Six query tips that have nothing to do with writing

Writing Etc.: Become a Writer for Hire

April 7, 2015

~~~ Notes from Minnesota ~~~

Hey Freelancer,

I’m officially a hipster doodle.

I recently purchased a Mac. Not only that, but I’ve taken to hopping in my Smart Car, driving to Caribou Coffee, and enjoying my Northern Lite Mocha (extra whip) while writing.

I know. I’m one handle-bar mustache away from being as cool as the other Caribou writers. I’ll get working on that. :})

That said, I really do love my Mac. Wow. It’s an awesome piece of writing equipment. I haven’t been this enthused about a computer since I got my Linux desktop.

But I digress.

The reason I left Windows was because the Mac has a number of programs I needed to run my websites more efficiently.

You’ll have to check out my progress. BethAnnErickson.com is getting a comprehensive face lift… including the building of an entire, free Starter Library.

The first book is up, the second’s good to go, and I’ve got at least eight more in the queue. All the titles are either entertaining, productivity related, or tips to help make the most of your writing career.

I hope you’ll join me over there, the going ons over there are going to be completely separate from Writing Etc. and promises to be a pretty fun adventure.

I may have been quiet lately, but things are going to heat up. A lot. :)

I hope you’ll join me on the flip side. Here’s the link: http://BethAnnErickson.com

Onward and upward,

Beth :)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Got Questions?

  • How do I land writing assignments?
  • How do I get published?
  • How do I gain a readership?
  • What makes an effective query?
  • How do I sell my writing?

All these questions (and many more) answered here: “Advice to Freelance Writers: Insider Secrets to Effective Shoestring Marketing, Managing a Winning Mindset, and Thriving in Any Economy, Volumes 1 – 3.” Get the scoop here.

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Six query tips that have nothing to do with writing.

— Beth Ann Erickson

Query mistakes abound. However, some are so incredibly easy to avoid, it’s a shame many authors seem to commit them far too regularly. This spring, a number of interesting, yet unfortunate query errors passed my desk. Here they are, in no particular order:

1. Don’t blanket your entire envelope in tape. Letters rarely open in transit. When you line your envelope in packing tape, you make it difficult, if not impossible for me to open your letter. If I manage to do so, I’ve generally destroyed something… either your return address or  component in your query.

2. Don’t send your entire manuscript unless someone asks for it. I’m saving you some big bucks here. Postage is expensive. Photocopying isn’t cheap either. Send a simple one page query. Easy peasy.

3. Don’t send your query via registered mail. Wow. That’s expensive. I felt bad when I sent the rejection letter for that one.

4. Include a SASE. The before-mentioned registered letter did not contain a SASE. I replied only because the author spent so much on getting the letter to me and he was a senior citizen. It was a good book, but we don’t publish his genre. Which leads me to…

5. Read the submission guidelines. You can save yourself a lot of time and/or postage by reading these. If you don’t read the submission guidelines, don’t brag that you didn’t. Guidelines save your time by helping you target your efforts.

6. Don’t be afraid to query via email. Electronic correspondence is inexpensive and sometimes faster. If you don’t receive a reply in a decent time frame, feel free to follow up. Spam filters can be troublesome.

7. Please don’t insult the recipient (potential publisher) in your first paragraph. Sure, it’s an attention getter, but some attention isn’t worth it. Also, don’t announce that your manuscript is so good, you don’t need to follow submission guidelines. (See tip #5).

So, there you have it. Five tips that have nothing to do with writing that will aid in getting your query not only read, but hopefully hitting its target. Now… get writing. :)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You can use any of these articles free of charge on your own website or zine. Just don’t make any changes and be sure to include this byline:

This article is courtesy of Filbert Publishing. Make your writing sparkle, write killer queries, get published. Subscribe to Writing Etc., the free e-mag for freelancers and receive the e-book “Power Queries.” http://filbertpublishing.com

Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You received this email because you subscribed at FilbertPublishing.com. You can easily manage your subscription by clicking the link at the end of this email.

You’ll receive between 1 – 4 emails per month, lots of tips, articles, and announcements of our latest titles.

I don’t rent or share your email information with anyone. Ever. Period.

Please forward this message with your friends, writing groups, peers, and anyone who you feel will find this content useful. I think they’ll find the information helpful and I know I very much appreciate your support.

~~~~~

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Please send your news items, ideas, comments, etc. to mailto:filbertpublishing@filbertpublishing.com

Writing Etc.

Box 326

Kandiyohi, MN 56251

Maurice and Beth Erickson, Publishers

mailto:filbertpublishing@filbertpublishing.com

http://filbertpublishing.com/

(c) 2015 FilbertPublishing.com

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Confessions of a Content Mill Writer

Writing Etc.: Become a writer for hire.

February 26, 2015

~~ Notes from Minnesota ~~~

Hey Writing Etc. subscriber,

Fast question: How many queries do you send out each day?

Another question: How many sales letters do you send out per week?

Final question: How much freelance work do you have in your queue?

Hmmm. I’ve been hearing many horror stories about freelancing, changes in the industry, declining rates… but when I ask those three questions in response to the complaints, I invariably receive similar dismal responses.

Here’s freelancing’s big secret: Writers say they love to write. They tend to enjoy talking about writing. They often enjoy reading about writing.

But actually write? Not as much. Market that same writing? Definitely not as much.

But these are some topics I’ll tackle starting today. First up? Content mills, yay or nay?

Read on.

More later,

Beth

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Got Questions?

How do I land writing assignments?
How do I get published?
How do I gain a readership?
What makes an effective query?
How do I sell my writing?

