to a wide range of subjects.

Construct and manage your professional writing trajectory to capitalize on your native talents and gifts. This way, what you tend to do naturally produces the output you can sell most easily.

But don’t feel pressured to go just one way or the other. Some people can succeed on both paths for a long while and may never need to relinquish one for the other.

 

Building Relationships with Editors

By “editors,” in this context, we mean anyone with the power (and/or money) to buy some of your work, or anyone with the responsibility to improve your work after someone else has bought it.

These are the key people you want to cultivate, befriend, and welcome into your professional world. Treat these relationships almost like you would a dating relationship with someone you think is really great. You’re looking for a close working relationship that can last a long time.

 

Getting More Writing Assignments

As you become more successful and well known, it’s easier to develop your own audience and have them transfer some of their money to you for nearly everything you write. But until you get there, professional writing involves finding publishers to pay you for completing assignments.

To simplify and speed up the process of finding publishers and winning paid assignments from them, you want to establish a system that helps you do the following:

  1. Identify publishers who are already interested in the kind of writing you want to do. You can find them through your own reading, through research into the literary marketplace, by word of mouth from friends and colleagues, even randomly by noticing who is publishing what people around you are reading.
  1. Make yourself known to such publishers, and encourage them to dialog with you. This begins with developing and regularly updating an introductory package about yourself that includes a brief rundown of your skills, professional experience, and qualifications, plus samples of your work. Have this ready in appropriate formats, and fire it off whenever you identify a publisher who might be interested in your work.
  1. Keep track of your professional contacts, including everyone you meet who might be interested in your work, everyone you’re currently working with, everyone with whom you’re dialoguing about work, and everyone you’ve pitched for new work. It should include the date of your last contact with each one, the nature and content of that contact, and a projected date when you want to contact them again (if they don’t contact you first). Regularly review this list and keep it current.

 

Re-Writing Your Text

Good writing requires re-writing. The more you go over your text to re-read it, re-think it, and re-write it as necessary, the better it will become. At a minimum, putting in extra time to revisit your work will improve your chances of finding typos, misspellings, bad punctuation, and other errors.

Beyond that, the more often you re-write, the better your chances of finding just the right thought, just the right phrase, even just the right word to elevate your writing to the highest level of which you are capable.

According to Mark Twain: “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”

In each piece you create, take time to include as much lightning as you can. Your writing will be more professional for it.

 

Planning for Retirement

Making money is one matter. Retaining the maximum amount of that money for when you’re done working requires entirely different skills.

While there are many nuances and bits of knowledge involved, it boils down to this:

  1. Spend less than you make.
  1. Retain the extra money.
  1. Find financial vehicles (e.g., savings accounts, certificates of deposit, stocks, bonds, options, and mutual funds) to help your savings grow.
  1. Do all this for as many years as you can.

 

Perseverance is critical. The earlier you start saving and earning compound interest, the more you’ll accumulate for retirement. For example, if you earn 1% per year on a savings of $100 per month for 10 years or $12,000, you’ll wind up with $12,615.99. Do the same thing for 20 years and you will have saved $24,000, and you’ll wind up with $26,556.12. Do it for 30 years, you will have saved a total of $36,000, and you’ll retire with $41,962.82. As you might expect, when you collect higher than 1% returns, this kind of long-term compounding generates even greater benefits.

So do this, and start right now.

In fact, do all of these, and let me know how significantly your professionalism improves.

 

Robert Moskowitz is an award-winning independent professional writer who has written and sold millions of words in just about every format over five decades. He instinctively sees the big pictures, breaks each one down into coherent slices, meaningfully prioritizes and sequences those slices, and then executes the tasks inherent in each slice in very productive ways. Put more simply, Robert knows how to succeed as an independent writer, covering all the bases from soliciting assignments to delivering polished work, from pricing jobs to budgeting and managing personal finances, from organizing a conducive office environment to establishing and following sensible guidelines regarding life, work, and productivity. Having done all this, and having paid attention to how he did it, Robert is now in a position to pass along what he knows to others.

