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To set your mind at ease...your heart at rest...for all those pressing greeting card writing questions you've wanted to ask, but never did... 

Dear Sandra:   

Hi Sandra:

I visited your website and am interested in ordering your book and your pamphlets (all of them!)  For some reason, my computer would not let me.  I also could not find a phone number on your site.  I am not usually this computer-challenged.  Anyway, I’d appreciate if someone could get in touch with me to place the order either by email or by phone.  My number is: xxx-xxx-xxxx.

 

Colleen D.

Cleveland, GA

 

Hello Colleen:

You’re not computer-challenged at all and your computer is working just fine.  Mine is probably one of the few sites that only accepts checks or money orders.  Although I’ve been saying this for some time now, we will at least get Paypal buttons up and operating in short order.  The jury’s still out on my accepting credit cards yet, but I suspect that will be coming as well.  For right now, go to the order page, calculate the total with shipping, make check payable to Sandra Miller-Louden and send to P.O. Box 485, Grantsville,  MD  21536.  I handle all orders personally, so rest assured your order will be handled with TLC.  Also, there is new information about my best-selling book on breaking into the freelancing world of greeting card writing on the home page.  If you haven’t already, be sure to check that out.

 

Hello Sandra,

     I recently ran across your website and tipsheet site and found it to be very interesting.  I wanted to buy the book Write Well and Sell :Greeting Cards after seeing it online, BUT, I am having a hard time finding ANYONE who has it.  I learned it is out of print ( which would help explain why I'm having a hard time finding it). and apparently the few who do have it know this too and are taking advantage of the situation by wanting well over 100.00 for the book. Had I known this book existed ten years ago I would have gotten it then. Do you know where I can find your book ?  I would appreciate any direction from you. Thank you.

 

Mrs. Lynn Kinney

Louisville, OH

 

Hello Lynn--Excuse my delay in answering, but I’ve been sending a "one size fits most" since my emails have been going off the chart asking about the newest edition of my popular greeting card writing book.  As I mentioned in my open letter linked from the home page, although I’m flattered that my book is going for so much money, it would better suit you to wait for the newest, updated edition. I'm excited to be able to let people know of its impending arrival.  Also, we're putting on a massive effort to overhaul the website so people have information about this topic as a back-up until the book actually comes out.  Your question crystallizes what hundreds of people have been asking and I couldn’t be happier to finally be able to give everyone a concrete answer.

 

Hello Sandra Louden,
      I have read your site and recognized your name on several websites I respect.
      My question is simple:  when and how is the best way to email the editor for response time?     Some editors respond within a certain time frame, so I know they’ve received my work.  However, there are two others I’ve submitted to and I’ve heard nothing...one on December 22, 2008 and the other on January 5, 2009.  Can I hope if they haven’t sent my ideas back, that they’re still in the review process.  It seems too much to trust.
 
Thank you for your time,

April Brown

Mount Washington,  KY

 

Hello April:  Many people wonder about response times.  Keep in mind that over the holidays--just as many times during summer vacations--response times are longer.  With smaller & mid-size companies, many times one person is serving double or even triple duty when it comes to logging in submissions, reading them and them making a decision.  Some companies are very good about confirming receipt of ideas and in general very organized concerning submissions.  Most times, however, a writer will not receive a confirming email letting her know her work has been received.  You didn't say whether you submitted work via email or snail mail, but if it was electronically, I'd drop the editor a quick email in another week or so, again allowing for the holidays.  Submitting to your latest company just 3 days ago is a little rushed, so I'd definitely wait at least 6 weeks before inquiring.  Yes, they're "reviewing" all ideas, but whether they are then sent back to you or will go on for further review is something you won't know until at least several weeks elapse.  I know it’s really difficult to wait—the best cure for that is to plunge in anew, continue writing and submitting, even if you’re awaiting news from past submissions.

 

That’s it for this edition of  FAQtual Information Just For You.  Stay tuned for new questions that are just around the corner.

 

Dear Sandra
 
In the past, you've given me some excellent feedback with regard to queries I've had and now I'm wondering if you could comment on this.
 
