Using Jobseeker Techniques To Sell Your Writing By Gail Kavanagh

Recently I sat in on a self marketing seminar for young jobseekers.

Traditional methods of looking for work are out of favor, and the seminar leader drew up a graph to show why – only 20% of available jobs are advertised, he said. What the jobseeker should be concentrating on are the 80% that aren’t advertised.

More jobs are found by ‘cold calling’ companies and asking for work, than are found through newspapers, Internet job sites and job agencies combined. By using the phone book and other directories, a jobseeker could target ten or more companies a day, and of 100 companies approached by this method, 10 would result in a definite job offer, according to the statistics.

It all sounded pretty familiar. Freelancers know ‘cold calling’ as sending out unsolicited queries.

But this approach to jobseeking got me thinking. Sitting on my desk is a card file packed with markets. Yet I regularly submitted to only a few of those markets.

If you apply mass cold calling to writing, it means hitting as many markets as possible with queries and submissions, on the principle that a percentage of them must hit the target.

So I started going through my card file from Article Markets to Women’s Markets. My plan was to send one query or submission to each market.

In the first day of the experiment, I sent out 20 submissions. About half of these were articles I had on file. The rest came from ideas I had sitting around doing nothing. One submission consisted of poems.

Within a couple of days I sold three of my submissions – including one of the poems, which was a delightful surprise. Another surprise was selling an article on old iron stoves that I thought there might be no market for at all. On the contrary, it was just what the editor was looking for.

I had positive “not right now, but try again” responses on two of my submissions. I had made a small start on the reverse marketing plan, yet already I was proving the jobseeking statistics.

These days, numbers count. You really have to bombard the markets, and keep everything in circulation to make the numbers work in your favor.

To make the plan work effectively, have a big pool of completed manuscripts, and fleshed out ideas to call on. Go through everything you have on file and brainstorm new ideas and new variations on old sales. Have a large marketbase to draw on as well, and don’t diss those markets that you think might not be receptive. Use cold calling methods to find them – check phone books and directories as well as marketing guides.

The sale of my poem proved to me that letting low self esteem hold you back was just another missed opportunity. I have always be shy about my poetry – it’s not just the sale that counts, it is the validation.

As the seminar leader said, “Once you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone, it’s surprising how quickly the new situation becomes comfortable as well.”

Submit something to every market. Don’t move on to the next market until you have a query or submission for that market. And every time you receive a rejection, see if it needs reworking, and then submit it to the next market in that category.

I’m glad I sat in on that seminar. Not only did I get a story, I also got a boost to my writing career that I badly needed.

I only hope the young jobseekers got as much out of it as I did.

Gail Kavanagh is a freelance writer living in Queensland, Australia. Her fiction has been published in Aphelion, Arabella, Fables, Literary Mama, Monthly Short Stories, Expresso Fiction and Romance Ever After. Her articles have been published in Dollar Stretcher, Every Writer, Women’s Independent Press, Absolute Write, Funds For Writers, WriteSuccess and Brady Magazine. Gail has also contributed stories to the anthologies Haunted Encounters (Atriad Press) and Changing Course (Adams Media).

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