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QUESTIONS: If you have a specific question about marketing, you're probably not alone in your confusion...email us, and we'll place the answer to your question on this page!

 

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February 28, 2016

Leap Year brings an extra day, and deciding to step up your writing on that day is a good idea.

 

One of our new additions is a connection to Sunbreak Press (http://www.sunbreakpress.com), which is still under development. This came about in part to publish the book How Many Words For Rain?, which includes poems by Marian Blue and photography by Lynne Hann (http://www.hannphoto.com/Hann_Photo/HOME.html). Sunbreak Press branched off Blue & Ude Writers Services to publish that book. The hope now is to do some similar books, featuring on themes or locations.

 

Meanwhile, Sunbreak Press will also be offering advice and market information in various blogs, so in addition to what you can find here, looking at that material will be useful. For February, short pieces have been published on types of workshops/critiques, from formal to informal, from free to commercial. Upcoming will be information on how to read material in order to comment in workshops.

 

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>p>Manuscript format: Many writers are discounting traditional format for their manuscripts. I assume that some believe that such formats are unnecessary now that computers allow authors to be creative. Unfortunately, that sort of creativity just leads editors to believe the manuscript has been prepared by an amateur.

No matter how much fun it is to play with fonts or layout, I urge you to be conservative with your manuscript format. Make the manuscript as clear and accessible as possible. Follow traditional layout, font size and font choice. Include your name, address, phone number and email in the upper left hand corner of the first page of your story. In the right hand upper corner, put the genre (such as "short story") with the word count under that (it's essential to include word count because computer options make the word count per page vary). About one-quarter to one-third further down the page, center the title of your story with your byline (one double space) below that; the check goes to the name in the upper left hand corner, and the story will be published under the name in your byline. Begin the story one double space below the byline. Indent paragraphs; do not double the space between paragraphs. For following pages, put your last name and the page number in the upper right hand corner.

 

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Many writers and editors are "out of touch" during the summer, but fall will be bringing people out to workshops, classes, and post offices to mail submissions. While it's good to take some time off from the normal grind, this is also a good time to plan a fall schedule that will have you networking with writers, submitting material, attending classes, joining a workshop, or pursuing whatever writer-related activities appeal. Although the temptation to wait and plan IN the fall is strong, keep in mind that the rush of other fall activities tends to push that writer planning off until a "little later"; and then there are the holidays to deal with and the recovery from the holidays and...so it goes. So I would suggest that you plan some writer activities now for later in the fall. Most groups and schools will be announcing their fall classes soon, if they haven't already.

 

Marian Blue is pleased to announce her inclusion in the recent Seal Press anthology, Drive, women's true stories from the open road. Seal Press, a long-time northwest feminist publisher, has recently been purchased by Avalon in New York, but this anthology maintains the quality and focus of previous years.

Recently we've received more questions about essays -- what are they? where are they published? -- than any other genre. Essay writing is very much in demand by literary and mainstream publications (online and hard copy). The question can generate hours of argument wherever writers are found. Some like to claim that every word is absolute truth; others say that the only meaningful "truth" is the essential truth that the essay hopes to discover. This and more is discussed in a great book, THE FOURTH GENRE, edited by Robert L. Root, Jr. and Michael Steinberg. The book includes excellent essays that illustrate sub-genre (literary journalism, memoir, etc.) as well as the essays about writing.

Michael Steinberg is also editing a new magazine, The Fourth Genre, which publishes essays. You can receive more information by sending an SASE to The Fourth Genre, Michigan State University, 1405 S. Harrison Road, Suite 25, Manly Miles Building, East Lansing, MI 48823-5202. This genre offers the lyric qualities of poetry and the techniques of characterization and description in fiction while it explores our world in very real shoes. If you haven't yet explored this genre, the time to do so has never been better.

 

Look for more updates on this site soon.

 

January 31, 2000: from Auburn, WA: What can one expect from a Writers' Conference?

Perhaps the best answer is to say "everything," but ultimately the answer depends on two thing: 1) what you expect and 2) what you put into the conference.

 

Every conference is intense; people are excited about meeting other writers, of all levels of experience, and editors and agents. Talk about writing, on both a serious and inspirational level opens one's eyes to the fact that writing isn't a mysterious cult that requires hidden talents passed down from Druid ancestors or mythical rites that you'll never really find out. These people are interested in skills and techniques and business practices -- and while no one downplays the artistic, creative side of writing, the real world accessibility and application of craft is very evident.

At the same time, getting to know others in the writing business (networking) is always an important component. Keep in mind that networking is a part of every occupation -- it's just that many writers stay at home to work so they don't have access to the "office coffee pot" or the shared lunch hour. This has helped create the myth of writers endlessly creating in isolation, but writers tend to be a rather social bunch...but they congregate at odd times and at odd moments. The cliques of Paris and such have pretty much vanished, but writers' groups and conferences and classes and programs and readings have never been more common. It's here that writers seek each other out, make connection, and learn that they are never alone.

Thus you should come to a conference determined to talk and to listen every moment: in the hallways, during the lunch breaks, during the evening socials; you should have your mind and heart constantly open to receive and to give -- others will also want to hear your thoughts and learn your experiences. You should set aside shyness and be willing to approach the editors, agents, and professional writers...they are there for YOU.

Part of your preparation will involve reading before the conference. Read the books of those professionals who will be attending. Know something of what their careers have been like. This will make it easier to carry on a conversation and also make you appear more serious to others.

