How to Make More Money: Reslant Your Work

One of the best ways to make more money with your writing is to reslant a piece for multiple sales.  There are three ways to do this.

1.  Change the focus

One of the best ways to get multiple sales is to change the focus on your work.  You can do this especially well if you research a broad topic and then write narrowly focused pieces for various magazine, newsletter and web markets.  Let’s say your topic is bald eagles.  Ranger Rick might like a piece on eagle nests.  Highlights loves first hand accounts so if you’ve got an up close and personal interview or a scientist who studies eagles you could go to them.  An ecology site might go for a piece on the return of an endangered species and what that means for other endangered animals.  Go through a market listing with your topic in mind and see if you can come up with a dozen possibilities.

2.  Change the format

Another way to reslant a piece is to change the format.  One market might be interested in Top Ten Article (places to see bald eagles).  Another wants essays (what I learned about myself while pursuing our national bird).  Other possibilities would include profiles (individual scientists), picture books (hatching to flight), a how-to (eagle watching kit or an eagle based craft), or a humorous piece (how not to freeze your tail feathers off while on a winter eagle watch).

3.  Change the audience

One final way to reslant is to change the audience for your work.  A preschooler will have a different interest than will a middle schooler or an adult.  But don’t stop there.  What would an audience of teachers want to know about eagles?  Or an audience of bird watchers, historians, or ecologists.

Do you see how looking at each of these things can reslant your work?  The next time you think of an article or book idea, sit down and start brain storming.  Research as broad a field around your topic as you can.  Then see how many pieces you can write that are truly unique and amazing.  You may surprise yourself with the possibilities.

Want to come up with an entirely new fiction story?  Change the POV character.  Read about that on my post tomorrow on the Muffin.


Interviewing Sources

I always let potential subjects know who I am when I approach them for an interview.  That way they know I'm legit.
I always let potential subjects know who I am so that they know they are being approached by someone who is legit.

Because I write so much nonfiction, I do a lot of research and one of my favorite ways to research a topic is to do interviews.  I enjoy doing interviews because I often find out something new, something that hasn’t made its way into print.  I also get someone else’s take on things when I do an interview.  Before I can do this, I need to let them know who I am.   I usually e-mail people first and I always let them know:

1.  Who I am.  This includes not only my name but my website and blog in my signature.  This way they can find out a bit about me and know that I am legit.

2.  Who will publish the article.  Often, when I contact someone, I already have a contract for the article.  I let them know where the piece will appear and I word it so that they know this is on assignment.

3.  The subject of the article as well as my questions.  Yes, I e-mail them my questions from the start.  This can help put people at ease when they see that my article on young adult novels isn’t an expose on sex or other hot button topics.  It also gives them some time to noodle over possible answers.  This doesn’t mean that I don’t ask additional questions as we talk but this helps them see where I am going.

4.  That they can do it be e-mail.  Some people have schedules that are even more bizarre than my own.  They may want to help, but fitting in a phone call during daylight hours isn’t always an option.  E-mail is actually preferred by many of the editors and agents I interview although it does make spontaneous additional questions a bit more difficult.

I always know something about my topic before I contact anyone for an interview but I always learn something valuable.  Would interviews make your work stronger?


Big Reveal: How to Hide Things from Your Reader

The Big Reveal.

It’s one of those things that you hear about but don’t fully appreciate until you see it done amazingly well.  This past week, my husband and I finally saw The Book of Eli with Denzel Washington.

If you don’t know this movie but plan to see it, read this post later because it is pretty much one massive spoiler.

You hear me?  SPOILER ALERT

Shortly after the movie opens, you learn that Eli is on a mission.  He is heading west.  You don’t know why.  You don’t know anything about his past, but it is important.  You get that because he’s willing to kill to make it happen.

This is a post-apocalyptic world of the ugliest kind.  Eli does what he has to do to survive.  He doesn’t harm others, which is more than you can say for a nice big chunk of the remaining population, but he doesn’t always help either.

Finally, you discover that Eli is carrying the last remaining King James Bible in the world. God has told him that he must take it West because that is where it is most needed.

