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THE WACKY WRITER

THE WACKY WRITER

Volume I, Issue II

January 31, 1999

Copyright 1999 by Jo Loving Gann

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Visit WACKY WRITER’S WORLD at http://members.tripod.com/~jogann/index.html for the latest links of interest to writers.

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IN THIS ISSUE:

1. Editorial – Jo Loving Gann, Editor

2. Article – "Positive Rejection – An Oxymoron?" by Jo Loving Gann

3. Reader Submission – "Shoot It! Shoot It!" By Dolores von Philip

4. Feature – Interview with Doris Booth, Editor-in-Chief, Authorlink!!!

5. Quote

6. Writer’s Resource

7. Next Issue – Listing of upcoming features

8. Call for Conference listings

9. Submission Guidelines

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Editorial

1998 was a year of beginnings for The Wacky Writer. The Newsletter debuted in November. The companion web site, Wacky Writer’s World, made its virgin voyage in October. Both efforts have been rewarding and have met with positive feedback. When the idea for a newsletter and web site for writers came to me, I had no idea how much work would be involved in maintaining both. As a wife and mother of three active teenagers, I also work full time in a demanding job, pursue my goals as a writer (including freelance assignments and my own writing), and, this month took the necessary steps to enter a Master’s program. Even with all the activities, I have great enthusiasm for the web site and newsletter and will continue working to improve them. I believe there should be a place for writers to share their thoughts, work, questions, and to find information related to writing. I also believe we should have a little fun. So, while the primary focus is on writing, I occasionally throw in a link or two that may on the surface seem totally unrelated to writing. Maybe you’ll smile; maybe you’ll shake your head and wonder "What in the world is she thinking? What’s with THIS link?"

Keep your mind open, because in a strange way, EVERYTHING is related to writing. Think about it. You might be struggling with developing a particular character. What does she think? What formed those opinions? What life experiences contributed to them? What kind of car does she drive? Where does she live? What are her hobbies?

My purpose in selecting the feature links, articles, and quotes for both the newsletter and web site is to try to appeal to the needs of a broad range of writers who subscribe. The issues, peculiarities, and needs of each vary. Some specialize in fiction of all types, some in non-fiction, others in writing for children, some for academic or business purposes, and others write whatever strikes them at the moment. The key commonality is that you write, you get joy from it (and, at times, frustration), and you keep at it.

This issue of The Wacky Writer addresses a number of topics I hope you will find interesting. I interviewed Ms. Doris Booth, the Editor-in-Chief of Authorlink!, an award-winning news, information, and marketing service for editors, agents, and writers. She was very forthcoming in her answers to my questions, and is quite supportive of writers trying to break through barriers to publication. I trust you will find her interview engaging.

One of the newsletter subscribers, Dolores von Philip, contributed a humorous story of writer’s rejection. "Shoot It! Shoot It!" was previously published in Byline Magazine 7 years ago, and its message is something with which any working writer can identify. Thank you, Dolores, for sharing this with us.

I wrote this month’s article "Positive Rejection – An Oxymoron?" to help writers make the most of a potentially negative situation. You know what I’m talking about. You walk to the mailbox, full of hope, see the envelope with the familiar handwriting (yours)– the self-addressed, stamped envelope you sent with your latest submission, returning with yet another rejection. Before you give in to abject depression, take a second look at these letters – you’d be surprised at the wealth of information available in them. Perhaps you can use them to fine tune your submission practices, improve the work you submit, or wallpaper your powder room.

Enough of my jabbering! On to the rest of this month’s newsletter.

Warmest Regards,

Jo

Jo Loving Gann

Editor, THE WACKY WRITER Newsletter

Webmaster, WACKY WRITER’S WORLD, http://members.tripod.com/~jogann/index.html

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2. POSITIVE REJECTIONS – AN OXYMORON? By Jo Loving Gann

You sent out the query weeks ago. Although you try not to dwell on receiving the reply, the question is in the back of your mind, "Will they accept it?" Of course, every article, book, essay, or poem you write will not be accepted by the first editor or agent to whom you submit. In fact, every reputable guide for writers refers to rejection as a way of life.

The editors of Writer’s Market 1998 offered the following on the topic of rejection:

"Rejection is a way of life in the publishing world. It’s inevitable in a business that deals with such an overwhelming number of applicants for such a limited number of positions. Anyone who has published has lived through many rejections . . ."

