firstwriter.com This is a FREE service you may unsubscribe from AT ANY TIME - see the bottom of this email for details.
  Issue #56

Free Writers' Newsletter

   Oct 26, 2007  

         

How I got a publisher
An interview with author,
Lynette Mather

Lynette Mather (pen-name "L.A.Thunder") recently acquired a publisher using firstwriter.com's database of publishers. We asked her about her writing, and how she found success.

fw: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us, Lynette. Tell us a little about your book, and its storyline.

LM: My Book is titled Deadly Steam, and it is about when seven-year-old Jacob Westerís brother, Billy, disappears. He knows the haunted train in Plymouth, Michigan where they grew up, has something to do with it, but doesnít tell anyone for fear no one will believe him. As the town searches for Billy, they find no leads, no crime scene, and after months of trying to solve the case, they finally give up, and realise Billyís case is a dead end, and is put to rest in the cold case files.

Have you protected your Copyright? Copyright piracy is estimated to cost millions annually. Before sending your work to agents, publishers, or contests, make sure you take out copyright protection. Click here for more information.

Eventually, Jacob moves away from Plymouth, only to return years later to find out what happened to his brother. Finally, he confides in his high school sweetheart, Rose Shirley, what he suspected about the haunted train, and she is shocked, wondering if the disappearance of Jacobís brother Billy drove Jacob to concoct this strange story about the haunted train as a way to gain closure over his missing brother.

As Jacob talks to the police about his brotherís case their response is vague, and when Rose Shirleyís fiancť Buck McKinley disappears, as well as others in the town, every clue found leads the police and detectives back to Jacob and Rose. As the investigation heats up, Jacob and Rose realise theyíre facing charges in the disappearances of several people. Suddenly, Jacob and Rose are in a fight against time, as they realise they need to convince the town of Plymouth who is responsible for the residents disappearing, before the two of them end up in prison, and the entire town of Plymouth disappear because of the haunted train, and its deadly steam.

fw: Where did you get your idea from?

LM: I live in Plymouth, Michigan where trains continually run through the town. As I was sitting at the bus stop one day waiting for my children to return from school, I heard the train, and watched it through my rear-view mirror from the parking lot. All of a sudden, I knew I was going to write a book about trains, and suddenly the idea emerged, and Deadly Steam was created.

fw: Did the whole story come to you at that moment, or did it develop as you wrote the book?

LM: As with all the books I write, I usually start with a prologue, and by doing so, the prologue helps guide and lead me in the direction the book wants to take. Once the prologue is written, I read it at least ten times throughout a few days to get a real feel for the story, and after that, I write the synopsis. My advice to writers who struggle with writing a synopsis is to visit their local bookstores and read the inserts on various books relating to the genre they write. Personally, I think the word synopsis is intimidating to most authors when they are first introduced to it. I know it was to me, but hereís how I write my synopsis: I pretend Iím explaining my book aloud to a group of people in the simplest words I can find. If authorís stick to this method, they canít go wrong.

fw: So you've done some writing before?

LM: This is my first attempt at writing books, but Iíve written poetry for years, and Iíve always loved to write. I believe Iím meant to be a writer because everyone in my life always asks me to tell them a story. Iíve won the following certificates for my writing: The Editorís Choice Award, Poet of Merit Award, Vietnam Veterans of America awarded me the Certification of Appreciation Award, and Iíve won the International Poet of Merit Award. Iíve had my poetry published in Treasured Poems of America.

fw: How important do you think that track record was when you were approaching publishers?

LM: I think itís extremely important to be previously published only because most publishers and agents rely on an authorís history of publishing credits. However, if youíve never been published, never stop trying to get there because youíll never be published if you give up.

fw: What were the first steps you took towards getting your work published?

LM: I went about being published by first securing an agent, and then I went a step further and started to query publishing houses, which eventually landed me right where I wanted to be. I found a great publishing house, through RS Publishing and I feel lucky.

fw: And what methods did you use to find appropriate publishers to submit to?

