Making Your First Sale Basics

Every successful writer starts in the same place–the beginning. Then each one takes his or her own journey to create a writing career. That said, however, there are some basics you’ll want to know to help you make your first sale in your writing career.

  • Remember that writing fiction differs from writing nonfiction. Fiction writers think of a story line, develop the characters, write the story/novel, then search for an agent or publisher. Nonfiction writers decide which categories they’re interested in (self-help, profiles, business, etc.), then look for markets that buy those topics, then query those markets. It’s also a good idea to get the writer’s guidelines for any market you’re interested in selling to and write to that market’s preference. Many markets post their writer’s guidelines online.
  • Develop your ideas, then target each idea to a specific market that buys/publishes that type of idea. You might start with publications you like to read and consider if your idea is appropriate for them.
  • Know that publishing is business, not dream fulfillment, so use common sense as you develop your relationships with publishers/editors/agents. Keep in mind that you’re developing a career/business when you’re offering to sell your writing.
  • Avoid taking rejection personally. Rejection simply means you didn’t match your idea to the what your potential customer is looking for at the moment. Think of your query letter as one of many applications for a position. Your query letter is asking for a position in a published work just as an application is asking for a position in a company.
  • Remind yourself that you can’t get published if the  marketplace doesn’t know you exist. Be persistent in submitting  appropriate ideas to appropriate markets. Of course if you submit inappropriate ideas (such as how to ice fish to a home decorating magazine), you will be rejected. Better to take the time to find markets (again, this includes magazines, agents, book publishers) that publish what you write, then submit your ideas to those markets.

I know these are basics, but it never hurts to get back to basics. Happy writing!


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