My collection of funny pieces, A Kilo of Chocolate Sprinkles, is now on sale! And it’s only $0.99!
See my post on Bo’s Cafe Life.
I first started blogging in March 2008 and since 2009, I’ve been posting a new Bo’s Café Life strip on my blog six days a week. Some days it’s difficult to sit down and think of something to post. Some days, I ask myself, Why am I still doing this? I had one of those days recently so I decided to write a list, a list to read when I need to remember why I blog.
- Blogging helped me to find my voice. By letting me get immediate feedback on my work, blogging helped me to find my voice as a humorist. And today, I still rely on commentors to let me know when my humor works—and when it doesn’t.
- Blogging enables me to share my writings with others. Four years ago, I was anti-blogging. I only wanted to get published in the “respected” print publications. That was until both The Atlantic and The Village Voice rejected a humorous—but controversial—piece I wrote about Starbucks. I believed in the piece and I knew that there was an audience for it… so I emailed the blog editor at The Huffington Post and he said I could post it and other pieces. That was when I became a blogger. And later, when I couldn’t find a publication that was willing to publish my humorous pieces about marketing, I was able to post those pieces on Chief Marketer’s Big Fat Marketing Blog. Today, I still post pieces that have been rejected by publishers. Without blogging, those pieces would have died on my laptop.
- Blogging gives me a reason to write when I feel like giving up. Every time I feel like giving up I’ll get an encouraging comment from a reader, a reader who says that my comic strip made her day. When I feel like quitting, I remind myself that there are people who visit my site every single day and hope to find something funny to read. I don’t want to let them down.
- Blogging enables me to make new friends around the country and around the world. When I visited Colonial Williamsburg, I had coffee with a writer I met through my blog. And when I visited West Virginia, I attended the local writers group meeting; I met some of the members through my blog. It’s a great feeling to know that from Indiana to Istanbul, I have friends who will meet me in a café and talk to me about writing over a cup of coffee.
I hope this list helps you the way it has helped me. And if I missed something, please share it with me.
I’ve decided that the best way to help writers is to start posting query letters that have worked for me or my clients.
Here’s the query letter that led to my blogging for The Huffington Post years ago. (I don’t know if it is harder or easier to start blogging for the HuffPost now. Either way, you might find my query letter informative.)
SUBJECT: Timely Blog Piece on Today’s “Frugal” Reuters Article…
Dear Mr. XXXXXXXX:
Pardon me for sending this to multiple editors at your site. (I also sent this to XXXX and XXXS.) Unfortunately, I could not find the submissions information. I have a timely blog piece that references a Reuters article on your site, “Frugal Customers Swap Steak for Chicken.” My piece is called, “Trading Down to McDonald’s? McNot!” I wrote the piece because I find it highly unlikely that Starbucks’ customers are trading down to McDonalds. I’m a PR/Marketing consultant and author whose work has been published in PRWeek, Chief Marketer, Chief Marketing Officer, Media Asia, Bulldog Reporter, and other leading publications. I’ve been quoted in publications ranging from Inc. to USA Today and The Boston Globe. I’ve been a guest on CNBC TV’s Power Lunch. If you like this piece, I would like to contribute business pieces on a regular basis.
I have pasted the piece below my signature for your consideration. I have also included my bio. I would love to see the piece on your site. If you need to reach me, please call XXX-XXX-XXXX. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.
Wayne E. Pollard
Author, Minds Before Market Share
I’ve recently noticed more bloggers “liking” my Bo’s Café Life blog and, when I visit some of their blogs, I can’t see why the blogger “liked” my post. My ego wants to think that the blogger somehow came across my site, found the post for that day funny, and hit the “like” icon. That’s what my ego wants to think. My brain tells me something else.
I suspect that some bloggers are “liking” my posts just so that I can follow their links, “like” their posts, and possibly follow them. I understand that this is a way to build followers—I get it. My issue is this: As a blogger, I need a way to truly assess how many people like my cartoons and I can’t do this if a person is liking my blog as a part of her marketing strategy. Know what I mean?
I have pockets of daily readers (people who truly appreciate Bo’s Cafe Life) in countries such as Turkey (you know who you are!), Macedonia, Australia, England, China, Japan, Canada, and, of course, the U.S. and I”ll take them over 10,000 fake followers any day. One more thing…
I don’t understand why a blogger even wants a bunch of fake followers. I guess bloggers who want fake followers need the ego boost. Bo’s Café Life doesn’t have many people who “follow” it. Why? Because the people who truly follow and appreciate Bo’s Café Life know that I post a new strip six days a week and that I’ve been doing this for over two years! They don’t need to “follow” me; they know that if they visit my blog, they’ll see a new comic! So, what’s my point?
Don’t like my blog if you don’t really like my blog.
I can’t believe I actually did this crap.
I’ve been pitching pieces to publications for over ten years (as a freelance writer and ghostwriter) and I’ve been able to get articles in publications around the world. I often talk to writers groups and public relations professionals about the art of pitching. Hell, I’ve even written articles about pitching. And still, what did I do?
I violated one of my main rules and, as a result, blew an opportunity to get another piece published in a magazine that I like. Let me explain…
My secret to getting many pieces published is this: Before I pitch an article idea to an editor, I check the publication’s archives to make sure that nothing like my article has been published in the past two years. If nothing like my article has been published, great! If an article like mine was published, I tell how my article will be different. So here’s what happened…
Recently, I created what I thought was a great article idea for this publication. I checked the article archives, found nothing like it that was published within the past two years, and sent a query letter to the editor, who had previously published my work.
The editor replied and asked me to give her some more details, which I did. Then I waited to hear from her again.
After about two weeks without hearing from her, I got concerned. I was in my local library when something told me to look at the current issue of the magazine I was trying to get my piece published in. I started flipping pages, then stopped. Right there, in the current issue, was an article that was exactly like the one I described in my reply to the editor. I felt like an idiot. No…
I felt unprofessional.
I was so busy checking the archives that I had forgotten to check the current issue.
I won’t do that again.
The general rule, “Don’t call the editor,” is B.S. Previously, I told you that it’s okay to call an editor if you know your story is great, if you have some bylines under your belt, and if you are comfortable with pitching over the phone.
Here’s another time when you should definitely call the editor: when your piece is time-sensitive.
If you have a piece that is time-sensitive, you must let the editor know this in your query. Ask the editor to please reply by the end of the day, week, etc. And, you should leave a message for the editor, too.
Then, if you don’t hear from the editor, CALL!
If the editor picks up, ask if she’s made a decision about your pitch. And if she hasn’t, stress that your piece is time-sensitive and that you’d appreciate it if she could let you know by fill in the blank because if she isn’t interested, you’d like to pitch it to another publication.
And if you can’t reach the editor, you can leave this message with the editor’s assistant.
I’ve found that editors understand that some pieces are time-sensitive. A few years ago, I wrote a time-sensitive piece about Starbucks vs. McDonalds after reading a news article about the rivalry. I first submitted the piece to Harper’s. I knew that if I waited a too long for a reply, my piece would no longer be relevant. So, I called the editor’s assitant after less than 24 hours and explained that the piece was time-sensitive and that if the magazine wasn’t interested, I’d pitch it to another publication. The editor got back to me; he decided to pass on the piece. I then pitched that piece to the blog editor at The Huffington and he liked it. I was able to get the piece, Trading Down to McDonalds? McNot! posted on The Huffington Post before the news went cold. (If you read the piece, you’ll see that the original news item that inspired my piece was published on 3/12 and that my piece was posted on 3/13.)
So, don’t sit and wait for the editor to reply if your story is time-sensitive. CALL!