Paranormal and Urban Fantasy Authors I Have Liked

This post is a place to share the books and authors I really have enjoyed. I follow most of these writers on Twitter as well. I like to see how their writing routine works – when they’re actually writing and not just talking to hopeful writers. I also hear about what they are working on and what’s coming next in the series. Plus, they announce contests on Twitter and their websites too.

My favourite books in the paranormal/ urban fantasy genre have humour along with vampires, dragons, werewolves, witches, ghosts, and all the rest. The humour brings a story and especially a character, to life for me. Without humour they seem kind of flat on the page. Even a villain can have a wicked sense of humour.

I don’t like a lot of sex either. It just gets boring pretty fast. I write my own erotica and romance so it could be I’m just taking it for granted or smothered in the stuff when it comes to reading it. When it comes to sex in books I usually skip it. If a book has a lot of sex scenes and I’m turning a page, then another page and still another couple of pages after that, I lose interest. Too much mucking around with sex and the action and the storyline suffer for it.

The Paranormal and Urban Fantasy Writers I have Liked (So Far)

Reader Groups

Read Some Reviews and Find New Writers to Try

Bring Your Favourite Historical Character to Life on Twitter

You can find real celebrities on Twitter (with the checkmark after their name).

But, you can also find dead celebrities, famous people and others created by someone with an interest in history or just having a lot of snark. I also follow a few who post from the point of view of people living in a specific period of time, like Victorian women.

If you have an interest in a particular celebrity or famous person try searching for the name on Twitter, see what comes up.

If you created a historical fictional account yourself, who or what time period would you mimic? 

Historical Tweets – outdated database but still useful.

How to Be a Great Guest Blogger

What makes someone a great guest poster?

Great guest bloggers know the blog they want to write for. They know the content published, the niche the blog aims for.

This doesn’t mean you have to camp out for weeks studying the blog. Start by reading the About section on the blog. Is this even a topic or niche you would have something to write for? Have you got something in mind that the blog owner will want to post?

Read back entries. Skim headlines for anything connected to what you plan to offer as a guest post. What has already been written about the topic? Do you have a new thought, a fresh angle? If so, this is a great thing to let the blog owner know when you submit your proposal.

Plan ahead and make sure your site (the place you choose to showcase your writing) is actually putting your best foot forward. Are there typos? Do all your links work? (You don’t want them to find a broken link because you moved a post – or a broken image file). What do you say about yourself? Do you have an introduction to who you are and what you are doing?

How can you interest blog publishers in the posts you offer them?

You submit a proposal for the post you want to write. Have your idea ready, have the whole post written or at least planned out. If this blog doesn’t want it you can find and ask other blogs who would be interested in the same content. But, if this blog owner is interested you want to have the content ready to send as quickly as you can.

Before you rush to send your post make sure you agree to terms with the blogger.

Ask when the post will be published, if the blogger has a schedule (most will).

Set out what you would like when it comes to an author bio and any links in the bio or the post itself.

How long or short should your post be?

Do you need to include an image? If not, can you get the chance to ok the image which is used with your post?

Do they have rules about using extras like text in bold or list posts?

Do they want to set the title themselves or will they be using whatever you send as a title?

Will other content be run with the post you have written, are they posting their own links or creating an introduction to go with your post?

Don’t spring any surprises on the blog owner once your post has been accepted. You also don’t want to find yourself surprised. Try to think ahead and… if you do get a surprise about how your post is used, keep calm, take a break away from the computer before you send off a note to the blog owner.

What is guest post etiquette?

Proofread your post, more than once. The blog owner won’t be impressed if they have to fix typos.

Ask the blog owner how they want the post sent. Some might prefer HTML or plain text. Some will want it as an attached file and some will want it in the email itself.

Keep your author bio short and don’t use more than two links. Pick smart links: your best source for showing your content and your most active (non-personal) social media account.

Don’t use too many links in the content of the post you write. Two is a nice amount. Three is less acceptable. Over three links will probably not sit well with the blog owner at all. Even if they publish the post they aren’t so likely to agree to more.

