Writer's Guidelines

Once you have done some market study and have chosen a handful of magazines or publishers that you are interested in, it's time to get specific. Each magazine or publisher handles submissions differently. It is up to you to find out what they expect in a manuscript submission. You can find this information by consulting the writer's guidelines. Many magazines or publishers will have this available on their website. If not, you can send a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) with a request for their writer's guidelines.

Writer's guidelines tell you specifically what is expected of your manuscript. They give you detailed information on what format your manuscript should be in, how to send it, where to send it, how long is should be, what your story should and shouldn't do, etc. No matter your opinion, FOLLOW THESE GUIDELINES! A manuscript that does not adhere to guidelines is tossed into the trash without a second glance.

Not only are they essential in helping you to know how to submit your story, but guidelines also save you from wasting time submitting your story to the wrong magazines. For example, if your story is 1,500-words long and the magazine you're interested in only accepts stories up to 800-words long, don't waste your time, money, and effort with that magazine. They won't accept your story. Instead, look for a magazine that does accept fiction work in that word count range. Writer's guidelines help you to determine the best place to send your story. By the way, book publishers have guidelines as well, but they aren't usually as detailed.

The Keys to a Good Query


Because publishers are inundated with thousands of manuscripts, most prefer to receive a query letter instead of your complete manuscript. The purpose of a query letter is to introduce yourself and your story or article. In this letter, you tell the length of your piece, the age group it is intended for, a BRIEF summary of your story, and any qualifications you have for writing the story.

Basically, a query letter is your chance to sell yourself and your work to the publishers. If they don't like your query, they won't request to see your story, and you've saved yourself a lot of time, postage, and disappointment. On the other hand, if they do like your query, they may request to see your story, but keep in mind that doesn't mean they will accept it. It just means they are interested.

There are many ways to outline your query, but below, you'll find one of the most popular templates for query letters.

Your Address
City, State, Zip
Phone # E-mail Address
Date



Editor's Name
Name of Magazine
Address
City, State, Zip

Dear Mr./Mrs. [Editor's last name]:

In this first paragraph, it is essential that you hook the editor with information about your story or article. You can use a quote from your piece, a question to evoke a response, or a mind-boggling fact. Whatever you use, make sure it is powerful and compels the editor to keep reading.

Next, tell the editor a little about your story or article. What is it about? What special slant or angle does it have? How long is it? What age group is it intended for? Why should the editor be interested in it?

After that, give a brief paragraph about yourself and your qualifications for writing the article. Be sure to only mention information that pertains to your story or article. Random facts about your background are not going to go over well with the editor. Get straight to the point and explain why you are the best person to write this piece. If you have been previously published, be sure to mention that in this section. If you haven't been published, there is no need to say so. Allow your work to speak for itself.

Lastly, close with a brief statement of thanks. Don't forget to include a SASE with your query (if you are mailing it) and also to mention in this closing paragraph that the SASE is included.

Sincerely,
[Your signature]

From there, place your query and SASE in an envelope, stick it in the mailbox, and then get started on another project while you wait for a reply. Response times vary depending on the publisher, but many can take six weeks or more to reply. Don't waste that time. Get busy on your next project, or if you feel compelled, send the query to another publisher. There is no limit as to how many publishers you can send you query to. Just remember to study each publication before approaching them to ensure that your piece would be a proper fit.

Seven Steps to Becoming a More Successful Writer

You've come up with a great idea. You've written a nice rough draft. You've completed your editing and revising. You've submitted your work to the publisher of your choice. And now you're finished, right? Not quite. You see, what many new writers fail to realize is that writing involves much more than just putting pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard. The work of a writer is a never-ending process. Sure, there's a lot of waiting time involved, but that time should be used to aid in your growth as a writer. Below are a few ideas to keep you busy and improving in the art of writing.

Develop new ideas - Do you have another project you would like to work on? What is it? Is it fiction or nonfiction? Who are the characters? What is the setting? What is the plot? What research needs to be done? Spend this time gathering new ideas to work on when the time is right.

Read - Stephen King said it best when he made this comment on the author's need to read: If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot...reading is the creative center of a writer's life...you cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you. Reading educates us. Reading stretches our imaginations. Reading is a necessary part of any writer's life.

Expand your vocabulary - When was the last time you learned a new word? A growing vocabulary is an asset to every writer. Why use the word "subtle" when you can use the word "insidious?" Don't say "showy," say "ostentatious." There are many websites available that offer daily or weekly e-mails that present you with new words to enhance your vocabulary. Sign up for a few and see the vast improvement in the flow and imagery of your writing.

