Someone Sent Me Back Honest Edits and It Hurt, at First

The edits I received were so thorough and honest that they kind of hurt my feelings.

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Over six months ago, I spent an afternoon writing a piece for an online publication. At the time, I was really proud of it. After submitting, I did not hear anything back and, obviously, assumed it wasn’t ever going to go anywhere. A few months after that, I submitted the same piece, with a few small edits, to another publication. Thankfully, it didn’t get chosen for publishing there, because this week – six months after submitting the article – an editor contacted me with an apology and her edits.

Let me preface what I’m going to say next with this: I am an editor. Several of my clients rely on me to edit their writers’ articles for content, clarity and your typical grammar and spelling shortcomings. Before I signed on for these jobs, I was a magazine editor for three years and the managing editor of that same magazine (RIP) for almost four years. I know how hard it is to edit. I know what good edits sound like, and I appreciate all editors who work very hard to help writers turn complete messes into masterpieces.

The edits I received were so thorough and honest that they kind of hurt my feelings.

They were not mean edits; rather, they were, as they should be, suggestions for how to rewrite the article to better serve the publication. Which is great, and I wouldn’t expect anything more from editors who edit thoroughly enough that it takes months to get through selected submissions. But here’s the thing. Sometimes even professional writers get too confident. Even me. Which is why those edits, as good as they were, felt like an undeserved kick in the stomach. At first, I guess.

I really did think, as I scrolled through, “Does this editor not understand that I write for a living? Did I really fall short in this many spots?”

Looking closer, obviously I realized she was right (editors, for the record, usually are). The article needed a lot of work. It was wordy and sloppy and confusing. I felt bad for submitting something that, reading it months later, seemed such low-quality.

Then I remembered that, six months ago, I hadn’t even started freelancing yet. I was not writing articles consistently. I was still in the very early stages of refining my craft at that point (it takes time, sometimes years). I’ve grown as a writer since then. It’s OK that something I wrote six months ago wasn’t that great. I can, and will, rewrite it. It isn’t the end of the world.

I tell you all this because, no matter how many years you spend writing, feedback is sometimes still hard to swallow. Editors exist for a reason: we cannot always see the deep flaws in our own work, especially when there is no one around to point them out. You do get used to it, it does get a little easier, but every once in awhile, you will write something you are very proud of. And it only makes sense that your immediate reaction, when someone comes at that piece with everything that needs fixing, is to get a little defensive.

It happens to all of us. But the difference between an aspiring writer and a successful one is that successful writers are willing to look past those sometimes harsh edits and focus on the task at hand. They don’t take them personally. They might feel a little taken aback at first, but they get over it. They say, “Okay, let’s make this better.” You can be confident and also admit your work has imperfections. You have to be able to accept the reminders that writers never stop improving. Editors know their publications and your target audience better than you do. You need to be able to work with and trust them. It’s hard. It isn’t always the most pleasant experience. But you can guarantee that the version of your piece that gets published will be much, much better than your original draft.

Writing itself may be a solo activity, but the publishing process is not. The more you face these kinds of tough obstacles, the more successful you will be. I can’t promise that the piece I’m rewriting will ever make it onto the internet. But if it does, it will be because I let go and listened to the editor. I could have walked away and said, “Nope, you’re wrong.” But what would that have accomplished? Absolutely nothing.

Trust the editor. Don’t beat yourself up. You have much to learn; we all do.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

Image courtesy of pexels.com.

Stop Focusing on These Small Details to Get More Writing Done Today

There will be plenty of time to get the facts right later.

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While reading your favorite books, you’ve probably made note of the amount of detail authors include in their stories to make them truly magical. You might wonder, “How do they think of this stuff?” Some of it comes out of nowhere. Some of it comes about from deep content editing, which happens, believe it or not, after the book is actually written.

Your story might have a lot of detail, and that’s great, but be honest: are you done writing yet? You could be focusing on too many small details and not even realize it’s hurting your productivity. Some research is important here and there, yes, but here are a few things that, at least the first time around, really aren’t.