But the bad guys manage to steal this Bible but Eli doesn’t give up on his journey.  You wonder why — surely he must have tricked them.  They don’t really have the Bible.

At the end, you realize that they do but they can’t read it because it is braille.  Eli is blind.

Whoa!   Blind!  This big tough guy that survived all this stuff?  Yep, blind.  You go back through the movie and realize that there is a reason he doesn’t jump into every fight he encounters (he isn’t just callous), he has to hear someone to fight them, he prefers to walk on roads, you’ve never seen his eyes.

Yep.  Blind.  A pretty darn important fact but one that they never pointed out in the whole stinking movie.  Sure, you might question that a blind guy could do all he did (including memorize the entire Bible when you can’t even remember your own phone number) but this is a Big Reveal that really and truly worked.

The director and the screen writer do not lie to you, but they do let you misinterpret various things that happen.  One of these is when Eli is talking to a blind woman and makes a comment about “us.”  You think he means survivors.  He really means people that were blind before the war.

I’ve never used a big reveal in my own writing, but after this, I’m very tempted to give it a try.


Copyright: True or False

CopyrightCopyright is one of those things that seems to confuse a lot of people.  Here are 4 of the issues that I encounter most often.

1.  You should copyright all material before submitting it to a publisher or take it to a critique group.  False

If you don’t trust the publisher not to steal it, don’t submit your work.  It’s that simple.  It belongs to you when you write it.  The same thing with a critique group.

2.  If I find it online and it doesn’t have a copyright on it, I can use it under free use.  False

Work online belongs to whoever wrote it or posted it.  I say “or” because the copyright on the material here on my blog is mine — I wrote it, I posted it.  The copyright on the material that I do for belongs to them because it is written as work for hire.  I wrote it; they posted it but the copyright has been signed over to them.  Just because it doesn’t say “copyright,” doesn’t mean its free for the taking.

3.  Anything I receive in e-mail is mine to use however I want.  False  (Do you sense a pattern here?)

There are a lot of ezines and newsletters that contain articles.  Just because they pop into your mail box doesn’t mean that it belongs to you to use however you see fit.  Use the information, but not the actual articles.  I get a poem from Jane Yolen every day as a part of a special program she started.  Unbelievably, she has had to ask people not to post them without permission.  If you didn’t write it, keep your mitts off.

A lot of the times that I’ve heard these issues come up, it involves people posting things on their sites or their blogs.  You need content, I get that.  But you can also write it yourself.  You are, after all, a writer.


Call for Submissions

Call for SubmissionsDo you have a young adult piece about horses in need of a print home?

Fire and Ice, an imprint of Melange Books, publishes work in both e-book and print formats.  Payment is 40% net royalties on e-books and 10% on print.  They are looking for horse stories:

  • From  10,000 to 20,000 words long.  These pieces, if accepted will be released as individual e-books (ie, not in a collection but a stand alone ebook).
  • From 40,000 to 60,000 words long.  These pieces, if accepted will be released as ebooks and in print trade paperback formats.

What do they expect from a young adult submission?  In addition to conforming to word count, here is some of what they look for:

  • Main characters should be high school age, 15-18 years old.
  • All genres and sub-genres  (romance, humor, contemporary, historical, fantasy, etc.).
  • Manuscripts should be single spaced with one inch margins all around, paragraphs indented .3, in HTML or a doc/docx file.
  • Stories must be divided by chapters. For consistency, scene breaks should be divided by 3 asterisks (***).

These things will bring an automatic rejection:

  • Sex
  • Abuse towards either people or animals
  • Foul language
  • Gratuitous violence
  • No smoking, alcohol consumption or drug usage by the main characters
  • Characters can profess to have faith, but NO religious or anti-religious themes

Click here to read the full list of requirements.  And please only send them your best work.  It freaks me out just a little (okay, a lot) that publishers feel the need to tell people not to start with a flashback, that characters need to be three-dimensional, and that they don’t want typos and misspellings.  Make me proud, people!



