Ask The Expert

Mainstream? Literary? Genre Short Stories? Huh??

What is the difference between Mainstream / Literary and Genre Short Stories? Sherry Editor's Note: Both MJ Rose and Angela give their opinion on this week's question. …

Quoting Bible Verses?

Is it considered plagiarism if you use bible verses from the bible while writing a children's christian storybook? …

Editors Didn’t Send Entire Clip

The first page of my article had been photocopied and sent along. I wrote and asked for the "jump" page. The editor said she copied the story from a bound volume and couldn't send the continuation. I checked the publication website and found a complete list of last year's articles. If one wanted a copy of a particular article, I read, one could send along $3.00. …

Amazon Is Selling My Article?

I found out something upsetting today. Amazon is selling an article of mine, How Busy Parents Squeeze in Fitness, that I never gave them permission to sell. I was never contacted at all. …

Agent Wants Me To Pay For Editing And Illustrations?!

A literary agent wants to represent a children's picture book that I have written. However, I am required to get it professionally edited at my expense plus have an illustrator draw up some sample pictures, also at my expense. They will provide me with an acceptable list of editors and illustrators. From there, the agency will try and place my work with a publisher. Something doesn't sound right here. It's my understanding that a reputable agent shouldn't charge a reading fee but what about a professional edit and sample illustrations? …

Did I Handle This Situation Correctly?

I recently ran into a distressful writing situation and, while I feel I handled it the best way possible, I would welcome your thoughts. Perhaps this experience may help someone else. I have "ghostwritten" several articles for a number of business clients. While there is always a level of "challenge" in writing these--mostly because of "executive egos"---I've been able to help several clients successfully place their stories in a variety of publications. The last project I worked on, however, was a nightmare. One "co-author" (executive) would say use example X; the other "co-author" (executive) would say not to use example X. One said the story was "dry"; when I re-wrote it to be more "lively" the other "hated" the new version. I was getting caught in some kind of political crossfire; nonetheless I tried to maintain a respectful and responsive tone at all times. After several frantic rewrites I called my "assignment editor" and told him what was happening. I emphasized that, while I appreciated how seriously the executives were taking the project, I needed to know exactly how the story was to be written. …

How Long Should I Wait?

Hi, I sent a few tips to a national magazine, which pays $50 for each tip they accept. In their tip request section, it also states that they cannot acknowledge receipt of the entries. I'm guessing that means they also don't contact you if they're NOT going to use your tip. Is that correct? …

Secure Interview Before Query or Vice-Versa?

I have several ideas for interviews and the magazines they would be great for. However, I don't know the potential interviewees personally, so should I ask for an interview before I have an actual assignment, and take the chance that I won't get the job? Or should I query the magazines first, and take a chance that I won't get the interview? …

Why Can’t I Join Your Forum?

I've tried to register for the WritersWeekly forum many times but I never receive a response. What's going on? …

Joe Gregg Helps Future Technical Writer

I have some questions about "breaking in" to technical writing, and I am just not sure where to start. I have a Masters degree in nutrition, and a significant amount of writing experience in a lab setting, for a student manual, etc., but nothing published. I currently stay at home with my two young boys, working from home part-time doing medical transcription to make ends meet, but I am really wanting to launch a writing career. I am stymied as to how to do this. I don't know if you can offer advice to me, or direct me to a resource, but any help would be appreciated. …

Copyrighting Letters

What are the legalities of publishing letters received from others? …

Are They Taking Advantage of Me?

I have a question for Ask the Expert. For the past six months or so I have done a few book reviews for a particular website. I understood when I signed on that there was no monetary compensation. I now realize that this is more time consuming and harder than I expected. I assume the company running the website must get some compensation for their work. How do these types of businesses work? Do you think I am being taken advantage of doing reviews for free? …

Publisher Won’t Pay For Website Design Work

In addition to freelance writing, I also develop websites for writers and publishers. Recently, I developed a website for a magazine publisher who now refuses to pay me. What should I do? …

Can I Decline My First Offer For A Better One?

I sent out a simultaneous submission and got an offer from one publication almost instantly. I agreed to their terms and agreed to write the article. The very next day, a higher paying publication said they wanted to buy it. Can I now decline the first one so I can get more money from the second publication?…

Is It Okay To Query By Email?

Is it okay to send query letters and requests for guidelines to editors via email? It makes perfect sense to me, but I also know how easy it is to hit delete when that email box is full! What do you recommend? …

How Can I Land Interviews?

How do I go about booking interviews with radio and tv stations and newspapers? How do I ask them in essence, "Hi, I just published a book. Would you like to interview me?" …

Where Can I Find A New Agent?