All these questions (and many more) answered here: “Advice to Freelance Writers: Insider Secrets to Effective Shoestring Marketing, Managing a Winning Mindset, and Thriving in Any Economy, Volumes 1 – 3.” Get the scoop here. 

~~~~ Feature Article ~~~~~~~~

Confessions of a Content Mill Writer
Anonymous

Beth’s note: I received this information and am passing in on with his/her permission. I have a couple comments at the end.

   Well, this is embarrassing.

It all started innocuous enough. A writing friend needed help. “We’re swamped. Pay isn’t great, but work is steady, you can easily squeeze the articles in between your other projects, and we could really use your help.”

Whether I was feeling adventurous, wanted to stretch my writing chops, or am simply a glutton for punishment, I found myself saying, “Sure. I’ll help.”

I was a little surprised when I had to interview for this low paying assignment. Terms were interesting: Five bucks per article, 100 percent original, I was selling “all rights,” everything ran through Copyscape. I evidently passed inspection and was immediately given 20+ articles to edit. Pay rate? $1.25 per 900 word article. But no rush. The pay felt dismal, but… well… I was doing this for a friend.

Oh wait. Did I say “no rush?” Two days before my deadline, I started getting emails asking to submit the articles early.

The next week, they needed five articles. Perfect. At five dollars per, I wrote one per day, submitted them, and all seemed well, except for the nagging sensation that I’d just whipped up five small batches of “Google Goulash.” I vowed to be a bit more imaginative on the next batch, despite the low pay rate.

The week of Christmas I received an email requesting I write 23 – 900 word articles on a subject I know nothing about, using specific keywords… in four days. This would mean I’d need to research, then write six of these little guys (for a total of 5,600 words per day), including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I would also be required to highlight each keyword.

I turned it down, explaining I could only do five articles per week.

The week after, I received a request to write five articles, but they were due within 24 hours.

I turned that one down as well.

Then I received a curt email from my rep telling me to “email when I was ready to write for them again.”

He’s still waiting for my reply.

(Beth again): Here are my thoughts concerning this situation:

1. Selling “all rights” to an original article for five dollars is truly disappointing. The writer receives no byline, no author credit, no new clips, no credibility building… it’s truly one of the the worst ways to sell your time and/or talent.

2. Rather than write for a content mill, you may find your time better spent contacting local businesses offering to write their promotions. The pay is far better, they generally respect your talent/education, and it’s really fun. Send out a set number of sales letters every day and (like magic) some get responses. It’s really that easy.

3. Why do you write? I’m sure it’s not to spend your day writing click-baity Google goulash. Writing is the most powerful activity you can engage in. Words possess the power to change worlds, create fortunes, ignite dreams.

IMHO, I’d suggest you hold tight to your dream, treat it as precious as it is, and don’t bruise it by writing for content mills offering insulting wages for what is basically nothing in return.

What are your thoughts? How do your experiences with content mills compare? Join the discussion here. (As always, be kind.) :)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You can use any of these articles free of charge on your own website or zine. Just don’t make any changes and be sure to include this byline:

This article is courtesy of Filbert Publishing. Make your writing sparkle, write killer queries, get published. Subscribe to Writing Etc., the free e-mag for freelancers and receive the e-book “Power Queries.” http://filbertpublishing.com

Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You received this email because you subscribed at FilbertPublishing.com. You can easily manage your subscription by clicking the link at the end of this email.

You’ll receive between 1 – 4 emails per month, lots of tips, articles, and announcements of our latest titles.

I don’t rent or share your email information with anyone. Ever. Period.

Please forward this message with your friends, writing groups, peers, and anyone who you feel will find this content useful. I think they’ll find the information helpful and I know I very much appreciate your support.

~~~~~

PRIVACY STATEMENT: We will not distribute your email address to anyone. Ever. Period.

Please send your news items, ideas, comments, etc. to filbertpublishing(a)filbertpublishing.com
Writing Etc.
Box 326
Kandiyohi, MN 56251
Maurice and Beth Erickson, Publishers
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http://filbertpublishing.com/
(c) 2015 FilbertPublishing.com

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Want to sell more writing? Do this.

Writing Etc.: Become a writer for hire.

January 30, 2015

~~ Notes from Minnesota ~~~

Hey Writing Etc. subscriber,

Woah. 2015. That sure came fast.

Of course, since this is the first issue of Writing Etc. for the new year, I can’t help but ask how your writing goals of ’14 panned out.

Did you publish as much as you had hoped?

How are sales?

Did you pick up any new clients?

How’s that book coming along?

Also (and probably more importantly), is your writing life how you envisioned it would be?

If you feel you didn’t reach your potential last year, don’t despair. Let’s make a pact to make ’15 your best year ever. Read on, watch this space and we’ll get there together, eh?

More later,

Beth

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Got Questions?

  • How do I land writing assignments?
  • How do I get published?
  • How do I gain a readership?
  • What makes an effective query?
  • How do I sell my writing?