Afterwards… Promote Your Post!

Don’t sit on your laurels once your post has been published on the blog. Now is the time to promote your post. Get readers, bring in traffic and show the blog owner you have some pull, some regular readers and social media clout.

If you bring them traffic they will be far more interested in working with you again, and again.

Also, don’t abandon your post too quickly. Check for reader comments and answer them. Provide more information or just chat and use the post to build your own social network and bring people over to read more of what you have written. (This is why it’s a good idea to keep writing in the same niche/ topics where you want to build up your own authority).

A day after the post is up send the blog owner a note. A thank you note. Include any statistics you have about the post traffic. Ask for feedback from them. Ask if they have any ideas they would like worked on for a future post. There could be ideas they have not had time or resources to create a post about themselves.

You could become a regular contributor if things work out. But, watch your time management and don’t over commit yourself. Don’t undo what you have started by missing deadlines.Accept the work you know you have the time, energry and knowledge to complete.

None of these have my personal recommendation but they are a place for you to start looking for sites that want your content.

How to Approach Blogs Which Don’t Want Guest Posts

Pay attention to a site which does not accept guest posts. Don’t send them a guest post!

Chances are, a site which specifically does not want guest posts has been flooded with spam offers and they are fed up with the whole thing.

If this is a site or blog you really do want to write for, approach them through their blog comments. Do not offer them a guest post. You could also find them on Twitter and other social media (choose one they are actively using).

Begin by giving them real comments on the posts they have. Offer some ideas, tips, insights you have. Keep it light and neutral.

Make sure every communication and comment you have with them is typo free and use spell check.

Make sure you include a link back to your own blog (a place where your content is showcased). Let them find you.

After some time and several comments you could suggest an idea for a guest post relevant to their niche and offer to write it. Use your common sense and don’t end up sounding like just another spammer.

This way you are not one more half-assed idiot offering them a ‘free’ (typically irrelevant) post for their blog.

Read More

Why Should you Take a Digital Sabbatical?

digitalsabbaticalWhen did you last have a day without the Internet? Can you take a day offline, no email, no phone, no TV? Take the time for a digital sabbatical – give yourself a break.

Have you been feeling a little jaded, restless or bored with everything online? Has it all gotten to seem like more of the same, every day the same stuff, the same people, the same stuff to read about?

Or, have you become addicted to the Internet? Do you spend way too much time playing online games? Do you check email and then not get anything else done until you chance to notice how much time flew by? Do you get started with social networks and then feel drained before you have even started on the work or the research you actually planned on doing when you sat down in front of the computer?

If you have landed in a rut with everything online, everything Internet related, everything computer and online shopping and social chatting and web gaming and all the rest….

Take a digital sabbatical.

Take a sabbatical (a vacation) and give yourself fresh perspective. See the bigger picture and find your interest in everything online again by taking a big step back from it all. Being away from it will help you refresh your interest and enthusiasm. Being away will give you the chance to miss it all and want it back again, or not. You may find yourself having time for a lot of other things you’ve been putting off and liking that instead.

Even if you just take some time off, you will give yourself some perspective on how much Internet use is really a good thing. You will also have more to talk about (or write about) once you are back again.

How far can you stay offline? A week long stay-cation, a weekend, or just a few hours with the mobile phone and the Internet powered down?

If you can’t even last a few hours consider yourself addicted to the Internet. This could be a problem. Nothing is good when it’s not in some moderation.

Plan Your Digital Sabbatical

Decide just what your digital sabbatical will be.

Are you going to disconnect for the day or longer? Are you keeping your phone on or is that going to get a break too? What about television? Maybe your sabbatical will just be work or blog related but you will keep in touch with family and friends? Or you may use the time to find new ways to use the Internet – or take up a project which you haven’t had time for in the regular routine where you focus on checking email and other routines.

Plan the time for your sabbatical.

