Wayne E. Pollard's No B.S. Blog for Writers

Writing Advice Without the B.S.

My e-Book A Kilo of Chocolate Sprinkles is on sale now!

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My collection of funny pieces, A Kilo of Chocolate Sprinkles, is now on sale! And it’s only $0.99!  

Written by Wayne

June 18, 2012 at 9:20 am

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See my post on Bo’s Cafe Life.

Written by Wayne

June 16, 2012 at 12:32 pm

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What Blogging Has Done For Me

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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.


Written by Wayne

May 15, 2012 at 7:28 am

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A Query Letter that Worked: Huffington Post

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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…


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

Written by Wayne

April 26, 2012 at 1:03 pm

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“Liking” My Blog to Get Me to “Like” Your Blog and Other Things That Irk Me

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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.

Written by Wayne

January 17, 2012 at 5:23 pm

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My secret to getting articles published–and how I forgot it

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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.

And waited.

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.

Written by Wayne

November 7, 2011 at 12:01 am

Don’t Call the Editor About Your Query: B.S.!-Part 2

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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!

Written by Wayne

August 9, 2011 at 12:01 am

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Advice on Growing Site Traffic from Someone Who Has a Platform and Writes for a Publication that Already Gets Traffic: B.S.!

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I just read a piece with advice on growing traffic to your website. It was written by the editor of a leading magazine. A magazine that already generates significant traffic. And the site has a link to her blog. I know that the editor is only trying to help readers, but her advice on how to grow your site’s traffic is B.S. Why?

 She is blogging for a site that already gets traffic!!!

Now this editor does have a personal site that is separate from her publication’s blog, but guess what… the publication’s blog has a static link to her personal blog! And, even without that link, people would still go to her site because she has a platform! She is the editor of a leading magazine!!

This type of advice can be very frustrating. Why? You’re doing everything the person said to do and you’re still only getting fifty views a day and you’re wondering why.

Generating traffic from scratch when you’re unknown is THE hard part. If you follow advice given to you by someone who has a platform and whose site is already getting tons of traffic, you will only get disappointed.

A person with a platform advising you on how to get traffic to your site, without first telling you how to build your platform, is full of B.S. Okay… Maybe I shouldn’t say that she is full of B.S., but her advice is.   

And when you’re blogging on a site that gets traffic, to get your share of the traffic, all you have to do is come up with a title that gets people’s attention. I know because I blogged on The Huffington Post and Chief Marketer’s Big Fat Marketing Blog. When I started my own blogs, if I had expected to get the same traffic I was getting on those sites, I would have been depressed. Let me put it this way…

If a site is getting tons of traffic and you create a blog for your cat on that site, people will click on it just to see what it’s about. Now if people find your cat’s blog entertaining, your cat will continue to get tons of traffic. And if you then open a Twitter account for your cat, people will follow her. And if you make a fan page for your cat, people will “like” her. Why?

Because the hard part, generating traffic to the site, was handled!

Do you understand what I’m saying? Does this make sense?

If you want advice on how to grow your traffic, take it from someone who was actually in your current situation. If you’re an unknown and you’re getting ten visits a day, get advice from someone who was unknown, didn’t have a platform, and still grew her site traffic from ten to 10,000. Don’t get advice from someone who has a platform and who writes for a site that is already drawing thousands of readers.

While the person may mean well, the advice is B.S.

Written by Wayne

August 5, 2011 at 12:01 am

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Think Like an Editor: B.S.!

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I recently read a tip for freelancers that said you should put yourself in the editor’s shoes when submitting a query.


I don’t know how an editor thinks… but I have a pretty good feel for how my target publication’s readers think. How? I put myself in the readers’ shoes. Do this, and you will get more of your pieces published.

Know why readers will stop and read your article. For example, when I pitched my article, “Confessions of a Software Salesman” to an editor at CIO magazine, I explained that my article will help her readers (IT executives who buy software) save hundreds of thousands of dollars.

To think like the readers, you have to do more than just read the submission guidelines; you need to check out the one thing that writers often overlook: the publication’s media kit. You’ll find it in the Advertising Info section on the publication’s web site. You’re looking for the demographic info about the readers, information that will help you better understand them. Then, in your query or pitch, tell the editor exactly why his readers will want to read your article and use the stats from the media kit to support your claim. Say something like, “My article will appeal to working mothers between ages 35 and 50 and according to your media kit, 75% of your readers fall into this category.”

You get the idea.

Think like the reader.

Written by Wayne

August 4, 2011 at 12:01 am

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Don’t Call an Editor About Your Query: B.S.!

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I was reading a list of tips for freelance writers when I came across this common tip. Writers are often told not to call an editor about a query or to at least wait a month or so before calling to follow up. This advice usually comes from editors. You know what I say?


I say, if you already have some bylines and you’re comfortable with pitching a story idea, call the editor and pitch the idea before you send the query letter. In many cases, the editor can tell you, right then, if she wants the article. Then, the editor will be expecting your query letter.

This is exactly how I got published in The New York Times, The Village Voice, Writer’s Digest, and many other publications. And, it is how I’ve helped most of my clients get published.

When you call the editor, you need to give your pitch in under fifteen seconds.

That’s right. Fifteen seconds.

During the fifteen seconds, you must state your name, two or three places where you’ve been published, your article’s title or subject, and you must say that you know the editor hasn’t published anything like it in the past three years. (This means you must do your research!)

Then pause and wait for the reply.

If the editor says she likes the idea, ask for the word count and deadline. And send a follow up email that confirms what was discussed.

And if the editor says she is on deadline and can’t talk, apologize and say you’ll send an email.  

Do this if you have some bylines under your belt, if you know you have a good story, and if you’re comfortable with pitching story ideas over the phone.

Practice your pitch. Say it until you’re comfortable. When I call editors, I say, “Hi. My name is Wayne Pollard. My work’s been published in The New York Times, The Village Voice and Writer’s Digest. I’m calling you because I’d like to submit an article called….”

Fifteen seconds.

You’re probably thinking that this only works for me because of where my work’s been published.


I used this method when I had only one magazine article under my belt and it helped me get a gig as a stringer for the business section of a Gannett-owned newspaper.  

The editor just needs to know that you can actually write. So, put your best foot forward when you decide which publications to mention.

If you’re trying to get a piece in your local community paper, then mentioning that you’ve had pieces in your college’s paper might be fine. However, if you’re pitching a piece to a national publicatioin, you must have something other than a byline in your college paper or an unknown blog. If you don’t have the bylines, your article idea needs to be great and you must be able to convince the editor that you’re the only person who can write the article.

When you use this method, you cut days or even weeks of waiting for a reply. Trust me; it’s better to get a quick rejection over the phone than to get a rejection after waiting a month for a reply.

A good story is a good story. And if your story is good, the editor will be glad to get your call.

Have you ever pitched an idea to an editor? Tell me about your experience.

Written by Wayne

August 2, 2011 at 11:58 pm

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