Okay, having established that we will experience rejection, how do we make the most of the experience? Is there a way to avoid the sinking feeling that follows opening the letter and reading the words "Sorry, but this doesn’t meet our needs at this time?" I think so. I believe in action. If I submitted the piece in full to an editor, I might consider the comments, incorporate changes to improve it, and resubmit it, or submit it elsewhere. I could send another query for an idea or piece I think might more adequately meet the needs to the editor, thanking her for the response to my previous query. On the other hand, if I honestly do not agree with the comments of the editor, I dismiss them and find another market.

Whatever the form of rejection –- whether a form letter, a handwritten reply, or typewritten and hand signed letter -– it is telling you something. Now, the obvious assessment is that it is telling you that you did not succeed in your goal this time. That’s okay, because it can tell you much more. Expert Marcia Yudkin offers the following in her book, Freelance Writing for Magazines and Newspapers; Breaking in Without Selling Out,

". . . any kind of handwritten note or personal letter constitutes intentional encouragement. Any time you receive a personal response from a named editor, you should follow up with another query or submission. . ."

Try to dissect the letter to discover what the editor is telling you. Sometimes, an editor will take the time to suggest an alternative market. This is as valuable to the writer as gold. Editors often network with other editors and know the markets better than struggling writers. Here’s an example from my file of rejection letters:

"While we do on rare occasion publish essays submitted by freelance writers, I must tell you that your submissions don’t fit our immediate needs."

What is she saying? That the publication is open to essays, but they don’t need my essays right now. That’s okay.

"I can suggest three alternatives. You might contact our editorial page editor, who often seeks submissions for Sunday’s Viewpoints page. Our Neighbors section occasionally publishes freelance pieces. Finally, you might contact the editor of our Town and County section, who on occasion uses stories or essays by local freelance writers."

Wow! She took the time to tell me that my pieces might be appropriate for other sections, and gave me the editors names. This is very encouraging. The next step for me was to submit the work to the other editors.

Other rejections take a different form and suggest changes. This one was from an editor of an anthology:

"We found the first four paragraphs of your piece as well as the last paragraph beautifully descriptive and heartfelt. While we enjoyed your work it does not meet with our editorial needs in its present form."

Fine. Now what? What form would meet with the editorial needs?

"Please see the enclosed guidelines. If you would like to rewrite your piece, we would be happy to review it. We look forward to the possibility of future submissions and appreciate your interest in our project."

That’s good. The guidelines were exactly the same guidelines I had used for preparing my piece the first time. However, I now had more concrete ideas as to what the editors had in mind. What did I do? I did not rewrite and resubmit to them. Why? Because I felt the piece was strong as it was, and stood a good chance in another market. I liked it, but felt that cutting the content by as much as the editors suggested stripped it of warmth and tone. But I did send a thank-you note to the editors, and submitted another story in its place. I haven’t heard from them, but I’ll keep plugging away.

The above experience highlights a key point you should keep in mind. You’re the owner of everything you write. That puts you in charge until you sell your work to someone else. As long as you own the piece, you can change or not change it as you please. If you choose not to alter it, at least submit to another market. If you receive consistent suggestions from other editors to rewrite it, you might reconsider. But there may be an editor out there for whom it is perfect, or nearly perfect –- it’s a matter of faith, persistence, and common sense.

Keep your rejection letters. Don’t dwell on the negative aspects of them. Instead, mine them for gold, and sift out everything else. Some day, when you’re in demand as a published author and famous writer, you can compile them into a book. You might also want to use them to line the bottom of the bird’s cage. How you use them and how they affect you is strictly up to you. Perhaps Barbara Kingsolver, author of The Poisonwood Bible, gives the best advice about our what our mindset should be with respect to rejections:

"This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don't consider it rejected. Consider that you've addressed it 'to the editor who can appreciate my work' and it has simply come back stamped 'Not at this address'. Just keep looking for the right address."