All these questions (and many more) answered here: “Advice to Freelance Writers: Insider Secrets to Effective Shoestring Marketing, Managing a Winning Mindset, and Thriving in Any Economy, Volumes 1 – 3.” Get the scoop here.

~~~~ Feature Article ~~~~~~~~

I Get Email
Beth Ann Erickson

I get e-mail. Lots of it. But the ones I find particularly interesting are from the folks leaving the Writing Etc. list. I find their messages fascinating. In fact, I got one the other day I simply have to share with you. It went like this:

Dear Beth,

I’m leaving Writing Etc. because you talk about marketing too much. I don’t need to market. I need to write. If I’m a great writer, then people will naturally buy my work.

Freelancer

I didn’t reply. However, I’ll share my thoughts with you.

I’m glad this writer is independently wealthy and doesn’t have to worry about making a living as a writer. That’s a good thing. But for the rest of us writers who have bills to pay, marketing is going to be a large part of our day.

It’s the harsh reality we’ll always face.

No matter how well you write, your talent probably won’t get noticed unless you’re out in the fray pointing people towards your message. We live in a big, noisy world and if you want to make a living as a writer, you need to find your spot, hunker down for the long haul, and learn how to draw attention to your message… i.e. marketing.

In fact, unless you write only for the joy of it (nothing wrong with that), you can assume every query you write, every article you write, every novel you write is a form of marketing/persuasion. Just think, you query needs to persuade a publisher to accept your work. You article needs to persuade the reader that you’re not only an expert, but they should listen to your opinion. If you want your reader to buy into the world of your novel you need to… persuade them.

Now, learning persuasion skills doesn’t have to be hard, uncomfortable, or expensive. I’m probably the biggest weenie alive when it comes to marketing and I’ve managed to figure out a comfortable way to share my message. Also, I’ve studied marketing techniques, purchased the big-time expensive courses as well as inexpensive used Amazon books. Funny thing, they share nearly identical information.

Marketing is not magic, it’s not “spiritual,” or hypnotic. It’s consistency, mastering a few basic concepts, and never giving up.

But to think that as a writer you’ll never have to market… that’s unfortunate because if you don’t do this, you’ll probably die without ever having released your message.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You can use any of these articles free of charge on your own website or zine. Just don’t make any changes and be sure to include this byline:

This article is courtesy of Filbert Publishing. Make your writing sparkle, write killer queries, get published. Subscribe to Writing Etc., the free e-mag for freelancers and receive the e-book “Power Queries.” http://filbertpublishing.com

Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You received this email because you subscribed at FilbertPublishing.com. You can easily manage your subscription by clicking the link at the end of this email.

You’ll receive between 1 – 4 emails per month, lots of tips, articles, and announcements of our latest titles.

I don’t rent or share your email information with anyone. Ever. Period.

Please forward this message with your friends, writing groups, peers, and anyone who you feel will find this content useful. I think they’ll find the information helpful and I know I very much appreciate your support.

~~~~~

PRIVACY STATEMENT: We will not distribute your email address to anyone. Ever. Period.

Please send your news items, ideas, comments, etc. to mailto:filbertpublishing@filbertpublishing.com
Writing Etc.
Box 326
Kandiyohi, MN 56251
Maurice and Beth Erickson, Publishers
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http://filbertpublishing.com/
(c) 2015 FilbertPublishing.com

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Why do you write?

Writing Etc.: Make your writing sparkle, write killer queries, get published. Tips, tools, and techniques to help sell your writing.

December 18, 2014

~~ Notes from Minnesota ~~~

Hey Writing Etc. subscriber,

All my cancerversary tests turned out OK. Liver numbers? Check. Tumor markers? Yup. So far, so good.

So, what do I do with the next six months?

I pondered this question quite a while. Writing is changing. Fees are declining in many markets. New books are flooding Amazon (many aren’t that great, btw).

So, how do you actually make a living as a writer?

From my perspective, I guess that’s what we’ll focus on 2015. In the mean time, if you have any writing friends, I’d be exceedingly grateful if you’d steer them this direction. We need join forces and create a vibrant writing community intent on not only honing our craft, but who take the business side of this endeavor just as serious.

More on all this later.

Beth

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Got Questions?

  • How do I land writing assignments?
  • How do I get published?
  • How do I gain a readership?
  • What makes an effective query?
  • How do I sell my writing?

All these questions (and many more) answered here: “Advice to Freelance Writers: Insider Secrets to Effective Shoestring Marketing, Managing a Winning Mindset, and Thriving in Any Economy, Volumes 1 – 3.” Get the scoop here.

~~~~ Feature Article ~~~~~~~~

Why do you write?

Beth Ann Erickson

Have you ever taken a moment to ask yourself why you write?

Sure. You may write to inform. Perhaps you do it to persuade. Some people do it for psychic gratification. Some write for money.

But what do you write? Why do you write it? Why go through the angst of continual critique, challenges to your position, the horror of discovering you’re wrong?

Here’s my take on the subject:

I write because I like to stir my pot. It’s who I am. I ask questions. I make mistakes. I get messy. There are times I side with the underdog only because I want to experience their point of view.

I intentionally place myself in the small edges of the bell curve because I adore experiencing life through the eyes of everyone. Perhaps it’s my newspaper reporting, continually urging me to explore all aspects of the story.

Perhaps it’s because at an early age, as I watched my baby sister slowly die, that experience forever changed the way I viewed life, the way I looked at people, and how so-called imperfections can alter the trajectory of a life, even if that life is painfully short.

Because of that little sister, my life is a continual (and sometimes annoying) adventure. Life is short, if you don’t experience it now, you may run out of time.

Some of my adventures include:

  • Marketing director for a very large metaphysical “university” (Woah, the stories I’ll tell…)
  • Activity director for a local assisted living facility (Adventures in aging.)
  • Personal vegan chef (Interesting lifestyle, easy weight loss.)
  • Foster care provider for local humane society (What some people do to animals is terrible.)
  • Cancer quackery challenger (Want to get people mad? Tell them anyone can get cancer.)
  • Religious commentary writer (Had to be real careful here. Some religious people don’t appreciate questions… evidently.)
  • And a few crazy adventures best left private… (Ha. How’s that for a teaser?)

My point? Every single adventure has added a dimension to that which I call “life.” I write because I have questions. I’m curious. After all this time, I have doubts that will change. There’s nothing worse than thinking, “I wonder what would happen if…” I have to know… through personal experience.

I write because this profession reflects “me” better than any other profession. I can’t be anything but who I am. I’m a writer.

Now… tell me why you write (if you feel comfortable doing so) in the comment section below. Thanks! :)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You can use any of these articles free of charge on your own website or zine. Just don’t make any changes and be sure to include this byline:

This article is courtesy of Filbert Publishing. Make your writing sparkle, write killer queries, get published. Subscribe to Writing Etc., the free e-mag for freelancers and receive the e-book “Power Queries.” http://filbertpublishing.com

Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You received this email because you subscribed at FilbertPublishing.com. You can easily manage your subscription by clicking the link at the end of this email.

You’ll receive between 1 – 4 emails per month, lots of tips, articles, and announcements of our latest titles.

I don’t rent or share your email information with anyone. Ever. Period.

Please forward this message with your friends, writing groups, peers, and anyone who you feel will find this content useful. I think they’ll find the information helpful and I know I very much appreciate your support.

