Dramaquill's All Things Writing

July 13, 2008

You never know who may be reading what you’ve written

When I first started subbing out my work, I listened to the advice of more experienced writers as I worked on getting some clips in my portfolio:  Start with smaller publishers/publications first.

So, that’s what I did.

Although I had more rejections than acceptances at first, it wasn’t long before I was able to get a few articles accepted, for pay, by ezines and websites.  I also cracked some of the smaller children’s magazines and ezines, allowing my first kidlit poems a chance to be read by a wider audience than the children at our studio.

I’m thankful that a lot of these smaller publishers accept work on its merit, rather than the reputation or publishing record of the submitter.  If it weren’t for them, would any of us newbies ever get our feet in the door?

More recently, as many of you know, I’ve turned my focus to two areas.  One, my first adult suspense novel and two, writing plays for our drama students.  I’ve managed to sell some of my playscripts to middle school drama clubs and children’s programs at some smaller professional theatres.  I’m working on my novel’s final revision so it can start making the rounds with agents and editors.

But last week, to my surprise, I received a very interesting email from an editor of Writer’s Digest books.  It seems that he is putting together a new “market” book and wanted to know if I still had rights to an article he’d read online. 

I was amazed.

I was also fairly certain I hadn’t sold anything other than the electronic rights to this article in question, so I checked.  Yes, I still had all other rights.  So, I emailed him the exact information and he responded with an offer to include my article in Writer’s Digest’s newest market book, coming out in December of this year. We are currently in the process of doing some tweaking and negotiating the contract. 

I’ll publish more details once the contract is signed and everything’s a go for sure.

But this brings up two very interesting points about the power of the internet and having a web presence.

1.   
The editor told me they almost never reprint articles that were originally published online but my article caught his eye because of its appropriateness”
to the new book

2.   
This article was written back in 2000 and sold to a small online writing website ezine.  I had cracked a small market and was happy to have been accepted for publication.

And now, several years later, a piece I wrote for one of the smaller publishers is now going to debut with one of the biggest.

So always write with integrity and submit your best work.  You never know who may be reading what you’ve written.

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February 22, 2008

Agent or Publisher

New authors face the big “catch-22” scenerio when they begin subbing out their manuscripts.  Should they try to get an agent first, or go straight to the publishers?

What’s the catch-22?

Well known agents are most likely interested in established writers whose works (and even name) can guarantee good book sales.  Big name publishers don’t usually accept unagented authors.

So what’s a newbie to do?

Think small!

Although it would be nice to land your first book with Harper Collins or Penguin Putnam, the likelihood of that happening for an unknown author is slim.  (I’m sure we could all find case scenerios where it HAS happened, but it’s not the norm.)

The newbie author would do well to search through the guidelines in the Writer’s Markets books, available at most bookstores and also online at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.  There’s a general book filled with resources in every genre from magazines to books to plays.  The series also has separate volumes for poets, novelists, children’s writers and more.

Now zone in on some of the smaller publishing houses.  Yes, they accept and publish fewer books each year than the big guys, but they are also very open to working with newbie authors.  One of the writers in my online critique group pitched her MG novel to the editor at Bloomingtree Press and her first book will come out next year.

If you’re really set on getting an agent, one great way to make some connections is by going to writers’ conferences.  Participants can set up “face-to-face” meetings with editors and agents, often resulting in being asked to submit some of their work. 

The agent versus publisher dilemma has long plagued new authors and in the end, the decision is yours when it comes to which route you want to explore. 

Either way, make sure that your book is as polished and unique as it can be.  Don’t send drafts that haven’t been critiqued, proofed, written and rewritten until they contain only your very best writing. 

February 16, 2008

Handling Rejection

We all know how it feels to open the mailbox and see that SASE sitting amongst the bills and coupons.  Another rejection!

Writers who are serious about getting published will see plenty of rejections in their mailboxes, most likely before they ever receive their first acceptance.  Rejections can be extremely frustrating and have put an end to many an aspiring writer’s career.

But let’s think about what’s behind these rejections…

 1.    Some rejections occur because the writer didn’t know the market
        well enough and subbed inappropriate material

2.    Some rejections occur because the writer sent out a piece that
       wasn’t tight enough or just wasn’t quite ready to be subbed out

3.    Some rejections occur because the publisher was inundated with
        submissions and the writer’s manuscript had to compete with
        an incredible amount of material

4.    Some rejections occur because the publication had already printed
       something similar to what the writer has sent

5.    Some rejections occur because the editor didn’t feel strongly
        enough about the piece to take on the project

And I could go on and on and on and on with valid reasons that writers get rejected.

The bottom line is this:  rejection stinks!

So as a writer, make sure to study your markets, send out ONLY your best work and then let it go and start working on something else. 

Rejection isn’t personal.

Rejection isn’t necessarily an indication that you are a bad writer.

Rejection isn’t a reason to give up.

If you get personal comments from an editor, read them and really evaluate if what they say can help you improve the piece before you send it out again.  And rejoice in the fact that the editor took the time to actually comment – that’s a good sign.

My favorite rejection, yes I have a favorite, was from a magazine.  The editor said:  “I enjoyed reading your work and regret that we do not have any more room for rhymes in this issue (referring to the theme to which I wrote an appropriate piece).  Instead of feeling badly that my piece didn’t get accepted, I studied their future themes list and tried again.  The second time, the third, and the fourth, were all rejections. 

But…the fifth time I was successful and will have two pieces coming out with that publication in 2009, one in May and one in December.

How do you handle rejection?

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