Will you need time off work? Make sure you don’t have appointments where you will need to have access to the Internet. If you have an ongoing project which requires on-call attention see if you can find someone else to be on-call for that day, or those hours. Or give notice that the service may be interrupted during the time you have planned for your digital sabbatical, leave a date and time you expect to return.

Let everyone know you are taking a digital sabbatical.

People may forget and still phone or email you, but at least you did what you could to let everyone know ahead of time. Many people will be amazed by the idea. We have gotten so used to having the Internet, people don’t consider what life was like without it. Leave a note on your site, Twitter account, Facebook page and so on. Give a time and date you plan to return.

Try to stick with it.

I know you will find it difficult not to have the Internet to look up this or that. I do. It can be frustrating not having the things we get so used to, right at our fingertips. But, do your best to stick with the time offline. Give yourself a break. Get away from all that glut of information. Get away from all the people who expect instant gratification from you, as if you really do live connected to your phone and computer 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Unplugging: Try a Digital Sabbatical

Writers of Old Books Don’t Have Twitter Accounts

Reading an old book is interesting because you know the writer is long deceased. The book is like something frozen at one point in time, the story will never change to reflect the modern use of cell phones and you can’t ever contact the writer on Twitter to offer a review of their book.

I do like to look up writers when I am reading their books. I like to see what kind of internet presence they have, do they make use of their Twitter account (if they have one) do they keep their blog/ site updated about upcoming books and give readers tidbits about past books? Do they write a bit about themselves, telling us who they are and why they wrote the story they wrote? I like the odd note about their journey to get the book researched, written and then published.

You can’t do all that with a book written 100 years ago. The writer isn’t going to be answering your email any time soon. It’s a funny feeling, a little eerie/ spooky. Kind of sad too.

What was the last book you read which was older – so old it was written before you were born or more than 100 years ago? If you have never read an old book, why not?

Quantity and Quality for Traffic and Readers

Originally posted to HubPages, March, 2013.

It seems I’m going to be one of those HubPages writers who does things the long, hard way. The way that takes it’s own, sweet time getting here.

I don’t know why I like giving myself hard goals to reach. But, it seems that I do. I set myself the HubPages writing goal to have my traffic badge for the 100K by (or closely after) the end of this year, 2012. But, I’m not getting any flash in the pan wonder traffic posts. So, it seems I am just going to have to keep making my own steady, slow progress.

I might not get 100K by the end of the year and that will be ok too. As long as I feel I am still making progress I will stick with it. It’s only when something seems to have stalled out completely that I begin to think I should be reconsidering the plan. I do tend to stick with things long after the flogging a dead horse idea though.

Don’t think I’m some doddering newbie type. I have paid attention to SEO schemes and even the scams. Most of them are not for me. I have a line drawn where my ethics kick in. If I cross it I just don’t see the point of continuing on. Once you cross your boundaries you’ve lost your original feeling of value in the project and accomplishing your original goal loses it’s worth too.

You Can’t Write for Traffic

What you may not know; there is a difference between traffic and readers.

Readers are the real people who visit your posts, sometimes read right to the end and occasionally leave a comment. Real readers are the people who want you to know they were there. Then there are general readers who maybe didn’t find what they were looking for, thought you could have had a better post or just didn’t quite catch on and stick with you through to the end of your topic.

All kinds of readers are good. Even those who just lurk and don’t let you know they are out there.

Then there is traffic. Traffic is just a number. That’s how I see it. Traffic doesn’t have a face, it may not have a home with a family and goldfish named Henry. Traffic can be something less than human, more likely traffic is a machine, or software and does not have a face at all.

By now you may have realized that traffic doesn’t read your content. Traffic doesn’t care that you spent extra time to pick just the right word. Traffic doesn’t care that your photo illustration was your own photo or that you waited all day for conditions to be just right for that photo. Traffic doesn’t care that you checked all your spelling, grammar and then proofread your post again.

Traffic just cares about keywords and how they can use yours.Traffic is Google, traffic is people looking for content to claim, traffic is a feed reader that no one may actually read… and so on.

You can’t write for traffic. Or, you shouldn’t be writing for traffic.

