Saturday, June 24, 2017

You’ve Finally Been Published--Now What?

Writers are an odd lot. Some write prolifically while others write one or two successful pieces and then nothing. Getting published for the first time is a tremendous goal. It takes a lot of time and energy. But afterwards, many writers feel let down. Why is that?

Most likely it’s because they focused so much on that one piece, whether article or short story, and not on all the information they gathered for it. But a professional writer knows that information is his or her biggest asset.

Many beginning writers get published for the first time, then turn to a completely different subject, marketing that to a different editor or publisher instead of building a relationship with the first.

Writing is not just about words, it’s about relationships. No matter what sort of writing you do, you need to build on past successes. If you begin at the top, you have no where to go but down, so it’s important to begin slowly and build relationships with your editors. This can be either by getting to know what a particular editor wants or building on new contacts.

For some writers, perhaps you, that first published piece is a fluke. It may not have been totally an accident—most likely you sent out numerous queries or finished manuscripts—the piece succeeded. But more than likely the piece succeeded in the wrong market. Sure, you were ecstatic about getting anything published, but it happened for the wrong reasons.

To get your career started, you need to build on that first publishing success, even if it happened in the wrong market. Editors want to know about your track record—they want to see clips of published pieces. But if you don’t have any, you’re as bad off as if you apply for a loan without any credit history.

As soon as you achieve publishing success, immediately send several similar ideas to that same editor. In fact, while you’re waiting to hear back from that publication, assemble a list of salable ideas that you can send along later. While this publication may not be your ideal, it’s better that you get more pieces published in an established market instead of trying to forge new ones.

Perhaps the editor liked your writing style or perhaps your subject. What probably happened was that the editor liked the timeliness of your subject. Your subject was right on target, even if your writing skills may not have been up to par. Take a serious look at that market and send the editor some other ideas.

It’s important to build a rapport with your editors. Normally, they don’t remain in their positions very long. Editors flit from publication to publication about as fast as hairdressers do from salon to salon. If you have a good relationship with an editor, he or she will often take you with them to their new publication. It’s usually an upgrade to a better position for them, resulting in a marketing upgrade for you, which can mean higher pay and more prestige.

Success as a writer is all about climbing the proverbial ladder. You’ve got to do it one rung at a time.