LM: The methods that I used were many. First, I read everything I could and bought books on the subject of how to write a query letter to both an agent and a publisher. Then I found firstwriter.com and their site helped me immensely. Not only for finding my publisher, but also for guiding me down every avenue I had questions about. I love the site because it lets you read each profile in the database. Then authors can decide who is the best match for their manuscript. firstwriter.com is reliable in their research, and I love the comments posted about agents and publishers alike because it gives an author personal information from other authors who have queried them, and what their feedback was.

fw: What tactics did you use when approaching the agencies and publishers you found?

LM: When I finally approached agents and publishers I did my homework and researched every agent and publisher before I submitted anything. I personalise every query letter to the company I was approaching. Iíve never used just one standard query because I spent too much time researching the company, and I let them know in my query that Iíve done my homework. After the query is written, Iíll wait a day before I send it. This gives me a chance to reread it, and catch any typos, and to make sure my query is compelling. Iíve never sent out many manuscripts at once, but I did send two at a time.

fw: How long did it take to successfully place your work?

LM: I spent a good two years honing my skills, and then it was about six months trying to place my work with both an agent and a publisher. I roughly approached about fifteen agents, and five publishers, before I received offers of representations.

fw: Were the rejections disheartening?

LM: At first, I took it to heart, and yes, my feelings were crushed. Some of the rejections were the standard postcard, and some were more personal, a polite note that they currently werenít taking on new clients at this time. Then the people in my life, my husband Jimmy, my children, my dad, step mom and brother, along with Phil, Christine, and my best friend, Terese, my sister in laws, and my other close friends who kept encouraging me, and pushing me to continue, and not give up on my dream. They all told me that Iím doing what I love, and someday the rest will follow. My husband and I built my website: www.lathundernovels.com and printed business cards with the title of my books on them, and we passed them out everywhere we went. Iím blessed to have such huge support from the people in my life.

fw: And when the success came, which publisher was it that took you on?

LM: Iím being published through RS Publishing and Lutz Barz has been wonderful, helpful, and truly amazing to work with.

fw: What do you think made you successful in your search for a publisher?

LM: I think I succeeded in my search for both an agent and a publisher because I didnít give up. I did my homework, and found suitable matches for the books I write, and that is how I found both my agent and publisher. I read about them, and did my research about the books they represent.

fw: How is the publishing process going?

LM: Things are developing now that Iíve placed my book, and it has been hard work, but I love it. Writing is what I do, and if an author wants to succeed they must rise to the challenges that are out there, and learn from them, and if an author puts everything they have into what their doing, itís eventually going to happen. My advice is being open to suggestions, be able to take criticism, and learn everything you can, from both agents and publishers. Work hard, and youíll get there. The publishing process seems like it takes forever, but it really doesnít. The hardest part is getting to that point of having your work published. I donít mind RS Publishing tampering with my manuscript. I value everything my publisher tells me, and I make good use of it. I follow my publisherís guidance, and take what is said seriously, and we have a good, solid working relationship, built around mutual respect.

fw: What tips would you give other writers trying to get published?

LM: If I could tell authors anything, I would tell them to keep writing and chase their dream until they catch it. Itís up to them to make it happen. If you believe in yourself, and writing is something youíre driven by, then do it. When faced with challenges and rejections, take what agents and publishers tell you, and apply it to your finished product. Learn everything you can, read everything available, and you will catch that dream. Listen to your inner voice, and let it guide you to where you want to be.

fw: Do you have any further writing projects in the pipeline?

LM: Iím very busy right now with having Deadly Steam published. However, Iím hard at work finishing Trickery Treat. I also have other manuscripts under consideration with RS Publishing, which are: Dying Secrets, Culver's Treasure, and Don't Blink. The publishing schedule can be hectic at times, but I welcome it. Iíve been asked to speak at different schools in my area about writing, and that is exciting. I canít wait to share my experiences with others, about what it takes to become published. One more thing Iíd like to add is I wouldnít be where Iím at today if it werenít for all the special people in my life, cheering me on and supporting me. On a final note, I would like to say thank you to my children, Jessie, Kevin and Deven for always inspiring me. To my husband Jimmy who works all day, and edits for me all night, and to my best friend, Terese, who pushes me, when I feel like I canít be pushed anymore, thank you. My advice to other authors out there is to remember to write everyday, even if you donít know what to write. Surround yourself with supportive people. Join writing groups in your area, hone your skills, be persistent, and your dreams will follow.

fw: Thanks very much for your time, Lynette, and best of luck with your book! 

