- Books, Literature, and Writing
The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Nineteen
How It Works
You ask a question and I answer. That’s how it works….and again I’m in bold mode and have no clue why….but we won’t let that detour us. Let’s do it to it like Sonny Pruitt, shall we?
If you have questions for future mailbags, leave them in the comment section below, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And now, this week’s question and answer session.
From Rasma: “Here is a question with explanation - I started writing about certain places on my free blog in WordPress. One thing led to another and people liked it that I gathered information from the net and put it all together for them to have an idea about a certain place. I always add references and usually Google images. Questions is What do you think about writing about different places in the world in this way? I have not traveled the world and right now I'm writing about certain European cities going country by country. Sure would appreciate your opinion. My blog http://yamarella.wordpress.com Thank you and passing this on.”
Thanks for the question, Rasma, and what you are going to receive is a purely subjective answer, one based on a little marketing experience and a ton of gut reactions.
I think a good many writers have done quite well with sites like the one you describe, so it is possible to make money doing what you are doing. I like the fact that you have not traveled the world. I mentioned last year in an article that many travel writers have not travelled. In today’s world, with so much information at our fingertips, it just isn’t necessary for a travel writer to travel. What is necessary, however, is that the travel writer be able to write in a captivating manner.
The only problem I had with your blog, Rasma, was its name. Yamarella means nothing to me, and I’m quite certain it means nothing to the search engines as well. If you were going to do this seriously, and try to make money doing it, then you would need a new blog name, one that can attract readers who are doing Google searches for travel articles.
Those are my initial thoughts. Hope it helps.
This isn’t a question by Will, but it demonstrates a point I want to make:
“My first love is the western story, but there's almost no market for that genre any longer, so I'm submitting work to sci-fi magazines. So far, no accepted work, but no rejections either. But no matter what happens, work on improving your skills, and keep on submitting. As you say, one success can open the door, and your submissions will be probably flagged after that and fast-tracked.”
First, I want to commend Will on his attitude, an attitude that is so important to have. We cannot let rejection derail our plans. If possible, learn from the rejection, and then keep writing.
But that’s not why I included Will’s comment. The first thing I thought of when I read of him moving from western to sci-fi was a television series that is now a cult classic. “Firefly” was only on the air for one year, but it left an impression on me because, well, it was entertaining, but also because of its format: a western theme in a sci-fi show.
I love that Will is willing to switch gears and head in the direction of sci fi. I think all writers need to be flexible, but I also think there are opportunities out there for the forward-thinkers, the ones who will seek out a new angle and be willing to try it…..a western in a sci-fi setting. Sounds bizarre for sure, but in this case, bizarre was very popular.
Just food for thought.
Social Networking Question
From Melissa: “I was wondering if you use either Pinterest or Twitter as a professional or social outlet?”
I use them both, Melissa, and I use them both exclusively as a professional outlet. Facebook is the only social site I use as both a personal and professional outlet.
It’s an interesting question, and I think the answer is a matter of personal tastes. I know many writers who use both Twitter and Pinterest primarily for personal communication. I know many writers who only use those two sites for professional pursuits. I don’t really have an opinion on which is the better approach. I do quite well in Pinterest and not well on Twitter.
I’m most comfortable with Facebook, and I try to make it a combination of personal and professional. I think my friends would grow quite tired of me if all I did was promote my writing product, so quite often I mix in some anecdotes about my personal life. I get as tired as anyone else of marketing. We are bombarded by it, so I try not to add, too greatly, to that bombardment.
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- William Holland | Helping Writers to Spread Their Wings and Fly
Tips and discussions about writing
Hubpages Vs Blogging
From ArtDiva: "...those in the business do not take HP seriously." Seriously? So then, why are blog spots so popular with writers? This from someone wondering why blogs wouldn't be considered an equivalent to a mini portfolio, especially these days of digital everything. Just asking.
This question was in response to an article I had written the day before. In that article I mentioned that writers should not mention their participation in HubPages because, sadly, HP is not taken seriously by editors, agents, and publishers.
This is really a matter of perception within the writing community. For whatever reason, and I suspect there are several, professionals do not look kindly on HubPages. This is not my opinion but rather the opinion of the agents, publishers, and editors. On the other hand, blogging is looked on favorably by those same people. A blog is considered a crucial part of any writer’s platform. HubPages is considered a content mill, and the content at that mill is considered to be, too often, of poor quality.
I never mention HubPages to any professional in the writing community, and if I submit a Hub for publication in a magazine, I never mention that it was once a Hub. It is just an article. On the other hand, I always mention that I have a blog and website. Those are symbols of a professional writer. HubPages is a symbol of….well, whatever.
Don’t shoot the messenger!
From Bill: “Have you thought about putting all the questions and answers in book form?”
Bill is referring to the Mailbag series, and he’s wondering if I ever plan on making the series a book. This may come as a shock to some of you, but I don’t know how I would find the time to do that. Having said that, if it was a priority for me, I would find the time. The same is true for all of us, right? What’s important is always done; what is secondary has to wait its turn.
Of course I’d love it if this series became a book. The next question is traditional publishing or ebook? I’m having philosophical issues with the ebook industry of late, and that means fighting the battle of agents and publishers for a traditionally published book, and that means finishing my current novel and then compiling all of these into book form, and….well, maybe someday.
Hubs Transitioning to Articles
From Jaye: “You mentioned that you sold some of your articles to magazines after they debuted on HP. Do you change an article significantly, moderately, slightly or not at all before selling it to a print publication? (Yes, I know that question seems like it came directly from a survey questionnaire. In my 'former' life, I designed those, so the format probably popped out of my subconscious.)
“I know we own the rights to our work on HP, so if magazine editors aren't interested in our hubs (and, in fact, appear not to take the site seriously), can we simply recycle a hub into a print article with little or no work other than ensuring it's thoroughly edited and polished?”
This really is a very good question, but that’s what I expect from Jaye. Let me point out one minor item that I think is important: it’s not that editors don’t care about our Hubs; it’s that they don’t care about HubPages as a serious writing site.
Now, to answer the question, it makes a difference which magazine you are submitting your Hubs to. The smaller publications are happy to receive a query for an article that is already completed, and that’s what I do when submitting Hubs that I have done in the past. In that case, I don’t change them at all. I’m not submitting an idea but rather a completed article. If I were to submit that article to several magazines, it might be necessary to change it a bit so it better fits each magazine, but oftentimes that doesn’t even apply.
Without getting long-winded, the quick answer is it depends on the magazine you are submitting to, and what their requirements and needs are.
Is this series helpful to you?
Until Next Week
Really great questions this week, gang. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I have the greatest followers on the planet. Keep those questions coming so this series can continue in its present form; the book will have to wait.
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”