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PostPosted: February 21st, 2008, 11:55 am 
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Joined: February 21st, 2008, 10:32 am
Posts: 10
Location: Midwest
I'm thrilled and blessed to have a real "paying gig" as a weekly lifestyle/humor columnist, been published in a national glossy, and a book chapter (someone else's book).

Great right?

Right!

However, when it comes to expanding my market I am terrible at marketing myself. I prepare the cover letter and blurbs and then freeze. Never to send the clips or queries. Picking six of my favorite columns from 100's feels like "pick your favorite child."

Not to mention that I am so clueless as to real marketing that in attempting to self-syndicate I have no clue what is realistic to ask.

Finally, I'm a pessimist by nature and talk myself out of trying. It seems so egocentric "publish me, I rock!" Basically I talk myself OUT of doing anything because if you haven't tried you haven't failed right?

My problem is probably a blessed one to have. My early success came easily enough. I was literally playing around on the 'net in the late 90's and House Beautiful came calling looking for a closing thoughts essay. Same with a book chapter. I went way outside my comfort zone to stalk a regional editor into publishing me and the rest is history. I love what I do but feel I should be doing MORE with it. Yet, unless someone literally tracks me down I tend to rest on my laurels.

How do you keep motivated and make yourself "go for it" when sales are not a skill that comes naturally to you?

So many writer's forums seem to focus on people writing novels and doing interviews and technical writing. How do you market yourself when you are likely to be seen as "just another Erma Bombeck wanna be?"

Sadly it seems as if every soccer mom with a pc has a blog and a "column" these days. The fact that I actually have a paid byline should count for something but I'm just so bad at self-promotion.


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PostPosted: February 21st, 2008, 12:12 pm 
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Joined: June 30th, 2005, 1:38 pm
Posts: 606
Congrats on your success, kfs!

Many, if not most, creative people are lacking in self-promotion skills. I'm sure some of the ones who aren't will jump in with helpful advice on doing it yourself, but my advice would be to take some of the money you've earned so far and hire yourself a publicist. It's their job to toot your horn and know who to send press kits to and what to say to get more people interested in what you can do!

And by the way, regarding this, "Basically I talk myself OUT of doing anything because if you haven't tried you haven't failed right?"...in my humble opinion, the ONLY way to fail is by not trying. Everything we attempt in life is a learning experience. Sometimes what we try works out the way we want it to; sometimes it doesn't. But there's always something to be learned from the experience of trying.

Best of luck,
Nancy

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 Post subject: Excellent suggestion.
PostPosted: February 21st, 2008, 12:16 pm 
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Joined: February 21st, 2008, 10:32 am
Posts: 10
Location: Midwest
Quote:
my advice would be to take some of the money you've earned so far and hire yourself a publicist


I had honestly never considered that in any real way but you may be on to something.

I live in Hooterville, USA. Seriously. I wonder where one would find a good publicist? I'm guessing they do NOT need to be in my region necessarily. I'm unlikely to find one next to the feedmiill ;)


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PostPosted: February 21st, 2008, 12:19 pm 
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Joined: June 30th, 2005, 1:38 pm
Posts: 606
Here's a place to start:

http://www.prsa.org/

Click on "Job Center." Even though it says you have to register to use it, I just clicked on the resumes and they were perfectly accessible!

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PostPosted: February 21st, 2008, 7:00 pm 
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Joined: July 14th, 2004, 8:45 pm
Posts: 2399
Location: australia
Google: publicist + USA.

Re the, 'If I try I might fail' thing. Lots of people think that way. (See my hand in the air?)
BUT why not say to yourself, 'if I try I might succeed'?
That's just as possible.

You know you've got the goods; you must have - someone is willing to PAY you for it.
Wowowowowowwwwww!!!!!
With all those bloggers out there writing their bon mots for free, how good are you?!

Not jealous not jealous not jealous....