To search firstwriter.com's database of over 850 publishers yourself, click here

Go to Contents

 

Making a success of your writing
By Patricia Fry

A new year is looming large. Are you ready to take your writing business to the next level? Will you finally complete that novel in 2008? Despite years of putting off your dream, you can succeed. You can earn a living as a freelance writer. You can experience the joy of authorship. Here are some suggestions to help you move closer to your writing goals.

1: Schedule time each day to write. Make writing a priority just like you do feeding the dog, working out and going grocery shopping. You might be surprised at how much you can accomplish in smaller pockets of time. I once wrote a 200-page book in eight months while writing for only two hours per day.

2: Do five things every day toward your writing goal. For example:

  • Write five paragraphs or five pages of your novel.
  • Come up with five article ideas (or send out five reprints).
  • Make five book promotion contacts (book reviewers, booksellers, book festivals, etc).

3: Spend time at least once a month promoting your writing business. Develop a marketing letter and send it to potential clients or introduce yourself and your expertise to new editors, for example.

Last year, when my business slowed down, I sent letters to half dozen local businessmen and women reminding them of my editorial services. I promptly landed two good assignments.

4: Get creative when it comes to your writing business, article work or book promotion:

  • Find new ways to work with clients: writing resumes, creating brochures or rewriting employee manuals for corporations, for example.
  • Expand your article base. Tweak old articles to fit very different kinds of magazines, seek out new magazines and come up with new article topics for familiar editors.
  • Seek book reviews. Visit bookstores personally with your book. Schedule speeches to promote your book. Send press releases to libraries.

5: Stay positive. As a writer, you are constantly setting yourself up for rejection. Your articles are rejected. Your writers group is critical of your work. You criticise your writing. It's hard to come by positive feedback.

Here's how I conquer this writer's curse:

  • I display things in my office that make me feel accomplished and loved. My books, of course and then there are family photos, treasured gifts from friends, certificates and ribbons I've won and some of my best photography.
  • I connect often with my most positive and supportive friends and family via brief emails or a quick phone call.
  • I take mini-vacations almost every day. I spend an hour walking amidst stands of oaks, along a nearby river, around a lake or at the beach.
  • I frequently engage in something creative outside of writing. I spend time in my garden or working on a needlework project.

If you'd like to establish yourself as a freelance writer or if you're tired of looking at that unfinished manuscript, make this your year of achievement. Incorporate these ideas into your lifestyle now and you, too, will do yourself proud.

About the author
Patricia Fry is the author of 27 books, including The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book (Matilija Press, 2007) and the accompanying The Author's Workbook. Order at http://www.matilijapress.com/rightway.com. Read Patricia's writing / publishing blog at http://www.matilijapress.com/publishingblog

Go to Contents

  

Tips for the rejected freelance writer
By Sreelata Menon

How many times have you received mails from publications saying that "while your article is very interesting, we find that it does not fit in with the style and ethos of our magazine"; or "we have just carried articles on topics similar to yours a while ago and deeply regret our inability to...?" And how many times have you, listlessly, gone back to the back-breaking job of looking for other publications and sites – seeking, searching and surfing an indifferent market for that one editor who may hopefully accept your article and actually pay you for it?

Disheartening
As any freelance writer worth their ink knows, getting established as a respected writer is a daunting task. As for earning a living from it, forget it! Ideas upon ideas and hour upon hour of creativity can all be junked at the drop of an editor's wrist. Immense patience and great fortitude notwithstanding, it is disheartening, to say the least. But armed with neither, it is suicidal. More talented writers than you can count Booker prize losers have given up due to sheer lack of motivation. You know you are good, but unfortunately those who control the paying market may not think so and with Lady Luck playing truant when you need her most you are back to playing scrabble!