~~~~~

PRIVACY STATEMENT: We will not distribute your email address to anyone. Ever. Period.

Please send your news items, ideas, comments, etc. to mailto:filbertpublishing@filbertpublishing.com
Writing Etc.
Box 326
Kandiyohi, MN 56251
Maurice and Beth Erickson, Publishers
mailto:filbertpublishing@filbertpublishing.com
http://filbertpublishing.com/
(c) 2014 FilbertPublishing.com

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Five words to scam-proof your writing career

November 11, 2014

~~ Notes from Minnesota ~~~

Hey Writing Etc. subscriber,

Well, I’m heading into my 1.5 year cancerversary tests. It pretty much sucks. While I’ve had a few wonky liver numbers, nobody’s real concerned. We’ll get the latest update in a couple weeks.

Ah, but if you recall, last time I told you about Luna, the stray cat who adopted our family. That little girl has pretty much taken over the house. She’s queen of the puppies and has captured our hearts.

During the day she sits on my desk. If she’s not there, she’s on my lap. This has caused a bit of concern for the veteran canines. Strangely, when the cat’s away, they’ve taken to crawling up my leg to test drive this new seating arrangement. Unfortunately a 15 pound critter doesn’t really fit the same way a five pound kitty does.

Let’s just say my desk is more of a mess than usual due to all this new animal traffic. My lap is scratched and bleeding. I’m in heaven.

Life changes in an instant. I’d advise you to be ready for it, but there’s really no way to prepare for some of the twists and turns. It’s the same for your writing career.

Oh well.

Talk later,

Beth

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Got questions?

How do you land writing assignments? How do you get published? How do you gain a readership? What makes an effective query? How do I sell my writing? All these questions (and many more) answered here: “Advice to Freelance Writers: Insider Secrets to Effective Shoestring Marketing, Managing a Winning Mindset, and Thriving in Any Economy, Volumes 1 – 3.” Get the scoop here.

~~~~ Feature Article ~~~~~~~~

Writing Etc: Five words to scam-proof your writing career
Beth Ann Erickson

I get email. Tons of it, in fact. Many times, aspiring writers write to ask if a particular website, a plan, or publisher is legit.

“This person tells me if I pay them $350, they’ll help me sell a ton of books!”

“This website says if I send them (insert cash amount here), they’ll send me a LOT of work.”

“This publisher will offer me a contract. All I have to do is pay them…”

While each scenario is generally complex, there’s an easy way to know if any particular scheme will help you advance your writing goals or will simply leave you with empty pockets. Just ask yourself this:

Does the money flow towards or away from me?

Better yet, tattoo this on your forehead: Money flows towards the writer.

If you remember this, you’ll pretty much scam proof your writing career.

Someone wants $350 to help sell your books? Nope. Calculate how many books you’d have to sell to recoup that investment and you’ll realize the seller will likely come out ahead on that deal.

If you land a writing client and they need you to send money to “get started,” run, don’t walk, away. The day your doctor pays you to visit his office is the day you should pay for a writing assignment.

Finally, if a publisher says your book is brilliant and will happily publish it for a fee, realize that this publisher likely makes money from their authors, not from selling books. Your publisher should write checks to you… not the other way around.

Money flows towards the writer.

Remember this. Post it to your computer monitor. Then get writing.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You can use any of these articles free of charge on your own website or zine. Just don’t make any changes and be sure to include this byline:

This article is courtesy of Filbert Publishing. Make your writing sparkle, write killer queries, get published. Subscribe to Writing Etc., the free e-mag for freelancers and receive the e-book “Power Queries.” http://filbertpublishing.com

Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You received this email because you subscribed at FilbertPublishing.com. You can easily manage your subscription by clicking the link at the end of this email.

You’ll receive between 1 – 4 emails per month, lots of tips, articles, and announcements of our latest titles.

I don’t rent or share your email information with anyone. Ever. Period.

Please forward this message with your friends, writing groups, peers, and anyone who you feel will find this content useful. I think they’ll find the information helpful and I know I very much appreciate your support.

~~~~~

PRIVACY STATEMENT: We will not distribute your email address to anyone. Ever. Period.

Please send your news items, ideas, comments, etc. to mailto:filbertpublishing@filbertpublishing.com
Writing Etc.
Box 326
Kandiyohi, MN 56251
Maurice and Beth Erickson, Publishers
mailto:filbertpublishing@filbertpublishing.com
http://filbertpublishing.com/
(c) 2014 FilbertPublishing.com

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The rough reality of publishing and the simple workaround

Writing Etc.: Make your writing sparkle, write killer queries, get published. Tips, tools, and techniques to help sell your writing.

October 21, 2014

~~ Notes from Minnesota ~~~

Hey Writing Etc. subscriber,

The only constant in life is change.

I’m feeling fairly well these day. Post cancer-diagnosis life is beginning a somewhat predictable rhythm. I’m able to take longer walks. Days are calm, dare I say… verging on “good” again.