In January 2006, I sent several submissions and a new product concept to {name deleted].  In their guidelines, the company states it will consider new product ideas and pay accordingly.
 
I waited months to hear from them, so decided to follow through and in their last email they stated my submission was unsuccessful. Today I thought I'd review their web site again and to my astonishment I saw what looks like a new product line for what I had originally suggested.  As you can see, I had originally sent them that idea before even seeing anything of such a nature on their site. My idea of {specific product suggestion deleted} was the same, but they have given their product a different name.
 
I doubt there is anything I can do about it or even prove I had the idea first, but I really wanted to show you what can happen, as I am sure you already know.
 
Yikes... This has really put me off!!
 
Thanks for listening.
 
Kind regards as always,
 
Michelle {last name deleted} (UK)
 
Hello Michelle--
 
I read your email carefully and then briefly checked out the company's website.  The product you refer to is really not an uncommon one in the U.S. You see, issues like this are very cloudy and you're right--there really isn't anything you can do about it.  This company could very well have had the product in question in the works for the past 18 months to 2 years. The timing of your sending the idea 9 months ago and their development and launching of it could simply have coincided.  This happens frequently. Companies do studies to see how a product will perform and it often takes a year or two for them to go with the product.  Yes, there's always the possibility they saw your product suggestion and "took" it, but I really doubt that--it's not in their best interest to do so.  No matter what I say, if you're convinced they did take it, you'll never submit to them again--plus in forums or communications with other writers, you're more than likely to talk about your negative experience.  Companies that rely heavily--or solely--on freelance contributions, are very sensitive to that and will go out of their way not to have the public perception that they take individual ideas or product concepts without paying for them. My opinion--and it is an opinion--is by the time you suggested this product, they already had it in the works.  I understand you will be leery of submitting anything else to them--and that's certainly within your right to feel that way.  I hope, however, it will not put you off in continuing to submit your work to other companies.  Anytime in the future that you have an entire concept, you would probably be more at ease to first register it with your copyright office.  Best, Sandra Miller-Louden 

 

Dear Sandra:

 

I’ve just finished reading your book, Write Well & Sell: Greeting Cards.  The information and tips you reveal are priceless.  Really great stuff.  I’ve been writing, submitting and selling humorous alternative cards for a couple of years...

 

I have a question and a problem you may be able to help me solve.  The question is, do greeting card companies have a website where they report writers who do something stupid?  And do they blackball the ones who do?  Apparently I have done something dumb...

 

In a batch of ideas, I included a gag idea, which I thought was funny.  Well, apparently {the card company} didn’t think it was funny—they thought it was gross.  When they mailed back the batch, someone had written the word “disgusting” on that particular card.  I was shocked!  That gag was [comparable to] the stuff this company publishes.

 

Why do I think they had me blackballed?  I’ve mailed out card ideas to other publishers, some of whom I sold card concepts to.  Not only did they not mail back my work, they also didn’t respond to the letters I sent them asking about the [status] of my work. 

 

Doesn’t that sound like I’ve been cut off?

 

[Name Withheld]

New York

 

Hello New York:

 

It sounds more to me like, in one person’s opinion, one idea of yours was “disgusting.”  They let you know that, not so much to insult you (although I admit no one wants to hear their ideas are “disgusting,” “dumb,” “moronic” or any other negative adjective) as to help you in what lines not to cross if you hope to sell ideas to them.

 

While similar paranoid feelings have found most writers if they write for any length of time, editors don’t have the time or the inclination to “report writers” to other editors.  The only real writing sin in most editors’ eyes is plagiarism; if an editor finds out a writer has knowingly plagiarized from her company’s line of work, then the writer can expect some sort of backlash.  However, even that will not likely include a blacklisting.  More than likely, the writer will receive an email or phone call telling her not to bother to submit to the company again.

 

So while your experience obviously was an unpleasant one, I wouldn’t extrapolate that experience to include an industry-wide conspiracy to exclude your contributions.  Editors are notorious for having piles of paper on their desk; your letter is at the bottom of some pile or awaiting a reply from an editor who’s just had a baby, had a vacation or had five pressing deadlines in a row.  Relax—and if I were you, throw the offending idea away.

 

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