Wednesday, June 27, 2018


Every copy accounted for! The rest? Not so much!

I run my writing business like I run my household: haphazardly. I keep meticulous records of how many books I’ve sold, but a very slapdash record of my speaking gigs. As a result, I do not remember what (or if) I was paid for my appearances (a tad embarrassing when booking a second speech. “Excuse me, what DID you give me last time? Because whatever it is, that’s fine.”)

But I am making progress! Exactly one year ago, I started an Excel spreadsheet to track essays submitted and accepted/declined. Today I counted everything up. Since June 28, 2017, I have sent essays or pitches to 51 publications. It has been my habit to dwell on the rejections--or, maybe worse, the radio silence, which always gives me false hope that, many months after submission, I will suddenly hear from The Washington Post On Parenting: “Hi! Oops! We found your fabulously touching yet hilarious piece in our spam folder! It will be featured tomorrow, and your sizable check is in the mail!!!” But, doing the math, my record is not half-bad. I have gotten 21 acceptances, with five still pending. This beats the usual rule of thumb acceptance rate for cold calls/sales pitches, which I think is around 5%.

Much as I would love to have all of my darlings green-lit, I recognize that my writing is not irresistible. One of my problems is often neglecting to read enough back issues of pubs, which is Freelance Writing Rule #1. I recently sent a humor essay to a decidedly non-funny magazine, and lo and behold! They declined my comic masterpiece! Another problem is my fear of disappointing someone who wants me to write a second draft of something—so I totally disappoint him or her by not doing it at all. I have been going back and forth with the editor of an online publication about an essay dealing with my mental illness. He nixed the first pass, but said it had a lot of promise and encouraged me to re-work and resend. I haven’t yet responded, because I am so afraid he will reject my essay in a revised form. Far better, I rationalize, to cut ties with someone who is genuinely interested in my work! Back to sending knee-slappers to Mortician’s Monthly!

This week and next (VBS followed immediately by our high school mission trip), I probably won’t write anything more profound than a shopping list. But as of mid-July, I will be at the Delaware shore, and there will be time. Time to write a lot, and, hopefully, submit said writing. Hopefully the old Excel spreadsheet will soon feature the names of many other publications contacted and (even more hopefully) articles sold.

Lewes lighthouse at sunset--who wouldn't be inspired here?

 For now, I will try to celebrate my successes, and adjust my attitude about the rest. It is never too late to improve, both as a writer and as a submitter.

And there’s a chance that Chicken Soup for the Soul just lost my email address. Right?

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