I recently asked a greeting card publisher about their guidelines
submission. The Brand Manager informed me that they had enough
the present time; however, I could feel free to send her
"samples" of my
writing and she would review them and keep them on file.
I guess I'm a little hesitant about sending "samples" of my
work that I
plan to submit to other greeting card companies that do have room for
writers. So the question is, am I correct in being hesitant?
Monica R. Smith
is an excellent question and one many new writers ask. Even
though you're hesitant about doing so, sending samples is actually a
fairly commonplace procedure. In fact, I have sold a number of
verses that started out in life as samples in an editor's file.
Clearly mark the 5-6 verses you send: "SAMPLES ONLY"
and very important: advise the editor that you will feel free to
submit these verses to other companies, even while she is holding them
in her files. If one of them sells in the meantime, you will immediately
tell her it has sold; if she wishes to purchase one of these sample
verses in the future, she must check with you first to be sure it is
This is a case of having the best of both worlds. You have ideas
"out there" without actually sending them "out
there" and as editorial needs arise and editors go back through
their files to see what looks promising, your ideas are always there,
waiting to be considered...and hopefully, sold!
I am in the process of becoming a greeting card writer, but am finding
it quite frustrating! I've sent approximately 15 guideline
requests to companies I've found through writing websites or various
publications. Each request was sent with a business-sized SASE,
yet I have only heard back from 2 companies. Have you run into
others who have had this experience? Do you recommend I try again?
Any advice you have would be very helpful.
Take comfort in the fact that you're not alone. Some of the sites
I've seen that list companies don't update these listings and I've
sometimes seen companies listed that haven't been in business for a
decade or more. (Maine Line is a perfect example.) If you
sent your requests out during the Holidays that also could account for a
slow response. Generally, however, it shouldn't take over a month
to receive a set of guidelines back. The great news is some are
actually now available on company websites, so writers don't have to go
through the aggravation of a long wait via traditional mail.
I do recommend you try again, but I'd also surf the web first for the
some of the companies you originally tried who have not yet responded to
your guidelines request. When you find them, most have a
"Contact Us" icon. Use it and ask if they take freelance
work and if so, is it possible to receive their writer's guidelines via
e-mail. I think you'll be a little less frustrated because either
way, you'll hear back much faster.
read an article that you had on the Internet about greeting card
writing. I would like to submit some of my work to various card
companies, but wanted to ask you if I needed to copyright my freelance
work before I send it in? If so, would I just copyright a whole
line of my work?
Katherine B. Stano
each individual greeting card would be overkill and is unnecessary.
A whole line is a different matter, but as I tell my readers and
students, if you are a beginner in this field, do not submit an entire
line to an editor. They are very reluctant to commit their
resources to a line of cards from someone they don't know. You
can always work on a line of cards simultaneously while sending in
individual, unrelated ideas. You get to know different editors
and they get to know you--your work, how reliable you are in meeting
deadlines and tackling assignments, etc. They are much more
likely to consider a line of cards from someone whose work they have
come to trust.
I've had a go at rewriting some of my own
verses. The only trouble is I sometimes find it hard to choose whether
the rewrite or the original is best. Do you go for "less is
more" or do you just get to know with experience?
As far as rewriting, yes, experience is a
great teacher. You do develop a 6th sense-based not only on the verse
itself, but also on steadily working with a particular editor and
knowing the text format she'll be most likely to buy. Remember, too, to
allow a visual to "do the talking." Many times an appropriate
picture-either drawn or photographed-on the front of the card, with
actual words only on the inside, make a fantastic mix. Finally,
rewriting can-and often should-involve a change of product. The verse
you've written that just isn't quite "cutting it" for a
greeting card might work better in a sticky note, mug, calendar or
t-shirt. In my online greeting card writing class for writerscollege.com
as my new course in greeting card writing for bizymoms.com,
I talk about rewriting in detail, as well as alternate product
captioning and how it differs from-and is similar to-writing for