Determination
In this dog eat dog world, "respect" is still forthcoming only to that writer who draws a regular wage from an accredited newspaper, magazine or tech company and not to the immensely talented freelancer who deigns to be tied down. And so the freelance writer must swallow his pride, his acute disappointment and persevere and keep knocking and knocking. He needs,
like Robert Bruce, to try and try again till he eventually succeeds in catching the imagination of a discerning, wage earning editor who can help put his name up in print, cyber or otherwise. And more often than not, this salaried genius pays him a pittance or not at all.

Lucrative
But take heart all you brave freelancers. Things are changing. Not only does the print media alone no longer dominate, but the internet is akin to Alibaba's cave as far as writing jobs are
concerned. Happily, there are more publications and websites looking for writers than ever before. Professionalism combined with time bound deliverances and payment ethics, introduced to us by the advent of the computer driven net and – yes – the world of "outsourcing" has made "writing" a highly lucrative pass-time now. Work-from-home freelance writers, especially for the web, are a much sought after tribe these days, and before you know it, healthy "respect" may follow too – and needless to say King Midas as well!

Niche writing
Today the demand is for good "niche writers". Restrictive though it is, like everything else, even here, the need for specialisation is at an all time high. Travel writers, creative writers, copywriters, resume writers, content writers, technical writers, essay writers: you name it, and there is a market for it. If after initially playing the field, you are slowly able to carve out a niche for yourself by specialising in any one such area and get published or posted (usually without payment first!) you are almost there, and once you manage to sell your ideas, you are home and running.

How to go about it
And the only way to do it, these days, is to email/call up editors or constantly surf the net. To make search engines and databases like firstwriter.com your trusted lieutenants and use them to help you seek, search and finally write for advertised or possible opportunities. If they are direct websites, look for submission guidelines or send in your query. It is not a waste of time. On an average three out of every five will elicit some kind of a response that will take you forward. If, they are general "writing" sites or blogs, hit on probable ones. Subscribe to their newsletters. Most of them are free. It will give you a fair idea of their reliability. Generally avoid those that promise you the moon. Look for those that seem sincere. Then suss out their market database. But do not subscribe or pay for anything till you are sure it is bona fide and contains the information you want. firstwriter.com excels in this area, as it allows you to search its databases before paying anything – you only have to make payment once you have found the markets you are interested in and would like to get access to their contact details (you can search over 800 magazines for free by clicking here). Also, remember to check out the various published lists of dishonest and fly-by-night operators often. Soon you will be able to sift the wheat from the chaff. firstwriter.com already provides an excellent service in this respect, with a user feedback facility on all its magazine, publisher, and literary agents listings, which allows users to post feedback about any bad experiences they have (from rudeness to out-and-out fraud); and all its literary agency listings are checked against at least three independent assessment services, with the available reports posted conveniently together in one place on the listing (click here to try it out for free).

Take a chance
Once more or less sure, respond to the advertised opportunity. Though it is usual practice in established writing circles not to start writing till an understanding is reached, you the newbie can take no chances. So, till you have sufficient work, give them what they've asked for, quickly, whatever the subject, or send them something you have already written. Odds are that they will use it and pay you with a nice "Thank you for your submission" letter or not at all, but if rejected or if you don't hear from them ever again, which is highly likely, don't lose heart. Move on. Just keep those articles as ready-reckoner samples for later use. Stockpile them in a folder for the future, to be sent on to other editors who may seek samples of your written work.

Occupational Hazards
You might also find your article published without you getting a cent of the promised amount or issued under someone else's name. And oh yes, it could also undergo a complete makeover (usually, very ineptly) – so much so, you might not even recognise it as your own, barring the name. It could very likely put you off writing totally. The print media especially is notorious for this! But that is a hazard, you must realise, that goes with the territory. Though new laws are being introduced and forums being convened to prevent just this, there is very little one can do to actually thwart it, other than avoiding such sites and magazines henceforth.

Swallow your pride
Despite rejections, build up relationships with editors. Cultivate them without rancour. Send them query letters often or now and then gently remind them you exist! More often than not you may get no reply. But persist. Who knows, they might just remember to call on your services when the need arises – sometime. And when they start calling, they start paying. Slowly but surely you will soon start finding more and more of your contributions in print/uploaded and along with it will come "recognition"'. And this recognition will soon translate your output into bucks even if it is not instantly mega!