Names

Choosing names for characters and locations isn’t something to spend all your time pondering. A name can be significant and act as a symbol, and that’s cool and all, but you’re wasting a lot more time than it’s worth if you spend even 10 minutes brainstorming ideas for names when you haven’t even started writing the story yet.

Focus on writing the story first. Use generic names. You can change them later. Yes, you’ll probably get attached to your characters and their names, and if you don’t end up changing them, that’s fine. Not everything in a story has to be a symbol. A name is more often than not just a name and should really be the least of your concerns.

Dates and days of the week

Sometimes, dates and days of the week are important to a story, and there isn’t anything wrong with that … unless you focus on that detail so much that your productivity plummets. Just go with it for now. Something significant might happen on a Saturday and you might accidentally have the chapter before occur on a Thursday instead of a Friday. It’s okay. That’s what editing and revising are for.

John Green and his editor spent a lot of time mapping out specific days on an actual calendar while working on LFA because counting days was actually a significant part of the story. It’s not very likely that this happened at any point before the first early draft of the book was written. Writing a book is hard enough without having to pour over a calendar. Write first, count later.

Random facts

We’ve all stopped writing and opened a new Chrome tab to look up something “important” in the middle of writing a story. Sometimes random facts are inserted into books for a purpose, and unless it’s significant to make a character wrong, you probably want to get them right. However, “researching” while writing a first draft, for any period of time longer than two minutes, isn’t necessary.

There will be plenty of time to get the facts right later. Promise. You’re going to throw yourself down a rabbit hole and you’re never going to get this novel done. For the good of all your future readers, just make your best guess, highlight that section or mark it somehow and come back to it later. Seriously. You’ll be glad you skipped over it.

These are not “easy ways out” or excuses for inconsistent writing. For many, the hardest part about creating a story is writing the first draft. No one LOVES editing and revising, at least not every single minute of it, but the first draft has to get done first. Don’t spend all your writing time focusing on details that don’t matte right now. You’ll clean it up later. Just write.

Image courtesy of Wise Ink.

5 Additional Skills You’ll Need to Launch a Successful Writing Career

A successful writer can write for a specific audience … and a whole lot of other stuff, too.

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Think writers only need to know how to write to make a living? Think again.

Launching and maintaining a successful writing career these days means you have to know at least a little bit about a lot of different things. Whether you aspire to be a journalist, novelist or any other kind of writer out there, there are specific skills, besides writing, you’ll need to develop and consistently refine.

Here are five areas you should start studying, and how to learn enough of the basics to make it in this competitive industry.

1. Photography and graphic design

You will be much more marketable as a journalist if you can provide your own original photos to supplement your articles. You will be much more marketable as a blogger if you can show off some basic design skills both in your website’s layout and in the photos and graphics you use to add visual effects to your posts and other content.

Stock photos are easy to find and very commonly used across publishing platforms. The featured image for this post came from Flickr’s creative commons filter. But when you can, authenticity is always the better option. Original work will always trump borrowed content, even if you cite it appropriately.

How to learn it: This is one of those skills you will learn best by doing. You don’t have to be an expert. But the more you do it, the more confident you will be in your ability to improve and do it successfully. We all get better the more we practice.

2. Marketing and PR

To make it in this industry, you need to know the proper way to market your work and promote your accomplishments (professionally). You don’t have to go to school for it or even take a class, but knowing how to appeal to audiences without getting on their nerves or sounding self-absorbed (which many writers have yet to learn, and understandably so).

How to learn it: Trial and error. Experiment with what works and what doesn’t. Do not tweet five hundred times in one day. Do not send unsolicited emails only about yourself and your work and, please, be proud of what you do and unapologetic about your self-promotion, but don’t be a jerk.

3. Social media

You probably think you already know everything you need to know about social media, but strategic social media use – something you might use to promote your blog, published articles or a brand-new book you wrote all by yourself – is about much more than hitting social share buttons on a web page and coming up with a catchy tagline.

