Write From Home
P.O. Box 4145
Hamilton, NJ 08610
E-mail: kim @ writefromhome.com
August 2003 Column
Connections that Sizzle
writer’s life? Not necessarily. Connecting with others in the field, like
writers, speakers, editors and publishers can make your writing life sizzle.
Start slow, then build and grow
Join a local
writer's guild. Find an active group that meets at least once a month and brings
in speakers, and shares success stories as well as personal tales of
“pre-acceptance,” a.k.a. the dreaded rejection letter.
This is where you will pick up
new tips in editing, learn to refine your writing and get insider information to
new markets and publishing opportunities. Additionally, you will embark on new
friendships with those trying to do the same thing you are: to write, to
publish, and to see your work in print. These acquaintances can become a great
source of support as you learn and grow together.
Don’t forget to
find writers of similar interests through Internet groups, such as Yahoo and listserves like Write From Home,
WritersWeekly. As discussed in May’s Off the Page column, these Internet
connections can create all new resources for you, putting you in contact with
professionals who can quickly answer questions and provide valuable feedback.
Beyond any price
seminars, conferences and trade shows where you will meet those in the industry
who are a little further along the path you have chosen. Learn from them. Glean
all the possible information you can. Attending these events connects you not
only with fellow writers, but also with editors and publishers who come hungry
for new talent. Feed them with your fine writing.
A writer’s market guide, available in any
bookstore, will list events by month and location. Most seminars and conferences
will have a Web site where you can learn what publishers
will be represented. Use the market guide to study the different publishing
houses. Ask yourself, if I were to meet the editor of Good Housekeeping, what
article could I write for them? Be prepared to pitch an article, story idea
or book concept, as appropriate, should you get a few moments with an editor. Do
your homework and know what each one is looking for.
Establish editor relationships
Editors who get to
know you and recognize your smiling face, will enjoy talking with you and become
great partners in publishing your work, often providing immeasurable advice and
direction that you might never receive otherwise. They know the business from
the inside out. If they say cut a line or drop a page, listen – they are
One of the first
pieces I sold nationally came about from working with an editor whom I met at a
writers conference in Florida. She looked at the story I had sweated and bled
over, one that I thought was perfect. She said, “If you cut the first three
pages and change the ending, I’ll buy it.” Guess what I did? You’ve got it.
What’s that old saying - an editor holding your hand is worth twenty stories in
the dusty file folder?
Conference connections lend priority status
The connections you
establish when you attend conferences and seminars gives you priority in the
submission process. Say a magazine editor gets ten submissions for a possible
opening in an upcoming issue. She is more likely to read and use the submission
from a writer she has met at a conference than an unknown person. It’s true. Pay
the price, attend the conferences, and get yourself known in the business.
When you widen your
circle by including new writer friends and editors that like your work, it pays
off in advice and assignments that will steer you even further towards happy
do you account to?
It is wise to develop a working relationship with one or two
people who can be relied on to keep you on task. These become not only your best
backers, but also your best pushers – your own personal motivators. These fellow
writers or readers, friends or family members know you well enough to stir your
creative juices. They also recognize when you have put forth your best work.
Often, a different set of eyes
can pick out errors or content issues that you might not see. The taskmaster who
holds me accountable is a nearby novelist. She will, on occasion, edit,
critique, or tap her figurative foot to snap me to attention. I send her only
those pieces that I am unsure of or that have been a struggle, so as not to slow
her own writing down. It is when she turns mute that I know I have done my
finest and it is time to send the piece to the editor.
An encouraging word
This final step is so simple,
but so often overlooked. Make a point of writing an encouraging word to another
writer or overworked editor at least once a week. You can compliment a recent
publication, celebrate a book contract or console a discouraged person who upon
your kind words may pick up her pen and try again. Sign the guest book on a
favorite author’s Web site. Attach a note to an editorial, thanking the editor.
Collect both snail
mail and e-mail addresses of those in the writing world who will be of benefit
to you or whom you can help. Have you met someone who might make a great
novelist, if she only had a friend to encourage her? Plug into the writing
community; don’t be content to stand on the outside and look in.
Prepare to soar
Get involved in the
success of others, and then watch as these same people climb on board your
bandwagon too. The solitary writers life? It need not be. In fact, it is totally
up to you. Surrounding yourself with an active writing group, fellow writers and
communicative editors will keep you hopping. Writing opportunities will sizzle
on your plate as you become more connected in the publishing arena. Sharpen your
pencil and prepare to soar!
Tama Westman writes the Off the Page column for Write
From Home. As a correspondent and columnist, she publishes news articles,
feature stories and her column, Cuppa Thoughts, regularly with her local
paper, the Chaska Herald. She has served as the editor of the
award-winning literary and arts magazine, Haute Dish. As a freelancer,
her articles appear in several local newspapers and, nationally in The
Gathering and Light & Life Magazine.
She teaches creative writing and
poetry classes with the AHEAD program (Achieving Higher Education and Dreams) at
Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, MN, mentors high school journalism
students and helps to edit the column of her 18-year old, British-bred cat on
coolpetsites.com, Purrfect Gypsy – The Cat’s Eye View. She is married with two
college-enrolled children, and keeps her balance with a cup of tea taken in the
afternoon in her English garden. Her published clips can be viewed via her
and she can be reached at
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