The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Two
I appreciate you returning for another installment of the Writer’s Mailbag. For those new to the show, I take questions that my readers have asked me and then I try to intelligently answer them. Last week was our first go at this, and it was a smash hit (according to me at least), so we’ll give it another go.
If you want this aging writer to answer a question, simply add it to the comment section below, or ask the question on my writing blog at www.williamdhollandauthor.com and I’ll be glad to include it in next week’s mailbag. Obviously, the question should be related to writing. I would love to help you with your finances, but you probably wouldn’t love having me do so. Similarly, I can give you all the advice you will ever want on raising kids, but since my child is in prison, you might want to try someone else.
Yes, I was kidding about the prison line. Sorry, Tyler, but dad has to have some fun occasionally.
With that silliness out of the way, let’s get started with our first question of the week.
Hiring a Marketing Guru
“I'm wondering if it is worthwhile to spend the money on some that allegedly teach promotion of yourself as a writer. I learned that years ago before the ….”
This is an interesting question regarding the promotion of ourselves as writers. I know this an area that many, if not most, writers struggle in. We are, after all, writers. We are not by nature marketing experts, and it has been my experience that most writers despise self-promotion. We just want to write….right? We don’t want to mess with the marketing aspect…we just want to write.
To answer the question, I guess it depends on how serious you are about your writing, and what your goals are. If a writer self-publishes, the self-promotion is a must. Knowing how to do it properly and effectively, then, would be rather important. If you could hire a marketing guru who could help you do this, and you are willing to pay the money, then I say go for it.
There are, however, numerous books and articles that can do the same thing for you and save you money in the long run. Some are quite good. I have found great information in The Writer’s Digest magazine and other periodicals.
So, if it is very important to you, then by all means hire a marketing coach. Otherwise, take the inexpensive route and buy a book on the subject. Beware, though, of online marketing gurus. It’s better to go with someone who was recommended by someone you know and trust.
Who Is the Target Audience?
“What do we say if an agent asks for whom the articles were written? There you go. Fuel for The Writer's Mailbag #2!”
I’m going to assume that this question is about our target audience, and this is a fairly common question from agents. Agents and publishers want to know if you understand the business of writing and if you are aware of your potential audience. I recently finished my second novel, Resurrecting Tobias, and this question came up….and it stumped me for a few minutes.
The reason it stumped me is because my seventeen-year old stepdaughter read it and loved it, and a seventy-four year old friend read it, and loved it, so who is my target audience? I finally had to say that it is a mainstream novel that will appeal to all ages teen + and be done with it.
Sometimes it is much easier to name your target audience. If you write science fiction, and you have a very graphic style, then you are obviously aiming at adult science fiction fans.
So, to answer the question, give it your best estimate when an agent asks that question. For the love of God, don’t tell the agent you have no idea. That will just label you as an idiot and you never will find representation for your book.
What Are Online Webinars?
“Could you discuss online webinars?”
Well yes I can.
Webinars are basically online workshops that can range from data streams of text-based messages, to voice and video chats. They can include meetings, training events, lectures, or short presentations from any computer.
There are free webinars available and there are those that cost money. They can be found covering basically any subject under the sun, and there are some very good ones for writers. Go online and simply do a search for “writing webinars” and you will have more than enough to choose from if you are interested.
By the way, I have several writing friends who have participated in webinars, and they all had positive experiences.
How to Design a Book Cover
“Did you use a specific programme to design your latest book cover or is that something you outsourced?”
This is one of those nuts-and-bolts questions that so many writers know nothing about. I know I was clueless until the time came for action and I was frozen at the starting gate.
So let’s see if we can shed some of that proverbial light on this topic.
With my novel, Resurrecting Tobias, I took a crooked path to the finished product, but that is quite normal for me. I started out with one idea for the cover in my head, and then decided on the cemetery theme a couple weeks later. Once I knew what I wanted, I went to the cemetery and took a digital picture. With that digital picture I had several options.
I know there are online apps that will allow you to make your own book cover. Unfortunately, I am not good with the technical stuff, so I turned to Alexandra of the SilverGenes Group, and for $100 she took the digital picture and made the book cover you see to the right of this section.
The final decision is yours. Check out the online options and if you are comfortable using them then go for it and save yourself some money.
A must-have book for freelance writers
How Do You Pitch an Article You Have Already Written?
“How do you pitch a magazine for an article you’ve already written? Do you let them know it’s complete or do you start out cold turkey pitching the idea as if you have yet to write it?”
This question comes from Sha and it is a good one.
Submitting to magazines can be done one of two ways, and I have done both, and had articles purchased both ways, so this is the voice of experience speaking.
Yes, you can pitch an article that you have already written. In your query letter, simply state that the article has already been written. If you have a copy of “The Writer’s Market,” you will find a pretty extensive listing of most of the major magazines available to you, and in the description of each magazine you will find submission guidelines. If, in the guidelines, they say they will not accept unsolicited queries, then you need to pitch the idea first as though the article was not written. If there is no such stipulation in the guidelines, then just pitch the finished article and tell them it is completed.
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- William Holland | Helping Writers to Spread Their Wings and Fly
Tips about writing, discussions about writing, conversations with fellow writers.
Do you find this series helpful?
And That’s All I Have Time for Today
But you can bet I’ll be back with a new installment of the Writer’s Mailbag next week. Until then, think of some questions and forward them to me. Either send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave your question in the comment section below or on my website.
Thanks to those who have already asked questions, and I hope you find this series helpful.
2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”