January 10, 2013

To Market, To Market by Sharon Espeseth

I keep a record of my submissions and pieces published. Over time, I've had approximately 100 pieces of writing published in a variety of magazines. Across the top of my submission notebook, I write the headings:

          Date, Title, Market, Contact person, Method of 
               Submission, Returned, Accepted,
               Published, Copy Received, Expenses, 

Using a suggestion from a past Fellowscript, I colour-code what happens to each article, poem, or story I submit.
          Yellow means gold for payment.
          Pink means red for the red light of a submission being 
          Blue means sadness for a rejected query.
          Green means the green light on a query.
          Orange means your piece was returned for any reason 
               besides rejection--like no reply,
               publisher no longer exists, etc.
The Rule of Two is another tip I picked up from an InScribe Conference workshop some time ago. I can't remember the speaker, but I do recall him saying he always has two items submitted. If one comes back rejected, he still has one hopeful writing piece 'out there.' He knows he needs to get another one sent.

Looking over the past year of submissions, I realize I didn't follow this Rule of Two. I hereby resolve to adhere to the rule again. In the past, I have made it a rule of three, four, or even five, because, if I am serious about writing, those are reasonable goals to score.

Another thing I learned from my submission notebook is that I have developed a working relationship with a few editors, but I have not maximized my opportunities with them. Some business gurus operate on the 80/20 rule. Briefly stated this means a business person--let's say a writer-- will generate 80 percent of his income from about 20 percent of his clients; the remaining 20 percent of his income comes from a number of less profitable clients.

Here are some markets that have worked for me, sort of.

Although the Western Producer has published several of my stories, I believe I have under-served this market. Their editor believes in brevity and she has coached me on journalistic style, but I have let my pen drop by not sending more pieces her way.

Grainews are using more regular columnists, which limits, but doesn't eliminate opportunity with them. They did publish a 100-year farm story I wrote, for which they paid fair compensation. Good Times only pays for poetry with a literary journal, but they offer exposure. Esprit published one poem of mine, but why haven't I sent more?

For the Western Catholic Reporter, I have written a few news stories and a few meditative or inspirational pieces. Just before Christmas I queried the editor on two items. One of my stories has been published and a news item should be coming out soon.

The Edmonton Journal used to be an acceptable market for me. By writing for their Voices and Offerings columns, plus doing book reviews, I had checks of $50.00 to $75.00 coming in regularly. Even small checks add up. A few years ago, they stopped paying for freelancers like myself. I still write occasionally for the Journal as I believe writing with a Christian worldview should be included on the Religion page. I also send writing there to maintain my readership. The editor of this department welcomes my writing, but the Journal won't budge when it comes to payment.

I've had a few stories published in Celebrate Life, an American pro-life magazine. Because my husband and I have three adopted children, I like to write anything that shows adoption as a preferable option to abortion. Celebrate pays well and I enjoy working with their professional and congenial editor.

Although some of you will be much further ahead in your writing careers, I hope my sharing a few of my writing experiences will make you, who are beginners or reluctant, more determined and more confident to send your writing to market, to market.


  1. Thanks for sharing, Sharon. You give a lot of practical tips. I look forward to putting some of them into practice :)

  2. Great posting, great tips, and a wonderful glimpse of your writing journey thus far.

    Thanks for the encouragement to get those pieces to market.

  3. I'm just passing on what I've learned so far, and one thing I've learned is that I have send things to market, to market some more. Thanks for the comments, Ruth and Brenda.


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