Then came Luna.

Last week, my dear son yelled from the basement, “Hey Mom. The cat’s still under the deck.”

Stupid me. I had to look.

Sure enough, a little kitty lay pressed against the dirty basement window. “Ignore it,” I say.

“But its neck looks sooo long,” he counters.

We opened the window (bad move) and the most charming kitty popped her head in. My son immediately closed said window and we went upstairs.

Later that morning, I ran downstairs. I peeked towards the window. It was still there.

Even stupider me: I opened the window, just to see how thin it was. It climbed inside. I stroked it. Then I carried it upstairs. Then I fed her. Then she slept on my desk.

The city clerk told me to bring her to the Humane Society. “Or you can shoot her,” she said, “We’ve got an infestation on stray cats in town.”

Needless to say, I now live with a cat. A tortoise shell kitty. A lovely little girl. The two dogs are somewhat confused at this new development. As am I.

I’m not sure how I feel about this new arrangement, however I can say I do not dislike it. That little critter seems to be stealing my heart. Dang her. :)

Keep writing!

Beth (who is currently brushing a persistent tail off her computer keyboard)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Does marketing your writing frustrate you? Check this out: “Advice to Freelance Writers: Insider Secrets to Effective Shoestring Marketing, Managing a Winning Mindset, and Thriving in Any Economy, Volumes 1 – 3.” Get the scoop here.

~~~~ Feature Article ~~~~~~~~

The rough reality of publishing and the simple workaround

Beth Ann Erickson

The world of publishing is continually changing. So far, just this year, over two million new books have been published worldwide. 

That’s a lot of books. This number highlights a few realities for writers.

First, competition for reader eyeballs is astounding. Second, fewer people actually read books anymore. Third, most of these books… an incredible number, actually… will die slow, quiet deaths.

So, is there any way to stack the deck, just a little bit, in your favor?

Sure. The biggest thing you can do to ensure the success of any writing project is to learn how to market. If you can’t market, you may as well write for your friends and family because they’ll be the primary buyers.

Marketing isn’t hard. It isn’t complicated either. However, you absolutely, positively must learn some of these important skills. It’s not negotiable.

Another thing you need to do is build your brand. Yeah. I wasn’t thrilled to hear this until I actually studied branding and discovered how much I enjoy this activity. As a writer, you have an automatic edge in this department.

Finally, you need to build a readership. This is a career-long activity that’s easily accomplished by learning marketing skills and being consistent within your brand.

So… while the current publishing environment isn’t necessarily great, it’s not hard to implement an effective work-around. Also, with so few writers paying heed to these workarounds, you can cultivate quite an edge.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You can use any of these articles free of charge on your own website or zine. Just don’t make any changes and be sure to include this byline:

This article is courtesy of Filbert Publishing. Make your writing sparkle, write killer queries, get published. Subscribe to Writing Etc., the free e-mag for freelancers and receive the e-book “Power Queries.” http://filbertpublishing.com

Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You received this email because you subscribed at FilbertPublishing.com. You can easily manage your subscription by clicking the link at the end of this email.

You’ll receive between 1 – 4 emails per month from me, lots of tips, articles, and announcements of our latest titles.

I don’t rent or share your email information with anyone. Ever. Period.

Please forward this message with your friends, writing groups, peers, and anyone who you feel will find this content useful. I think they’ll find the information helpful and I know I very much appreciate your support. :)

~~~~~

PRIVACY STATEMENT: We will not distribute your email address to anyone. Ever. Period.

Please send your news items, ideas, comments, etc. to mailto:filbertpublishing@filbertpublishing.com

Writing Etc.

Box 326

Kandiyohi, MN 56251

Maurice and Beth Erickson, Publishers

mailto:filbertpublishing@filbertpublishing.com

http://filbertpublishing.com/

(c) 2014 FilbertPublishing.com

 

Share

Don’t make this mistake when writing titles and headlines

Hey Writing Etc. subscriber,

You’ve probably seen these headlines, perhaps in your Facebook Newsfeed.

“The truth behind mens’ body wash and womens’ body wash will make you feel dirty.”

“This family has been basing their life on 5 words since 1916.”

And how about this one?

If you’ve never checked your Facebook privacy settings, this couple might persuade you to.”

Sounds interesting, eh?

These headlines so popular that they’ve been given a name: clickbait. In fact, even the satire website, The Onion, has created a sister site devoted to these little gems called, “ClickHole.”

Why the popularity of clickbait? Well, they evidently draw in readers like bees to nectar. They’re examples of great marketing… or not.

Let’s deconstruct a bit, eh?

First, in the strictest definition of marketing, these headlines do, indeed, achieve their proposed goal: They get people to click the link, evidently lots of people. The sites that present this… er… “information” want traffic. And they definitely get traffic.

However, and this is my big beef, most business owners don’t necessarily want hordes of untargeted people tromping through their stores/websites. And I’m sure that you don’t want unfocused visitors heading to your web space, either.

From my experience, what most of business people, and freelancers are definitely business-owners, want not a transient readership, they tend to want faithful readers, customers who spend more than two seconds perusing pages the website owners have (possibly) spend a long time developing.

But let’s go a bit deeper. Suppose you wrote one of these headlines in the hopes of luring people to your website. Your potential reader sees your headline, she clicks, she visits, then… she’s disappointed. Perhaps she’s a mite ticked off.

After viewing your grossly exaggerated “promise,” she’s left thinking, “Seriously? That’s it? Gah. I’ve been duped… again.”

No. You don’t want anyone leaving your web space with a sour taste in their mouth. You also don’t want them viewing subsequent messages from you with suspicion.

If you cannot fulfill the promise of your headline, don’t make that promise.