I am in need of a new agent. I understand Janet Kay's agency is out of business. Can you recommend one or send a small list of agents seeking new writers? …

How Do You Hook?

You know that "thing" you do in your newsletter where you hook the reader with just enough of an article to make us absolutely, positively HAVE to click on the link to read more? You do that extremely well. What is that called and how did you learn how to do it? …

ISBN or ISSN?

Angela, I was referred to you by Mark McCann, an author who published through your program. I am putting together a one-time literary magazine and I wasn't sure how to get an ISBN # for the magazine. What is the procedure for doing so? All the best, Elizabeth ISBNs are actually assigned to books. ISSNs are for periodicals. You can apply for an ISSN at: http://www.lcweb.loc.gov/issn/ You'll be happy to know that, while ISBNs are quite expensive, there is currently no charge for an ISSN assignment. …

Fuzzy-Eyed Self-Editing Syndrome

Do all writers make mistakes (lack of clarity, weird misspellings after proofing the text more than once, etc) in the beginning of their writing careers? …

MJ Rose On The Difficulty of Getting Fiction Published

I have self-published three books and have been trying to build my writing credits. But I only have four magazine acceptances in four years of submissions- none for poetry or fiction. I have become increasingly frustrated by the rejections. Here's the most puzzling part. As a 34-year journalist, I have earned a 2004 first place award for sports column writing in the state of Pennsylvania, and was one of three finalists for a Western Pennsylvania Golden Quill Award for editorial columns in 2003. Obviously, I am doing something right journalistically, but haven't been able to make the transition to fiction and poetry. I have submitted to more than 20 publications, more than half of them multiple times. I have had a number of rejections wherein I was encouraged as in "you were among the final submissions considered." But that only helps for so long. Recently, I have even lacked the desire to write. Thanks for reading this. Do you have any suggestions that could be of help? …

MJ Rose on Switching From Fiction to Journalism

I am struggling with an issue related to writing. I am in my second semester of college, studying journalism. My past writing experience has mainly been fiction, and personal essays. Last semester I wrote several feature articles as well as a movie review. This semester, I have been working on an investigative piece and am now having a problem with switching writing styles. …

Do I Need to Pay Interview Subjects?

I'm writing a memoir for which I'm interviewing a number of people who were involved in the story, such as EMTs, witnesses, family members, friends, etc. The story is a very positive one, overall. My question is, do the interviewees need to sign any kind of a release to allow me to use the information they provide? I think they do, or should. But I can't find a standard release that seems to fit this situation-- the usual release that absolves them of any libel/slander arising from the book but also indicates they release all rights to receive revenue from doing the interview. And, if I do need to use such a release, where can I find one? …

Literary Journals – Non-Paying Markets?

What's your take on the literary journal market? In my research, most legitimate literary magazines and journals -- may of them nationally and internationally acclaimed -- are strapped for cash. Many of them only pay in contributor copies. But a lot of fiction writers -- even novelists who have managed to get published with a traditional publisher -- have contributed to them as a way to get their fiction out and to build a writing resume. When you say that editors should always pay, do you consider free contributor copies to be payment? …

When Writers Get Hate Mail

How do you develop the thick skin? I recently wrote an article for my site, it was actually for the chit chat or ramblings part where I change the content every week. At any rate, I wrote about my experience at a restaurant. Today, I received such a pretty harsh lashing from a reader. …

How Can I Attract Contributors?

I've been subscribing for a while, and now I am on the flip side of the job market. I am hoping to start a newsletter and wondering how to attract contributors. It is to be a "sharing" newsletter, so the writers need not be professional. I'll be the editor, and at least at first, the writers will not be paid. Do you have a place on your site where I can spread the word? If not, do you know where I can? …

Online Writing Guilds For Youth Writers

A gentleman who is trying to reinforce his daughter's interest in writing has asked me if I know of any online writing guilds for youth writers. All I could suggest was that you had something to do with Booklocker.com and I would see what else I could find out. I also mentioned he should to be on the lookout for a possible response from you. I'm forwarding your latest e-newsletter to him to give him a jump-start of sorts. …

Should I Buy a List of Email Addresses

Dear Ms. Hoy, Once I get an e-mag together, I still need to get a list, a starting point to get it out there. There's so much to choose from and not knowing what is good or not makes it very difficult. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks. I assume you're talking about buying a list of email addresses? Please don't do that. Most of those lists are lists of people who never authorized their emails to be sold. And, even if they had, emailing them about your book is still spam because they didn't request specific emails about your specific book. You'll need to start from scratch in building your own list. Sending out spam will destroy your reputation (and may result in you losing your website and ISP account). I offer a free ebook (http://www.writersweekly.com/index-starterkit.htm) for new WritersWeekly subscribers, which is always a good way to bring in new readers. …