New Class: Learn to Pitch, Query, and Submit Your Work

Starting this summer (June 7, 2021), I will be teaching a new WOW! Women on Writing Class – Learn to Pitch, Query, and Submit Your Work. So many writers work to perfect their craft and then hesitate to send out their work. Why? Because it is so intimidating! We often feel like this is our one and only chance to make a good impression. Fail and all is lost.

Or so we think. Getting our work in front of publishing professionals and/or potential readers is a must. But it isn’t a highwire act. It is business correspondence. Students who take this course will learn to:

  • Find markets that are a good fit for their work. A big part of this is recognizing that some markets may be a better fit for your publishing goals than others.
  • Pitch ideas using both elevator pitches and Twitter pitches.
  • Write a one-page query letter. Often this is done to introduce an editor or agent to a particular book. But nonfiction articles are often pitched unwritten through query letters.
  • Bounce back from rejection. I’d love to say that you are never going to face a rejection letter but that just would not be true. Rejections are a part of the writing process thus so it learning to deal with the ones that hit us hard.

I am still pulling together my course material. What do you think I should make sure my students know? My other WOW! Women on Writing Classes are Research: Prepping to Write Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (click through here) and Writing Nonficiton for Children and Young Adults (click through here). You can sign up for them at any time. They run starting near the beginning of each month.

Don’t forget to let me know what I should include in my new course!


3 Things to Remember When Researching a Topic Online

At the moment, a lot of us find ourself working from home and having to meet all new challenges.  This means lots of time at our desks or dining room tables, challenging our bandwidth.  Given the fact that I’m currently writing about the coronavirus, I’m happy to be doing  my research from a distance even if doing your research online can be tricky.  Here are three things to keep in mind when you do a Google search.

  1. Check the site.  Anytime you do research, you need to check the source to see if it is one you can trust.  When you are doing research online that means checking the site.  I avoid taking information from personal sites.  Instead, I look for medical organizations (The WHO, CDC, NIH, and the Mayo Clinic).  I also click through when I spot a university or other research institution.
  2. Check the site again.  I say this because there are sites out there that try to look more official than they are.  Since I want to collect legitimate information, I want to avoid sites sponsored by religious organizations and far right political groups.  And, yes, they have sites full of coronavirus misinformation.  What group is going to misinform the world about your topic?  Make sure that isn’t where you’ve landed.
  3. Check the date.  Whether or not your topic is as new as coronavirus, new research is being done all the time.   When I researched evolution, a found a lot of material that contradicted what I had learned in college.  Gene sequencing has redrawn the evolutionary family tree.

For more on how to research online, check out my article “3 Ways to Explore Place.”  I will be teaching a four week class on research in May.  You can find out more about my class here.



New Class: Research Before You Write

I am putting together a class on the research you need to do before you start a new nonfiction writing project. For many new writers, one of the trickiest parts of writing nonfiction is getting the research done.  It can seem overwhelming if it is something you have never done before.

The class will be four weeks long:

Topics and Slants:  This will focus on doing the necessary research to see if your idea is already in print as well as how you can devise multiple slants to get the most out of your research and to adjust your idea if you do find something in print.

To Market:  How to find markets for your writing projects as well as how to make sure they are the kind of markets you want to approach.  Not everyone has the same goals but there are a variety of signs that can tell you if a market is legit.

Starting Your Research:  Some people think that they can’t use any secondary research in their work.  Secondary sources are among the best for finding the broad strokes on a topic.  This week will cover the difference between primary and secondary sources as well as how to find the most reliable information that has already been published.

Primary Sources:  This week will focus on why you want to include primary sources as well as where to find primary sources online and “in person.” There will also be information on how to do photo and map research and how to conduct interviews.

I am still fairly early in the planning process so this rough list of weekly topics may change as I take it to final.  Why am I posting about it now?  Because I want to make certain that I am covering the information that other people need.  You can help me by answering any of the following questions.

  • What information would you find helpful in a course on research?
  • What topics would you expect to see covered?
  • What aspect of research do you find difficult to master?
  • What am I forgetting?

I’ve been noodling this over for some time but always find it useful to get the opinions of other people.  Thank you!