Twitter and the Business of Writing

How can Twitter be used for business in just 140 characters per tweet? (Editor’s note: Twitter now gives users 280 characters per tweet.) A reporter asked that question recently, and this is what I replied:

My posts serve a few different types of purposes (example after each, italicized):

  • Connecting 1:1 with people who are important in my industries

@TerryDean Thanks 4 following. Loved yr post about hypercopyitis–very in tune w/ my philosophy of copywriting

  • Exchanging useful information

@drmani Picked out an article for yr Heart Kids Tweetathon (honest copywriting)–have sent to my assistant to set up the download page.

  • Subtly demonstrating my skills and capabilities

Waiting for two different clients to send follow-up so I can write them knock-’em-dead press releases 🙂

  • Generating interest in an article I’ve written or found worthwhile

Is horrified at police violence against protesters AND JOURNALISTS at Repub Convention http://ping.fm/zeNHo [www.principledprofit_com]

  • Once in a great while, something about my personal life if I think people will actually find it interesting

Reunited with important old friends from NYC poet days after ~17 years–great visit!

 

I joined Twitter in the summer of 2008 and am finding it increasingly useful, almost addictive. I typically spend about five minutes, two or three times a day—but invariably I then spend some extra time following useful links that others have posted.

I have no patience for the “I had cereal for breakfast” type of tweet, and I unfollow people who chatter about nothing all day long and fill my box. But I’m finding it a nice little relationship-reinforcer, especially for those who know me very casually, as well as a fabulous source of information, a way of associating with new people I should know, and in some situations, a way to hear breaking news. I first found out that Paul Krugman won the Nobel Prize on Twitter. And by following HelpAReporter, ReporterConnection, and ProfNet, I’m able to get a jump on fast-breaking requests from journalists for story sources.

 

This article was excerpted with permission from Shel Horowitz’s e-book, Web 2.0 Marketing for the 21st Century: The Missing Chapters of Grassroots Marketing: Getting Noticed in a Noisy World and Grassroots Marketing for Authors and Publishers, which is included with every direct-from-Shel order of either Grassroots book. Press releases, book jackets, sell sheets, and web pages from Shel (award-winning author of Grassroots Marketing for Authors and Publishers, Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green, and six other books) tell “the story behind the story.”

Crowdfunding: An Introduction, Part Two

At this point you might be wondering how crowdfunding works and how to get started with a campaign. Here’s a quick breakdown of the basic steps to initiate a crowdfunding campaign:

  • Choose a crowdfunding platform. There are several crowdfunding platforms available, each varying somewhat, appealing to different audiences, and offering different services. Prospective campaigners should research which platform would be the best fit for their project.
  • Create a campaign. A crowdfunding campaign is a way for project creators to tell their audience who they are and what makes their project important. Campaigners can use photos, upload a video, provide a summary, and devise reward levels to entice supporters. Reward levels should be cost effective, but offer a value or something unique and individual to those pledging support.
  • Develop a marketing plan. People won’t simply find a project and financially pledge toward it unless the project is enticing and has momentum. It’s the job of the campaign creator to build that initial buzz, so it’s important to have a solid marketing plan in place before the launch of a campaign.
  • Promote and ask for support. Campaigners must reach out to their network and ask for support and help in spreading the word about the campaign. The more traffic the creator is able to drive to the campaign, the more momentum it will build. Shareability among supporters will increase if the campaign is exciting and the story compelling. How well the campaigner markets his or her story will often be the great determining factor of success.
  • Use the funds raised to bring your project to life. The campaigner will receive the funds and use them to make the project a reality.

 

There are several crowdfunding platforms to choose from, and you may want to research them to find the one that best fits your needs. Let’s begin by looking at Pubslush and listing the features.

  • A vibrant community of writers, readers, publishers, and industry professionals that focuses on books and literary projects.
  • A flexible funding model allows authors to reach for the stars with their overall funding goal, but allows them to keep the funds they raise as long as they reach their minimum funding goal.
  • Personalized service provides hands-on campaign support.
  • Authors have accessibility to their own reader database and supporter analytics that provide authors with relevant campaign information detailing demographics and contact information.
  • Buy Now feature continues to drive traffic to the sales of the book post-campaign and inclusivity to the Pubslush community indefinitely.
  • A 4% platform fee allows more money to go straight to the project.
  • The Cause allows authors to participate in by giving back to worldwide literacy initiatives.