 

-JLG

1999 Jo Loving Gann

One day, as I walked back from the mailbox with the latest rejection, I was inspired to write a tongue-in-cheek piece. That piece, "Hamlet’s Soliloquy for Writers," was published in Writer On Line this month. For a giggle, visit http://www.novalearn.com/wol/weblite1A.htm

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3. "Shoot It! Shoot It!" By Dolores von Philip

When my daughter, Laura, brought up the afternoon's mail my shoulders
slumped. On the bottom of the pile I recognized my SASE from Sports
Afield. I had written a short piece about my husband's first hunting
trip. Laura kept on insisting it wasn't suitable for the market but I
sent it to the magazine anyway. I slumped at the kitchen table.
"Another rejection?" she said sympathetically as I tore the letter
open. The letter stated they didn't find my submission suitable and
there was a box checked off saying manuscript enclosed, with the name of
the manuscript. I simply nodded in discouragement, and threw the usual
rejection letter on the table. Laura's eyes grew round. "Wow, Mom, I
guess they really hated it. It says here to shoot it, shoot it."
I glared at her. "That was the name of the story."

-- Dolores von Philip

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4. FEATURE – INTERVIEW WITH DORIS BOOTH, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, AUTHORLINK!

I recently interviewed Ms. Doris Booth, the Editor-in-Chief of Authorlink!, an online marketing service for writers, editors, and literary agents. I became interested in this topic a few months ago, when I noted that such a service existed. I wanted to know more, to learn about the people behind the scenes, and to learn about innovative writer services on line. I sincerely appreciate the time Doris Booth gave in answering my questions, and think the information she provided will be helpful to writers.

This interview is the first of a regular feature of The Wacky Writer. With each issue, I plan to have an interview with someone I think can offer helpful advice to writers. Let me know if you think this feature is helpful, and what might improve interviews in the future.

Interview of Doris Booth (DB) by Jo Loving Gann (JG):

JG: First, I would like to know a bit about you. What is your history in
the world of editing, publishing, and writing?

DB:
***I was an award-winning newspaper editor and journalist for ten years.
Later I operated my own advertising/marketing agency. Among my clients were
Fortune 1000 companies and publishers such as McGraw Hill, Boys Life, D
Magazine, AdWeek Magazine and many others. I have produced a number of
corporate interactive multimedia programs on CD-ROM, and I have earned New
York and Chicago Film Festival Awards for my work as a video producer
.

JG: What is Authorlink?

DB:
Authorlink! is the award-winning online information/news/marketing service
for editors, literary agents and writers. We publish major industry news and
market ready-to-publish manuscripts worldwide.

JG: What sparked your desire to become a conduit through which writers,
agents, and publishers meet? How did you come up with the idea for
Authorlink?

DB:
I am a long-time member of the DFW Writer's Workshop in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, One evening, while listening to a read and critique group I wondered why these people weren't getting published. Their work was good! It occurred
to me that they didn't know how to market their work, that what they
desperately needed was a low-cost way to expose their work to the right
editors and agents. I combined my journalistic, marketing, and Interactive
production skills together to form Authorlink!

JG: Do you think the publishing world is becoming more open to using the
Internet as a tool? What changes have you seen since Authorlink! began?

DB:
The Internet will be the way of the future for publishing. It will
significantly change the way books are marketing, delivered and distributed.
And all of this will happen almost overnight. The key thing for writers to
remember is this: Digital publishing won't change the underlying essence
of "the book." Publishers--digital and otherwise--will still need good
content.

JG: What would you describe as the "typical" Authorlink! user? Are they
first-time authors? Are they published authors hoping to break into a new
genre?

DB:
Our writers come to us from throughout the world. Some are published
authors, many others are first-timers.

JG: What are the demographics associated with Authorlink? Is one particular
genre more popular than others as submissions? What about acquisitions by
publishers and agents - are they more inclined toward one genre than
another?

DB:
Mysteries, mainstream fiction and nonfiction inspirational works are most
popular. Editors and agents browse a wide variety of categories. We have
been most successful in connecting writers with editors and agents. About
65% of our listed writers receive editor/agent requests. Of these about
25-35% sign with agents, and we've helped sell 24 book titles in a little
more than 24 months. During this period we've handled more than 1,000
requests from editors and agents for works. Major houses are aware of our
services and browse the site, including Random House, Simon & Schuster,
Berkley, Penguin, St. Martin's Press and many more.

JG: In your experience with Authorlink, what are editors, agents, and
publishers asking for?