Improve your spelling - Along with expanding our vocabulary, many of us would benefit from brushing up on our spelling skills. True, we can always look it up in the dictionary or use spell-check, but we would save a lot of time if we would learn to spell the words correctly in the first place. Besides, it is a good thing to increase our knowledge.

Research - Waiting time is an excellent time to do research for your next project. Spend some time at the library, the bookstore, or online. Record the facts you need, and don't forget to make note of your sources.

Study the market - The time between projects is the best opportunity for you to study the market. Who is currently looking for submissions? Are there any upcoming themes you feel comfortable writing for? Which publishers would be interested in your next project? Take your time and study your options. Market study is almost as important as the writing itself, maybe even more important.

Take a class - If you would really like to improve your writing skills, take a class or visit a workshop. There are many courses offered online, and some of them are even free. Simply go to your favorite search engine and type in "free writing classes" or "writing workshops." You'll be amazed at the number of options available to you.

Writers must write. That is a fact, however, there are other important steps you must take if you want to become a successful writer. Writing is a joyful journey, but it is not easy. It requires time and effort. If you're willing to invest in it, it will change your life!

A Checklist for Editing and Revising Your Work


Editing and revising takes your work and turns it into a masterpiece. Let's face it, even the best writers don't create a masterpiece on their first draft. I urge you to go back and look at some of your earlier work. I guarantee you'll find things that you would change if you were to write it over again. That's just the nature of writers. The more we learn, the more we are able to improve our work. Here is a checklist to aid you as you go through the editing process.

Spelling & grammar check

Your word processor most likely has a spell-check on it. Use it, but keep in mind that it will not catch all your errors. If you type “his” instead of “him,” your computer will not identify that as a mistake. As for the grammar, there are many inexpensive grammar guides for writers available today. Visit Amazon.com or your neighborhood bookstore and find something to help you.

Overuse of words & cliches

As you go through your story, pay attention to how many times you use certain words. Did you use “beautiful” three times in the same paragraph? If so, get out your thesaurus and find an alternate word. Also, avoid using cliches. There is no telling how many times publishers have read phrases like sparkled like diamonds, flat as a pancake, or stubborn as a mule. Your job as a writer is not simply to write an interesting story, but also to make it different from all the rest. Give the publishers a reason to pick your story above the other 1,000 sitting on their desks.

Overuse of adverbs & adjectives

Most adjectives and adverbs can be avoided by using stronger descriptive words. The princess isn't “very pretty,” she's “beautiful.” He didn't “run fast,” he “sprinted.” Search for strong descriptive words and leave out everything else.

Subject/verb agreement

Most of us balk at the insinuation that we might make such a blatant mistake, but the fact is that it happens. One of the easiest places to “slip” with subject/verb agreement is when a prepositional phrase separates the subject and verb. It is easy to mistakenly have your verb agree with the object of the preposition instead of the subject. As you read through your story, take the prepositional phrases out and see if your subject and verb do, in fact, agree.

Consistent tense

Another common mistake is to change tenses in the middle of the story. For example, the beginning of your story may be told in the present tense and the middle of your story in the past tense. Check to be sure that the tense of your story is consistent throughout.

Consistent Point of View

If at one point in your story, you refer to your main character as “I” and at another point, you refer to him as “He,” your reader will become confused. If you are working on your story or book in sections (as we all do), it's very easy to sit down and start writing in a different POV without even realizing it.

Unnecessary scenes or characters

Mark Twain once said, “Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.” Easily said, but not easily done. As a writer, you get to know each part of your story and each character. Every part is special to you. The idea of cutting part of it out appeals to you about as much as cutting off your own arm. But the hard truth is that if the story doesn't need it, the story will be better off without it. Remember, each scene and character should serve to move the story forward. If the scene or character doesn't serve a purpose other than to take up space, the story will be better without it. As much as it hurts, cut it out.

Check your hook

You have only your first few paragraphs to catch your reader's attention (sometimes less). Make good use of your beginning. Have some friends or colleagues read your first paragraphs and give their honest feedback. Are they intrigued? Would they like to read more? Of all places to spend time during the editing process, the beginning is probably the most important. After all, if your reader doesn't make it past the beginning, nothing else matters. Some writers claim to spend the same amount of time on the first chapter as they do on the rest of the book combined. That is how important a good beginning is!