Build Your Readership by Finding Readers

If you want to build readers you need to go looking for them. Don’t wait and hope Google will come to you. Google is big, like a mountain. The mountain is not likely to come to you.

Today, while writing a post about women and friendship, I found a very interesting site, Finding Dulcinea. It calls itself an online library. Why is this interesting? Look at the site yourself. Chances are you will find something there to read, to find out more about, to spark your interest in some way. It’s a site with information and ideas. Not a web directory, like the ODP, but a gathering of ideas and information, like HubPages itself.

At Finding Dulcinea you can find articles to link to in your own posts. You can find new ideas to write about. You can find more information to add to posts you are writing, plan to write or have already published on HubPages. You can also find the people who wrote those posts!

Finding the person who wrote a post that interests you is a start to finding readers for your own posts. People tend to be interested in the same things, related ideas and information. Follow your writer, track down other sites he or she writes for. Can you find them on Twitter, Facebook or do they have their own blog? Who do they follow? Chances are you will find a lot of great resources.

Keep track of the resources you find. Use them for your own posts. Use them to continue on and find more resources and people. All of the people you find are perspective readers. You just have to help them find you.

Look at the list of resources you have created.

How many are Twitter accounts you could follow?

Don’t just quietly follow someone on Twitter. Announce yourself! This is so important and yet almost no one actually does it! Why not? I get a lot of new Twitter followers and I have to spend my own time to find out who they are and decide if I want to follow them back. How silly. How often do you really think I spend time doing this? Not too often.

If you decide to follow someone on Twitter send them a Twitter post and tell them how you found them, why you are following them, etc. Announce yourself, tell them who you are and give them a reason to choose to follow you back.

How simple was that?!

You can use the Twitter example for any of the social networks. Just adjust as necessary. The concept is the same.

Don’t be spammy. Make sure the note you send is catered to the person you are sending it to. See it from their side/ angle. Why should THEY want to follow YOU? What do you have to offer them?

Be a Realistic Joiner

It’s a good idea to give yourself an established Internet presence. Join things. Join the main social networks like Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and StumbleUpon. Even Facebook, though it’s lost a lot of it’s usefulness due to overtraffic (too much useless stuff).

Try a few others. Try Scoop.it where you build collections of content and share them with other people on the site and through your Twitter feed. Snip.it, and sites like it, let you branch out. You need the original account on Twitter and etc but you can post through Snip.it. It saves some steps and keeps your other social accounts from running dry. Less maintenance is a good thing.

Don’t be a joiner on sites that require a lot of participation, unless you really can give that kind of time and energy. Pace yourself. Don’t become just another dead account. If you can’t be active at least weekly, or a few times a month, don’t keep the account. Or, leave a note in your profile with links people can follow. You may be back some day.

Don’t Forget the Less Than Virtual and Digital World

Con’t forget, the Internet isn’t everything. It’s not the world.

Look around you offline, in the less virtual world. Are there local groups you can join right in your own town? Or, could you be bold, brave and daring… offer a workshop, start a group yourself and bring people together (in the real world) yourself?

People who have actually met you are very likely to take an interest in your work online. They are more likely to go to read your stuff and they are more likely to want you to know they were there. So, you will get readers who comment.

What can you do in a real, local way to find readers?

Sell your arts or goodies at a flea market, a farmer’s market and have business cards available? Hold a garage sale one weekend and put up a display about your topics and see how many people will take away a sheet with information they can read at home? Talk about your hobby/ interest at the local library and offer people a bookmark with your link printed on it?

Find out more about marketing your content offline. Also look up the phrase guerrilla marketing. Keep in mind your own ethics when you read about how far others have gone. But, you can get a lot of ideas that just might work from the crazy ideas of others.

Why Aren’t You Writing for HubPages?

Note: This was originally posted on the HubPages site, June 2012. I have stopped writing at HubPages but still recommend the site for new writers or those who don’t want to set up their own site or weblog.