Sense of belonging
You could also pick up many a useful tip by becoming a member of various interesting writing communities and lists (Yahoo, msn, rediff) on the net, and you will realise that you are not the only freelance writer out there ploughing a lonely furrow. It makes for a great sense of belonging and helps the creative juices no end!

Patience
But the need of the hour is – patience. Disappointments and rejections not withstanding you need to keep your spirits up and patiently continue to write everyday – on anything! Never stop. Never give up. Also, don't sell yourself short. It is only a matter of time before your articles start finding a market – eventually on your terms – and then you, the lowly work-from-home freelance writer, would have arrived!

Ten easy steps to freelance writing

  • Search firstwriter.com every day for new opportunities regularly. Print or otherwise.
  • Even better, set your preferences in your firstwriter.com account to receive InstantAlert emails for markets fitting your interests, and have them delivered direct to your inbox (to receive this service you need to subscribe at www.firstwriter.com/subscribe).
  • Respond to as many postings as you can. Keep an hour just for this every day!
  • Send query letters on topics you think you could write on.
  • Choose a few editors and ask them if you could write for them or send them what you've got. Start a dialogue with them. Create a relationship.
  • Enter as many contests as you can. The confidence you gain is tremendous.
  • Become an active list member and use it as a sounding board.
  • Cultivate patience as you would your best friend.
  • Keep writing and keep sending till your masterpieces find a home!
  • Don't ever lose heart. Rejections are a writer's stepping stones to great
    success!

About the author
Sreelata Menon is a freelance writer who enjoys writing on all kinds of topicsÖ the more controversial the better! Her "letters to the editor" on current happenings appear with quite unfailing regularity in India while her articles and features make the scene in online and print publications everywhere! A Masters in History from Mumbai University, India, she has worked as an Asst editor with the Onlooker and World trade Magazines in Mumbai .She has taught history to undergrads, done a stint as an accts executive in an ad agency, before switching over to full time freelance writing. She is currently busy reinventing herself as a web content writer with quite a few projects in hand .Married to a civil servant she is presently based in Allahabad ,India and can be reached at sreelata0@yahoo.co.in
.

Go to Contents

  

Resources for writers at firstwriter.com

Visit firstwriter.com for the following invaluable resources for writers:

To advertise on this newsletter for as little as $30 / £20 click here

Go to Contents

 
In this issue:

Spelling conventions

fwn uses English spelling conventions. Spellings such as "realise" "colour", "theatre", "cancelled", etc. differ from other spelling conventions but are nonetheless correct. 

News:

Poetry competition deadline approaching
firstwriter.com
's Sixth International Poetry Competition is closing in just a few days, on November 1. To submit your entry in time click here.

The competition is open to poems in English by writers anywhere in the world, up to 30 lines.

First prize is £500 (that's over $1,000!) and there are also special prizes for the best runners up from the US and UK.

Submit your entry online now by clicking here.

For over 140 other contests, click here

Go to Contents

 

txtlit competitions now easier to enter
The way that txtlit competitions (monthly micro-fiction competitions entered by mobile phone) are managed has changed, making them easier to enter.

The same keyword and number to text will now be used on all future competitions, however writers will still need to check the website to check on the month's theme.

For more details, or to enter, go to www.txtlit.co.uk.

For over 140 writing contests, click here

Go to Contents

Wireless Theatre Co. seeks scripts
The Wireless Theatre Company is a website producing audio plays, books, comedy sketches, short stories, and more – all for free download to computers, mobiles, and MP3 players. 

The Company seeks applications from "young fresh new writers" to have their scripts produced with them.

For more information go to www.wirelesstheatre
company.co.uk

For over 850 other publishers, click here

Go to Contents

  
© firstwriter.com 2007
While every effort is made to ensure that all information contained within this newsletter is accurate, readers are reminded that this information is provided only as a collection of potential leads that the reader should follow up with his or her own investigations. Unless otherwise stated, firstwriter.com is not associated with and does not endorse, recommend, or guarantee any of the organisations, events, persons or promotions contained within this newsletter, and cannot be held responsible for any loss incurred as a result of actions taken in relation to information provided. Inclusion does not constitute recommendation.