DB:
They are looking for a unique "voice," good writing. Many manuscripts
coming in over the transom simply aren't well written. I advise all of your
readers to hone their skills, read and follow the rules of good writing,
read good writers, and polish, polish, polish before submitting work to an
editor or agent.

JG: What makes Authorlink more attractive than more traditional methods of
submitting books for publication?

DB:
About 3 million unsolicited manuscripts flow into New York City each year,
and only 60,000 are published. Writers need a competitive edge over the
traditional slushpiles. They need better and highly targeted visibility.
That's what we do very well. We provide exposure to reputable editors and
agents.

JG: What is the success rate of Authorlink? How many authors are currently
using the services? How many have signed with agents? How many have
published their books? Do any of them provide you with an idea as to how
often they were rejected prior to using Authorlink's services?

DB:
We have about 500 writers on the site at any one time. I've given the
statistics in the previous questions. One woman, Linda Swink, had tried
unsuccessfully for two years to market her self-published book to
publishers. Within five months of having been accepted for a listing on
Authorlink! she had an agent and had sold the book to Carol Publishing
Group.

JG: What do you see as the future of Authorlink, say, 5 years down the
road?

DB:
We want to be THE place where the next Tom Clancys are discovered. We hope
to triple the number of writers on the site, but our main concern is to
maintain a high level of quality in our listed works, and to provide
outstanding service to the editors and agents who depend upon us to help
them find good manuscripts.

JG: What do you think authors can do to make their books more appealing and
"sales-worthy"?

DB:
As I said, polish your work, learn your craft, learn the industry. Most
writers don't realize the level of expertise necessary to get published in
today's tough marketplace.

JG: What other advice do you have for authors and other writers?

DB:
Authorlink! provides many free resources to writers, including insightful
articles about improving one's craft. We have a self-published section, and
a section where published writers can promote their new book releases. In
fact we feature more than 800 pages of information on our site, and access
is free.

JG: Is there something I haven't asked that you would like to include?

DB:
You're very thorough, JO. Thanks for the opportunity to talk about our
services. All the best.

You can visit Authorlink! Online at http://www.authorlink.com .

1999 Jo Loving Gann

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5. QUOTE

There's only one way to succeed: accept failure as a temporary state, however long that state might be, and simply outlast it."
- Jim Cash, screenwriter, "Top Gun" and others

 

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6. NEWSLETTER RECOMMENDATION

Gary Christensen, Editor of the Writer’s and Publisher’s Connection, has come up with a good method of matching editors and publishers with writers. His free newsletter is a good source for market information. To subscribe or for a sample issue, send a note to Gary at his e-mail address: Writers98@aol.com.

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7. NEXT ISSUE.

The next issue will feature:

** How to find markets for your work.

  • **Interview with Gaylene Givens, Writer’s Showplace
  • If you have other suggestions, please get them to me.

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    8. CALL FOR WRITER’S CONFERENCE INFORMATION

    If you have information on writer’s conferences, submit them and I’ll print them in the next issue.


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    9. SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

    I welcome submissions to THE WACKY WRITER. Here are the terms and conditions:

    You may submit a short piece of 500 words or less. Include it in the text of an email, not as an attachment. I’ll consider it for inclusion in the newsletter. Any work of fiction or nonfiction within the word limit will be considered, but only two of these submissions will be included in each month’s newsletter. Acceptable submissions do not include erotica or excessive profanity (as determined subjectively by the editor.)

    Any copyright of your submission remains with you, not with THE WACKY WRITER. The Newsletter is copyrighted as a whole work, but you retain your individual rights. You did the work, and you keep the rights.

    If you want critiques or comments from others, just say so with your submission, and I’ll include your email address.

    This is a free newsletter, and I do not accept advertisements. As such, I am unable to pay contributors in cash. I will, however, send the author two copies of the print version of the newsletter.

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    You have just finished reading THE WACKY WRITER, a newsletter for writers. THE WACKY WRITER is associated with WACKY WRITER’S WORLD, an online web site for writers. Comments about THE WACKY WRITER can be directed to jolovinggann@erols.com. To Visit WACKY WRITER’S WORLD, go to http://members.tripod.com/~jogann/index.html.

    Thank you for subscribing to this newsletter.

    All work in this issue 1999 Jo Loving Gann with the exception of the submission, "Shoot It! Shoot It!", for which the author, Dolores von Philip, retains copyright.