Monday, August 1, 2005

Pinch Them Until They Scream!

If you are writing on a tight budget, and pinching pennies, you may be interested in these money-saving ideas. One of the largest expenditures in writing for publication is postage. You can cut these costs by having the publisher recycle your manuscript. Then your SASE will only need one first-class stamp for the editor's response. You may have read that this will indicate that you don't value your work and is frowned on by editors, but I haven't found that to be the case and I know many other writers who will agree with me. Whenever possible choose a publisher that will accept unsolicited manuscripts. You will save the cost of a query letter. Even better than having your manuscript recycled, send your manuscript by e-mail whenever a publisher indicates in their guidelines that it is acceptable to do so. You save money on stamps, envelopes, paper, ink,...and an added benefit is the saving in time.

Keep up-to-date records of your submissions. It is costly to send a manuscript to an editor for a second time because you forgot where it had been before. Market wisely. Check those guidelines before submitting. Don't submit an inappropriate manuscript to a publisher, it costs them time, you money, and leaves a bad impression of your professionalism.

Use your public library for books about writing, browse the used book stores, or borrow books from writer friends. Much is written about the craft of writing and a well stocked library could be very costly. Also visit writer websites to find books. Writers often have book giveaways and if you register you just might win that book you wanted to read.

Don't overlook the benefits you may derive from visiting the websites of published writers. Many writer websites and blogs offer articles on the craft of writing. If you are unable to take expensive writing courses look in your local paper for night school and other local writing classes. These are good resources for writing basics. Look for inexpensive or free online classes. Often these can be found by visiting writer's websites or subscribing to writing newsletters.

There are other ways to get a writing education. In the beginning I visited in the Institute of Children's Literature general chat room. I was a beginning writer and so were many, but not all, of the writer's I spoke to there. I also attended the Scheduled Chats given by the Institute where you could ask questions of visiting writers and editors. Verla Kay offers guest chats at her website, Check around there may be other chat rooms with guest authors or editors available to answer your questions.

Join a list. The Children's Writers list at Yahoogroups is a great resource. I can recommend cw-biz (Children's Writer's Business) and CCWL (Christian Children's Writers List,) also at Yahoogroups. Yahoogroups offers lists in many writing categories, you can search for them at All of the lists are places to ask your questions or just lurk and "listen-in" on the ongoing conversations.

If you can't afford the travel and expense of a big writer's conference keep your eyes and ears open for news of local seminars and meetings. These usually are inexpensive and of course you avoid travel expenses. In the beginning they may even be more beneficial for your needs.

These tips should help you pinch those pennies until they scream or at least squeal a little.

(c)Sharon A. Soffe 2005

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