 

Justine Schofield was the development director of Pubslush, a global crowdfunding platform for the literary world that provided a way to raise funds and tangibly pre-market books and literary-based projects, before it closed its doors in 2015. Justine has become a prominent voice in the publishing industry and an advocate for educating authors and publishers about crowdfunding. She has contributed to IBPA Independent magazine, Self-Publishers Monthly, Book Marketing magazine, Business Banter, and many more online publications. She has spoken on panel discussions about crowdfunding for authors and continues to foster the growth and development of crowdfunding within the publishing process.

Crowdfunding: An Introduction, Part One

What Is Crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding is a rapidly growing industry that caters to entrepreneurs and business-savvy creatives and gives them the power to fund and market their projects in the pre-production phase. Conducting a crowdfunding campaign requires time and effort, but can help to secure a more successful product launch.

 

How Does Crowdfunding Help Authors?

Crowdfunding for authors is quickly gaining traction as an essential step in the publishing process. Crowdfunding is conducive to the publishing process and offers an array of benefits aside from simply raising funds. Crowdfunding can help authors to

  • Collect pre-orders. Reward-based crowdfunding allows authors to create tiered reward levels as a way to thank and entice their supporters. The most obvious reward an author can offer to their supporters is their book, so crowdfunding essentially provides a platform to facilitate a pre-order campaign to a wide audience of readers.
  • Employ a marketing campaign before publication. The marketing efforts for a book must begin well before publication, but it can be very difficult to talk about a product that hasn’t been produced yet. A crowdfunding campaign provides a landing page to drive traffic and connect with readers in the pre-publication phase.
  • Build an author brand. Since a crowdfunding campaign must offer a range of reward levels, authors are forced to think about what other services or items of value they can offer their supporters. Realistically, in order for an author to make a living writing, they need to incorporate other services into their branding, such as speaking, coaching, etc. Creating reward levels can help authors build their brand by determining what else they have to offer their audience.
  • Expand a network and build a platform. A crowdfunding campaign encapsulates the author in a way that isn’t possible through traditional channels. Authors can connect with their audience on a personal level, tell their story, and include links to their website and social media. The personalization of a crowdfunding campaign is part of its appeal and is often how authors gain support from readers outside of their network.
  • Engage with readers. A crowdfunding campaign allows the creator to engage with supporters. Access to an evolving database of readers can be very useful and provide authors with valuable insight, as well as a foundation for future promotional efforts.

 

In part 2 of this article, you’ll learn about steps to complete a crowdfunding project, as well as a bit about Pubslush, a crowdfunding service for writers.

 

Justine Schofield was the development director of Pubslush, a global crowdfunding platform for the literary world that provided a way to raise funds and tangibly pre-market books and literary-based projects, before it closed its doors in 2015. Justine has become a prominent voice in the publishing industry and an advocate for educating authors and publishers about crowdfunding. She has contributed to IBPA Independent magazine, Self-Publishers Monthly, Book Marketing magazine, Business Banter, and many more online publications. She has spoken on panel discussions about crowdfunding for authors and continues to foster the growth and development of crowdfunding within the publishing process.

How to Get Your Article or Column Syndicated

Would you like to see an article, series of articles, or columns you have written published not only in one publication or magazine but in many? How do you syndicate what you have written?

Writers such as William Safire, Dave Barry, and Kathleen Parker have become household names because their articles have been syndicated and appear in many newspapers. If you write regularly about a topic, you may be able to tap into syndication in order to reach a larger audience.

One approach is to promote a single article based on a book you have written or find a focus for a series of articles or columns, so you present yourself as an expert in a particular area. If you have already published a book and are doing speaking, workshops, seminars, or consulting in this area, this is a good place to focus.

A good first step is to get your articles or columns published someplace, even if you do it for free or for a small amount of money. This way you get the ball rolling by getting some visibility and building your credibility. Then you are not submitting an unpublished manuscript or collection of manuscripts for a proposed column or article series (the usual guideline is to submit five sample columns). Instead you have a published article, column, or article series to show. That buys you a more serious look from the get-go.

In effect, you are starting through self-syndication. Then, unless you want to take the time to repeatedly send queries to newspapers, magazines, online outlets, and other publishers and follow up to make sure you get paid, look for a syndication service—or syndicate—to represent you. Often syndicates will take 40%–50% of your income, but it can be worth the investment to take advantage of their already established reach and reputation. Additionally, having a syndicate represent you allows you to focus on writing and promoting your article, column, or article series.