Of course you should also select your conferences carefully. Make sure that the slant of the conference appeals to you (does it lean toward one particular genre or activity -- some might be marketing oriented while others are craft oriented and some have more poetry or science fiction than not). You can also go to conferences that include some of your favorite writers or teachers and you'll probably be happy with the result.

You should come away from a conference exhilarated and exhausted if you've put in your time wisely -- this will be 2 - 3 days of constant activity. Following the conference, you should attack your writing with renewed energy and knowledge. If this happens, it was a good conference.

August 21, 1999: from EG in Louisiana: How can I find a good writers' critique group in my area?


ANSWER: Finding the RIGHT writers' group is a little like finding true love: you might have to go on some bad dates to find the the compatible group. The answer isn't necessarily in genre, age, or even experience -- and it also isn't a case of "good" vs. "bad" groups; it's a matter of what is right for you. Some steps to take to find this magic circle of writers include:

 


1. Talk to people. Ask about writers' groups at your local library, bookstores, and college campuses. Call some local writers' organizations. Attend some public readings and conferences and talk to people when there -- you can't afford to be shy.

 


2. Be open-minded. Just because people don't do things in a way that is familiar to you or that you're comfortable with doesn't mean that it might not turn out to be your personal solution to writing success. Try something for a while before you give up on it. Later on, you might suggest alternative methods to a group and others will find that different approaches provide some stimulating discussion (sometimes it's fun, for instance, to vary between "round robin" and open discussion techniques.

 


3. If one or ten writing groups don't work out, don't condemn the overall concept. Over the years, I've been a part of many workshops, on both coasts and between. About half of them have been good; two have been OUTSTANDING and resulted in long-term writing relationships. Those gems make any staggering through the wilderness worthwhile!

 


4. Make a serious commitment to your group. If you join, plan to read others' work seriously and to listen with an open mind to what others have to say about your work. While your concern is to find a group that works for you, the members already in place are anxious to have others join who are a positive influence in the group. One of the real benefits of a writers' group is in the editing experience you receive by carefully reading other writers' work and commenting on it; this increases your editing skills on your own work. No writer can ever learn the skills of revision without learning how it feels to read and critique objectively -- and most writers must first do that with someone else's work. Don't shortchange yourself in a group by assuming that your only real benefit is from what others say to you about your work (although that's certainly a need!).

 


In SOUTHEAST WRITERS' HANDBOOK, Wayne Ude discusses different types of workshops. These include:

 


1. an informal, private workshop, with no fee, no instructor, meeting in someone's home or at a library or other public building.


p>
These are usually made up of peers, and the writing/publishing experience can vary tremendously. Each group usually develops its own set of rules. One detail to watch is whether members of the group, over time, begin having some publishing success and develop stronger critique skills (if your goal is publication). Some informal groups can become more of a social support group, which can be good, but not if your ultimate goal is publication.

 


2. a beginning writing class offered through a local school, church, community center, or by a local writer in his/her home.


These, too, can vary widly, both in information provided and in fees required. Be sure to talk to other writers about such a group.


3. a more formal beginning creative writing class, offered through any of the above or through a college.

 


Almost all local colleges have creative writing classes, many of which are non-credit community courses; these can focus on any genre and vary in cost and time required.

 


4. an intermediate workshop, usually focusing on a single genre and led by a published writer.

 


Often held at colleges or universities, the more advanced courses are often for college credit; however, such courses are often open to the community.

 


5. an advanced workshop. These, too, are often at local colleges or universities.

 


Both Wayne Ude and Bill Patrick have written a reading checklist, one for fiction and one for poetry; Bill also has a "Workshop Etiquette" list. If any groups would find this information useful, email us, and we'll include it on this page.

 


KEEP WRITING!

 


Marian Blue



Researching your market involves:
1. Checking Readers' Guides for all recent publications on your subject
2. Reading the most recent articles (at least those printed within the past six months) to both avoid repetition and to get new ideas
3. Sending for writers' guidelines for publications you intend to query (many are online!); don't forget to include a SASE by snail mail
4. Reading the magazines you intend to query (including the past half dozen issues at least). Read EVERY article for:

 

a.

word choices

 

b.

length of sentences

 

c.

length of paragraphs

 

d.

analysis of anecdotes

 

e.

use of sidebars and breakouts

 

f.

use of photos and graphics

 

g.

connections to your subject matter that you can mention in your query letter (as proof that you've studied the magazine)

 

h.

Person (first or third/objective or subjective)

 

i.

style(s) of openings and closings

 

j.

advertisers (a real clue to the audience and subjects to avoid -- a magazine with cigarette ads every five pages won't want a health article criticizing smoking)

MARKETS: don't ignore regional newspapers, especially travel sections and "special" sections, those pull out advertising sections that focus on spring gardening or summer events or holiday festivals -- original articles on those subjects are often welcome!


_ 1999 Blue & Ude Writer's Services
All rights reserved.

Read EVERY article for:

a. word choices
b. length of sentences
c. length of paragraphs
d. analysis of anecdotes
e. use of sidebars and breakouts
f. use of photos and graphics
g. connections to your subject matter that you can mention in your query letter (as proof that you've studied the magazine)
h. Person (first or third/objective or subjective)
i. style(s) of openings and closings
j. advertisers (a real clue to the audience and subjects to avoid -- a magazine with cigarette ads every five pages won't want a health article criticizing smoking)

MARKETS: don't ignore regional newspapers, especially travel sections and "special" sections, those pull out advertising sections that focus on spring gardening or summer events or holiday festivals -- original articles on those subjects are often welcome!


_ 1999 Blue & Ude Writer's Services
All rights reserved.