I was thinking about what I get out of writing for HubPages and decided it would actually make a good post. Other writers should know the benefits, the less obvious benefits, to writing for HubPages or other networks.

Yes, you get paid. But, yes… you actually do get paid.
You get to practice in front of a live audience.
You get your name out there, on topics relevant to you and your interests.
You get to dabble in blogging without opening a site or buying anything.
You can work on your spelling, grammar and punctuation.
Meet other writers and other people sharing your interests or interested in you.
Promote yourself on social media by linking back to your accounts on Twitter and etc.
If you have a site you can give yourself back links and interlink between relevant posts.
Learn from the guides, tips and rules on the network. Watch for changes to how they do things and find out the reasons behind them.
Get fresh, new ideas from what other people are posting. Use the ideas in your own way.
Making Money at HubPages

My time writing for HubPages is a bit skewed. I opened an account and didn’t start using it until about 3 years later. So my results are different from what your own may be. Of course, no one is going to have the exact same experience anyway.

However, when it comes to my time here versus my money earned, things are a bit complicated.

Still, as far as being paid by HubPages. I am getting paid and I am making money here. I signed up for other writing networks and did not get any money for my work and my time. In fact, I’ve only been paid for work on my own blog (which is outside of any writing network) and HubPages. None of the other networks have paid me a thing in the past year. So, of course, I am putting more into HubPages and my own sites.

My first payment from HubPags was just over $50 and I am halfway to a second $50 payment. Due to my own efforts – choosing topics, writing headlines, writing content and finding context, etc – I have made $25 in three months.

Now, if you look at your cost of living that doesn’t seem like much. But, it’s pretty good for a writing network. I know others are making more money in different ways. I’m not comparing apples and oranges though. I’m quite pleased with the money from HubPages.

Of course, the secret is time management. Don’t over do it. Keep your time, work and the returns you get in balance.

There’s More to Writing for a Network than Money

People always want to know about making money. But, as a writer, there is more you can get out of writing for an online network than money alone.

Don’t forget the importance of feedback, building up your skills, learning how things work and building a reputation/ creating an online presence for yourself. Those are all real things you can get from writing for a network like HubPages.

I also like HubPages because it gives me a goal to work towards. When I write for myself I have no boss, no one looking over my shoulder or keeping me on track. I sometimes go off on my own and daydream about some new idea or write a post because it appeals to me, just me. Having a bit of a task master at HubPages is a good thing. You need to keep your focus, watch how and what you write/ post and you can see the results and set yourself goals to improving based on the numbers HubPages tracks for you.

Right now I’m working on getting traffic numbers up. I want to go from 10K to 100K around the end of this year. It may be too much to reach for. But, I’m past the quarter point. Progress, even if I may fall short at the end, I can still see things might work out. I’m pushing extra buttons by promoting my posts, linking to them and continuing to write new posts.

Why Not Give HubPages a Try?

I’m not going to stick in a referral link here. If you do join I would appreciate the referral but I’m Canadian and I’m just not comfortable asking for something for myself.

But, if you have read this and think writing for a network is a good idea, try HubPages. You don’t have to pay to join, you don’t even have to start writing right away. Think about it, consider how useful it could be for you and then give it a spin.

Send me a note when you make your first post. I’ll leave you a welcome comment.

How to Reach Beyond HubPages

Note: This was originally posted to HubPages, February 2012. I’m no longer writing at HubPages but the advice to people who write for network sites is still true and worth knowing. 

To my fellow HubPages writers,

I’ve been writing with HubPages for a few months. I had joined years ago, but I wasn’t writing Hub posts until recently.

My writing experience online comes from other sites, other writing networks and my own sites which I create, maintain and promote. I have moderated forums, email lists and newsletters. I have guest posted and I have accepted guest posts. I have begun working as a content curator. In the past I have been a web directory editor for The Open Directory Project and a less well known directory, BOTW. I have written for known and unknown sites like LockerGnome, Suite101, BackWash, have any Hub writers heard of these? Chances are you have not.