This article explains how to use this two-step process of (1) getting your article, column, or article series published and (2) finding a syndicate to represent you.

 

Get Your Article Published

The goal is to have your article published. While it might be nice to get top payment for an article that is published, if you are planning to syndicate it, don’t expect to get what writers often get for sole rights or first rights articles, such as $1 a word or more in top markets and $0.50–$0.75 a word in others. More typically, syndicated articles sell for about $20–$25 for an article in the 700- to 1,000-word range, or even less, with the sale typically based on only first-time rights for that particular market.

If you want to add in a bio or promotional material at the end of an article, a publication may often offer to run the article for free in return for the plug. Even if you pull the plug, the publication may still offer a relatively low amount, knowing you plan to seek other publishers for the column or series of articles.

My suggestion to improve your ability to find a syndicate—or even if you try self-syndication first—is to be willing to accept whatever publishing deals you can get, since it is more important to BE PUBLISHED at this stage than to be paid, as long as you are published in a fairly reputable publication. You can then use that publication as leverage in finding a syndicate to represent you.

Contact the nearest major city newspaper and a local weekly. Focus on getting two publications, and be open to the idea that the publisher may want to run your article series for free in return for including bio information about you. Also keep in mind that a publication will help you obtain the next publisher, and perhaps this next publisher will be willing to pay for your writing. If so, take into consideration the relative circulation of the different publications in setting your price, and be willing to negotiate down if necessary, since it is still more important to be published than to be paid well or at all.

That is exactly what I did with my column now syndicated in a dozen papers, including the Oakland Tribune and L.A. Downtown News. When I first approached the Oakland Tribune, the editor told me the publisher usually paid around $65 for an article of the size I was proposing—800–900 words. Yet, while the editor loved my column, the publisher turned it down because he didn’t want to pay for an outside column. So I offered to do the column in return for printing my bio of about 50 words, and the editor pitched this offer to her publisher. This time he agreed. The arrangement was that my column would run in the Tribune and in 10 other East Bay papers. The Tribune would have first rights to my column in its market, and I could continue to pitch my column.

Then, with that agreement in place, I proposed the column to the L.A. Downtown News, a daily paper looking for lifestyle and career articles to appeal to about 50,000 business and professional people in the downtown L.A. area. This editor liked my column, too, and after some discussion about the cost of individual columns or a series of 13 of them, we settled on the series of 13 at  $20 an article, rather than $35 for just one. (The original price was based on about half of what the Tribune, a smaller paper, would have paid if it paid anything, and we worked out a package price for multiple articles.)

 

Get Copies of Your Column, Article, or Series

Once you have a publisher or two, the next step is using your published article, columns, or series of articles to your benefit. In other words, wait for the articles to appear, and then pitch to a potential syndicate about representing you.

Ideally, unless this is a single reprint article, wait for at least four and preferably five columns in one publication, and as many as appear by that time in the other. If it’s a weekly column or article series, you should have these in four to six weeks. This happened with both the Oakland Tribune and L.A. Downtown News, as it took about six weeks, before I had five columns from the Tribune and three from the News.

When these articles appear, clip out copies from the print publication—or if there’s an online edition, download that. While using the print publication is preferable, if it’s inconvenient to get a copy, use the online version. That’s what I did with the L.A. Downtown News, since the editor wasn’t able to send me a copy, and I didn’t have anyone in L.A. who could easily pick up a copy and mail it to me.

 

Create Samples to Send to Syndicates

If you are using clips, paste them neatly with the masthead or name of the publication and the date. Then, you can make copies or scan them into a GIF file and open that up in a word processing or publishing program (such as Microsoft Word or Microsoft Publisher), which you can print out. If necessary, format the GIF picture so it becomes a black-and-white image. If you use an online version, download the publication masthead and your article into a word processing or publishing program and print that out.

You are now ready to send samples of your already published article, column, or article series, along with a cover letter and self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE). Include a bio sheet, highlighting your expertise in the area that is the subject of your material. If your column or article already ends with a strong bio, or if you have a website with extensive material about you, direct the syndicate contact there since the syndicator’s first interest will be in your already published material. So make that the focus of your pitch. (By contrast, if you are pitching an unpublished article or column, it may be better to include your credits in a strong bio to get the syndicator to want to read your unpublished material.)

