Use What's In Your Hands
Over fifteen years ago, I was wandering the aisles of the American Booksellers convention (now known as Book Expo). It’s the largest general market bookseller trade show in the United States. I had been published in a few magazines and hasn’t written a single book at that point in my journey. With wide-eyed excitement, I wandered the aisles looking at the new products and meeting different vendors and authors. This type of book event is closed to the general public but retailers attend to learn about forthcoming products. Publishers create advance review copies of these forthcoming books and give them away at the event.
Walking past the Doubleday booth, I picked up an advance review copy (ARC) of a book called Covenant House by Bruce Ritter. It was in late May and this hardcover book from the Catholic priest would not appear in the bookstores until the following February. I loved the writing and the message of this particular book because Ritter had worked in the inner city of New York rescuing runaways, providing shelter and a new fresh start to lives headed in the wrong direction. With this ARC, I had an opportunity which I seized. I knew the editor at Moody Monthly (which became Moody and is no longer in print). I wrote a query letter to this editor highlighting the riveting stories from Bruce Ritter and the stirring call for Christians to care about this little discussed aspect of our world.
The editor responded with a note to send the review and specified the word length and tone for Moody. On the deadline, I submitted my review and it was eventually printed in the magazine. Notice the timeframe variable in this story. I had this book well in an advance of the publication date. Magazines typically are working eight to ten weeks ahead of their publication date (some times there are even longer lead times). I pitched the right book at the right time and got it into the magazine.
I used what was in my hands to use. It’s the opportunity for each of us. You may not have an ARC but you have a neighbor or a friend with a fascinating personal experience. Can you write this personal experience story into a magazine article? Or you may be passionate about children’s books and are writing lots of this type of material and getting rejected. Can you switch gears and do another type of writing where you can get it published? Each of us face these types of decisions. I’d encourage you to use whatever is in your hands.