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Who Is Your Customer?

owlYou are a writer. You’d like to get your work published. That means you have to sell your work to a publisher. So, the publisher is your customer, right? The answer is—-yes and no.

The publisher is the retailer.

You do sell your work to the publisher, so, in a sense, the publisher is your customer. Because publishers only buy products that they know will interest their readers, you must supply material the publisher’s readers want to read. You have to craft your product to impress two customers, readers (end users) and the publisher’s representative, the editor.

Think of yourself as a manufacturer.

Most writers think of themselves as artists. If you write for your own purposes, there’s no need to worry about what others think of your work. However, if you want someone to publish it, you enter a different realm, the world of business. As you plan and “manufacture” your articles or books, are you thinking about your customer? Or, are you building something you like without regard to the reader’s interests?

The customer (reader) is king.

So, how do you know what the publisher’s readers like? Research in the market guide and/or online to identify target publications. If you are writing articles, you need to find a one or more copies of publications. Use the table of contents to summarize the number and subject matter of articles. Read some articles to get a feel for the preferred style. Find the writer’s guidelines for the publication to get specifics on what the publication wants. For periodical and book publishers, you can usually find guidelines on the publisher’s Web site. If not, you’ll need to find the listing in the market guide and write or e-mail to request guidelines.

The editor is the gatekeeper for the customer.

Offer a quality product. Research the publishers’  offerings to gain insight into what their readers want. Be sure that you follow the guidelines to the letter. Some editors toss every piece that does not comply with guidelines, so don’t shoot yourself in the foot by ignoring them. Editors do not exist to re-work your writing. Their job is to find writing that fills their need with the least amount of editing. New writers, consider finding a freelance editor to critique or edit your work before you submit. You might have to pay for the service, but consider it part of your education as you learn to write for publication.

Writers need readers. If you are a beginning writer, your best chance to get published and build your brand quickly is to submit short pieces to magazines. You might produce articles, short stories, puzzles, and poems. If you’ve had your work published, but you’re not getting regular acceptances, perhaps you need a fresh approach. Just remember—writer who is in business to get published must consider his or her customers from beginning to end of the creative process.

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