 

Find a Syndicate

To select a syndicate, focus on contacting the larger syndicates that handle submissions from outside writers. There are several hundred syndicates if you look in the annual Syndicate Directory published by Editor & Publisher (comes out in August). But these listings don’t provide much more than address and contact information, though some of the larger syndicates have ads showing who they represent. And a great many of these syndicates are actually self-syndicators or companies representing just a few writers and not looking to handle others.

Thus, you need to narrow down the search, such as with a list of syndicates, which identifies the major syndicates open to outside submissions and which includes information on the types of columns and articles of interest, such as the CCR Syndicates List. Other considerations to keep in mind when choosing the syndicate’s best for you are these:

  • Types of columns and articles handled. Ideally, look for a syndicate that already handles your type of column or article series, although a syndicate may not want to handle your material if it is directly competitive with something they already handle.
  • Although syndicates are located all over the U.S., the largest ones are based in the major cities, including New York, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, San Diego, Chicago, and Kansas City. Generally, in selecting syndicates to contact, look for those in the larger cities.
  • Size of syndicate. Ideally, look for a syndicate that has the largest number of subscribers or members, since those are potential buyers for your article, column, or article series. Another indicator of the power of a syndicate is the number of writers it represents and the star-power of these writers. Preferably, look for a syndicate that has (1) the most subscribers or members, (2) the most writer clients, and (3) the most high-profile writers. While it may be more difficult to get these most powerful syndicates to handle your material initially, consider going back later if you have been initially rejected after you have built up more credits, possibly by using a smaller syndicate for the first year or two.

 

Send Queries to Syndicates

When you send a query to a syndicate, generally start with an initial query letter, unless the syndicate specifically invites you to send materials along with your letter. Most syndicates ask for a query letter first. In some cases, you can query by email, but a formal letter still looks more impressive. Generally, don’t send a fax unless you first get permission to do so, and at most, use the phone to check whether there is enough interest in your idea to send an initial query letter or to check for very recent contact changes. However, since there are usually only one or a few contacts at any syndicate, it is often faster and easier to send out your initial query letter with a few published samples or a bio than to call each syndicate.

If you already have an article, columns, or series articles published, you can include these along with your letter plus a bio. Or if you have extensive bio information on a website, you might let your publications speak for themselves and simply include a referral to the URL of your website. This way, your more powerful website can speak for you rather than a simple bio sheet.

Alternatively, if you don’t already have any published columns or articles to send, include a bio along with a description of these columns. That was my approach when I initially contacted the Oakland Tribune and L.A. Downtown News. I started off with a one-page description to introduce the column plus a cover letter.

Once you have a request to send the material for your article, column, or series of articles, send them. While many publications invite email attachments, others want the material included in an email, and still others want copies sent by regular mail. Be prepared to follow up with these three approaches.

An advantage of this two-step approach is it enables you to send out multiple queries quickly and at little expense, since you are essentially sending a letter with 2–10 pages of additional information— a cost of about $0.50–$1 a query. This multiple-query approach also increases your chances of finding a syndicate and choosing among those who are interested in your project. With multiple syndicates expressing interest at this early stage, you can be selective in which to send additional information.

A good way to select and contact multiple syndicates is with a list that is formatted so you can easily cut and paste names and addresses or add field codes for sorting and merging. This way, you don’t have to type each address individually. Instead, using a word processing program, you can cut and paste selected names and addresses onto your letters and envelopes or you can take the names you select and format them into a database for merging and sorting in a word processing program.

In selecting these syndicates, it is best to only send a query to one person at a particular syndicate. If there are multiple contacts, pick out the person who handles the type of material you have (i.e., news, features). Then, if that person isn’t the right contact, he or she is likely to pass it on to the appropriate contact at that syndicate.

All syndicates ask for an SASE for submissions, so include this as a matter of course. You can use printed labels on your envelopes or run them through your computer to speed up creating them. If you are including materials that increase your postage beyond a single stamp, include just enough postage for a return letter unless you want the materials also returned.

 

Send More Information to Interested Syndicates

Once a contact at a syndicate has expressed interest, have your manuscripts ready to send—generally in standard double-spaced format. Include a short bio of 25–50 words at the end, and include any contact information, including your website and email address. Some publications may not use all of your bio or contact information, but they will usually be willing to include at least an email address so that readers can contact you with comments or possible story ideas for future columns or articles.