I’d rather attract people to my client’s websites using real promises, true benefits supported by valuable content. I want my visitors to be delighted with what they find. I want them to read. I want them to find nuggets of great information.

Rather than over hype your headline, you’re better off overdelivering on the content after your headline. Make your writing packed with immediately useful information.

If someone left my site in disgust due to a “clickbait” headline, that would be my fault for luring them there under false pretenses. If potential visitors avoided my website because I garnered a reputation for writing hype, I have no one to blame but myself.

Effective PR involves more than strong copywriting. It’s all about building a readership. It’s about developing trust. It’s about providing a great customer/reader experience.

I’d advise against using this “clickbait” technique when it comes to titling articles, books, headlines, first paragraphs… anything you write. And if you decide to give it a whirl, I strongly advise you proceed with extreme caution and make sure your content over delivers on the promises generated in that headline.

Beth :)

P.S.  Does marketing your writing frustrate you? Check this out: “Advice to Freelance Writers: Insider Secrets to Effective Shoestring Marketing, Managing a Winning Mindset, and Thriving in Any Economy, Volumes 1 – 3.” Get the scoop here

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To subscr*ibe to Writing Etc. and receive the fr*e e-book, “Power Queries,” surf here:
http://filbertpublishing.com

Forward Writing Etc. to all your friends! They’ll be glad you did.

You can easily manage your subscription to Writing Etc. by clicking the links at the end of this e-mail.
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You can use any of these articles free of charge on your own website or zine. Just don’t make any changes and be sure to include this  byline:

This article is courtesy of Filbert Publishing. Make your writing sparkle, write killer queries, get published. Subscribe to Writing Etc., the free e-mag for freelancers and receive the e-book “Power Queries.” http://filbertpublishing.com

Enjoy!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I Recommend:
Writing For Dollars! The FREE ezine for writers featuring tips, tricks and ideas for selling what you write. Receive the FREE ebook, 83 WAYS TO MAKE MONEY WRITING when you subscribe. Email to subscribe@writingfordollars.com -*-
http://www.WritingForDollars.com

WRITERS FIND MARKETS EASILY – Worldwide Freelance has a NEW fully-searchable Markets Database. Discover writing markets from North America, Europe, Australia and other places. It’s free, so come and try it out
here: http://www.worldwidefreelance.com
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Please recommend this newsletter to anyone you know who’d like to learn how to make their writing sparkle. Just click on “Forward” in your email program and hit send.

PRIVACY STATEMENT: We will not distribute your email address to anyone. Ever. Period.

Please send your news items, ideas, comments, etc. to filbertpublishing(a)filbertpublishing.com

Writing Etc.
Box 326
Kandiyohi, MN 56251
Maurice and Beth Erickson, Publishers
mailto:filbertpublishing@filbertpublishing.com
http://filbertpublishing.com/

(c) 2014 FilbertPublishing.com

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A crisis, detours, and writing careers… ack.

 

Hey Writing Etc. Subscriber,

As you may have noticed, it’s been a while since I released a new Writing Etc. If you recall, this past year, I’ve been dealing with cancer. Yes, my cancerversary tests came back very encouraging. That news still stands. What I didn’t share was that as my tests were coming in strong, my dad was conducting his own cancer screening and his numbers were yielding discouraging results.

So, while I was getting scanned, poked, and prodded, so was he. To make a long story short, he had 1/3 of his right lung removed and is just now making the big decision as to whether he’ll undergo chemo.

Which brings me to my point: Nothing’s permanent. Seriously, it’s not.

I spent countless hours building a writing career. I’ve worked with Filbert Publishing since ’01. Writing Etc. has been my treasured baby since moment one.

And yet, through all these health stuff, I’ve somehow managed to neglect both… and with the ghost of cancer haunting my office, there are days I’m not sure about the future of my endeavors.

That’s OK, I suppose. But, as I survey the current state of publishing, the evolving reality of Internet copywriting, and ponder my place in it all, I’ve discovered I’m almost relieved that I have the opportunity to, in many regards, begin from scratch.

But, as always, an interesting thread developed through this past year. Right before my diagnosis, I had just accepted a new book, the first in a long time, but this one is particularly interesting in light of the circumstances.

The subject? Life detours.

Boy, oh boy, did that project experience detours. First we had cancer delays, then basically everything that could go wrong did. But the author, Lo Silverman, had the patience of a saint, hung in there, and took every curve ball with her trademark sense of humor.

It’s not often I meet an author who so thoroughly walks her talk.

To use Lois’ own words, this is what I take away from this past year:

Life, as most of us seasoned veterans know it, does not usually follow paths we envisioned and to be perfectly honest … we would probably be bored if it did. Well … I would not be bored being a stunning size 6 but that is another story … for later.

Yes, perfection really isn’t perfect. And life is filled to the brim with detours. The issue is not to avoid any of those detours. That’s impossible. And besides, some of them will be awesome. We’re going to be sent on detours whether we want them or not.

The key to success is realizing that it’s how we handle those detours, and in our attitudes as we embark on them. There’s no reason to automatically assume they will be your undoing. If you embark on these unplanned trips with a suitcase filled with a good attitude, a great work ethic and your sense of humor intact …. you may just find that your best destinations are waiting ahead of you, at the end of the detour.

This is not to say you won’t have to slog through some muck along your route. Muck happens. But rainbows happen also.

Life is a giant adventure. It’s a constant work in progress and a complex series of detours, some good and some not-so-good, that you must learn to navigate.

So what does this all mean? Filbert Publishing won’t change much. I enjoy publishing books. However, my personal website, BethAnnErickson.com will undergo a fundamental shift in the coming days, as will my writing career… which, in fact, will affect Writing Etc.

But, I think you’ll like it.

Here’s to a great year.

