Mary Harwell Sayler: 10 Ways a Writer’s Work Has Changed

A writer’s life didn’t use to focus on marketing or building a platform but on writing well and finding the most likely editors.

Source: Mary Harwell Sayler: 10 Ways a Writer’s Work Has Changed


Step into the New Year: writing, revising, and marketing

Preliminary Steps:

Study classical and popular works in your favorite writing genre.

Consider what draws readers to a particular poem, story, article, or book.

Study magazines and other publications you like to read.

Get familiar with the book catalogues of publishers whose work you like.

Consider potential gaps that your story, poem, article, or book might fill.

Writing Plan:

Plan your fiction or nonfiction manuscript before you begin.

Decide on a theme, purpose, and reading audience.

Thoroughly research your topic or story setting.

Outline each article or nonfiction book.

Write a synopsis of your novel in present tense.

Both the synopsis and the outline should be from 1 to 5 pages.

Writing, Revising, and Marketing:

Let your writing flow without criticizing yourself, then let your work rest.

Later read those pages as if someone else had written them.

Read your work aloud and notice if anything seems “off.”

Pinpoint a problem, and you will usually find a solution.

Revise to make the manuscript your best before you send it to a publisher.

Find and follow writers’ guidelines located on the company’s website.

Query several editors at once about an idea or book proposal, but when you submit your actual manuscript, send it to only one editor at a time.

When mailing your manuscript by postal service, enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE) to cover its potential return.

Keep track of where, when, and to whom you mailed each manuscript.

If you don’t hear back in 3 months, follow up with a brief, polite email.

While you wait to hear from one editor, query another editor about your next idea.

Repeat the above steps.

©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer and poet-author of 27 traditionally published books in all genres is on a mission to help other Christian Poets & Writers through blogs, writing resources, and e-books such as the Christian Writer’ Guide.

Writing power outages

Poets and writers encounter down times in their writing for a variety of reasons, ranging from power outages to phone interruptions to feeling uninspired. Every time you get a new computer or upgrade software, you probably experience down times, too, as it takes time to save time working in and through electronic equipment that may be new to you.

Regardless of the reasons for the power outages in your writing life, those downtimes can bring uptimes for placing your fiction, nonfiction, children’s stories, devotionals, Bible studies, church curriculum, and poetry with journals, e-zines, book publishers, or your church’s denominational publishing headquarters. To do this:

Study book catalogs and back issues of periodicals and magazines you subscribed to, got at church, or bought from a newsstand.

Notice the topics, tone, style, and length of the manuscripts published in your genre.

In a word processing file, list every publisher who publishes work similar to yours. Add info about their editorial requirements and contact information. Or make a 3×5 file card filed alphabetically for each publishing company you like.

If your power loss does not include an electrical outage or lost hard drive, research literary journals, book publishers, church publishing headquarters, and e-zines on the Internet.


Study publishing companies as you browse through titles in online bookstores such as Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, and the shopping pages offered by the publishers themselves.

Check out literary journals and e-zines readily found on the Internet.

You’ll find new publishing possibilities through social networks too.

When inspiration returns you to writing again, you’ll be ready to plug in your powerful words to the publishing markets you found during downtimes that cause upturns in your publishing credits or book sales.


© 2012, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved.


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