I'd love to write a humourous column. I'm a public speaker as well as a writer, and when I speak I hear lots of laughter. (I tell myself that's what I intended to happen.) But when I write I seem to do a bunch of serious stuff: murders, dead children, abandoned wives, the Black Death...
Nothing funny there!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: February 21st, 2008, 8:10 pm 
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Joined: February 21st, 2008, 10:32 am
Posts: 10
Location: Midwest
Quote:
when I speak I hear lots of laughter. (I tell myself that's what I intended to happen.)


You are funny :) Love that line "tell myself that's what I intended to happen ..."

:)

I would love to be a public speaker. I love to hear myself talk and tend to think everyone is entitled to my opinion ;)

So I have envy here too. :)


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PostPosted: February 21st, 2008, 9:36 pm 
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Joined: January 13th, 2005, 3:18 pm
Posts: 1495
Location: Islandia
Don't you belong to any special interest groups that have speaker bureaus? That's a good way to practice and build a reputation. Over the years, I belonged to various women's business groups who either were always seeking speakers for their monthly meetings, or they had speakers available to speak to schools and other groups. I think the library in my hometown even has a registry for this sort of info now.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: February 22nd, 2008, 9:00 am 
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Joined: February 8th, 2006, 4:15 pm
Posts: 1634
Location: Central Maine
Hey kfs....

I am a humor writer.

I do not do well at promotion and publicity.

I live in Podunk which is an outlying farm community near Hooterville.

I think YOU AND I ARE THE SAME PERSON!

_________________
"In the beginning was the Word..."

http://groovybell.blogspot.com/

and

http://groovytrekkers.blogspot.com/

Now I Squidoo!!!
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: February 22nd, 2008, 10:10 am 
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Joined: February 21st, 2008, 10:32 am
Posts: 10
Location: Midwest
You must be right!

Isn't it funny? I can tell readers all about myself but can't pick up a phone (or cover letter) and say " so have you considered a column?"

Granted, the few times I've made even brief contact I am hearing (from smaller regionals that I thougth would be my market) "We are owned by a conglomerate and all content decisions go through them" (which leads to the "oh we just run some syndicate ..."

My .02 is that I'm not expecting to make big bucks from each paper so much as make little - mediumish bucks in a LOT of papers.

Now if only they would come knocking on my office door with checkbooks in hand ...


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PostPosted: February 23rd, 2008, 7:07 am 
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Joined: December 18th, 2004, 9:46 am
Posts: 1971
Location: Central Virginia
kfs wrote:
I'm thrilled and blessed to have a real "paying gig" as a weekly lifestyle/humor columnist.

Great right?

Right!

However, when it comes to expanding my market I am terrible at marketing myself. I prepare the cover letter and blurbs and then freeze. Never to send the clips or queries. Picking six of my favorite columns from 100's feels like "pick your favorite child."

Not to mention that I am so clueless as to real marketing that in attempting to self-syndicate I have no clue what is realistic to ask.

Finally, I'm a pessimist by nature and talk myself out of trying. It seems so egocentric "publish me, I rock!" Basically I talk myself OUT of doing anything because if you haven't tried you haven't failed right?

My problem is probably a blessed one to have. My early success came easily enough. I was literally playing around on the 'net in the late 90's and House Beautiful came calling looking for a closing thoughts essay. Same with a book chapter. I went way outside my comfort zone to stalk a regional editor into publishing me and the rest is history. I love what I do but feel I should be doing MORE with it. Yet, unless someone literally tracks me down I tend to rest on my laurels.

How do you keep motivated and make yourself "go for it" when sales are not a skill that comes naturally to you?

So many writer's forums seem to focus on people writing novels and doing interviews and technical writing. How do you market yourself when you are likely to be seen as "just another Erma Bombeck wanna be?"

Sadly it seems as if every soccer mom with a pc has a blog and a "column" these days. The fact that I actually have a paid byline should count for something but I'm just so bad at self-promotion.


Just another Erma Bombeck wannabe? Not such a bad aim, even if the grass is greener somewhere other than over your septic tank.