HubPages has become it’s own little microcosm, it’s own little closed in and sheltered world. The traffic here is mainly from inside the network or Google. This is not really a good thing.

Google is like a bird, picking at bits of food in a huge log on the forest floor. The Google bird just snips up one snack at a time. It doesn’t dive in and find more or tell anyone else to come and see what great snacks there are in this tree. Everything Google finds becomes part of its database and someone has to search for it in order to find you. In Google, your content is just a little bug waiting for another bird to dig for it, with the right words.

There are so many other sources for traffic! Most Hub writers are not using Twitter, for instance. Twitter is simple to use. It would also let Hub writers talk outside of HubPages which is a good thing because it promotes HubPages – outside of HubPages. Twitter is only a beginning… StumbleUponTumblrPinterest, Snip.it, Flickr… Are these foreign lands to you? Then it’s time to set your eye on the horizon and explore them.

You can promote your Hub posts in so many fresh, new places. Places you will enjoy exploring, places you will find new ideas to write about, meet new people with your interests and interesting sidelines to your interests.

Start your own blog on WordPress.com or Blogspot. It’s free in those places. Link to your Hubpages account, post links to your latest Hub article and invite discussion. Yes, you want people to comment on your Hub, but they have to get there first. Post the best Hub comments on your blog, as a way to lure readers from the blog onto your Hub post where they can add to that discussion. However, don’t use your blog or any social media as just a way to promote your HubPages account. That is a slippery slope.

It takes time to use social media or a blog well. They should never be used as just a feed for your Hub content. Why would someone read a carbon copy? Have original content, things you don’t post at HubPages. Post ideas you find and may write about. Post updates to old Hubs you have written and, of course, link back to the original Hub content. Post about a bad day, post about your new achievements and goals you are setting for yourself.

Each place you land in, establish a presence in, will bring you new readers and give HubPages new life outside of itself. This will bring traffic from outside of HubPages, those places where most people have never heard of HubPages or think it’s not worth visiting. Reach out there and change their minds.

My Hub Traffic Comes From…

hubtraffic

I like to see where my traffic came from, more than the actual numbers. This is my Hub traffic. Image captured mid day, January 20th.

I don’t know if there are rules about posting traffic stats on HubPages. I don’t mind to share mine, to show my work.

My Hub traffic reaches out past Google. I get traffic from my own blog where I have added a link to my HubPages account right along with my Twitter, StumbleUpon and etc. accounts. I put in time on Scoop.it, content curating for topics which relate to the Hubs I write. While I do link to my own posts there, I also link to some of yours on HubPages and other sites.

On my blog you will see a wider variety of traffic sources. Some of these come from comments I have left on other sites and blogs. Some are networks I have joined. I also exchange links with other bloggers, web writers and friends online. I even get a little traffic from a writer’s network which is now abandoned by the owner.

So you can get traffic from a lot of places, even those which aren’t especially active. The key is in the focus of the site, especially in the case of a small or inactive site. People wind up there, with the focus of whatever the topic or niche is. If they find your link, chances are you will get clicked on because they came looking for your kind of content.

My Blog Traffic Comes From…

blogtraffic

This is taken from my main blog, Word Grrls. Also, mid day, January 20th.

 

Trading in SEO for Social Media

When you write a new blog post, or create a new blog (site), you should write, add the visuals and then edit before publishing. Then we would have focused on SEO, being pleasing to search engines. This seems to have changed in the last year or less. Now, it’s not SEO we work at but social media, link sharing and getting attention and content reposted to social media sources, like Twitter (my own favourite).

SEO (aka search engine optimization) has lost it’s crown. I won’t miss it. I never did like the phoniness and under-handedness of stacking a post with keywords in every possible nook and cranny. It was icky.

Social media has it’s moments of ickiness too. I especially don’t like how social media has turned the word friend into a meaningless word. A friend should be someone you like, not in a Facebook like way, but really actually like and enjoy their company, care about their day and… know something more than the name they use online.

