A little more about Branding

You think you’ve found your “niche”, now what?

How do you make a living writing about your particular passion?

First you are going to get a couple of items published…how?

Get out your notebook, or set up a “Favorites” folder for your subject matter, and go to your favorite browser – and start searching.

Research is half the battle!

What search terms do you use when YOU are looking for information or articles on your passion subject?

For example, I’m in love with fairy houses. Love making them, love reading about making them, love looking at what others have made…you get the picture.

So I would search on Fairy Houses, and the alternate spelling “Faerie” houses…to start out with. There I might find blogs where people like me have written about their love for fairy houses…those blogs might want a guest post at some point, right? So I save the ones I like and relate to, in my favorites folder.

I keep searching until I have more than a dozen saved links in my folder – I make sure they are completely different websites or blogs so when I send a query I am not going to repeat to anyone.

I don’t expect to get paid for the first one or two, although that would be a bonus! I do want to be sure I get a byline, so I can refer people to my published article in my portfolio of work.

The point is to get something good out there on someone elses’ blog or website. Then you can begin to search for paying gigs. And as I said, if you happened to get paid for your first attempts, all the better. But set your sights realistically and work in baby steps.

Keep track of what you have sent (query, submission) and the date, so if you need to followup you can. And don’t stop, keep going.

You’ll get there. Slow and steady!

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Your “Voice” and the editor by Judy Kukuruza

Each writer should aspire to find their own “Voice” as they write. This gives your writing a uniqueness that belongs to you. When you read noted authors, you often recognize their writings by the Voice you have become familiar with. Some favorites of ours are Stephen King, the poets Wordsworth and Yeats, Lord Byron, Auden, and acclaimed authors Woolf, Joyce, Atwood, and Stegner. We can pick up their works and immediately recognize their distinctive voices as we read. And so it should be as you write more and more, become more known. But it is not easy, nor should it be. We took every creative writing class we could, striving to find our voice. We took college classes, community offered classes–anything that could help us on our way to finding that voice that spoke our words, in our way. We were never more proud or more pleased than to have a learned professor tell us, “You have found your Voice. Now write.” Realizing the significance of one’s writing voice needs to be something you diligently maintain, and especially with an editor you submit writings to.
In our personal submissions to an editor, we were told at one point, “I made some changes, but since I have read so much of your writing, I felt confident I could step into your voice.” Not until the final publication, reading the hard copy, did I realize my voice had been lost and the writing was not mine. Yes, it covered what I wanted to convey, but it lacked my passion, MY VOICE, in its final press copy. I was disappointed, then angry, then embarrassed that it was being read by others who would not really know the substance of what was written in MY VOICE.
There are ways to avoid this and that do not need to be learned the hard way through such an experience as I had. We would suggest the following:
1. Do not merely skim through an email copy or computer copy of the editor’s revisions and changes. Ask/require a hard copy so that you can read it aloud to yourself and see if your voice has been maintained with integrity.
2. Remember that it is your work, your writing, and again, your voice, that you want to come through.
3. Do not allow revisions/editing that downplay or exaggerate your voice in any way.
4. Be diligent in your final reading to make sure it is your voice, and not your editor’s, that will be read by the public audience.

It takes writing and rewriting to find your own, personal voice–don’t sacrifice what you have worked for in order to get published. Ask yourself if you can be proud of the final work, or if you are simply giving in to an editor in order to get your work “out there.”
If you keep writing, keep submitting, keep having writings published, your voice will become recognizable by readers. They will look for more to read. If you are writing to make a living, this is what will push you forward and help you succeed. So, don’t learn the hard way! Always stay with YOUR VOICE. You can always find an editor who will work with you. You cannot always rewrite and re-publish a book, poem, or article once it is out.
Good writing to you!

Judy Kukuruza’s book “One Body, Many Souls” can be found on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2FuA241; Their website is at https://onebodymanysouls.com/.

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A little about branding by N. Corres

You’ve heard the term. Branding. And you probably know what it means…after all you know that popular brands make the most money, but how do you apply it to what YOU do?

Let’s start by first doing a little SAT-style analogy: branding is to freelance writers as genre is to creative writing.

Another way to look at it is “niche”, but that isn’t all that branding is – it is an abbreviated way to tell the world what you do and what value you bring.

“Ahhh” you say, “but what if I don’t want to be stuck in a single niche?”

Good question! And I would answer: 1. you need to start somewhere in order to build your portfolio (and it should be with something you are passionate about); and 2. your brand will evolve as you evolve (so you can add the other niches in as you become established AND comfortable in your “brand”.

One way to try to define your brand, is to write a mission statement about the writing that you do. Answer the question – what specific, tangible value do you bring to your readers, clients, and/or editors?