My suggestion has nothing to do with publicists, who serve a need that you do not have yet. If I were doing what you wish to do, I'd start with the local library and ask the librarian which publication lists the various syndicates in the U.S. today. Once you have that list, copy it, go home and check hte syndicates for the ones that sell your kind of material. Then start the mail/email process of sending each of those places two or three of your columns. You may have to call to get the name of the correct editor. I don't think you'll be working with hundreds of letters here. More likely a couple, three dozen, but that's speculation.

You might also check the library directories to see what weekly papers exist in the U.S. Then do a mass mailing to the listed editors, preferably email with attached on-line copies...and I don't have to tell you to NOT make it a CC:, do I? Type the emails individually, even if it's a PITA. You might also consider not sending an attachment right off the bat, but asking if they're interested in seeing your latest, greatest column on the humor in...bats? Whatever you write about.

A quick note: most of these weeklies are looking for free copy. Say no. Depending on circulation, you can probably price your column anywhere from $2.50 to $7.50, with most closer to the bottom. Giving them a sample copy to let them see the results is their scam. Don't get caught.

It's a lot of work, and there are a devil of a lot of weeklies in the U.S., but if you can sell 2%, at five bucks, think about it....

But I wouldn't spend dime one on a publicist until you've got an income flow from basic syndication, whether self-syndication or other.

_________________
Charlie Self
www.charlieselfonline.com


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: February 23rd, 2008, 7:15 am 
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Joined: December 18th, 2004, 9:46 am
Posts: 1971
Location: Central Virginia
groovy-old-lady wrote:
Hey kfs....

I am a humor writer.

I do not do well at promotion and publicity.

I live in Podunk which is an outlying farm community near Hooterville.

I think YOU AND I ARE THE SAME PERSON!


Well, there's room for both. According to a recent NY Times article on weeklies, there are 7,000+ weeklies and over 1,600 dailies out there. Reach out and touch a few.

Editor & Publisher magazine might be a good starting place.

_________________
Charlie Self
www.charlieselfonline.com


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: February 23rd, 2008, 7:56 am 
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Joined: February 8th, 2006, 4:15 pm
Posts: 1634
Location: Central Maine
Shall we, kfs?

_________________
"In the beginning was the Word..."

http://groovybell.blogspot.com/

and

http://groovytrekkers.blogspot.com/

Now I Squidoo!!!
http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/groovyoldlady


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: February 23rd, 2008, 1:11 pm 
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Joined: February 21st, 2008, 10:32 am
Posts: 10
Location: Midwest
We shall!

Even getting a starting price is a big help. I totall agree that small $$ in many markets is the way to go.

It's no secret - I make $27/column for FIRST rights. I don't expect to make that much for resale.

Having a realistic price-point is a huge help. Thank you!

So let's set a goal. Ten queries a week?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: February 23rd, 2008, 7:55 pm 
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Joined: December 18th, 2004, 9:46 am
Posts: 1971
Location: Central Virginia
kfs wrote:
We shall!

Even getting a starting price is a big help. I totall agree that small $$ in many markets is the way to go.

It's no secret - I make $27/column for FIRST rights. I don't expect to make that much for resale.

Having a realistic price-point is a huge help. Thank you!

So let's set a goal. Ten queries a week?


You probably need 100 customers to make it at all worthwhile, with maybe 20 or so extra to make up for those who will drop you for reasons explained or unexplained. To make it really wortwhile, I'd aim for at least 200 customers, with 30 or extra. More is better. But if you get three bucks each from 200 people, that's 600 bucks a week, with no syndication outfit taking a bite. Given the extra work syndication is, I'd want to do better than that, but to each his own.

_________________
Charlie Self
www.charlieselfonline.com


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: February 25th, 2008, 7:26 pm 
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Joined: July 14th, 2004, 8:45 pm
Posts: 2399
Location: australia
That's such great advice, Charlie. You're a treasure!


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