Writer Mama Success Rhythms: January 2009

Christina Katz and daughter

January 2009
By Christina Katz

In January, it’s time for all of us writer mamas to jump-start our year and find our success rhythms for 2009. When you keep a good balance between writing craft, selling your work, self-promotion and professional development, you’ll avoid getting bogged down in any one aspect of your career and maintain a balanced approach.

In each issue this year, I’ll be offering four tips related to the season that will encourage you to view yourself as the professional you’d like to be seen as.

Craft
What’s challenging for writers is that many publications and publishers have their own grammar guidelines. But if you zap the most common grammatical errors from your writing, you’ll be one step ahead. Choose a grammar guide and keep it within reach of your desk. You are not going to be able to match your usage perfectly every single time, so don’t sweat it. However, if you want your writing to sell, get basic grammar down. I recommend Strunk and White as the least expensive and most universal grammar guide. Got a copy?

Pitching
The majority of us balk at the prospect of pitching our work. Rarely do I meet a writer who actually enjoys selling her own work. But you can’t get published if you don’t pitch. Since editors and agents are unlikely to come knocking at your door, you’ve got to get your words to them. So start your year by assessing and addressing how comfortable you feel about selling your work. If the answer is “not very,” then you’ve got some mental preparation to do. I recommend, Wendy Burt’s new book, The Writer’s Digest Guide to Query Letters, as a place to start. Also, I devoted an entire section of Writer Mama to walking readers through constructing effective article queries. Not quite ready to query? Then, read up (or refresh yourself) on the basics!

Self-promotion
The number one mistake writers make is jumping online before thinking through a platform plan. This typically leads to time wasted and abandoned efforts, when a little bit of brainstorming before hopping online could save you a ton of time and money in the long run. If you haven’t picked up my latest book, Get Known Before the Book Deal, you may want to sign up for my new e-zine, The Get Known Groove, where I’ll review the basics of specialty development. Also Sage Cohen (managing editor of this e-zine) will walk you through the basics of marketing yourself in her column, “Know Thy Self, Know Thy Audience.” Ready to tackle self-promotion one baby-step at a time? Subscribe over at http://getknownbeforethebookdeal.com/.

Professional development
January is a great time to review your professional associations. If you are not a member of a writing association, review several choices and then join up! One is better than none, and you’ll benefit in so many ways. The first writing association I joined was Willamette Writers and it has been a boon to my writing career. A couple years later, I joined several. Today, I am a member of five writing associations for both enthusiasts and professionals, both locally and nationally. The return on investment is be high when you make the most of what associations offer members. Why not pick one and join today?

Christina Katz is the author of Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Build an Author Platform and Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids (both for Writer’s Digest Books). A platform development coach and consultant, she started her platform “for fun” seven years ago and ended up on Good Morning America. She teaches writing career development, hosts the Northwest Author Series, and is the publisher of several e-zines including Writers on the Rise. Christina blogs at The Writer Mama Riffs and Get Known Before the Book Deal, and speaks at MFA programs, literary events, and conferences around the country.
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