Q&As and How To Take Control of Your Own Submissions
Upping Your Chances for Publication In MY Newsletter—and Most Everywhere Else!
I have been publishing SWW (SharingwithWriters) newsletter since 2003, and though it’s sporadic (it must take a back seat to the traveling I do!), it is long and full of tons of tips and resources. I also encourage subscriber participation through several of its features including one of my favorite formats, the Q&A.
When I was a young staff writer at The Salt Lake Tribuneback—well, way too long ago to mention—I was sometimes assigned the job of making Ann Landers ground-breaking self-help columns fit into the allotted editorial space once the advertising department had set up all the stuff a paper needs to survive—that would be stuff people and businesses pay a newspaper to publish. I became addicted both personally and as a nonfiction writer.
Q&As are easy ways for people to learn new information and to apply it to real lives, maybe even their own. Below is one of my favorites from my newsletter. Q&As a la Ann Landers solve a problem for me. They make it easier for me to handle submissions and allowing me to continue to offer my newsletter free—or to offer it at all!
QUESTION: Thank you for your offer to run an announcement of my newest “Author Success.” Please just extract what you need from the press release I attached.
ANSWER: I would love to run your success, Annie. But here’s the thing. I don’t like to work this way.
I live in fear that I'll make a mistake or leave something out and it is very timing consuming to extract from a release when you can tell your own story much better and faster.
Dan Poynter used to always make the point of saying submissions to him should be ready for him to cut-and-paste. His heart was always with us. He wanted to help but could help more of his contributors if he could get them to make it easy on him!
There is another aspect to my being so picky! I don't know if you have a copy of my The Frugal Book Promoter, but because I wrote it to help authors get more free media exposure, I consider it my job to set an example for my authors and readers. In this case--specifically—to encourage you to submit the way you 'd like to see your information in print while taking in consideration the editor's submission guidelines to the style of the journal etc. Doing so gives you an edge for promotion because editors are busy.
A story that is not as good may get the exposure while your media release or submission gets ignored or lost. Another may get preference over yours because the editor or other gatekeeper is so short on time. The author who submits according to a gatekeeper’s guidelines benefits by having more control over what is said. The author has more control of the details selected for the story when he or she doesn’t expect the feature editor, newsletter editor, business editor, or other gatekeeper to do all the work.
So, here are my SWW guidelines:
1. Send your information in the body of an e-mail. You’ll find all the reasons why this is important for almost all gatekeepers including the biggies like large media organizations and academic institutions in The Frugal Book Promoter!
2. Put clear, concise information in the subject line: “Author Success [or tip or letter-to-the-editor] for Sharing with Writers.
3. For Author Successes, give me one paragraph that includes author name, title, short pitch for the book, link, and an image of your book cover in jpeg.
4. For other features like “Opportunities,” read a past issue or two and submit information similar to what you see there. You have probably seen literary review journals give you the same advice. There is no point in submitting poetry to them if they only publish short stories, or experimental fiction if they only publish another genre. Generally speaking, I try to make each story useful to my audience (as do most media folks!) and my audience is mostly writers like you.
5. Be prepared. I will probably just copy and paste but may edit for style or space.
6. In your media kit include a media release, a first-person essay, a related article, and an interview that includes a note that the author gives permission for it to be reprinted and that the author (or publicist) may be contacted for other articles, blog posts, essays, etc.
Howard-Johnson is the recipient of the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, and her community’s Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly’s list of “Fourteen San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen” and was given her community’s Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts.
You can find all Howard-Johnson's books at: http://www.howtodoitfrugally.com/
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