How to learn it: Watch what companies in your industry are doing. Observe how they interact with their followers and promote their content. If you’re in college or a recent graduate, see if you can snag a social media internship to get some hands-on experience. It’s a little marketing and PR, a little Hootsuite and a whole lot of paying attention to what other people are saying and doing on the internet.

4. Basic HTML and CSS

Most editing and content producing jobs want you to have at least a basic knowledge of this skill. The basics are not as scary or complicated as they might first appear. If you’re going to be spending a lot of your time in any portion of the publishing field, it’s a good idea to know how all this web nonsense works. At least somewhat.

How to learn it: Honestly, Googling basic HTML and CSS how-tos or enrolling in a basic online course in your free time is the best first step you can take here. Even looking up simple things one at a time, like how to add a hyperlinked picture onto your blog’s sidebar, will help you start to master some of the basics.

5. Multiple online publishing platforms

Learning how to use WordPress is an absolute must. It’s simple to learn and built so that anyone can master its basic functions. All the websites and magazines I currently work with, to my knowledge, use WordPress as their internal publishing platform (to actually publish articles). But not every publication will. Some might use an Adobe product like Dreamweaver.

How to learn it: It’s not enough to be an “expert” at navigating one platform. Practice using different ones for different writing projects, almost like your own personal experiment. If it’s not free, see if you can download a free trial.

Don’t ever fall into the trap of thinking there will always be someone else assigned to do these things for you. Chances are, there won’t be. By taking charge of your basic knowledge of these skills, you are making yourself more marketable not only as a writer, but as a valuable asset to organizations who might not consider hiring you otherwise.

Image courtesy of Mike Goren/flickr.com.

How to Actually Meet the Writing Goals You’ve Set for Yourself This Year

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We’ve talked general writing goals. We’ve talked SMART writing goals. Now how in the world are we supposed to actually meet the writing goals we set, anyway?

Looking at the big picture, it’s pretty easy to set goals. You can set as many goals as you want to so you can improve a multitude of things in your life over a certain period of time.

But to promote change, to make things happen, you actually have to work toward achieving those goals. Following through is the hard part.

To conclude this mini-series, here are a few tips on how to overcome this roadblock.

Make sure it’s what you really want

Don’t set a goal just because you think it’s a good idea. If you’re going to work toward a goal, you have to really, really want to achieve it. Do you really want to write a book this year, or is that just what everyone around you is expecting you to do? Do you really want to spend all your time and energy focusing on a cast of characters that doesn’t actually exist?

If you do, then you’re much more likely to write, finish, maybe even edit that book this year. And that’s great. You will get there in large part because you really want to. If your heart’s not in it, you are going to struggle. The nice thing about personal goals like these? It’s all up to you. If you don’t want to do something, and no one is requiring or paying you to do it, don’t.

Wanting to do it is only one piece of the puzzle, though. There’s a little more to it than that.

Understand what you need to give up and make time to make it happen

The key to failing is not trying. If you want to write a book this year, and you REALLY want to write a book this year, it might seem like on the surface that’s all you need to motivate yourself to sit down and do it. But a big project like that requires discipline. It requires a deeper understanding of time and how you need to spend it in order to achieve your larger writing goals.

Instead of watching every new episode of Scandal on Thursdays, you might have to spend an hour writing instead. Some days you might feel overwhelmed and try to convince yourself you’ll just double up on work tomorrow. Don’t do that! Get it done. Take a deep breath and just get it done. You can watch the episode you missed online after you’ve gotten your work done.

Here’s a list of everything you have to give up to write a good book.

Find someone to hold you accountable

Sometimes, goals are a team effort. You might need someone to push you, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If that’s what it takes to get some serious writing done this year, DO IT!

Whether it’s just one person or the whole world, find accountability somewhere other than inside your head or on a piece of paper. If you announce to all your social media followers that you’re writing a book, you are committing – and if that’s not enough motivation for you, what is?

We set goals to motivate ourselves. Even if you don’t meet any of your writing goals this year, what’s most important is that you tried. You made progress. These tips, in addition to everything we’ve gone over this week, should be able to help you move forward. If in the middle you realize you reached a little too far, adjust. Make it work for you.

