“You cannot sell your inspiration, but you can sell your manuscript,” declared Russian poet Aleksandr Pushkin.
To make a living writing, we freelancers must sell our manuscripts. Thus, marketing is a must for us. However, if done without a plan, marketing can be time-consuming and exasperating, and its efficacy may be compared to pushing water uphill with a rake. That’s how I felt during five years of freelancing – frustrated by dismal results of my erratic marketing and a symbolic writing income!
Finally, I developed a game plan that made my freelance life enjoyable, and advanced my writing career. Let me share my principal marketing strategies:
1) I research writing markets using reference books: Writer’s Market, Christian Writers Market Guide, Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market, International Directory of Little Magazines & Small Presses, and Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook (listings of publications in the UK and Ireland).
3) I read blogs in my area of interest (travel and fiction writing) to learn about writing markets, and ways to locate them. It’s time well invested: I found a listing of oversees fiction markets on Womagwriter’s Blog and resources for newspaper listings on PitchTravelWrite.com.
5) I use another great marketing source – the Barnes & Noble online newsstand offering 900 magazines. There, I found 59 travel magazines, and I never heard about a half of them. Before buying a copy of a new magazine, I check its website to find out whether editors work with freelances, and accept unsolicited queries.
6) One day weekly, I analyze my marketing data – study contributors’ guidelines, read magazine copies, and determine whether I can generate several article ideas for each chosen publication. Since familiarizing oneself with magazines and their editorial needs takes time, I research only publications for which I want to be a regular contributor.
7) It’s pitching time! Even when I am booked up, I continue querying daily to ensure my steady income flow despite periodic changes at publications. I learned this the hard way when half of my “bread and butter” markets folded after a couple of months.
8) I sell my manuscripts to non-competing and non-overlapping markets (e.g., regional or international) to create more opportunities for selling reprints.
9) I try to sell my articles first to print periodicals (that do not post material on their websites) before selling them to online markets.
10) Having created “circulation charts” for my articles, I persistently submit them until I try all markets on my list. If a piece has been rejected everywhere, I rewrite it, and put in circulation again.
11) Before submitting my manuscript to a new market, I find out whether its editor will pay me, how much, and when. If writers’ guidelines do not specify payment, I look up this publication in reference books.
12) I read the “Whispers & Warnings” section of WritersWeekly.com to check whether my prospective market is mentioned among “deadbeats.”
13) I use my writer’s bio as a marketing tool: several versions of my bio are slanted for different markets and supported by relevant publishing credits. If I do not have relevant publishing credits (yet!), I capitalize on my expertise. For instance, when pitching to TRAVEL THRU HISTORY zine my first travel story about St. Petersburg, Russia, I emphasized that it’s my hometown, which I know well.
Are you ready to practice these marketing strategies to make a living writing? Then do it! “And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)” (Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!).
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Tatiana Claudy is a freelance writer from Indiana. Her bylines appeared in Creation Illustrated and Mystery Weekly Magazine, TRAVEL THRU HISTORY, Writing-World.com, and FundsforWriters e-publications.