Fill A Need with Your Writing
Are you writing what you want, then trying to find someone to publish it? Or are you finding a need then writing to fill it?
Many writers begin the writing process because they want to tell a particular story. They sit at their computers and pour words into a novel or a short story or a nonfiction book or article. I call these writers inspirational writers. Their own desires drive them to determine what they write. They complete this story, then they turn to the marketplace and say, “OK, where can I get this published?”
I often meet these writers who have been inspired to write a book at a writers' conference. They are wise to come to a conference because just coming and learning from the faculty or other writers will put them light years ahead of other people who are in the same place and trying to get published. Also conferences help writers learn about the importance of the writing craft and putting your materials in the expected format for editors and literary agents. Each of these insights will help you on the road to publication.
Yet there is another approach to writing—and it is a path which I believe is more productive if you want your work published. Instead of writing whatever pops into your head or heart, I encourage you to find a particular need then write to fill that need.
How do you discover what the editor wants?
1. Check their online guidelines. Almost every magazine and book publisher has a website with guidelines. Use Google to look for the site and take several minutes to see what they need. If you follow the guidelines, your submission will enter the realm of possibility—what the editor needs.
2. Look for a theme list. Whether the publication is large or small, many magazines have theme lists. The editor is specifically looking for articles on a particular topic. If you follow their guidelines and submit an article the right length and on a theme topic, then you have laser focused your submission to this publication and are writing to fill a need rather than sending something that “might” be what the editor wants.
3. Attend a writers conference. Many writers come to a conference trying to sell their writing. That's not necessarily wrong but a more productive way to approach the conference is to research in advance several of the editors or agents. Through your advance work, you have learned the types of books and articles that they publish. You bring something to the conference specifically for a publication or publisher or agent. This type of targeted approach will help you.
Finally when you attend a conference, make sure you are asking the editor what they need that they don't have. Then listen for the answer, make a note of the need—and return home committed to writing what this publication needs. Taking this type of action puts you in a different category as a writer. It increases your professionalism but also the likelihood that your writing will find a place in the market.
Several Current Opportunities to Learn
Thursday evening I'm teaching a free teleseminar as part of the Global Teleclass on Writing a Winning Proposal and Find Your Champion. You have to hurry but there is still time to register for the class.
In early March, I will be attending and meeting with authors at Author 101 University in Los Angeles. It's going to be a fabulous event filled with learning and great people on the faculty. I have great anticipation about this event. If you are in the Los Angles area—or not—there is still time to register and attend the event.
Whether we meet at Author 101 University or not, I encourage you to hear the replay of the teleseminar that I did recently with Rick Frishman, the founder of Author 101 University. With your first name and email address along with “no question” in the space, you will reach the recording of this event which you can download to your iPod or computer. Rick was loaded with great advice for any writer. In addition, you will be able to download The Top 20 Tips for Aspiring Writers from Rick's book, Author 101 Bestselling Nonfiction. Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, you can gain insight from this free Ebook. Rick and his co-author Robyn Freedman Spizman asked the authors, editors and agents they interviewed for the book (long-time publishing professionals) for their top 20 tips. Every writer can profit from this little Ebook. You will probably want to read and re-read it on a regular basis.
If your writing isn't getting published as much as you would like, then make sure your writing is focused on a need in the marketplace. And continually be looking for the right place for your writing. You can do it.