You CAN do this. Deep down, you WANT to do this. If you need someone to hold you accountable, reach out here.

This year, make writing one of many priorities in your life. Make it count. Make it work by finding balance. Enjoy it. You are a writer. It’s what you were born to do.

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

How to SMART-en Up Your Writing Goals This Year

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In our first installment of our end-of-year, three-part mini-series, we discussed goals. More specifically, a list of “umbrella” writing goals you can, if you want to, work toward achieving in 2016.

Coming up with a list of writing goals is only the beginning, though. Now ask yourself: can you really achieve them – and how can you tell?

There are five components to a SMART goal. It must be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Results-focused
  • Time-bound

If you look back at yesterday’s material, you’ll see that our three goals – to finish something, submit something and start something new – are not very SMART goals. They’re more like MAR goals, if even that, which don’t count.

They’re a good place to start. Let’s pick one of them – to finish something, to start off – and SMART-en it up a little.

Making it more specific

If your goal is to finish something, the specificity is completely dependent on where you stand in your own writing. Have you been working on the same book for three years, determined to finish it already so you can put it behind you? Have you just recently started something new? Are you still trying to finish your NaNoWriMo novel from last month?

Let’s say you’ve written 50,000 words of your book already, and are really struggling to get through the last 30,000 or so. That’s your specificity: I want to finish writing my NaNoWriMo novel. Don’t worry about what comes after that. For this one goal, focus on that specific endpoint.

The goal is already pretty measurable and results-focused – finishing a book is on your own judgment, but once you’re done, you know you’re done. The result is a finished first draft of a novel, regardless of how rough that draft may be.

Can you achieve the goal, though?

Or, rather, can you handle it? You might have a lot going on this year – school, work, family, vacation. If you have 30,000 words left, be honest with yourself. Is this something I can do if I spread it out throughout the next 12 months? This brings us right into probably the most important part of a SMART goal, in terms of writing: the when.

Time is everything

Sure, on the surface this one might seem easy: I want to finish my book before December 31, 2016. Okay, great. Good start. But that’s not enough. You need to ask yourself here: how am I going to get there, and when am I going to have each step completed? Your overall goal might be to write 30,000 words this year, but if you’re not careful, you could end up with 30,000 words to write on December 29, and we all know how that goes (or doesn’t).

Give yourself time. Break it up into smaller pieces. Make it a goal to write 2,500 words in January. 2,500 words in February, all the way through December. Break it up into weeks, into days, if you have to. But always give yourself the what – what am I going to do today? – and the when – what time am I going to have it finished by?

Writing is already stressful enough! Don’t give yourself a headache by unintentionally procrastinating. Take that specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused goal and give it a time stamp. And if you’re not confident you can hold yourself accountable, find someone who will.

But that, of course, is for another (tomorrow’s) post.

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Achievable Writing Goals You Can Set for Yourself This Year

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‘Tis the season for deciding what you want to accomplish this year, writing-wise. Setting professional goals is one way to take your writing more seriously without sucking all the fun out of it. In general, goals should be specific and timely, among other things, but just a goal – any goal – is the ideal place to start.

There are three general “umbrella” goals you can work toward this year, each of which feed into each other in a potentially endless loop. They are as follows:

  1. Finish something
  2. Submit something
  3. Start something new

Now let’s dive deeper into each of the three before we give you something to practice.

1. Finish something

This might seem like an odd place to start, but think for a minute about your most recent or current project. How close are you to, or how far away are you from, finishing it? This can mean anything from writing to revising to copy editing to formatting. Whatever stage your most prominent outstanding project is, make it a goal, this year, to get it done.

You might be very close to finishing – which might make this seem like a goal hardly worth extending through an entire year. But remember, these goals work together in a loop. Don’t shy away from the idea just yet.

2. Submit something

Professionally, your overall goal as a writer is to get something published. Now you might not quite be at that stage yet. You may have yet to pitch your ideas to an editor, or you haven’t even come up with a good idea to pitch yet. That’s okay. But before the end of the year, make it a point to submit a finished piece of writing somewhere. A magazine or journal, someone’s blog, a contest, anything you can submit to, do it. Don’t hold back. Excuses be gone. At least give it a try.

