Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year, Same Old Song

Happy New Year! 2010 dawned sunny and frigid here in Kansas.

Several weeks ago, a writer friend asked me to be a Guest Blogger. Jennie Helderman left the field wide open when I asked her what subject she wanted me to write about. She said it could be any subject of my choosing, or I could simply post a sample of my writing. The post did not have to be about writing, but that's exactly what I selected. It's one that I think is a good way to begin the new year for my blog. As the title above says, it's a new year, but I'm singing the same old song by continuing to urge writers to send their work to editors. I had a full article on the subject published in 2009. Editors are receptive to the subject, and writers need to be aware, so here's the Guest Blogger's posting.

Guest Blog


Thanks, Jennie, for asking me to be your first guest blogger. I could write three words that cover the topic I’ve selected, but readers might not be satisfied with such brevity, even though the words are pretty self-explanatory. Send it out!

Your work may never be published, nor will you ever be paid, if you don’t send your stories, essays, articles or poems to an editor. It sounds so simple. Write a story, study a market guide, send the story to an acquisitions editor and wait for the acceptance.

When I was a newbie writer, I joined a critique group that met twice a month. Tom, the moderator of the group, and also the only published writer, constantly encouraged the members to send their work to editors. “No editor is going to climb in your bedroom window and search in your top dresser drawer for your manuscript.” He said it so often that I began to believe him. Send it out became our mantra, and the more I heard it, the more I believed it.

I was a late bloomer—didn’t start writing until well into my fifties. The desire to write had been there for many years, but I let Life get in the way. Because of that late start, I felt I needed to make up for lost time.

I studied market guides and sent my work to editors with high hopes, trying not to be discouraged when the rejection letters shot back into my mailbox like bullets from a high-powered rifle. Every now and then, an acceptance would arrive.

I began with no-pay websites and moved on to paying ezines and anthologies. Did I get rejections? You bet I did. Lots of them. But, my nonfiction stories are in nine Chicken Soup for the Soul books, two Guideposts anthologies, and a few others. The successes I had encouraged me to keep submitting my work. I tried some newspapers whose content aimed for senior citizens. Since I’m one of them, it seemed a natural. And sure enough, they liked what I sent. I’ve become a regular in one. I’ve written articles on the craft of writing for several writers’ newsletters. I’ve even sold a few pieces of fiction.

None of that would have happened if I hadn’t sent my work to all those editors. “Send it out!” I hear Tom’s words in my mind when I’ve written something and am satisfied that it is a finished product. So I send it out.

There are reasons that some writers don’t send their work to an editor. Their files are filled with writing that no eyes but their own have ever seen.

Why?

1. Fear of rejection: Nobody likes rejection, but it’s part of the writing game. Remember that it isn’t you personally that is being rejected. Maybe your story isn’t right for that particular publication

2. Not knowing how to study a market guide: The more you read marketing material, the better you become at selecting the right editor.

3. It’s hard work: Yes, it is, so you must decide how great a desire you have to see your work published.

4. Fear of success: This one may sound laughable, but it can happen. If you succeed once, you’re compelled to do it again. And what happens if you become famous? It’s a very real fear for some people.

5. Lack of confidence: Doubt runs rampant in a writer’s mind. Most writers question their own worth at times.

Look through your files and pick three finished pieces to send out. If one or all are returned, send them out again. If you get three rejections on one story, it’s time to look at it with objective eyes and revise. Then send it out again. John Grisham sent his blockbuster novel The Firm, to twenty-six publishers before it sold. We can all learn a lesson from that. Send it out and take a healthy dose of patience and perseverance along the way.

2 comments:

  1. Nancy! I remember this piece well! How fitting it would end up an invitational piece on Jennie's website!

    And great timing for me to read it again. My submitting routine has been in something of a rut lately. I've needed the pep talk for sure!

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  2. We all need that little pep talk now and then, one of the main reasons we benefit from being in our crit group.

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