I have a quick question for you.
Living where I do, I find myself writing in isolation most of the time. What
suggestions might you have for the isolated writer in regard to reaching out
and finding other writers? I know the internet is one way. I appreciate
anything you can suggest.
Hi Mary. That's a question many
people living in isolated areas would appreciate having an answer to.
First, there's always the library. I'm in the process of moving to a
country locale and yet one of the first things I've already done is
introduce myself at the local library. I offered to give some free talks
on writing. They were very receptive to this and really had a need for a
creative galvanization. While you may or may not want to give talks, the
point is to contact the nearest library and ask if they have a writer's
group. If they don't, volunteer to start one. After the library, try a
nearby bookstore. From national chains to independently-owned
bookstores, owners and managers are eager to have any type of program that
emphasizes reading and writing. Book discussion groups, as well, often have
budding writers who inhabit them. In general, groups meet twice a month or
monthly. It's tougher, I agree, when you live in a rural or remote locale,
but certainly not impossible. Good luck.
I've come up with 23 messages so far, but have yet to submit any of them.
I find many of them are actually applicable to more than one occasion.
How do I say on the index card that the message is generic and it's up to
them to use it for any occasion? Or should I put an example greeting
anyway (e.g. Happy Birthday) and let them change it to whatever they want?
Great question, Ever. For generic friendship verses, you can label
them "General Friendship." If they're humorous verses, you can also
use catch-all phrases in your heading, such as "Just Because," "Just For
Laughs" or "Just For Fun." The editor will get the idea.
Anytime you have a more specific occasion in mind, you'll want to use some
sort of tag line - a generic line that immediately tells what the occasion
is for. "Happy Birthday to a terrific brother" could be your
tag line—or at the end of the verse, inside...”Have a great birthday.”
These are just two examples. As you get more experience, you'll work
the occasion more subtly into the verse: "Since you're a year
older..." or "Don't worry about aging..." Again, if it's
a friendship card and is "just because" you'll want to mark it as such.
However, be aware there are many subsets that collectively often get
grouped under friendship, such as "Miss You," "Sorry I Haven't
Written," "Please Write," etc. You'll want to specifically put
"Missing You" as the card subject on the top of your index card if the
verse has that angle to it.
wrote my letters asking for guidelines, I wondered if there was any
difference, from the company's point-of-view, between sending a letter, an
email or just printing the guidelines off the website. It seems if I just
print the guidelines, then I have no idea what their response time is, so
I can't use that to judge whether or not I want to submit card ideas.
Also my name wouldn't have been before someone's eyes, even for the brief
time of a guidelines request, if I print off the web. On the other hand,
maybe guideline requests are annoying to the card companies??? I just
question, Anne and one I’m sure others have wondered about. Actually, if
companies have their guidelines posted on their site, it shows initiative
from the writer to simply take the guidelines off the site. When
submitting your first batch of work to a company, you can use a sentence
to mention you perused their site, found it interesting and also printed
the guidelines. While it's true you won't have a sense of how long it
took them to send the guidelines, the bottom line is they were organized
enough to post the guidelines and that in itself gives you an inkling they
considered the contribution of their writers/artists/photographers
important enough to slot specific space on the site for the guidelines.
I'd request guidelines from those companies whose guidelines are readily
available and just print out the others. Good point.
One question I had was about submitting on 3x5 index cards. The
options available -- dragging out my old typewriter, hand printing my
ideas, or buying a software program that would allow me to use index cards
with my printer -- did not appeal. I finally hit on the idea of
buying 90 to 110 lb. weight paper, typing in several copy ideas per page,
and using the paper cutter to get my 3x5 inch cards.
If there's a better idea, I would love to hear about it. If buying a
software program would make it much easier, I am open to the suggestion.
idea sounds like a solid one to me, but look at 65 lb card stock paper
first...that may be the closer approximation to index card thickness.
I personally use my old typewriter, but that's from a long-standing habit.
Perforated index cards for use in a printer are quite expensive and come
10 to a sheet. Hand-printing is time consuming and a daunting task
when having so many other options available. So, it looks as if
you're hit upon a happy medium. Good job. Let me know how it
I recently completed your Greeting Card Writing Course and just had a
quick question. I sent a batch of greeting card submissions (different
ideas) to two separate companies. The first replied quickly, letting
me know they were
not interested at the moment, but I have yet to hear from the second. Is
this a good sign or a bad one? Do you think it would be appropriate
for me to send them a quick note asking if they've reviewed my work?
In general, this tends to be a good sign,
although, of course, it varies depending on the company. In many
companies, ideas have to go through a screening process and your ideas
will be read by several editors. Ideas will often be looked at with
an eye toward existing artwork the company has in its files or toward
artwork the company plans to commission from its freelance artists.
Too, ideas are judged by how they'll fit in existing lines and how their
customer base will react to the idea. Some companies wait
until they collect a bunch of work over a period of several weeks,
then only go into a meeting to decide which will make the cut and which
won't. So, you see, there are many factors going on once that batch
of ideas arrives at a company's mailbox--traditional or cyber.
You want to wait at least 12 weeks to inquire about sent ideas from any
company. Once you've worked with a company, you'll have an idea of
your approximate wait time and after that has passed, if you haven't
heard, it's acceptable to drop a quick note or e-mail. Remember to
reference your code numbers and the date you sent the material.
Is greeting card writing just writing the verses (words only) for a
certain subject say "sympathy," for example, or do you compose a
whole card picture and all?
question goes to the heart of a process I talk about in my book &
teach in my courses. Sometimes one just writes the verses (if the
words stand alone and no visual description is required); other times, if
your verse is based on a visual treatment, you would need to describe that
visual so an editor would understand your concept and hopefully purchase
it. You don't want to submit an entire package--verse &
visual--unless specifically asked to do so. This is a common
misconception. My article on The 3 Common Myths Of Greeting Card
Writing is due to be published soon by Byline Magazine. You'll
probably find it very helpful.
I now have both your books and have just finished reading through the
first one. One questions: When submitting ideas to the various
card companies, is it prudent to send the same group of ideas to more than
one company, both of whom may have the same or similar needs?
Loren L. Burns
Loren! You may send the same group of ideas to different companies
with similar needs--BUT not at the same time. This is known as
simultaneous submissions, which is generally considered a big no no.
(There are exceptions, but these must be worked out with individual
editors...more on that in a future column). Multiple submissions,
however, which is sending different ideas to different companies at the
same time, is not only a good idea, but a must if you're going to sell
with any regularity.
I submitted some ideas to card companies however, it was before the
postage increase and I was wondering if I would still get them back or
would I have to write to the card companies requesting my ideas be
returned to me along with an SASE that has the 37 cents postage? What
should I do?
best, as soon as you hear of a postal increase, to just go ahead and
include the increase on the SASE, since turn-around time for companies is
imprecise. Generally companies will put the extra postage on because
they figure people forget. However, to be safe, you might try
contacting them via e-mail and explain that you neglected to affix the
extra postage to your SASE. Ask them how you should proceed.
Include your full name and city/state in your inquiry for easy reference.
This is a good time to reiterate that planning ahead and taking into
consideration that there will be lengthy waits in turn-around time, will
avoid these situations.