Monday, March 19, 2007

Examining Essays

WIP Update: Yahoo! I wrapped up the first half of my WIP yesterday and fired it off to my agent, who said she's going to read it asap. I'm in the fortunate position of being able to query publishers on proposal, so she's going to read and we'll then talk strategy - if she likes it, we'll assess when to send it out, etc. Yay! So relieved. How are your WIPs coming along?

I have been freelancing for my local newspaper for more than 5 years. I've also had approximately a dozen articles published in The Indianapolis Star. (See links below for a few articles.) I would like to advance to the next level, magazines. I am a medical assistant in a group practice and I have nearly 25 years in the health care field. I have been considering personal essays in mainstream magazines and/or articles for trades. What are my chances? How should I proceed?

I've discussed essays in the past (so you might want to search the archives), but it's tough to make a living on essay writing alone. There just aren't a lot of outlets, much less well-paying outlets for them. And whether or not you place an essay is so subjective, you'd really be leaving your career up to a lot of luck and chance.

That said, you obviously have writing chops, so I'd recommend two things: 1) using your medical background to pitch service articles to magazines. You'll probably get steadier work this way, especially since you have a certain expertise. 2) Send out essays because, really, you have nothing to lose, but don't count on them to become a primary source of income. Again, there are thousands of essay writers out there, and so few places that essays run that the math just isn't in your favor, in terms of landing multiple and frequent assignments. That said, of course, someone has to land these slots, so give it a shot!

So, what say you readers? Are essays as hard to place as I think?


Anonymous said...

Essays can be a tough sell, but there are lots of good, well-paying magazines that run first-person essays every month. Your chances improve if the topic is something that would appeal to a general audience. Get feedback from writer's you trust on the piece and put in the time revising before you send them out.

Alison Ashley Formento said...

I agree with Amy's comment about using mass appeal topics, then you have a broader market to target. I've been able to sell one of my essays to three different parenting/family magazines. Then I have others that I keep sending/polishing/sending that just don't seem to sell—though I really believe they will. Just keep trying!

Anonymous said...

A novel question for you...if your publisher is making you a "lead title" what does that mean? I'm guessing it's good, but I'm not sure what it means in terms of what they actually do.

Anonymous said...

I would like to know the best strategy for approaching editors when you have an essay to sell.