 

Gini Graham Scott, Ph.D., J.D., is the author of over 35 books, primarily nonfiction in the areas of business, personal development, relationships, psychology, criminal justice, and pop culture. She has published several fiction books, has several film scripts in production or represented by agents, and writes children’s books. She has a syndicated column on relationships at work and in business in a dozen publications, including the Oakland Tribune, the Los Angeles Downtown News, and 10 other East Bay papers. She developed the CCR Syndicates List, which lists about 100 syndicates, due to searching for a syndicate to represent her own columns.

 

 

Syndicate List

General—Topic Syndication

Canadian Artists Syndicate

Cox Newspapers

Creators Syndicate

King Features Syndicate

New York Times News Syndicate

OneNewsNow

Project-Syndicate

Tribune Media Services International

United Media (Includes information about Scripps Howard News Service and Newspaper Enterprise Association)

Universal Press Syndicate

Washington Post Writers Group

 

Subject—Specific Syndicates

American Lawyer Media

Cartoon Stock

History News Service

iTravelSyndicate

Religion News Service

What’s In Your Book Marketing Tool Kit?

Your best resource to market your book is you. Reach out to the people you know and those they know. Your book will get discovered if you market your book using these 32 tools:

  1. Facebook
  2. LinkedIn
  3. Google+
  4. Twitter
  5. Pinterest
  6. Website
  7. Email
  8. Business card and name
  9. Logo
  10. Directories and lists to sell to
  11. Your blog
  12. Other bloggers
  13. Skype
  14. FreeConferenceCall.com
  15. Texting
  16. YouTube
  17. Facetime
  18. Webinars
  19. Podcasts
  20. Apps
  21. FourSquare
  22. AroundMeApp.com
  23. TimeTrade.com
  24. EmailFinder.com
  25. SalesForce.com
  26. Spokeo.com
  27. GoToMeeting.com
  28. Webex.com
  29. FreeScreenSharing.com
  30. SurveyMonkey.com
  31. Zoomerang.com
  32. KwikSurveys.com

Good luck!

 

Brian Feinblum is the chief marketing officer of Planned Television Arts (rebranded as Media Connect), the nation’s largest and oldest book promotions firm. Brian has worked in the promoting industry since 1989 and has worked with clients of varied professions such as magician David Copperfield and best-selling author Og Mandino.

What If Authors Were Treated Like Athletes?

The NBA and NFL lockouts remind me why I love sports but hate the way the pros operate. Every bailout, strike, contract negotiation, free agent signing, and stadium-naming deal reaffirms professional sports are more like corporate America. The fan or customer is an afterthought and taken for granted. If only the fans could muster the ability to override their addiction and boycott for a long enough time period to reassert who is in charge, we’d see a very different sports landscape.

In thinking about sports and how it mirrors life at times, I wonder how book publishing can mirror pro sports. What if

  • Authors formed a union, like the players, and dictated terms to the publishers?
  • Authors could be named to annual All-Star teams or named as Hall of Famers for their career contributions?
  • Authors were applauded by a sports-arena-sized crowd?
  • Authors only had a 4–5-year career the way most athletes do?
  • Authors wore uniforms and sold merchandise with their name on it?
  • Books had sponsors and advertisers filling every other page?
  • There were daily television casts dedicated to books the way networks cover sports?
  • There were statistical data to rate an author’s book, other than total sales, similar to all the stats used to rate players and teams?
  • People booed authors at a signing the way fans curse at ballplayers from the stands?
  • Celebrity gossip columnists kept track of which publishers and editors are sleeping around the way they track the conquests of athletes?
  • An annual awards show for authors was televised like the Oscars, Emmys, and Grammys?

The truth is authors are not treated like star athletes, celebrities, or politicians. They struggle to get published, to be read, and to be appreciated. Sure, some books become best-sellers and gain some fame and small riches, but by and large, millions of gifted writers conclude the year wishing they received more media attention, more money, and a wider acceptance as a writer.

Many writers write because it’s their gift and their passion and they find reward in knowing they penned what they believe is a good book. But every writer wants the applause, the critical praise, and the validation. Some even want to change the world.

So when you watch the Super Bowl or World Series this year, imagine, just for a moment, the players on the field are writers. They are you and everyone is watching and cheering. Stand up and take a bow. It may be the only recognition you will ever get.