New Imprint

Ravenstone is a new children’s imprint with the U.K. Publisher Rebellion, best known for their character Judge Dredd,  They just released their first book, Lupus Rex by singer-songwriter John Carter Cash.

Rebellion’s other imprints include:

Solaris – fantasy, science fiction, and horror, including books by James Lovegrove.

Abaddon Books – shared-world fiction, mostly in the urban fantasy genre

Jon Oliver, Rebellion editor-in-chief, said that a children’s imprint fits well with the publisher’s genre offerings. They plan to initially publish one book a season.  Lupus Rex is a fantasy about an epic battle among crows, wolves, and other creatures for the crown of their world. In addition to being Ravenstone’s first book, it is also the first middle-grade title for Carter Cash, who has published three picture books.   A sequel to Lupus Rex is already in the planning stages.

Ravenstone’s fall release will be Jan Siegel’s Devil’s Apprentice, a humorous book about finding a replacement for Satan, who is retiring.


Kenn Nesbitt

The Poetry Foundation recently named poet Kenn Nesbitt as the next Children’s Poet Laureate: Consultant in Children’s Poetry to the Poetry Foundation. This is a two year position.  The goal of this position is to encourage children’s exposure to poetry as they are naturally receptive and an appreciative audience of poetry, especially children’s poetry written with them in mind.Nesbitt’s poetry books for children include:

  • Revenge of the Lunch Ladies
  • The Aliens Have Landed at our School
  • I’m Growing a Truck in the Garden
  • Santa Got Stuck in the Chimney
  • When the Teacher Isn’t Looking
  • More Bears
  • The Armpit of Doom 
  • The Tighty-Whitey Spider
  • My Hippo Has the Hiccups

Not bad for someone who published his first poetry book,  My Foot Fell Asleep, in 1998.  Guess the rest of us had better get to work!


Bloomsbury Kids: Wells Arms Leaving

News from Bloomsbury Kids.

Founding editor Victoria Wells Arms is leaving the company at the end of the month although she will still be a presence in publishing.  She is leaving to open up her own agency.

Wells Arms Literary is scheduled to be open for business by September.

Curious about what she likes?  Her Bloomsbury authors include  Newbery Honoree Shannon Hale, Nikki Grimes, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, and E.D. Baker.

I couldn’t find an agency web site just yet but will keep everyone posted as I hear more news.  


Call for Submissions

Call for Submissions
Are you a teacher and author with an interest in history?  Then check out this call from Prufrock Press. They are putting together a new American History series and are specifically looking for topics that fall into:
  • history mysteries,
  • strange histories, or
  • hidden or forgotten histories.
They don’t want a full manuscript but a prospectus.  Not sure what a prospectus is?  Fortunately they provided a bulleted list explaining what they want.
Why not check out your files and see if you have something to submit?  Me?  I’m wondering how they feel about archaeology and prehistory.
Special thanks to Jan Fields who wrote this opportunity up in the ICL enews.

Butt in Chair . . . Good Advice or Disaster

I have to admit.  I waffle where “butt in chair” is concerned.

If you’ve never heard this phrase before, it is short for “put your butt in the chair and write.”   Basically, it means sit down and write.  And it makes sense if you haven’t yet The Muffindeveloped a writing habit although you may need to tell yourself this even after you’ve developed a writing habit.

For me, I need a Butt In Chair reminder any time I submit a partial of an unfinished manuscript.  Once those sample chapters head through the ether, my focus simply dissolves.  Work on the manuscript?  Why?  What if the editor wants me to change something?  No, no.  Better to wait.

Now, most of us know that “better to wait” is pretty much nonsense unless you know that the editor doesn’t want a finished manuscript.  Some editors like to comment on outlines or synopsis first.

MOST editors want to know that you have a finished manuscript ready to go.  Did you catch those key phrases? Finished manuscript.  Ready to go.  They don’t want to ask for the manuscript only to have you say “I’ll have to finish writing it.”

Put your butt in your chair and write.

Can’t motivate your self to do it?  Check out my post at the Muffin for some suggestions to get the words flowing.