Experiment Until You Find It

Where is the passion in your writing? It’s an important question to ask and answer if you want to find someone to publish your material. I’m not just talking about getting your writing published online (which anyone can accomplish). I’m talking about getting your writing published in printed magazines or books from traditional publishers. The standards, quality and expectations are much higher in these areas of the market. They require a greater commitment to the craft of writing. You have to understand what the editor wants then deliver that particular product.

Have you found that particular area where your writing passion matches the needs of the marketplace? From my years of experience in publishing, it is rare for you to instantly fall into the right place. You will have to experiment and find that place. I can’t predict how it will happen for you. Many people enter the writing world through children’s books. They have small children and read many books to their small child and think, I could write one of these. They sit down and in a few minutes produce something, then try and send it out into the marketplace and gather a bunch of rejection letters. Then they determine they need some instruction and market information. Maybe they attend a writer’s conference or they take a correspondence course such as the Institute of Children’s Literature. They successfully complete the course but still don’t get published. These writers need to continue to experiment and gain experience in the marketplace.

Many writers want to publish a book and ignore the magazine market. If you ignore the printed magazine market, you are missing some key training and publishing experience in my view. Most magazine articles will reach many more readers than the average book. Also magazine credits are important to acquisitions editors because it shows you have experience in publishing. If you write for a magazine, you learn valuable skills such as writing to a particular audience, writing to a particular length (word count) and writing on deadline. In addition, you gain experience about how the editorial process works. For example, if the magazine editor asks you for a different lead paragraph, how will you handle that request? Or if you need a different focus to your submission, can you follow the editor’s directions? When you receive the edited version of your story, how do you react and which areas do you push to fix or change? Each of these questions is a regular part of the writing process for magazines and the writer learns valuable skills from this process. It’s something you will completely miss if you are only focused on writing book-length manuscripts.

Recently I foChristmaslettersund this article from Publishers Weekly interesting about Bret Nicholaus. Initially Nicholaus self-published a Christmas book, The Christmas Letters, and sold almost 60,000 copies. Now a traditional publisher (Center Street) has released the book with a 75,000 copy first print run. Within the publishing community, Christmas books are considered seasonal and evergreen. They have a limited sales season right around Christmas yet readers buy these types of books year after year (evergreen). Also notice from this article, Nicholaus and his writing partner, Paul Lowrie, have a six-figure deal with St. Martin’s children’s imprint for a seven-book nonfiction series.

You don’t have to be locked into one genre or type of book. You do have to experiment with different types of writing until you find the best fit for you. It might be the best step you could take for your writing life in the weeks ahead.

2 Responses to “Experiment Until You Find It”

  1. Crystal Says:

    This is such a timely post for me. I’ve been working through these very things–especially the part of matching the market needs with my passions in writing. Excellent and wise words here. Thanks for the gentle reminders.

  2. Bonnie Calhoun Says:

    “You do have to experiment with different types of writing until you find the best fit for you. It might be the best step you could take for your writing life in the weeks ahead.”

    That is a very profound statement because today I was approached about giving screen writing a try! I think this is a confirmation! I’m going to try it!

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