Read through your dialogue
In order for dialogue to be effective, it must be realistic. Read through just the dialogue and see if it sounds like something your character would say. Does it flow? Does it make sense? Is it age-appropriate?

Watch for the five senses
As you read through your manuscript, allow yourself to look specifically for the five senses. Mark them if you want. Evaluate if you've done a thorough job of adding the five senses and other description. Does your story seem flat and lifeless? If so, go through and add more description.

Did you finish the story?
It is important that you make sure you have completely ended your story (unless it's a series, of course). Don't leave your readers hanging. Answer all their questions. Fulfill all their desires. Wrap up all the loose ends. Have a clear ending.

Does your story have a good title?
Did you know that Dr. Seuss' book
And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street was rejected nearly 30 times? Did you also know that its original title was A Story That No one Can Beat? When Seuss changed the title of the book, he immediately found a publisher willing to publish it. The title of your story is more important than anything else. Without a good title, your book or story probably won't even make it into the hands of your reader. We've all browsed the shelves in the library or bookstore. Which books do we pick up? The ones with interesting titles. If you create a masterful work and then give it a cheesy title, all your work is in vain. Think carefully when naming your story. After all, you want to make a good first impression.

Obviously, I can't spell out each thing you need to look for. That would take forever. What I can tell you is that if you will follow these guidelines, your manuscript should be in good shape. Use the above checklist to aid you during your editing process. While some writers truly enjoy the editing process, others despise it. Whether it is enjoyable to you or not, keep in mind that you are doing it to better your story. That will help ease the pain of having to cut precious words that you spent so long crafting.


Want to know more about how to turn your writing into a finished masterpiece? The LWN ebook, Creating a World of Your Own: Your Guide to Writing Fiction, will give you step-by-step information on all of the writing process, from finding an idea to submitting your work to publications. Order your e-book today for only $19.98. Or, if you want coaching help along the way, visit LearnWriteNow.com and sign up for the fiction writing e-class.

I've Finished Writing My Book -- Now What?

It's finally happened. You took that wonderful idea of yours and put it down on paper. You've spent hours perfecting your work, making sure that your ideas flow smoothly and that your message is clear. And now, at long last, the manuscript is complete. You would be amazed at the number of people who make it to this point and then have no idea how to proceed. If you are one of those people, have no fear. This article is just for you.

There are MANY different ways to go about publishing your book. They all have pros and cons, so I'll give you the highlights of each which will allow you to make a more informed decision about which way you would like to proceed.

Traditional Publishing
- You send your work to publishing houses in hopes that they will accept it for publication.

Pros: There is no upfront cost to you, and many times, you receive an advance of
money from
the publisher
The publisher takes care of all formatting, editing, cover art, copyright, ISBN,
and distribution.
With this option, everyone considers you a "real writer."

Cons: Publishers are swamped with manuscripts and therefore only accept a small
number of
those they receive.
The wait for a publishing house to "decide" about your manuscript is generally
6 months or more.
Publishers desire authors who already have an established platform (audience,
such as through a blog or speaking engagements).
Unless you are "somebody," traditional publishers will NOT market your book.
That is up to you.
Royalty payments are only 8-12%.
Many publishers only allow you to query one company at a time, so if company
#1 decides after 6 months that they don't want your manuscript, then you have
to go to company #2 and start all over again. This process could take YEARS
and has for many authors.

Subsidy/Vanity Press
- You hire a company to "self-publish" your work.

Pros: The publisher takes care of all formatting, editing, cover art, copyright, ISBN,
and
distribution.
In many cases, the publisher will make available to you a marketing package
(for an additional fee).
The turnaround time for your book to be published is very quick, usually within
a month.
Royalties vary depending on the company, but many of them offer more than
traditional publishers.

Cons: The starting fee for many of these types of presses is $1,000. Packages vary,
but all, I
feel, are still over-priced.
These presses have a very bad reputation because they will publish
ANYTHING whether it's good or not.
Unless you pay for the extra marketing package, marketing is still entirely up to
you.

Amazon's CreateSpace
- You do your own "self-publishing."

Pros: There is no upfront cost except to buy any books you want for yourself at a
nominal fee
(as little as $2.10, depending on book size).
There is a built-in cover creator where you can design your own cover using
their templates.
All books published through CreateSpace are immediately made available on
Amazon.com.
The free distribution channel makes your book available to online bookstores as
well as distributors such as Ingram and Baker & Taylor.
The process is quick and easy, and you get to retain much more on the royalty
money than with traditional publishers or vanity presses. (60% from Amazon,
80% from CreateSpace, and 100% of what you sell directly (minus the price of
the book.)
Free ISBN number.
The turnaround time for your book to be published is a matter of days (literally).
Very easy step-by-step process.

