Tuesday, May 28, 2013

For Writers

Keeping Your Pipeline Full

Not long ago I hit a high water mark in my writing career by receiving five payments for writing work in the space of a few days. It was quite delightful, but the result of lots of hard work, too. As in any business I invoice or sign contracts with the expectation of payment within a certain time frame. I routinely keep between fifteen and twenty pieces out to markets and as a result those five payments all happened to hit at once. And that’s because my pipeline is always full. That fullness results in a pretty steady flow of payments and is a model for every writer to follow. It also helps to keep a ratio of about 60/40 of submissions that pay on acceptance and those that pay on publication. I offer these tips.

  1. The “evergreens” – Keep track of these and keep the rights to them. I have a whole backlog of once sold essays, kid’s crafts, poems and fillers that I re-visit regularly to see where I can make a second or even third sale. I know of at least one writer who sold a non-fiction piece five times garnering him over nine thousand dollars tallied out over several years. He hit it big on the “green.”
  2. Quick Sales – We all have these. There are editors who have become fans of your work and will take a good percentage of what you write. You know what they want and with a little diligence you can keep your submissions fresh, timely and directed at the readers who probably like your style, too.
  3. Branch out – Challenge yourself. Have you secretly penned a killer idea for a greeting card or written a witty limerick, but never did anything with them? Of course you were just fooling around or blowing off steam and probably nobody would want them. Right? Well, get over whatever’s messing up your thinking like that and find a market for them. You may think that if you can’t go full tilt in some area of writing that it’s never going to amount to much. But I’m here to tell you you’re wrong. I’ve sold dozens of poems and some greeting cards and the nice little checks that arrive as a result are great ego boosters. So what if it’s only bread and butter money – it spends.
  4. Think Big – Several months ago I submitted an essay to an in-flight magazine that pays a dollar a word. Deep down I know my chances are slim for publication, but deeper down I’m proud of myself for getting that puppy out. I’ve flown this airline many times and I wrote to the eclectic mix of passengers I’ve observed and interacted with over the years. I think many of them will love the essay if only I can get the nod from the editor. Rumor has it that stories and article published in in-flights are real plums. Try starting at the top payers and work down. Might as well have a few fat ones in the pipeline and hope for the best. I’ve already got a second market in mind should that editor pass.


Never let a good piece of writing sit for long. Get it into your pipeline as soon as it’s polished. And I hope for you a five check week, too!


Image: Free Digital Photos



8 comments:

  1. Jennifer Brown BanksMay 28, 2013 at 6:54 AM

    WISE Words, Sue. Last week I had a 3 pay check week, and I was doing the happy dance here. I'd like to add one thing: be sure to save for the time when checks aren't coming. 'Cause the "rainy days" will. And it makes a difference. :-)

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    1. Excellent point, Jen. I view my canning and freezing from the garden that way, too. Feels terrific to have it socked away. Thanks for commenting.

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  2. I love this, Susan. I never think of sending writing out again once it's sold. You're always an inspiration - I'll have to pick your brain sometime on how you find these paying markets. Good luck on the inflight magazine!

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    1. Thanks, Betsy. I'm constantly on the prowl for markets. Pick my brains any time! Glad to have you stop by.

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  3. At first I thought, Marion, you need to get busy. Then I checked my "waiting to hear" file and ... well, wouldn't it be nice if each one of them brought me a check.

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    1. Sure would, Marion. I'm shooting for bigger markets which take longer to write and the money rolls in slower. Now, why do I do this again??

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  4. Susan:

    I love this line in your piece: "Try starting at the top payers and work down." You are my kind of writer! ;-)

    BTW, I wish you had a search function on your blog. There are posts of yours I'd like to revisit but can't remember the titles, so they are tough to find. Just a thought from a loyal reader. Also, since you publish so often I was wondering what your take on query letters is. To query or not to query? I've read strong arguments on both sides, so I think it may be a matter of personal preference and experience. Would you agree?

    Be well!

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    1. Hi Janette!

      Nice to hear from you. As for query letters - I only do them if the guidelines demand it. And then I keep it short and sweet. Get to the point while giving as much information as you can. It helps to establish a good rapport with an editor if you follow the rules at the outset. I'll work on linking related posts. Thanks for your input! You be well, too.

      Hugs.

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