Friday, April 13, 2007

It's Here, It's Here, It's Finally Here!

Wow, I really can't believe it, but I'm holding a hot little copy of TDLF in my hands. It's almost surreal, because this has been such a looooooong process. After all, I started writing this book almost exactly two years ago to date and sold it 16 months ago...and now to see it in its entirety is just...weird! :) I wish that I could be more eloquent but it's such a strange mix of emotions. Have any other writers felt this way? Part of me has already moved on to book #2, part of me is peeing in my pants with excitement, and part of me is so overwhelmed with emotion when I see the dedication to my late friend that it's hard not to cry. I'm literally almost shaking.

Anyhoo, I also wanted to take a second to horn-toot. If you're at a magazine stand in the next few weeks, whip out your wallet and pick up the following:

Cosmopolitan: TDLF is picked as one of their top 5 spring book club picks and called "too good to pass up." (pg. 318)

Redbook: As mentioned before, TDLF is their May book club selection, so there's a (truncated) excerpt on pg. 98, and I believe that the first chapter will be posted online at some point.

Marie Claire: TDLF gets a fab review and is called, "Smart and well-written." (pg. 127)

I couldn't ask for much more than that! (Other than that you order this baby asap!)

Happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

When a Clip Isn't a Clip

When sending clips, would you go for the clip that is the most impressive or best reflects the style of the publication you're querying? I know that blog entries are not really clips (or are they? technically, it is a "writing sample") but I've occasionally used them if I think the editor will appreciate my style, and I make sure to mention the magazines and other publications I've written for. Would a print editor scoff at this?

I'd send both: the most impressive and the one that is most reflective of the publication's style. In fact, when sending clips, I always include at least three, so this shouldn't be a problem. The most prestigious says, "Hey, I can write for the big guns," while the most tailored says, "Hey, I can cover this topic for you sans problem."

One thing I wouldn't do, however, is send in blog entries. Like letters-to-the-editor, they might *technically* be examples of your writing, but a) no one has hired you to write them, b) no one has given you any guidelines to follow, thus editors don't know if you can take feedback, meet deadlines or pull together a structurally sound article, and c) everyone and their mother has a blog these days, so I don't think that it's particularly impressive if you have on yourself.

That said, of course, if you think it's something that the editor is dying to read, then you can send it in, but I'd always, always include other clips because again, you can be a genius blogger and still not know how to craft a good article. So I guess your blog would indicate that you can write in a certain voice (I'd assume that's why you'd send in an entry), while the other clips would demonstrate that you're a pro.

But all things being equal, I'd skip blog entries entirely. (But don't beat yourself up for doing this! You live and learn, and many other far more egregious slip-ups have been made!)

So, what say you readers? Disagree or agree with me about blog entries?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Contract Isn't In the Mail

I had an essay accepted by a consumer magazine from a NYC company and I revised it, signed the contract and sent it back. I just got word that the magazine is folding and my editor says her last day is today and someone will get back to me to let me know if I am going to be paid. We had agreed my piece would run later this year and they are only publishing one or so more issues-not with my essay. I had not yet received the signed contract back (with their signatures) back so I am thinking I am just out of luck with this one, what do you think?

Wow, so many contract questions this week! Which, caveat, is totally not my area of expertise.

I am thinking, like you, that since the contract wasn't signed on their end, that you might be SOL too. Which really blows. That said, do you have anything in email about the terms of your agreement. I believe that this might be able to be used as a contract in lieu of an actual one, and if you wanted to fight for your (deserved) money, you could.

That said,
ASJA has a wonderful contracts resource, and you don't have to be a member to use it. You should float an email to someone on their committee and see what feedback you get, because again, I'm not an expert.

Readers - does this writer have a chance at seeing a paycheck?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Travel Writing and Reprints

Today, I sold a feature travel article to a regional magazine. I'm thrilled, but of course, now I want to do more. The magazine is buying first rights for their region, so I can sell this story to other magazines in other regions. My question is regarding how to approach those other magazines. Do I send them the query letter and say that I am selling the first print rights for their region (let's say 'Austin' or 'Rhode Island', for example). Are editors put off by writers trying to sell an as yet unwritten story to multiple markets (this seems like a delicate issue)? Would it be better to wait until the article is published and sell it as a reprint (which I would guess earns less money)? If I somehow sell the article to another regional market, do I have to tell the first market about it? I just want to get the appropriate mileage out of this article without committing any faux pas or causing bad blood with editors, especially the one who is already buying my article.

Ooh, this is tough, and I'm really not sure what the answer is because I don't do any travel writing, and I also am too lazy to resell my reprints. (Which is dumb, I know, but these days, I just don't have the energy.)

I really don't have any insider tips, so I wanted to throw this out to readers because I'm certain that someone out there will give you good advice.

Geez, I'm sorry that I don't have more insight! But this is what I love about this blog...I learn things here too!

So readers, what say you?

Monday, April 09, 2007

Does Timing Matter?

Do you think the timing of pitches matters? I often find myself drafting pitches Friday afternoon (a quieter time when e-mail and phone have died down, etc.). But then I wonder if it’s a bad idea to e-mail a pitch on a Friday afternoon because the editor likely won’t get it until Monday morning when it will be buried underneath all the spam and other stuff that comes in her in-box over the weekend. Also, I overheard a former editor talking the other day and she said she hated it when freelance writers pitched her during certain time of the month (I’m pretty sure she wasn’t talking menstrual cycle, but rather the week that she was under deadline). So are there certain days and/or weeks that are better to pitch than others? Or am I totally over-thinking this?

LOL: the certain time of month! I'm guessing that she meant "closing" - when they put an issue to bed and things get really harried - but honestly, I don't keep track of which magazines close when, so not pitching during "that time of month" might be tough. But you could certainly ask your editor - if you have a relationship with her that is - when the mag closes, and then pitch accordingly.

When I was in my pitching hey-day, I liked to send off emails late at night before I went to bed. My thinking was that universally, people tend to open their email account first thing in the morning before their days got crazy, and by sending it later in the evening, mine would be closer to the top. Now. I have no idea if this tactic worked or if it was just some crazy scheme that I invented, but I did seem to land a decent amount of pitches or, at the very least, got responses.

I actually don't like to pitch on Fridays or over the weekend for the exact reason you mention: I worry that my email will get lost in the fray. But I do have some friends who say that pitching on Fridays works really well for them because it tends to be a quieter day for editors, so they have time to read the emails, and they also might want to clear out their inboxes before the weekend.

So...gee...I'm not being particularly helpful, am I? I think the bottom line is that every writer will tell you something different, so it's difficult to pinpoint the best time to pitch. What really matters, of course, is that your pitch is a good one, not when you send it.

But that said, I'd love to hear from readers: when do you pitch and why? What works for you? If there are any editors out there, when do you prefer to receive pitches?