At Work, On the Road

Have computer, will travel.

Finished up edits on my latest kid’s book in between hikes through Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, and BLM lands outside of Colorado National Monument.  Life is good!

A walk up to Montana's oldest guest ranch just outside Yellowstone.

Glorious Grand Teton

Hiking to Rattlesnake Arches Canyon, Co

Networking Opportunities for Freelance Writers

It doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you get up.” – Vince Lombardi

I started writing for a local regional parenting publication almost 12 years ago. Well over a hundred articles later, the editor let me know late summer that they are closing shop and reassessing if, when, and it what form, they may come back.

A newly acquired book editor seemed like the perfect fit in September. In October email reads “moving on to new position in a different company.”

Sent a query to a local newspaper. “Like the idea, unfortunately no budget for additional stories this month.”

One children’s writer forum I follow has a new thread about disappearing school visit opportunities.

Interesting times in the life of a freelance writer. Some may see this news and think it’s time to reassess the writing career. Others may look at it and say get busy finding new places and ways to sell your words. I’m of the latter school.

There is no doubt that the publishing world in a state of flux. Budgets (or lack thereof) are a direct reflection of the current economic recession. There is a definite shift in delivery from paper to computer screen. But the sky isn’t falling in, it’s just clouding over. When the clouds clear, it may look a little different, but it’ll still be there.

Now’s the time to network (see my post on social media for writers). Contact other writers who’ve mentioned  potential new markets and follow through on those leads. Join writing organizations and attend the conferences and other networking opportunities. I’ve got to admit, this is harder than it sounds if you’re somewhat quiet in crowds, but the pay-off is there. 

Ready, Set, Net (work!)

Children’s writers – check out the Society for Children’s Book Writers & Illustrator’s (SCBWI) 12th Annual Winter Conference ,Jan 28 -30, 2011.

Travel writers – look at the Travel Media Association of Canada’s (TMAC) “Discover Your Capital” Conference & AGM, Mar 10-12, 2011.

Social Media for Writers

There’s been a lively discussion going on in my non-fiction for kids group  on marketing and social media for writers. The debate rages about whether or not one should toot their own horn and how loud, how often, etc. It’s stirred up a lot of opinions about the value of time spent on Facebook and Twitter.

I’ve questioned it myself. 

Writers are wondering where the line is drawn between self-promotion and annoying people.

I’ve wondered the same. 

What I do know is that I have had amazingly good fortune just talking with people, getting to know them and letting them get to know me.

True Writer’s Tale Number One
I was on a press trip to Kentucky. The trip almost didn’t happen because I was recovering a recent cycling accident. I reached my destination and found out that one of the writers was delayed. As a result, we had an hour of down time in the airport. Another writer and I started chatting and before long we were swapping tales of adventures and mishaps. I didn’t have a chance to talk with this writer again for the rest of the trip, but less than a week later, I received an email. One of her fellow editors was looking for a bicycling feature and she recommended me, would I be interested? Are you serious? I’m a freelance writer! That chance meeting turned into four years of cycling features for this publication.

True Writer’s Tale Number Two
I met a fellow writer for coffee and brought along my two newly released kid’s books. I was feeling proud and wanted to share this success. Pat took her time looking at the books and then threw out the name of another publisher in Calgary that I should contact because my work would fit perfectly with their format. Turns out I’d already approached the publisher, but never heard back. As luck would have it, Pat knew the managing editor and had her email address. I sent out an introductory query the next day. I’m now working on my third book for this company (thanks Pat!).

My thoughts on Social Media
It doesn’t matter if you toot your horn softly or blow it loud. Just make sure people get a chance to know you. If they know you, they’ll care about what you have to say. Share your passion, not your product. Don’t fret about self-promotion, be yourself. Do it through Facebook, do it through Twitter, or do it in person. Open up and let the writing/reading world get to know you. It pays off!

One way to get high blood pressure is to go mountain climbing over molehills.” – Earl Wilson, columnist (1907-1987)