Welcome to my blog - a collection of thoughts and musings on the world of writing, books and all those wordy type things.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Persistence is the key

They say that the successful writers are the ones who didn't give up, or words to that effect. We all know that's true. We've all read about how many rejections J K Rowling had before she hit the big time, or how John Grisham paid for his first novel to be printed and ended up selling them cheap at garage sales. This is certainly true of novels, but it most definitely applies to those of us writing articles too. No matter how much we try and keep that in mind, it can still be hard when yet another rejection letter plops onto the doormat, or splats into your email inbox. After a few of these, it's easy to start believing that it's you and not them.

This week, however, I was pleasantly rewarded by sticking to the mantra of 'send it out again' by an article acceptance! The particular piece was one I had written a couple of years ago as part of an assignment on a correspondence writing course (which, I am ashamed to say, I have yet to finish, although I promise it is on my To Do list!), and I was quite pleased with it. The tutor liked it and I sent it out to a magazine. After chasing and waiting and waiting and chasing, I finally got a rejection. This went on for a few more magazines and after a while I sort of gave up on my article. Perhaps it wasn't as good as I had hoped.

A little while ago, I renewed my intent with my writing and, as part of that, I dug out this article, went through it once again and sent it off to an outdoors magazine. There was interest! hooray! But the editor wanted a few more pictures, preferably from the the tourist board. I did as he asked and sent it off. Nothing. After a couple of chases, I finally got the reply that the article 'just wasn't doing it for him.' Disappointed after the initial interest, I was tempted to let it lie once again. But I didn't. Perhaps even because of the false hope I'd experienced with that magazine, I was determined to sell the piece, so I mooched around the newsagents and found another title which I thought might be interested.

After studying the magazine, and its website, I sent off a pitch to the editors. They responded quite quickly, gave me their guidelines, and asked to see the text. After adjusting the article a little to suit this particular magazine, and checking some facts and figures, I sent off the piece. After a few days, a reply winged its way to me to say that they were happy with the text but a firm decision could not be made without seeing the images I'd mentioned so a CD of these would be required.

I busied myself with burning the images to a CD, making sure each photo was labelled with its title, and copyright details, then marched down to the village post office to send it off. Only to find a hand written note to say it was closed today, sorry! Luckily things were back to normal the next day so off the images went, and I waited for the verdict.

MMM Magazine have accepted the article! I couldn't be more chuffed. The editors always got back to me pretty quickly, and were clear with what and how they wanted things. They were also upfront about the fact that the article won't appear until next year, as they plan quite far ahead in advance (my piece on Tewkesbury is currently pencilled in for next Summer).

So, as low as you feel when you get your article returned or a 'no thanks' to your pitch, keep going. The right market is there somewhere, it's just a case of finding it.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Competitions and general stuff!

Hi all

I have been beavering away lately getting part of a novel super-ready for entry into Good Housekeeping's Get Your Novel Published competition. It's one that's been sat lurking in the drawer for some time thanks to the roller coaster that has been life for the past several years. However, when I read about this competition I mentioned to my husband that I wouldn't mind entering it, more for the challenge and sense of achievement than from any real belief that my work has a chance. He reminded me of this particular novel and so out it came, the dust got blown off and I've been tweaking and twiddling since.

I'm now on the synopsis bit. Everyone's favourite. I did once have a lovely critique (well, some of it was lovely!) in which it was said that I was good at writing a synopsis. As I generally find these harder than writing the entire novel, I was quite pleased that the blood, sweat and tears that went into that one had been worth it. I can only hope that the judges at GH are as kind!

As I mentioned, I don't really have any expectations. I am doing this more for the exercise than anything else. Don't get me wrong, I would love to win, or even be a runner up. It would be the ultimate reward. But I know there is a lot of stiff competition out there. An awful lot in fact.

So, I need to knuckle down and finish the synopsis and email my little parcel of words off into the big, wide world and wish them luck on their way.

And after that, I'm entering another one! This time from Novelicious. It's a site generally for Chick Lit style books. I started one in this genre a while ago when an idea came to me and got the first 1000 words out, finally crawling into bed about half past midnight. I just had to get the words down on paper whilst they were still there. Since that time life has got in the way and continues to do so. However, the plan is to carry on with this and see how it goes. If I think I've got something worth submitting, then I will.

So called Chick Lit has got a bad press in the past few years. I think part of it is to do with the name. Some people seem to think anything that has the word 'chick' in it automatically pushes its quality and worth down a few notches. I think it's a shame. And I think it's wrong. I enjoy a good chick lit novel as much as the next girl, possibly more. But I also adore Classics like Jane Eyre, The Count of Monte Cristo and pretty much anything Jane Austen wrote. It's good to have a varied reading pile. And I also think that many of those who turn up their nose as this genre probably have never even turned a page of one.

So, that's my plan anyway. Although you know the old saying about plans, which often seems true in my case. Perhaps I should say that's what I hope to be able to do and leave it at that.

I will keep you posted!

Monday, 6 February 2012

Online Writing

A while ago I read about contributing to online writing sites. This wasn't going to make me a lot of money any time soon (ok, so like 'normal' writing then!), but it seemed like it might be a good thing to keep going in the background. I'd missed the original article in the magazine when life got in the way and the subscription lapsed accidentally, but after seeing various mentions of it in the letters page of Freelance Market News, I contacted the Editor for a back issue.

I would like to add here that the Editor was super helpful with this request, and actually emailed me the copy in question very quickly, even though I had expected to have to stump up a back issue fee and wait for it to arrive in the post.

Anyway, I read the article, did some research and chose the one I felt would be most suitable to start out with. This was Demand Studios. However, on applying, it appears that they have been rather over subscribed and don't seem to be accepting writers 'at the present time'. This was one of the rejections I mentioned in my earlier post about such things. I'd been looking forward to taking part so I was a bit down not to get accepted. Especially when I know that I can do the job. I'm aware that sounds a bit like I'm tooting my own trumpet but honestly, I'm not. Those that know me will know that this is generally the last thing I am ever likely to do!

So, after some encouraging words from my fellow writers and bloggers (Thank you!), I have buckled down more and found another avenue in which to pursue the online bit of my writing, Suite101. It's a different set up in the payment method (more based on how popular your articles are, etc) but I still felt that it would be good exercise and if it brings in a trickle of payment every so often, then so much the better. I applied at the weekend and this morning I got an acceptance! Yippee! I then spent - or lost - a good hour or so fighting with the profile bit as it kept disappearing despite saying 'updated successfully' so I've contacted the people to see if it is something I'm doing and in the meantime I will write up my profile in notepad or something so that if it eats it again I at least have a back up and don't have to madly try and remember what I just wrote. They suggest to read all their help and guidelines before submitting your first article so that's next to do.

I've just been finishing an article for submission to a magazine and am just waiting for my proof reader (ie Hubby) to look over it before it goes off. I've also got a big wodge of papers in a file by my feet in the shape of a novel I haven't looked at for some time but which I am thinking about trying to get in some sort of good order with a view to submitting it for the Good Housekeeping Novel Award. I have no illusions that I stand any chance of winning or even running up (although believe me, we could more than do with the prize right now and my now ageing laptop makes weird noises on a regular basis!), but still, it's good exercise, isn't it?

Bearing all that in mind, I suppose I'd better get back to it.

Good luck to anyone else entering the Good Housekeeping Award, I know Carol is, so good luck, Carol!

If anyone has had any experience with online writing for the above companies, or has any tips to share, I'd love to hear them. Please feel free to comment below.

Thanks, and keep writing!