Another approach is to write out what makes you unique? Do you have 35 years experience in boat building in your basement that you will be drawing from; or perhaps you’ve been in love with dollhouses since you can remember and have done an exhaustive study of the best materials to use; or maybe you’ve made pencil collecting a hobby after years of travelling the world. Most people have multiple ways they are unique…figure out yours so you can capitalize on what you have to say!

Why is it important to “Brand” yourself? (And by the way, I know how that sounds when reading it aloud – lol). It is important because it will help you zero in on the demographics (for example: age, gender, income) and psychographics (for example: adventurous, active, or sedentary) of your target audience – in other words, it helps you find the places to submit your work to that have the greatest probability of success for you.

If your “brand” is business writing for artists, you have a better chance of finding those markets (and of them finding YOU) if you have branded yourself that way.

Your business cards, your website, your blog – would all reflect the image of a business writer for artists, which would look and feel very different from someone who writes about food and recipes and fine dining.

That doesn’t mean you absolutely have to limit yourself, but in order to begin making a living or a reasonable side hustle of writing, it means you must consider the image you are projecting as much as the actual quality of the writing that you produce.

It isn’t an exact science, and you may have to experiment a little before finding a niche that “clicks” and is comfortable for you. Try not to invest too much into your branding until you feel good about what it looks like and what it says about you to others – that way you can evolve it more easily.

In otherwords, test it out and make sure it reflects your value and your values in a way that works FOR YOU.

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Real Life—My Experience Choosing an Editor, Publisher, and Agent by J. Kukuruza

Real Life—My Experience Choosing an Editor, Publisher, and Agent

            Navigating the labyrinth of getting works of writing out to the public can be a frustrating experience.  Today, there are several venues to use but my experience was through the traditional  method, which I did not find helpful.  I will not list any names, but rather fictional initials to refer to the traditional people encountered.  Here’s hoping this helps!

            The editor we had, “K”, read some of the writing I wished to publish to see if she wanted to take it on.  She was referred by another client of hers that we knew and trusted.  “K” thought the writing would require minimal editing and agreed to work on our manuscript.  This process started seven (7) years prior to the memoir coming out to the public.  With emails being abundant between her and us to add, delete, approve, etc., along with time being taken for the editor’s other projects and personal things to be attended to, “K” just happened to have a friend who could help publish the work as the editing, she felt, was almost done.

            “K” knew a small publisher as both friend and business associate and who agreed to work with her to publish the book.  The publisher, “R”, required a deposit of $5,000.00 to go forward.  He was quite amenable to promoting and getting the book published but continually wanted changes and more money, which we did not have access to, to go forward.  The publisher worked hand in hand with “K” from right after the seven year stint began.  Monies were needed for a professionally written synopsis of the book for promotion purposes.  A professional was hired to write a short paragraph for $250.00.  A short paragraph.  ( by short—5-6 sentences) This took place roughly around year two or three of the process.  (The professional paragraph was never used.)  “K” was now editing as the publisher/friend had bigger ideas to promote.

            Conference calls between the publisher, the editor, and myself ensued, about every six months as time moved on.  Because it was becoming more and more complicated, and publication delayed again and again, we always had someone on our end of the conference calls to help us navigate and ask questions.  We also recorded every conference call to review later if need be.  Visions of a top-seller were offered.  All we wanted was the memoir to be published so that the MESSAGE was made public.  Unable to deliver on promises, now two YEARS into the project, the publisher found us an agent and another conference call ensued that also involved her.  She shall be known as “Z”.  A contract was signed with her, the publisher very nearly disappeared, and “Z” and  “K” communicated with changes to be made to the manuscript, again, and two traditional publishers were given copies of our work by agent “Z”.  She forwarded comments made by the recipients  of the manuscript  and nothing else. Once the contract was signed, two publishing companies contacted, that was it.  “Z” did nothing, including communicate with us, the authors, after that.  It seemed all she wanted was the contract and her 15% if the manuscript was published.   After a year and a half, we terminated “Z” from our employ.  “K” again did revisions, as per the feedback from the publishers the work was submitted to by “Z”, and she turned once more to “R” who was now willing to work again.

            Video interviews were made at “R”’s request.  Questions with written answers were needed, as per “R”, and never used.  “R” wanted to make our work into a documentary through “contacts” he knew.  Nothing ever came about.  No contacts were named or results of any contacts reported.  The publisher had to merge with another small publisher and everything stalled, again.  Numerous promises but nothing ever concrete and time rolled on.  In fact, “R” wanted to promote our manuscript though he admittedly had never read it in its entirety.  No-name contacts, no progress, only more promises and pep talks.  In the meantime, frustration to the point of physical problems we suffered due to being strung along.

