Success in My Own Backyard By Kim Paton

In Bleak House, Charles Dickens coined the phrase “telescopic philanthropy.” It stands for the phenomenon of failing to see what occurs in your own back yard before setting your sights on more exotic locales. As a writer, I suffered from it and neglected my local markets for too long.

A lawyer turned freelancer, I usually write about law-related topics. However, in 2004, I decided to market some “creative” non-fiction pieces. As a mother of two young children, I flooded national parenting magazines with a flurry of essays and articles. No one bite.

After I finally accepted the fact that I needed relevant clips in order to get anywhere in the competitive parenting magazine market, Plan B was born. A brief Internet search and a trip to the town library armed me with a list of regional and local newsletters and magazines accepting article submissions. Surprisingly, the challenge was to narrow the list.

I selected an local publication with a friendly tone, sent an article, and within two weeks received yet another rejection letter. For the first time, though, an editor encouraged me to send other relevant work. This editor’s guidelines indicated that she was interested in working with local writers, and she really meant it!

I next submitted a personal experience piece that I had been working on for months. Days later, I received my first parenting-related article acceptance letter. The editor requested sidebar information and treated the piece as a solicited article – worth $70. Even better, I offered to write on any other topics available. The editor assigned me three more articles in 2004, and I have another slated for publication in 2005.

“Plan B” proved to be my most fruitful “non-legal” writing endeavor of 2004. I expanded my publishing credits and recalled that valuable Bleak House lesson. Success can be found in your own back yard!

Kim Paton is a writer and an adjunct professor of research and writing in the Albany, New York area. While her publishing success in the parenting magazine realm has been limited to regional markets, she has published nationally with respect to law-related topics. She is the editor of the forthcoming books, The Right to Due Process (Greenhaven Press – Fall 2005) and The Freedom From Self-Incrimination (Greenhaven Press – Spring 2006), both of which are anthologies meant to serve as research tools for high school and early college students.