Beth :)

P.S. Lo’s book just went live. If you’re facing a detour, definitely check it out. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00M7BN2O6

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To subscr*ibe to Writing Etc. and receive the fr*e e-book, “Power Queries,” surf here:

http://filbertpublishing.com

Forward Writing Etc. to all your friends! They’ll be glad you did.

You can easily manage your subscription to Writing Etc. by clicking the links at the end of this e-mail.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You can use any of these articles free of charge on your own website or zine. Just don’t make any changes and be sure to include this byline:

This article is courtesy of Filbert Publishing. Make your writing sparkle, write killer queries, get published. Subscribe to Writing Etc., the free e-mag for freelancers and receive the e-book “Power Queries.” http://filbertpublishing.com

Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I Recommend:

Writing For Dollars! The FREE ezine for writers featuring tips, tricks and ideas for selling what you write. Receive the FREE ebook, 83 WAYS TO MAKE MONEY WRITING when you subscribe. Email to subscribe@writingfordollars.com -*-

http://www.WritingForDollars.com

WRITERS FIND MARKETS EASILY – Worldwide Freelance has a NEW fully-searchable Markets Database. Discover writing markets from North America, Europe, Australia and other places. It’s free, so come and try it out

here: http://www.worldwidefreelance.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Please recommend this newsletter to anyone you know who’d like to learn how to make their writing sparkle. Just click on “Forward” in your email program and hit send.

PRIVACY STATEMENT: We will not distribute your email address to anyone. Ever. Period.

Please send your news items, ideas, comments, etc. to mailto:filbertpublishing@filbertpublishing.com

Writing Etc.

Box 326

Kandiyohi, MN 56251

Maurice and Beth Erickson, Publishers

mailto:filbertpublishing@filbertpublishing.com

http://filbertpublishing.com/

(c) 2014 FilbertPublishing.com

 

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Are you making these query mistakes?

Hey Writing Etc. Subscriber,

Couple things:

First, I just finished all my one year cancerversary tests. Unbelievably, an entire year has passed since my diagnosis… time flies.

What’s the new news? So far, so good. All the scans are clear. Blood tests good. Tests… wonderful. While I’m hardly out of the woods as far as relapses go, this is a fabulous start.

That feels good.

Second, I’ve purposely gone light on sharing the gory details of this new “adventure.” I know I rather dislike hearing the blow-by-blows of disease, I’ll assume the same for you.

Suffice it to say it’s been a rough year. If you’ve emailed and I haven’t answered, it isn’t because I’m ignoring you. I’ve simply had a difficult time and am glad I’m this far along. I’m incredibly thankful for every message, every moment I can spend in my beloved office with my lovely pups.

I enjoy simplicity.

On that end, I couldn’t help but smile as I read my latest round of email correspondence. Amongst them were dozens of new queries.

Filbert Publishing is listed in the Writer’s Market. That’s awesome, I like being affiliated with them. I’ve reviewed some solid potential projects. It’s also a bit frustrating because I see far too many potential projects presented with, I’ll be frank, not super queries.

So, I thought I’d share a few pointers to help your queries accomplish their intended purpose. You see, query writing is half technical expertise, half art. The technical aspect of this process is actually quite easy to master. Here are a few pointers:

  1. Use capital letters. Yup, they go at the beginning of each sentence. They’re also quite handy to use when using a proper noun. They’re generally awesome.
  2. Don’t use all caps, though. Using them in this manner looks like you’re YELLING at your reader. You never want to do this.
  3. Punctuation is useful. Be sure to use commas and periods. A super long steam of consciousness query likely, will not get read.
  4. Paragraphs are fabulous. Short paragraphs are even better. Use white space to ease eye strain.
  5. Begin your query with a snappy opener. Generally get your reader interested in the subject before you introduce yourself. The AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) model is a good one to follow. The four Ps work, too. You can also employ Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs. No matter what model you use, structure your query in a logical style.
  6. Don’t demand your book be available at any big-box/discount stores, especially if you’re a newbie querying a small publisher. This tells me you little to nothing about the book biz.
  7. Proofread, proofread, proofread. This is your reader’s first impression of you. If you are unable to polish a one page query, I can’t help but wonder how messy your manuscript will be. (Note: typos happen. I get that. But multiple mistakes in one query is a bit suspicious.)
  8. Send your query to a person. “Dear Editor” and “Dear Publisher” tells me you know absolutely zero about my company. I rather like when query writers demonstrate that they’re not only familiar with Filbert Publishing, but have taken five minutes to research how their project will fit with our current list.
  9. Get the name right. Maury reads queries, to. He’s not Mary. Nor is he Morrie. Also, I’m not Bart, Burt, or Barney.
  10. One to two pages will do the trick. One paragraph doesn’t tell me enough. Five pages is a bit much. Queries give the reader a taste of the project.
  11. Read the submission guidelines. These help a lot.

Not hard, eh? You’d be surprised how many writers forgo at least one of these little tips. That’s unfortunate. But hey… if you use this article as a handy check list, you’ll give your query a leg up when it comes the competing flow of email.

Good luck!

Beth :)

P.S. Want more techniques that’ll sharpen your queries? Check out “Advice to Freelance Writers: Insider Secrets to Effective Shoestring Marketing, Managing a Winning Mindset, and Thriving in Any Economy, Volumes 1 – 3.” It’s available as an economical ebook. Get the scoop here.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To subscr*ibe to Writing Etc. and receive the fr*e e-book, “Power Queries,” surf here: http://filbertpublishing.com

Forward Writing Etc. to all your friends! They’ll be glad you did.

