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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Two

Updated on July 8, 2014

Welcome Back

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.

If you hire a marketing consultant, hire someone who is recommended
If you hire a marketing consultant, hire someone who is recommended | Source

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.

Do you know who your target audience is?
Do you know who your target audience is? | Source

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.

Designed by the SilverGenes Group
Designed by the SilverGenes Group | Source

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.

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.

Do you find this series helpful?

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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 holland1145@yahoo.com, 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.”

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    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

      I looked for this hub, Bill, but it's mysteriously disappeared. Did you take it off, or did the Great HP Computer in the Sky zap you? Jaye

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hi Jaye...big glitch I guess....oh well, such is life in HP Land. :) Thanks for looking for it.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 3 years ago from New York, New York

      Great job once again with this article series, Bill and will say I loved learning how your book cover came into creation. Happy Wednesday now!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Janine. I'm glad you are enjoying this, as I am enjoying having you as a friend.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Bill, the question under the Target Audience subhead was posed by me in response to your answer to my question about whether or not to list HP as the spot where the writer has written many articles. You said, no - just tell the agent how many articles you've written. I came back with, "what if the agent asks for whom the articles were written?" In that case, do we 'fess up to being HP writers? How would we answer that question?

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh, sorry about that, Sha...yes, fess up. It's not like there is a penalty for writing for HP...but it also doesn't impress the professionals, either...but it is always best to be honest if you are confronted with that question.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 3 years ago

      Thank you Professor! Class dismissed.... Up, useful, interesting and awesome.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      We don't just write, do we? A lot to do!!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      breakfastpop, it's time for recess. Have fun! and thanks

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Michelle, there is a ton we do besides writing...for sure. :)

    • cecileportilla profile image

      Cecile Portilla 3 years ago from West Orange, New Jersey

      Great service to the public billybuc. Keep up the good work!

    • profile image

      DJ Anderson 3 years ago

      Hi, Bill,

      Life is getting in the way of reading your super book. I have a question

      of something that grabs my attention every time I look at the cover of 'Tobias'. Why the double cross on the cover?

      This has several meanings around the world.

      What meaning does it have with your book?

      Thanks,

      DJ.

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 3 years ago from Minnesota

      Again, a really fun series you have going here Bill. I am nowhere close to needing a book cover designed, but I really was curious so thanks for answering that one! I've never used Fivver, but they seem to have a lot of people offering that service and their samples look really good. I'm pretty sure it cost more than $5, but at least you know it doesn't have to cost a fortune...

    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 3 years ago from Hudson, FL

      As far as covers are concerned, I will just add that CreateSpace offers a clear-cut template for download. If you don't have photoshop, you can download Gimp for free, which works fine for a cover project.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Cecile...I enjoy this series

    • MG Singh profile image

      MG Singh 3 years ago from Singapore

      Another wonderful post full of wisdom and advise. Its always great to read your posts for the wisdom you pack

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      DJ, nothing more sinister than a religious symbol referring to resurrection. :) I'm not much of a deep thinker.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Melissa, it's interesting that they offer that on Fivver....oh well, worth checking out, right?

      Thank you my friend. Have a great day.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      And there you go, folks. The voice of experience from Lizzy, my tech guru. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you MG. I truly do appreciate your kind words.

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 3 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks for more great advice, Bill!

    • Froggy213 profile image

      Greg Boudonck 3 years ago from On A Mountain In Puerto Rico

      Keep these coming Bill. Love the approach.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you vkwok!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks, Greg. I will do exactly that.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

      Being in the networking scene, I run into every imaginable coach. When it comes to marketing coaches (or any coaches for that matter), they are NOT all created equal. Get referrals (as you suggest) or begin following candidates online. See 'em in action!

      The other suggestion with marketing coaches is to be VERY clear about what you expect from the consultation. Most people, even non-writers, have difficulty with this. Reading some books on small business or online marketing prior to engaging a marketing coach can be helpful so you know what you're buying!

      Good stuff as always. Voted up and sharing!

    • profile image

      sheilamyers 3 years ago

      Thanks for the great information. I'll have to bookmark this one for later reference.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Hi, Bill....I'm glad this hub reappeared. Good questions, good answers. I like the series and hope the mailbag continues to provide more info for your readers.

      Up+++

      Jaye

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks for that, Heidi. I was thinking of you while I answered that question. You are the model I would want all to follow.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It's always my pleasure, Sheila. Thanks for stopping by.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you, Jaye. Yesterday seemed to be my day for glitches at HP. Glad today is better.

      bill

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Bill what do you think about an online creative writing course? I've been thinking about taking one. How does it work? Thank's again..

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ruby, like anything else, there are good ones and bad ones. Try to find recommendations from someone you know...and I'll answer in more detail in next week's mailbag. Thank you.

    • Marie Flint profile image

      Marie Flint 3 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      Writers' workshops are always helpful; others give input you never would have thought of on your own. Group energy, too, is synergistic. If you're having writer's block--try joining a writers' group! You don't have to spend money--just time, and have a sincere desire to write. (I enjoy writing; I just fall terribly short on marketing.)

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      You always share such interesting information.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 3 years ago from Florida

      Many years ago I paid to take a writing course (can't remember the name or the cost) It really helped me a lot. I would write an article on something they suggested, send it back to them for them to grade and critique. That was when we communicated by snail mail!

      I learned a lot and enjoyed it.

      Writing a novel is something I have no desire to do, though. I just want to improve on writing articles that will be "evergreen" and get traffic.

