Posts Tagged ‘professionalism’

Connect with Your Fellow Writer

In Uncategorized on December 13, 2009 at 7:06 pm

As a writer I’ve placed a high priority on networking and socializing with other writers.  I thought it was high time I’d shared with my cherished readers why this is such an important factor in your career.  How could I have let this go unnoticed and un-blogged-about for so long?

Fellow writers can serve a mentors, support systems, and motivation.  You can share feedback on each other’s work, ask about their successes and failures.  Pick up jobs when their workload is too heavy, share blog appearances, etc.  One good example of a writer I met and how the time I took to reach out paid off is here.

Here are some more specific examples of how writing relationships can benefit you:

  • Mentors.  As a beginning writer mentors can be hard to come by.  Most established writers have huge workloads and otherwise are unable or uninterested in taking the time to review your work.  But if you do meet someone who’s willing to take the time to give you some pointers, hold on tight with both hands!  Take advantage of having someone to look at your work critically.  Ask that they look over pieces before you submit them.  Pick their brains about the best publications for beginners.  And last but not least be respectful of their time, and don’t forget that they are doing you a favor.  Offer to take him/her out for lunch from time to time, send cards or gifts on holidays and birthdays, make sure he/she knows that their time is appreciated.
  • Support Systems.  Fellow writers can be invaluable to you.  When you’re feeling discouraged they’ll be able to relate.  If you need someone to hold you accountable they’ll know what you should be doing.  When you need a cheering squad they’ll know exactly how hard you’ve worked and what you were up against.  If you have writer friends, don’t take these relationships for granted.  Suggest feedback sessions, you can look over each other’s work.  Trade clips and tips when you are successful with a particular publication.    You can trade blog posts and hand off assignments when your work load is too heavy.  But most importantly, don’t focus so much on what the other person can do for you that you forget to consider what you can do for your friend.  No one likes a one-sided relationship.
  •   Advice.  In most cases, even if you are not friends or do not have a mentor/mentee relationship a writer will be willing to give an interview or answer a few quick questions.  So take a risk and shoot some e-mails to a couple local writers, or some of your favorites.  The worst that can happen is say no.  And in the event that they ay yes you’ll have a great opportunity to pick their brains regarding their writing success.  Ask then how they broke into freelancing, their favorite writing resources, their favorite pearls of wisdom, etc.
  • Working Relationships.  In some cases you may come across writers looking for someone to co-author a blog, or a book.  This can be a great opportunity to build a larger audience by sharing the burden of promoting.  But beware of who you create lasting ties with.  Make sure you read their work beforehand and are certain that they can in fact write well and would be a positive reflection on you.  And it would be a good idea not to rush into a project until you’re fairly certain that they’re not crazy.
  • Authors…you will need someone to review your books and platforms to promote your books.  So building relationships with writers is essential.  The reverse is also true, if you write book reviews yu will need to reach out to authors.

Of course if you know of more ways that networking can help, let me know.  I’d love to include it.

So what are you waiting for?  Go mingle.

Wrangling Interviews

In Learn from my mistakes. on October 20, 2009 at 11:52 am

Just as deadlines are a fact of life for a writer – in most cases so are interviews.  I can’t imagine that any successful writer has gone their entire career without having to do at least a few interviews.  Which brings me to today’s lesson learned the hard way: make sure the bulk of your work is done before you begin soliciting interviews, or t the very least be able to give your interviewees a realistic finish date.

I have been working on an article to be featured on my web zine for a couple months now.  I put the horse before the carriage a bit and started contacting people for interviews before I even had a complete list of people I’d like to interview.  As a result I landed the first interview in August expecting to be finished in a couple weeks, and wasn’t. 

It’s taken longer than expected to get the interviews I wanted for this piece.  Just finding the right people for my needs has been harder than I expected, and then a  few people weren’t interested or didn’t have the time to participate. 

Why is this so important?  Your interviewees may want to see the finished product, and you don’t want to seem unprofessional by delivering it late (in my opinion it’s good form to offer to send the finished product or notify them after publication – preferably the former).  If that’s not reason enough, you want to be reasonably certain that this article is going to happen.  Imagine taking the time to participate in an interview with the expectation you’d be quoted in an article, only to find out that your time had been wasted.  That’s exactly the situation you want to avoid with your interviewees.

Finally, If you conduct your interview in a professional manner from beginning to end and the turn out a well-written article that provides your interviewees with some promotion you may build a worthwhile business relationship.  If you don’t conduct your interview professionally, well…you won’t.

What do you do if you find yourself in my position – with one or more interviews under your belt but behind schedule to meet the date you’ve given your interviewees, or even worse the finish date you’ve given them already passed?  Do what I did.  Be sincere, and apologetic.  Remember, they are doing you a favor and their time is precious.  I sent an e-mail to the person I interviewed explaining that I fully expected o be finished by now but it;s taken longer than expected to complete the interview process for my article.  I let her know I was still moving forward with the piece and would notify as soon as I was finished.

It’s a lot easier said than done.  But to avoid this situation altogether try taking these steps:

  • Do your research and compile a list of possible interviewees.
  • Write out a list of juicy questions considering what kind of quotes you’d like to include in your article.  You may even want to consider slighly varrying the questions for each person on your list.
  • Consider how many interviews you think you’ll need and then add a few, just in case some decline.  (as a general rule interviewing 1 person only works if it’s an article about that person)
  • Create your outline and write as much of the article as possible before hand so you can insert quotes in some places.  You can probably get your introduction written if nothing else.  Getting started can be the hardest part.