Submitting your work, it doesn’t matter where, is a huge accomplishment. This is the kind of milestone in your journey that will give you the energy and drive to move on to the third goal in our trio.

3. Start something new

Whether you don’t get to this point until the end of the year or you get here by the end of January, this is another ideal place to be as a writer. Starting a new project could mean several things. Either you have an idea you just can’t set aside, you’ve just finished a huge project and are ready to keep going, or you’re able to dedicate enough time to juggle more than one small or big project at a time.

Of course, when you start a new writing project, your ultimate goal will be to, eventually, finish it. And that, Noveltiers, is where the loop starts over again. Which means you can complete each of these goals on as small or large of a scale as you want this year, as many times over as you want.

It is, after all, completely up to you.

Want to know how to SMART-en up your writing goals this year? Come back tomorrow!

Self-motivation isn’t easy, but with multiple checkpoints to work toward as you write through the year, you just might find that, by this time next year, you’ve gotten more writing done in 12 months than you have in the last five years.

Give it a try. See if you can make writing happen in 2016.

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Things You May Never Have Realized About Writing as a Profession

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So you want to be a published author, one way or another. Great! You’ve come to the right place.

But before you commit to this thing for real, there’s something you should know.

You might not know as much about writing professionally as you thought.

As always, we’re here to help you learn and grow no matter what point you’re at in the writing process. Sometimes that means we have to be real. Maybe too real.

Keep in mind as you read through today’s post that these are all points rooted in reality and meant to help you. We’re not here to lie and say this is easy! It’s not. But there are ways to navigate through the maze and come out successful on the other side. Even if you don’t like all of them.

It’s a team effort

Every time you sit down to write something new, you close yourself off into your own little world for a few minutes; hours, even. But professional writing isn’t just about the work you do alone in your office (if you’re lucky enough to have your own office). That piece of writing needs tweaking. It needs to be looked over twice, three times; it needs to be formatted, copy-edited, published. Promoted.

As much as you’d like to at times, you can never do it all by yourself. You can self-edit and you can most certainly self-publish, but at one point or another, you will need help. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with reaching out and asking for it.

Being a ‘good writer’ alone isn’t enough

This one is tough. We know. After all, we do spend a lot of time helping you become a more effective storyteller. It isn’t that writing well won’t get you anywhere in your writing career. That’s just the first step. As you write more and more, you will always continue to develop your voice and refine your style and figure out how to tell better stories.

But the journey doesn’t end there.

Probably the hardest part about trying to write professionally in any field is realizing you have to be a well-rounded, confident, relentless dreamer all while keeping your feet on the ground. Not only do you have to know how to write, but you also have to know how to sell your work, do it with confidence and refuse to give up no matter how many times you might get rejected.

That’s impossible to do for a lot of people. It doesn’t mean they’re ‘bad’ writers or that they’re never going to make it. It just means they have to exert more energy to take that thing they’ve worked so hard writing and rewriting and move forward without letting fear or disappointment get in the way.

You may have written a great story and may have even come up with a few ideas for how to pitch it. It’s actually getting out there and doing it that throws up all kinds of roadblocks.

It’s not about you

“I want to publish a book because I think everyone should read stories about my life.”

Okay, well, at least you have a goal in place. But here’s the thing about publishing (and we’re just being real here): you’re not the reason a publication or agency wants to publish your work. It’s not that you don’t matter. But when you’re proposing or pitching anything, it’s the story, your story’s angle and how it is going to benefit an organization or audience that matters more.

There’s nothing wrong with telling your story or making your story part of how you spin your proposal, but as we mentioned earlier this week, your focus should always be on how your work will benefit someone else. Never on how worthy you think you are of a deal.

There are plenty of other resources here to help you get to where you want to be. And we promise, we’re working on making those much easier to find! For now, just type a topic into that search box over to the right and it’s likely you’ll find something at least sort of related to what you’re looking for.