However, social media does mean people have more say in the content that does become popular. It is not left up to stacks of keywords picked up by a web crawling spider bot – now there are real people who choose which information they pass along to their followers/ friends. The problem is still the amount of spammers/ commercial and business types who pass along garbage content – often content they have not even read or clicked through to be sure the link is active, working and not spam (or porn).

So, social media has it’s drawbacks too. But, at least it’s human powered. The marketing gurus seem to think a touch of being human is important for better sales. What a concept.

How to Become a Contributing Writer to a Publication

atworkWhen you want to be a published writer and you don’t have a lot of writing to show an editor or publisher, choose a small publication and become a contributing writer for them.

Contributing usually does mean you aren’t getting paid in cash money. There might be some kind of trade of services or goods. You may get a percent of ad revenue for instance. Don’t deal with promises for future payment and avoid publications which have not begun yet. Too often those promises don’t come true. A publication should have a few issues in print or online so you can see what they are doing. Also, if the publication never gets off the ground you will have done all that writing work and not have any writing credit to show for it.

Getting paid is one thing to look at when you choose a publication. The other important thing to know is, do you keep all rights to your work? Those two things are the first things I want to know when I look at a publication which I am considering. You should always have the rights to your work – especially any work you have not been paid for. Never write for a publication which wants all rights to your work and does not pay for your work and those rights to using and keeping it.

Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation

Take time to brush up on your language basics: spelling, punctuation and grammar. Never underestimate the power of a few good words. If you want to sell your skills as a writer, make sure you have them.

Get second opinions. Ask editors to read your work and give feedback. If someone points out an error, learn from it. Make a note of it, a real physical note which you can keep right on your computer to remind you. As you work on fixing each error you will learn and become better. Never assume you aren’t making some kind of mistakes.

Treat yourself to a book about writing. Not character development but how to write. I mean those old rules we were taught in school and have forgotten since then. It may not seem like a real treat to work on your grammar, spelling and punctuation. But, it is nice to know you’re doing it right. Especially, when you contact publishers and you want to put your best foot forward.

Know the Publication

Pick a publication you would like to write for. If you’re just getting started aim a little low, give yourself a good chance of getting the job. Not because you want to sell yourself short, but think ahead. Getting this experience will give you a writing credit and a lot of experience which you can use to help sell yourself to the bigger, fancier and better known publications.

Before you contact a publication find out who the editor is. Get their name and make sure it’s current information. Then read the submission guidelines on the site. Even if you want to apply as a staff writer you should know the guidelines, know what they are looking for and what they expect. Writers guidelines can tell you a lot if you take the time to read through them.

Read all the back issues or online copies you can. Develop a feel for the publication the tone and voice the writers use. What kind of advertising do they run? As much as you want to write for your readers, publications will cater to their advertisers too.

Find out what you get as a byline. For an online publication you should get an author resource box, or a profile. However they work out the details, you should be getting your name and contact information in the publication when you write for them.

Writers Need a Portfolio

Give yourself a web presence, an online portfolio to show your past work, your skills and give some information about yourself. Keep it professional, an extension of your resume.

Add social media links, if they are safe to add. If your usual Twitter posts have been personal, start a fresh account for your business as a writer. Keep them sorted out, don’t merge them and take the chance on having something sneak out which you can’t control and may not want to explain.

If you can, print up business cards for yourself. Then when you send in a letter to the publication you can include your card. This gives them something they can keep with all your contact information. A business card may get kept even when they add a resume and cover letter to the recycling bin.

Last of All, Ask for What you Want

Once you have studied the publication, written your resume and cover letter, and sent them by snail mail or email… don’t forget to follow up. Actually talk to someone and ask them for the job. Remind them who you are, give them all your contact information and thank they for taking time to talk with you.

If they ask you for a query letter with an actual idea they want written, great! Get to work on it. Do the research, find the sources of information and put together a package showing what you can offer them on that topic. Meet their needs.

Don’t stop asking and applying with publishers and editors. Instead of dwelling on a negative reply get to work on your next query letter for someone else who could say ‘yes’.

Good luck and best wishes.