            Finally, after a friend, who was a professional in management and who had devised many business projects successfully for large companies both in the U.S. and abroad, offered to help, we gladly accepted.  She outlined for the publisher and editor what needed to be done, with a timeline, and set a date for all to be accomplished.  She was in on conference calls, stating the time already elapsed and asking why and pertinent questions.  Our friend did her research with notes from past phone conferences, and what would be considered reasonable expectations.  Through her, we found out this was not the norm, nor was it acceptable, and businesses cannot be run this way for clients.  We had to make a decision but “K” readily worked toward the finality of all, had trial readers of the manuscript, and secured a foreword for the book by a renowned professional and best-selling writer.  Things were temporarily  looking more favorable.  This was all offered to the publisher.  Nothing happened.  Only bigger and better ideas of a movie, documentary, and adulation for the work done.  But no action.  “R” still had not read the entire manuscript.  We voiced dissatisfaction, diplomatically, and pushed for a culmination of what we had finally realized was professional gas-lighting—in our personal opinion.  We kept stating we just wanted the memoir published—nothing more at this point! 

            Finally, seven years after the submission and commitments to see the book published and in the public eye, we abandoned the professional publisher and editor, and published through Amazon.  Both “K” and “R” felt we were unfair and regretted time working with us.  They felt we had blind-sided them and all their efforts to help.  No mention was ever made of where the $5000 dollars were spent or on what.  Seven years is a long time waiting to see your writing published.  The close friendship between the editor and publisher proved to be detrimental to the whole process.  “K” pointed out “R”s struggles, limitations, etc., and was afraid we had hurt their relationship professionally.  After seven long years of nothing being done, we felt little compassion for the status of their relationship—business or otherwise.

            So what was learned?  BE CAREFUL when trying to navigate the maze of professionals.  Promises, with money expended, can be deflating and discouraging.  Insofar as editing—be sure it does not wind up with your writing voice edited right out of your manuscript/submission.  The finished product was not truly ours at the end of all of it.  Others who knew us, had read previous writings of ours, felt that the memoir was flat, lacking in feeling, simply a report of facts with no passion or feeling.  We, too, felt our voice was lost and many things that would have profound meaning for readers was deleted without our consent.  Frustration in dealing with people who are dealing with each other unbeknownst to you and only giving you limited information can be even more frustrating and drive you crazy as you see little happening and more and more of your work being manipulated and violated.  The Editor and Publisher were communicating, but not with we, the authors.  Instead, we were accused of blind-siding these people by feeling seven years and $5000 was enough time and money spent with no end in sight.  Suddenly we were supposed to feel guilty for being assertive enough to want to see the end of it?  Not very professional.

            Also, BE CAREFUL of who knows who and what the actual goal is.  I do not think these people intentionally dragged this out over the years.  But I also feel that if they are in the business of marketing your writing, they too, should be business like.  Your hard work should not depend on the editor and publisher being good buddies and not hurting their feelings.  Writing is a business.  Writing should not be left to haphazard actions, promises, time delays.  Submit on your own.  A rejection slip does not take years to receive.  Once received, another submission can be made.  IF you can go traditionally to be published, that is wonderful.  But see the red flags if things drag on, excuses are continually made, your patience and understanding required repeatedly— take another route.  It is not worth it to be in constant emotional and mental turmoil from “professionals” that cannot do their jobs.

            (To emphasize the way we were suckered—they needed more money for a cover for the book in order to publish it.  We could not afford it.  We submitted a painting we had done.  They loved it and wanted to use it.  But even having all that, they could not publish.)

            Again, our experience was horrid.  Yours may not be.  But be aware and don’t repeat our mistakes.   

            Here’s hoping you can learn from our experience.  Keep writing and submitting.


Judy Kukuruza’s book “One Body, Many Souls” can be found on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2FuA241; Their website is at https://onebodymanysouls.com/.

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What’s This?

Hello out there!  You are probably wondering what this site is all about, and if you haven’t checked out the Welcome page yet, basically I was looking for a simple site that would direct me to resources, help me hone my writing skills, and maybe share some writing opportunities that I might not have known about otherwise.

For example, The Writer Magazine ( Subscribe here)  has an essay contest which ends on March 1 2019. You can see more about it here. The topic is: any aspect of Writing life in 2000 words.  Entry fee costs $25-70 and they use Submittable as their venue for submitting the entry.  You can see all the details of the submission guidelines by clicking on “More” next to the dollar amount when you are on the screen at Submittable.

If you submit an entry, let us know. If you win, let us know! I’d love to interview you for this blog.

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