 

Brian Feinblum is the chief marketing officer of Planned Television Arts (rebranded as Media Connect), the nation’s largest and oldest book promotions firm. Brian has worked in the promoting industry since 1989 and has worked with clients of varied professions such as magician David Copperfield and best-selling author Og Mandino.

Marketing My Writing: How I Learned to Love It

When I first got back into freelance writing, I spent little effort marketing. I called my sources at companies I’d covered at my staff-writing job at a local business journal and let them know I was freelancing, and it kind of rolled from there.

I called a couple of local magazines, pitched them, and got assignments. I answered an ad and found myself writing web content for a $1 billion corporation.

Looking back, it was a golden time. My career ran easy, like water flowing downhill. It never occurred to me it wouldn’t always be like this.

Then came early 2009, and the downturn started to really take hold. My editors began getting laid off, publications changed, and companies stopped developing content.

I realized I needed to get out there and market myself more aggressively. I needed to make new connections and find new clients.

At first I thought, “Ugh!” I’d never really sold anything to anyone. But over time, I kind of got hooked on the marketing side of my business. I discovered that in a weird way, it’s fun. No, I’m not kidding.

Now, I enjoy this side of my business, too—maybe not as much as I do writing, but marketing is no longer a dreaded chore for me.

You can learn to love marketing, too. Here are my tips:

  • Keep the online job-ad searching to a minimum. At first I wasted hours a day browsing the online job ads, before developing a system for scanning them fast. Now, if I’m looking over online ads, I only take time to reply to the best prospects. Generally, online job ads are not a source of high-quality leads, so limit your time here, and free up more time for better marketing methods.
  • Learn more about marketing. If you don’t know a lot about marketing, learn. Take a class. Read a book. This is not mystical knowledge. The information you need is out there.
  • Develop a marketing plan. Don’t go in a million directions at once. Take a 3–6 month period, decide what you’re doing, and then consistently do it.
  • Meet live humans. Whether it’s in-person networking, cold calling, or informally schmoozing up shopkeepers in your town, remember that computers won’t give you a writing gig—only people. If networking makes you nervous, relax, you can learn how to do it.
  • Try different methods. I have done in-person networking at a half-dozen organization events, some cold calling, sent queries, answered job ads, used LinkedIn features, promoted my writing on Twitter, built my presence in natural-search results for keywords, and more. See what works for you.
  • Approach it like a scientist. Think of your marketing as an experiment. Track what you do and evaluate the results. This helps you take a little bit more dispassionate attitude toward putting yourself out there.
  • Think of it as a game. Instead of feeling vulnerable and scared, try to detach yourself emotionally from the process. Think of it as a game of Chutes and Ladders. You go here and there, rolling the dice, trying different moves. When you get a win, it’s like Yahtzee.
  • Be impervious to rejection. Learn not to take it personally when you don’t get a gig. Seriously. You want to drop that attitude. It’s just business. Have a businesslike approach to marketing.
  • Persist. This is the most important thing to know. Sending one query letter is not a marketing plan, it’s a waste of time. Know that you will likely have to go hard at it on marketing for at least several months before you start to see the results you want. I had a revealing conversation with one writer online about a strategy I used that won me a great, $1-a-word new client. She said she’d tried that once and it hadn’t worked. I said, “Oh. I tried it 30–40 times, and it worked once.” Moral: The persistent marketer gets the gig. So keep going, if you’re serious about writing for a living.

 

I marketed aggressively—like mad, really—for about 18 months straight, gradually rebuilding my customer base until I became fully booked. Now, I’m able to drop clients and pick and choose the ones I want to work with again. It feels great, and I know marketing got me here.

 

Carol Tice is a freelance writer who focuses on writing and ghostwriting business books and e-books. She’s written for Delta Sky, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Seattle Magazine, Costco, American Express, Shopify, Freshbooks, and many others. Carol founded the award-winning Make a Living Writing blog in 2008, which has been repeatedly named to Writer’s Digest’s Top 101 Blogs for Writers list. It now offers over 1,000 free posts on how to break in and grow your writing income. Her Freelance Writers Den learning and support community was founded in 2011 and has over 1,000 members. Carol has taught over 20 online courses and self-published 10+ e-book titles for freelance writers. She’s also the author/coauthor of two traditionally published business books for entrepreneurs.