      Voted UP, etc. and shared.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks for your observations, Marie, and I suspect you have a lot of company in the marketing aspect....my experience is most writers fall terribly short.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you DDE...I try.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you, Mary, for sharing your experience with writing courses. As for novels, they certainly aren't for everyone, but they are my first love for sure.

    • Torrs13 profile image

      Tori Canonge 3 years ago from California

      I am really enjoying these hubs!!! Keep it up!

    • jhamann profile image

      Jamie Lee Hamann 3 years ago from Reno NV

      Hey Bill, I am here to let the poets now that there is "Poets Market" also that is cheaper than the "Writers Market" and will help all those poets out there. Great series. Jamie

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Torrs. I will be glad to keep them coming.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Jamie...I will mention it in my next blog.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      I enjoy this series, Bill. You are the Ann Landers of writers.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      The question and answer format is a great way to present information. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      LOL...thank you, Flourish. I will try to do Ann proud.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Alicia. I'm glad you like this series. Have a wonderful weekend.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      I love this series Bill. You have answered some of my questions here without my even have to ask. I guess most writers are concerned about the same things. Thank you once again.

    • Anna Haven profile image

      Anna Haven 3 years ago from Scotland

      Thank you Bill for answering my question.:) I will have a look at the online apps. I like how this is a fast paced and interactive series. :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very cool, John. I love it when i accidentally answer questions for people. LOL Have a great weekend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm glad, Anna! Thanks for the question my friend, and have a brilliant weekend.

      bill

    • Suzanne Day profile image

      Suzanne Day 3 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

      A great idea for a hub and a way for your readers to get some of their questions answered! I think the most common one I have heard of was the marketing question as when first grappling with this one, it is scary to imagine the "networking" and other corporatespeak terms you need to come to terms with. I guess it depends on your output - ie, a prolific writer might not have time to do it themselves. Voted useful!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Suzanne, I suspect the marketing question is easily the most difficult to answer for most writers. We seem to have an aversion to marketing our own work. Thank you for your thoughts.

    • Ann1Az2 profile image

      Ann1Az2 3 years ago from Orange, Texas

      This is a cool idea, Bill! I'll be checking back on a regular basis. Since you asked for questions, I have one. How is money earned on Hubpages? I haven't really made what I would call real money on Hubpages. Is it because I haven't published enough hubs or is it because they might not be in the search engines, or what?

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hi Ann...I'll just answer that one here...it all depends on views, mainly...you either haven't done enough hubs, or you don't have enough views....I'm assuming that you are signed up for Adsense. :)

    • Michael-Milec profile image

      Michael-Milec 3 years ago

      Hi Bill.

      Having answered some of the question never asked personally, that's to me is an innovation. Thanks professor .

      Good night my friend.

    • Ann1Az2 profile image

      Ann1Az2 3 years ago from Orange, Texas

      Yes, I'm signed up with Adsense - to get more views, you need more hubs, right?

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Michael my friend, thank you as always. So good to hear from my friend from the north. Blessings always.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ann, in theory, yes, more hubs means more views....in theory. :) Have you earned anything on HP?

    • Ann1Az2 profile image

      Ann1Az2 3 years ago from Orange, Texas

      Sad to say, about $17.00 total since I've been on here and I have 75 hubs. I must be doing something wrong. And I've had quite a few featured hubs, too.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm sorry, Ann. I will never understand HP.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

      concise, useful.. and a mailbag full of great tips.. yeah voted useful and awesome keep the mail carrier coming Billy

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Frank. I'm enjoying this series so I'll keep on keeping on.

    • Ann1Az2 profile image

      Ann1Az2 3 years ago from Orange, Texas

      Yes, I think they make it confusing on purpose so that you won't know how it's figured. I don't have that problem with textbroker. I get paid for each article I write and they pay faithfully whenever you ask for it - every Friday in your Paypal account, and you know up front what they are going to pay before you write the article. I made enough one year to buy Christmas presents. I'm trying to build up my Paypal account to use for an emergency fund now.

      Still, I like writing for hubpages because it allows me to write what I want to write instead of what someone else wants me to write. So between the two websites, I enjoy my writing.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      That's the important thing, Ann. As long as you are enjoying it, then that's a whole lot better than the alternative.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      I've taken webinars and enjoyed the sessions. I will have to look into some writing webinars for further enjoyment. I like your approach to doing a book cover. Very savvy lady to take your idea and bring it to completion.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Dianna, and I agree about Alex being savvy.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Since I write for a newspaper, it is relatively easy for me to pitch an item through a column. Due to time constraints of the average citizen, it might take time for them to be able to find the time to do it, but there is a target audience out there for everything.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I agree, Deb, that there is a target audience if one is willing to put in the time and effort. Thanks for your thoughts.

    • Sparklea profile image

      Sparklea 2 years ago from Upstate New York

      Billybuc voted up, useful and interesting, which I FORGOT to do with Installment 1...I will return and vote. Love this hub, love the questions and answers this is just a wonderful idea that you have!

      I don't know if I mentioned it but I absolutely LOVE the cover of Resurrecting Tobias, it is unique and SO matches what you have shared.

      Wondering if you have had any bites from publishers? Praying for you every day. I hope to get to Installment 3 later today...I So want to catch up. Blessings, Sparklea :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Lea. One bite so far from an agent...waiting to hear back from them. :) Have a wonderful day my friend, and thank you for being you.

    • Sparklea profile image

      Sparklea 2 years ago from Upstate New York

      billybuc: Oh, that is great! Praying for you and Bev and 'family' every day. I hope you get wonderful news! Blessings, Sparklea :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Lea!

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