Cons: CreateSpace does offer editing and formatting service, but at a rather high fee.

Even though your book is made available to distributors, it does not include a
"buy back" feature which in turn makes your book less appealing to bookstores.
(If the book doesn't sell, the distributor will buy the book back from the
bookstore. CreateSpace does not make this offer.)
If you desire, you must obtain your own copyright and Library of Congress
number.
The ISBN number actually belongs to CreateSpace.
As with the other forms of publication, marketing is up to you.

Whatever route you decide to go, be sure to do your homework. There are many "presses" out there that are only interested in making money. Find out as much as you can about the publishing house of your choice, and also make sure you get specific details about what your publishing package includes. Once you've decided on a house, don't waste any time. While the house is working on your book, use that time to work on your marketing plan. The best book in the world won't sell if no one knows it's available.

CreateSpace: Unlocking the Door to Publication


I would like to tell you about a service that has been a huge help to me and has made it possible for me to become a published author. As a writer, I've discovered that the actual writing process is the easy part. The difficult part comes when one wants to publish his/her work. The process of finding a publisher is tedious and time-consuming, not to mention frustrating. Now, thanks to CreateSpace, that is an issue I no longer have to deal with.

You see, I had thought about self-publishing before, but after looking through several websites and catalogs, I quickly discovered that I couldn't afford it. Many of the self-publishing services cost around $1,000, and that doesn't include the price of printing each book. That's when I found CreateSpace.

CreateSpace is part of Amazon.com. If you go to the main Amazon page and scroll all the way to the bottom, you'll see a link that says “Publish with Us.” Clicking on that link will take you to CreateSpace, a self-publishing company. The process of publishing a book with them is so easy that even a child could do it. The website leads you step by step through the process of setting up your book project. They tell you how to format your pages, how to set up your book, and they even assign your book an ISBN number.

One of the newest features is their cover creator page. This allows you to use their templates to create your own book cover, or you can choose to design your own from scratch. The templates are very professional-looking and have a lot of ways you can adapt them to meet your needs (changing colors, fonts, etc.).

The entire process is very simple. You fill out the online forms to start your project. After that you upload your book file and create your cover. When that's done, you order a proof copy to make sure everything looks as it should. If all is well, you approve the proof, and you're ready to go. Your book will be available for purchase in the CreateSpace bookstore, on Amazon.com, and you can even sell it yourself from your own website. The entire process is amazingly quick!

With CreateSpace, you'll make more money from every sale than you will with traditional publishing, and the best part is that CreateSpace offers this service for FREE. There is no charge to create a book with them unless you wish to purchase their PRO package for a fee of $39. This package allows you to purchase your books for less and also to make more money in royalties.

If you're a writer and tired of looking for a publisher, I highly recommend CreateSpace. I have already published four books with them and am currently working on my fifth. I have been completely satisfied, and I can't explain the joy you will feel when you finally hold your published book in your hands.

The Guide on How to Submit Articles to Magazines

Maybe you have great passion for writing or you are a skilled writer yearning to see your work appear on magazines. Either way, you definitely need the right guide on how to submit articles to magazines. First, decide whether you are doing this as a freelance, a part time thing apart from your full time job or there is the intention to commit full time. Once you know what you are aiming for, it will be easier to draw out your goals and plans in writing and submitting articles. It is better to plan ahead and have all the expectations and what exactly you want to achieve from this

Another thing to do on how to submit articles to magazines is to determine what type of magazines you are targeting at. There are such a vast of fields and areas which you could pen an article on. There could be categories of fashion, men, women, parenting, home improvement, automobile, photography, nature, children, gardening, lifestyles, food and beverage, craft and art, computer, IT, entertainment, social work and possibly many more which you may have the interest in. Find what type of magazines of interest to you and write articles that fit the particular field. This will make it easier for smooth submission. You certainly would not like to send a list of tips to dress up in a fashionable way to a home improvement magazine! So get this check out and set out which you could write well and have the interest in.

Once you decide which magazine to send your articles, find out the details for submission. Get the company or publisher's contacts. There will be e-mail, telephone numbers, fax numbers and website included. You also need to read the rules and regulations for submission. Find more on the copyright and payment for your articles should it be accepted to be published.


By Dennis Moore Hopkins

Author enjoys writing articles related to Article Directory and Article Submission. You may visit for more details.

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