And of course, if you do have questions on things we haven’t covered yet – you are always more than welcome to leave a comment. We’re still a fairly new blog and are completely open to your feedback.

We wish you the best, writing-wise and otherwise! Happy writing!

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

How to (Strategically) Self-Publish a Book

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It’s more than just writing, editing, uploading and posting a link on Twitter.

Writing a book is an amazing feat. If you’re thinking of trying out the self-publishing route, there is, believe it or not, a strategy to it. You’re not going to sell very many copies of your latest masterpiece if it’s poorly written, haphazardly designed or not promoted at all.

Here are a few self-publishing tips, and links to some of our other resources, to help you start working toward some of your 2016 writing/publishing goals!

Write, rewrite, edit, share with a friend

The first step to self-publishing is obviously writing the book you’re going to distribute online. Which is hard enough. But just because you don’t have to jump through traditional publishing hoops doesn’t mean you should put any less effort into producing the best book possible.

Take the time to not only write a great first draft, but also to edit, revise and recruit a friend or two to read and give you honest feedback. Here are a few self-editing tips to help you get started.

Find the self-publishing platform that works for you

If you have ever started the self-publishing process to get a free proof copy of your book to edit on paper, your best bet is to use that same platform, the one you’re most familiar with, to actually go through the entire process when you’re ready to publish your book. You can shop around all you want, but sticking with the platform you know works, and seeing how it goes the first time around, will save you time.

Platforms like CreateSpace do a lot of the formatting for you as you’re putting together your book, if you’re not quite as experienced in the book design department. You also have the option to design, via templates or on your own, in whatever way you want.

Check out our review of CreateSpace.

Build up to your release

Don’t just toss your book on the market and say, “Hey, look what I did!” Part of marketing your work is getting your potential readers excited about what’s yet to come. Your friends and family will (hopefully) be totally on board, but you might have a decent social media following – and they might be interested in your latest project, too.

Set up a group or email list to invite those interested in your book to receive updates leading up to your book’s release. Share excerpts and even let them help you with some of the smaller decisions, like designing your cover or picking a name, if you want.

Get more tips on how to promote your work strategically.

Even if you give self-publishing a try and it doesn’t work out the way you expected, at least you took the time to practice the various steps of the process and started to narrow down your target market. We wish you the best – happy writing!

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

My Top Five Tips for Launching a Writing ‘Career’

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Everyone wants to be a writer.

Not just any kind of writer, either. A successful writer. Everyone wants their name on the New York Times bestseller list. Everyone wants to add “author” to their Twitter bio. Everyone wants to take what they enjoy doing and make a career out of it.

Which means, no matter how much you love to write, no matter how good you might be at writing, it is not very easy to launch a career. Especially when you’ve exhausted all other options, and are trying to do it all on your own.

I started this blog in March 2015 to give writers just like you advice on how to ‘make it’ in this competitive industry. Here is a compilation of things I have done my best to teach you since then, just in case you need a pre-New Year’s Resolution refresher.

1 .Be online

Many writers don’t like this advice. “I’m a writer, why do I have to interact with anyone on social media? It takes away from my writing time.” Refusal to adapt to new technologies is going to get you one thing: your own cloak of invisibility, no strings attached.

Promoting your work, and your brand as a writer, is absolutely essential if you ever want to get paid to write. There are many, many, many writers just like you out there. You have to use social media to differentiate yourself from them, or you WILL get lost in the stream.

2. Be selective about who you write for

Pitching articles anywhere and everywhere just for the sake of plastering your name all over the internet is not attractive. Starting a pitch with, “I’m really interested in writing  more so I’m looking for more opportunities to write for publications” is not attractive.

Quality over quantity is an absolute must. You could be writing 10 articles per week, but if they’re not good articles, you’re not going to impress anyone. Write fewer articles about things you are actually interested in writing about, and that passion will shine right through every word you publish.

3. Highlight your passions ahead of your accomplishments

Writing query and cover letters and writing proposals of any kind requires doing something most of us aren’t good at: talking ourselves up. WAY up. You have to tell an agent, editor, publisher, whoever you’re writing to why they should pick you over someone else. The tricky part is, it’s still not about you. It’s about what you have to give, and how you are able to showcase that.

