The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Thirty-Nine
Welcome Back My Writing Friends
Another week, another Mailbag. This series has taken on a life of its own. I’m just along for the ride.
You know how it works by now. You ask questions, I stumble along and answer them as best I can, and hopefully everyone comes out of the experience a little bit wiser.
We’ve got some great questions so let’s get started with a question from my friend Sally in jolly old England.
No Longer Featured
From Sally: “This is a cheeky question and you don't have to answer this one if you don't want to.
Have you ever had any of your hubs go un-featured because of their age or because they really need updating? I somehow doubt it though as the stuff you write about probably remains current. That might be the trick.
So far this has not happened to any of my hubs but I have wondered how you deal with ten times the amount I have.”
Well, Sally, let me begin by saying I love the British expression “cheeky.” We don’t say that in the States and we are poorer because of it.
I’ve been fairly lucky regarding featured articles at HP. I have 960 so far and I think there might be twenty that aren’t featured. To answer your question yes, I’ve had some enter the Dark World of the un-featured. How do I deal with it? I don’t. I truthfully don’t care if HP features or un-features my articles. That’s not why I write them so no, I don’t update them.
Having said that, I understand why people do re-work them, and if money is a motivator then it is necessary to do so. I’m just here for the free workout so it’s not necessary for me to do so.
The first query letter
- Is My Query Letter Good Enough? You Be the Judge!
I need your input. Can you give me ten minutes of your time?
From Melissa: “On a separate note, I posted a comment under your query letter hub last week and I think I must have posted it at just the "right" time, because I either offended you (and I don't really believe that because you have much thicker skin!) or you missed my comment. And the only reason I point this out, is because you always comment back to everyone! My real question, though, is are you going to ever post your revised query?”
I was going to do this for Melissa in a new hub but decided to just share it in the Mailbag instead, so here it is….you can see the previous attempt in the link to the right of this section.
Death Wish meets Silence of the Lambs. They date, have a baby, and that offspring is my 100,000 word suspense/thriller, SHADOWS KILL. Written in the same hard-hitting, philosophical style as the James Lee Burke novels, SHADOWS KILL challenges all pre-conceived notions of good and evil.
ELI BAKER understands suffering and loss. His father died in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, and Eli has embarked on the path of a vigilante, eliminating murderers and rapists with a vengeance. Enter THE SHADOW MAN, a monster from Eli’s deep and unknown past, who is torturing and killing women close to Eli. Will Eli unravel the secret and find his antagonist before he loses everyone he loves?
A former classroom teacher, I am now a freelance writer with more than 2,000 articles and two self-published novels to my credit. My articles have appeared in LIVING MAGAZINE, OUR IOWA, and GRIT. Shadows Kill is the first in a planned series featuring Eli Baker. The second book in this series, Shadows Over Innocence, is now half-completed.
Thank you for considering SHADOWS KILL. I look forward to hearing from you.
Start with the Ending
From Faith: “Oh, something I wanted to run by you: I have wondered about novels that really begin at the end of story and then work their way back to the beginning. It seems to me that would be extremely difficult to write such a novel, as one would surely have to be an excellent writer to accomplish such without the novel feeling chopped up. Then for the reader to still be surprised at the true ending/beginning, makes it great. I have seen movies done this way and have read a few books too where this was done. If done right, they are great, but ... What do you think of writing a novel in such a manner and how difficult would it be to pull off? Is it a big risk to take?”
Great question, Faith, and I can say without hesitation that this is a first for the Mailbag. My answer, obviously, is going to be subjective.
I actually don’t see this as being a huge challenge. The emphasis is still on story-telling. The ending only serves as a way to wrap up that story. I’ve seen this done by a number of writers over the years. The good writers do it seemingly effortlessly. The mediocre writers struggle with it. The same can be said for any novel where the ending isn’t known…the good writers do it well and the mediocre writers struggle. The one genre where I can see difficulties doing this would be for mysteries. It seems to me that revealing the end of a mystery at the beginning complicates things considerably for a writer but again, I’ve seen it done and done well.
Bottom line: a talented writer is a talented story-teller, and there are few obstacles that a talented writer cannot meet and conquer.
Magazines Vs Hubpages
From Brian: “Which is more likely to make more money for a beginner, to submit 100 articles to local, regional, and state print and online periodicals or to post 100 articles of comparable content, length, and quality over the same amount of time to HubPages?”
Isn’t this a great question? Thank you, Brian. I had to stop and think about this one for a few moments.
Assuming the writer has skill, it seems to me, without a doubt, that he/she would make more money in the short-run by submitting those 100 articles to magazines. Notice I said “the short-run.” One-hundred articles for HP will keep making money for years whereas those same articles will pay once for magazines and then the payments end. True, it might take five years to make the same amount of money on HP, but I think eventually those articles would earn better money on HP.
It pains me to say that because the money HP pays is ridiculously low, but in all truth the same can be said about magazines. Periodicals no longer pay what they once did, and it is simply a matter of supply and demand. There are so many freelance writers out there now trying to make a buck, and willing to work for less, that they have driven the price down.
I hope I answered the question without muddying the waters too much.
Join me on my writing blog
- William Holland | Helping Writers to Spread Their Wings and Fly
Learning to write together
More Next Week of Course
Well we definitely are not running out of questions, so I’m confident you’ll hear from me again next week. The Mailbag overflows and as long as it does I’ll keep bringing it to you through wind, sleet, snow, hail and this writer’s advanced age.
Have a superb week of writing. If you love writing, and it is a passion for you, then every week is superb, right? Remember that what you do matters. People around the world read your words and will continue to do so for years after you are gone. Your words are, in fact, part of your legacy on this planet.
2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”