- Querying a new market? Come up with a new spin on your subject and you'll impress an editor, says Kurt Chandler, senior editor at Milwaukee Magazine. "Ideas are currency to us," adds Chandler. And to get an assignment, make sure you're familiar with the publication and what it publishes. Too many writers pitch ideas that his publication would never cover.
- Looking for an agent? John Bolger, an agent and attorney, represents a range of fiction, and nonfiction, including genre fiction such as urban fantasy, science fiction, and women's fiction. Visit Middle West Literary Agency to submit a query letter about your project.
- As usual, the most commonly heard word mentioned was "platform," or an author's ability to sell a book. ("Social media" was a close second.) Like all traditional publishers, Sourcebooks expects authors to either already have a strong platform or be able to develop one. "You have to know how to reach the audience you're writing for," says Kelly Bale, editor at Sourcebooks. "We do a lot in terms of publicity but we look for authors with a platform."
- Use tinyurl.com to create mini-URLS for your blog and Facebook posts, etc. They look better and more professional, says technology expert Sharon Miller Cindrich, author of books including A Smart Girl's Guide to the Internet. And mini-URLs y'd are easier to include in your Tweets!
- Writers should opt for more than one email address, says Cindrich. For example, if you've written a book, create an email that is linked with the title (e.g., Goodbyebyline at gmail.com) . Then every email you send and receive from that account gets your book title before potential readers (and buyers).
- When drafting query letters for agents or editors, Bolger recommends keeping your query letters to three to five paragraphs. "Hone these paragraphs and make them accurate and compelling," says Bolger. "Remember that each query is an introduction to a potential partnership and a business relationship. Some editors and agents read literally hundreds of queries in a sitting."
I've spoken at dozens of writers' conferences throughout the country, but I go as an attendee, too. Listening to other pros helps give me new ideas about how to run my freelancing business, whether it's branching into ebooks or working more efficiently. So consider attending a writer's conference...it can pay off in a multitude of ways!
***My new line of ebooks, all branded with the Dollars and Deadlines name, are geared toward new freelancers. I take the same approach that I do with this blog--I give practical, proven strategies and plenty of examples to help you achieve your writing goals. So far the most popular has been Dollars and Deadlines' Guide to Selling your First Article, but Dollars and Deadlines 10 Essential Freelance Templates is also selling well. And if you write for love more than money (nothing wrong with that), you need to read Dollars and Deadlines' 10 Truths Every Writer Who Wants to Get Published Should Know.