So instead of listing off all the publications you’ve written for in the past six months, try phrasing your ‘self-pitch’ a little more like this:

“I am passionate about health and wellness education, so I contribute weekly to these related publications in order to help their audiences learn this thing.” Also, mention the fact that you plan on doing the same thing for the publication you are pitching to, if your pitch is accepted.

4. ‘Finding your niche’ does not mean ‘squeeze into someone else’s mold’

The way to be successful in any kind of industry is to stand out, which would be great advice all by itself if everyone wasn’t trying to apply it simultaneously to their own lives.

There are way too many ingredients that go into this process. You have to figure out what you enjoy writing about, who is interested in articles about that, where they are, what they’re looking for, how you can prove to them you’re the perfect candidate in only one writing sample … it seems impossible.

But everyone has their own unique angle on writing in the same niche. You have to adopt and embrace that, and hard. What will make you successful is what makes you different than everyone else. Even when everyone else is trying to be different, no one is exactly like you.

5. Be prepared to make your own way

There is nothing wrong with traditional publishing, but if that just isn’t working for you, you have a choice to make. Are you going to close the book on your dream career, or plow forward even though you have absolutely no one backing you up?

Don’t shy away from self-publishing an ebook or short story collection. Don’t downplay your success just because you don’t have a ‘real’ publisher. In this industry, if you’re not stubborn enough to make it happen when everyone keeps telling you no, you’re just not going to make it. That’s the reality and it’s completely your own decision to make.

Writing is hard. Getting published is hard. I am figuring it out, one day at a time, and so will you.

You CAN do this. Set a goal and get to work. It will take a long time. You will not always be able to write your best work. You will fail once, twice, 20 times. But one way or another, you will be successful, as long as you refuse to give up.

Check out our LET’S GET PUBLISHED! series for more pitching and publishing tips.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.

Star Wars Characters Share Their Best Character Sketching Tips

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In case you didn’t already know, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is officially in theaters the day this article was published, and sorry not sorry, we couldn’t help but celebrate.

The Star Wars universe has become a mass collection of stories (whether true or not) revolving around various characters, time periods and conflicts throughout this far, far away galaxy.

Whether you’re completely satisfied with the prequels’ and original trilogies’ storytelling techniques or not, we think there’s a lot to learn from our favorite Star Wars characters, writing-wise. Take a few minutes to “learn” from a few of their stories.


“Even the bad guys have good in them somewhere.”

darth vader

Not every villain is all bad just for the sake of being bad. There is usually a motive, whether you tell your readers what that motive is or not. Sure, some characters seem like they’re just out to destroy all the Jedi and take over the galaxy or whatever. But more often than not, there’s a tiny ounce of good in them somewhere. Deep, deep down.

“Fail, every character should.”

yoda

How many times have you failed at something in real life? How many times has that failure actually taught you a valuable lesson you’re able to carry with you thereafter? Our characters need to develop throughout our stories, and bouncing back from failure is an effective way to showcase that growth. Even Yoda failed. But in a way, it sort of turned out for the best in the end.

“No character is fully strong or fully weak.”

leia

You should never create a character that has no flaws, or a character that only has flaws. Just like real people, every character should have a diverse mixture of traits. Combining various strengths and weaknesses is what makes a believable, relatable character. Those strengths and weaknesses are what keep the plot moving forward.

“Some characters live on through other characters, even when their stories end.”

obiwan

Okay, so Obi-Wan Kenobi does literally live on after his final duel with not-so-little Anakin in Episode IV, because of the mysterious powers of The Force and all that. But figuratively, just because you remove a character from a story doesn’t mean they still can’t play an important role later on in the plot. Sometimes, a character’s death is just enough to motivate a different character to go on and destroy the Death Star. Or whatever obstacle your character is trying to overcome.


Happy writing! After you go see the new movie, of course.

Images courtesy of BGR.com, starwars.wiki.com, starwars.com, toybox.com.