You can easily manage your subscription to Writing Etc. by clicking the links at the end of this e-mail.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You can use any of these articles free of charge on your own website or zine. Just don’t make any changes and be sure to include this  byline:

This article is courtesy of Filbert Publishing. Make your writing sparkle, write killer queries, get published. Subscribe to Writing Etc., the free e-mag for freelancers and receive the e-book “Power Queries.” http://filbertpublishing.com

Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Please recommend this newsletter to anyone you know who’d like to learn how to make their writing sparkle. Just click on “Forward” in your email program and hit send.

PRIVACY STATEMENT: We will not distribute your email address to anyone. Ever. Period.

Please send your news items, ideas, comments, etc. to mailto:filbertpublishing@filbertpublishing.com

 

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Death, life, and writing

Hey Writing Etc. Subscriber,

I had the February Writing Etc. set to go, but I simply couldn’t hit the “send” button. That’s never happened before. So, I let it sit. Perhaps next time.

Lots has happened since the last time we got together.

Of course, I have this ongoing cancer thing. Nothing’s changed, just the same old doc appointments, mental roller coaster, uncertainty… it’s all in a day’s work from now on.

No. Something else derailed my train of thought.

I had a dear friend, an utterly prolific writer, a dreamer, a lover of words, disappear from my life. She was the first author to step up and take a chance on my then brand new publishing company and entrust me with one of her projects. Today she’s gone.

Her name was Billie A. Williams.

She recently died. Lung cancer, from what I hear. I didn’t know she was sick.

To send out a Writing Etc. without a hat tip to this amazing writer seemed trite.

So today, in honor of Billie, I’m going to indulge my melancholy and share the top dozen writing habits I learned from Billie.

  1. Write early. She often told me she awoke at 3am. Since she couldn’t sleep, she’d write. While I’m never awake at that hour, I tend to make writing my first priority when I awaken.

  2. Write often. Billie always had a pen and pad nearby to jot down ideas. I never felt the need to do this, but since cancer invaded my life, I’ve found my memory isn’t quite what it used to be. I carry that pad of paper now.

  3. Experiment. My goodness, that woman was fearless when it came to trying new markets. She wrote whatever struck her fancy, sometimes using a pen name when she experimented with subjects that conflicted with her primary focus.

  4. Be fearless. Don’t be afraid to try new writing techniques. Play with new subject matter. Approach the familiar from a new angle. Dance with new ideas and splash them on the paper.

  5. Be easy to work with. Billie understood the economics of publishing. She submitted polished manuscripts, allowed our editors and designers to do their work minus any drama, and didn’t second guess every step of the process. I loved working with her… and her projects largely met with success.

  6. Support local literacy programs. Billie often donated her royalties to the local library. I always thought that was super-lovely.

  7. Embrace new technology. Billie was one of the first people I knew who created book trailers for her Youtube channel. They’re awesome. They may not have had a gazillion views, they certainly helped sell her books.

  8. Embrace reality, but treasure fantasy. Billie knew she was dying, yet she never mentioned it. When we spoke, we always talked writing, plans, the future. Living in reality created her life. The fantasies she explored gave meaning to that life. That’s awesome.

  9. She nurtured young talent. Waaaay back when my son was in Junior High School, he created a silly little blog about his dog’s “wacky adventures.” Of course, Billie found it and was his first commenter, encouraging him to keep writing. That’s how we met.

  10. Work with various publishers. Billie had books with ebook publishers, she published some herself, and she had traditional book publishing contracts. I think she was wise to keep her work diversified.

  11. Learn to market. I was delighted when I was asked to critique sales letters for a firm helping writers learn copywriting. I was even more delighted when one of the first letters I got to critique was written by Billie. She was always learning new writing techniques. She wasn’t afraid to stretch her wings and master some persuasion methods as well. I admired that.

  12. Lastly, Billie taught me the importance of sitting still. Writing is a solitary profession, and that’s exactly as it should be. We’re not flashy. We the quiet back ground noise that nobody notices, until we’re gone. We’re the documenters of our age. We’re the quiet social commentary whispering, “Why?” “What if?” “Are you sure?” We probably spend too much time wandering our own heads, but that’s who we are.

Ah, a life well lived is certainly something worth celebrating, eh?

My hope for you is that as you ponder Billie’s life, realizing what you just read was written by someone whose life could very likely be cut short due to cancer (mets are fairly common), that you take your own writing seriously. Please write today. Please write tomorrow.

We live in an age when we need thoughtful communicators more than ever before. After all, writing isn’t a profession. It’s who we are. And no matter how hard you try to “fit in” with polite society, the fact that you are a writer will never change.

Onward and upward,

Beth

P.S. If you want to jumpstart your marketing efforts, check this out: “Advice to Freelance Writers: Insider Secrets to Effective Shoestring Marketing, Managing a Winning Mindset, and Thriving in Any Economy, Volumes 1 – 3” is available as an economical ebook. Get the scoop here: http://filbertpublishing.com/Advice13.html

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You can use any of these articles free of charge on your own website or zine. Just don’t make any changes and be sure to include this byline:

This article is courtesy of Filbert Publishing. Make your writing sparkle, write killer queries, get published. Subscribe to Writing Etc., the free e-mag for freelancers and receive the e-book “Power Queries.” http://filbertpublishing.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Please recommend this newsletter to anyone you know who’d like to learn how to make their writing sparkle. Just click on “Forward” in your email program and hit send.

PRIVACY STATEMENT: We will not distribute your email address to anyone. Ever. Period.

Please send your news items, ideas, comments, etc. to mailto:filbertpublishing@filbertpublishing.com

Writing Etc.

Box 326

Kandiyohi, MN 56251

Maurice and Beth Erickson, Publishers

mailto:filbertpublishing@filbertpublishing.com

http://filbertpublishing.com/

(c) 2014 FilbertPublishing.com

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