Monday, June 09, 2008

Take A Re-Org Day

Late Saturday night, I returned home from the Write to Publish conference on the campus of Wheaton College. As I've mentioned in other entries on The Writing Life, I love to go to these conferences for several different reasons. They are an opportunity to encourage and give back to others in the writing community. Often there are many people new to the publishing community and it is an opportunity to encourage them. In addition, I always grow and learn new things which build into my own writing life.

The marketplace continues to change. One long-term magazine editor confided that she was working on the final issue of the publication which she had led for the last few years. Thankfully she still has a position at the company and is shifting to another magazine. My conversation with her served as another reminder about the continual ebb and flow of the magazine market--something that many writers don't consider. Just like the book industry changes constantly, change is a constant variable within the magazine community as well. While there are many new magazines introduced into the marketplace each year, many magazines fold and go out of business. For me, a number of years ago I gave up counting the number of publications where my work has appeared when I reached 50 publications. In a short amount of time, I could compile a list of magazines where my work has appeared and these publications no longer exist. Many magazines cease publication within the first five years yet I've written for a number of publications which have been around for many times longer than that benchmark and they have also ceased publication. It is difficult for these magazines to make the financials work on the business side of things--an issue that writers rarely consider.

If the magazine is going to cease publication, why continue to write for the magazines? There are many reasons for writers at all stages of their writing careers to continue writing for magazines. First, you write for magazines because it is an opportunity to practice your craft and continually be publishing in print. Yes, it's fine to write things online but in general, printed publications are held to a much higher standard of publication and writers should be writing for these publications on a regular basis. Also because magazine articles are much shorter than books, you can complete them in a shorter amount of time and most of the time reach many more people than with your books. I've personally reached millions of people with my magazine work where I have not had that experience (yet) with my book material. My encouragement is to not ignore the magazine market for your writing. Be writing those query letters and pitching your ideas on a regular basis.

After two back to back trips with little time in between (Book Expo America in Los Angeles and Write To Publish in Chicago), my office is a shambles with piles everywhere. I'm giving my self a re-org day (reorganization day) and it may take two days to achieve what needs to happen in my office. It gives me a chance to straighten my files and reorganize my office, sort and read through the various magazines and books which have arrived or I picked up in Los Angeles. Why is it important for every writer or anyone in publishing to take these steps?

Follow-up work and organization of information is key for any writer. I exchanged business cards with dozens of people yet if I can't access that data, then it is much harder to use. I'll be adding this information to my computer files for easier access. Instead of throwing the business cards into a drawer some place, how are you using this information to continually reach out and touch these people? If you aren't doing it, then you are potentially missing an opportunity to continue to strengthen that relationship. From my experience, the person who follows up and is organized has the greatest potential for success. I've found few people will follow-up and the people who do follow-up stand out in a costive manner. Also as I've written in other places in these entries, information is power. Do you have information, if so, what are you doing with it?

Finally, I wanted to point out a fascinating group of statistics in the June 2nd issue of Publishers Weekly. Every writer should be concerned about getting readers. Check out some of these recent statistics and see if they give you some insight for your own writing life.

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