Interview Transcripts

Breaking In: Melanie Snyder, ICL and LR Graduate 4/1/04



Legend:
Questions from the Audience are presented in red.
Answers by the Speaker are in black.
The Moderator's comments are in blue.

Mary Rosenblum

Good evening all, and happy spring! At least I hope it's spring where you are!

 

Welcome to our Professional Connection live interview.

 

Tonight we'll visit with Melanie Snyder, a 1998 graduate of ICL and a 2003 graduate of LWRG.

 

Melanie has published articles, stories and poems with Cricket, Guideposts for Kids, Harcourt Educational Publishers, LexisNexis, SIRS Publishing, AlbemarleKids, Charlottesville Business Journal and a variety of other national, regional and special interest print and web publications.

 

She has also received awards in several short story contests.

 

Melanie, welcome!

Melanie Snyder

Thanks Mary! Good to be here

 

Mary was my LRWG instructor - and she was terrific too!

Mary Rosenblum

I have to say that this is a special pleasure to me, as your instructor! I think you have gotten the most from the ICL and Long Ridge courses.  And you were a great student!

Melanie Snyder

Well, I think in terms of Return on Investment ...

 

So I was determined to earn back my tuition in article sales.

Mary Rosenblum

I'd say you are well on the way! LOL.

 

Are you keeping track to see when you reach the 'paid back' goal?

Melanie Snyder

Hmmm good question - actually I haven't gone to THAT level of bookkeeping.

 

But maybe I will add up those numbers - just to see!

Mary Rosenblum

Well, I know people have a lot of questions, and we'll start getting to them in just a minute here

 

but first I'd like to say something. One of the reasons I wanted to have you here is that you are a good writer...

Mary Rosenblum

but you are succeeding because you are working at it! And that's what I'd really like to share with other students out there -- the fact that your talent is yours to make into success or not.

Melanie Snyder

Well, it IS some work . . .

Mary Rosenblum

No kidding!

Melanie Snyder

It doesn't come easy. But I'm having a lot of fun with it too.

Mary Rosenblum

So how did this all start? Where did writing come into your life? Or should I say when?

Melanie Snyder

Age 9. A coal bin in my best friend's basement. Janine Wenger and I had a writer's club...

 

Just the two of us. We'd sit down there under a bare light bulb that swung from a thin cord from the black ceiling

 

and we'd write poems. Here's one of my first: "Cars and trucks and bikes go by

 

Airplanes and helicopters up in the sky

 

How far to the airport? Maybe a mile. Then suddenly, I smile a big smile

 

It goes on from there - about 2 pages worth of age 9 poetry. You can see I was destined for writing LOL!)

Mary Rosenblum

Wow, you were! AND you kept that early masterpiece. I wish I had kept mine!

Melanie Snyder

I have a whole folder of "Melanie G Snyder - The Early Years". Think I'd throw away what's destined to be a collector's item?? LOL

Mary Rosenblum

There you go...contributions for many charity auctions in the future!  So what inspired you to sign up for the ICL course?

Melanie Snyder

I had wanted to write for children for YEARS - then I HAD one (a child, I mean) - and thought what better test market than this?

Mary Rosenblum

That certainly is true!

Melanie Snyder

So, when I was home on maternity leave, I thought a lot about how I'd get started. Those funny little ICL "So you want to write for children" ads had always intrigued me

 

so I sent away for the info packet. The rest, as they say, is history.

 

I started ICL when I was living in the US

 

then moved overseas and continued from over there.

Mary Rosenblum

Why did you decide to go on with the adult course after you finished?

Melanie Snyder

I found that what really thrilled me was writing non-fiction

 

and there seemed to be a good market for it - in the adult as well as children's markets.

 

So I decided I wanted to expand my "repertoire" and be able to write good non-fiction for adults as well.

 

Funny thing is - it's ALL about "story" - whether you're writing for adults or children.

Mary Rosenblum

You said it, dear! That's the heart of writing...fiction or non!

ladybird39pm

Melanie did you have fears of rejection as you sent in your early submissions?

Melanie Snyder

Hi Ladybird39pm (great name BTW!) - ABSOLUTELY! I wanted to go to the mailbox - but DIDN"T want to go to the mailbox - if you know what I mean...

 

But I read something recently that made me think about rejection differently - and that is that every rejection is, first and foremost, one person's opinion

 

and that having gone out and sought that opinion is a sign of STRENGTH and COURAGE on your part as a writer.

 

That the response - even if it's a rejection - means that you are WORKING at being a writer. And that's what you have to do.

 

My tactic for dealing with the rejections is to have a list, before I send a piece out for the first time

 

of at least 5 markets where I plan to send this piece.

 

As soon as I get the first rejection, I send it off to the next market on my list and then get busy writing or sending another piece.

Mary Rosenblum

That is VERY well put, Melanie, and that is how I work, too. AND...as a professional for many years, I'd like to add

 

that rejections are forever part of the process. I still get them regularly. They are a 'no thanks’, not a judgment on YOU. And when you are sending

 

work out, you ARE working as a professional writer, whether you have sold or not!

coway

I never considered writing for children, until recently, I wrote a couple of fun shorts for grandchildren 5, and 9, now they bug me all the time to write another one....but I don't feel adequate writing for young children.  It's away from my direction, but it's fun to see their eyes light up. So I could do your reverse and write for children as well as adults, maybe?

Melanie Snyder

That's right - rejection really does just mean "No thanks" - not "you're a loser" or anything dreadful like that.

 

I think if you're a writer, you should always be exploring new genres, new audiences. It stretches your creativity, helps you to grow professionally. Look at it this way.

 

If you were in an office job - would you turn down different assignments that were something different from what you do every day? Probably not. As writers, sometimes

 

we don't think of ourselves as professionals, as business people, as having a "real job" - but I think you HAVE TO think of it as a real job

 

and pursue the same kinds of opportunities for training, expanding your knowledge, and growing your business that you'd pursue if you were a business owner.

Mary Rosenblum

AMEN!

sailor

I've only submitted a few articles so far. The magazines seem to take way longer than their guidelines say to respond. Was that your experience in the beginning?

Melanie Snyder

Hi sailor (ok, I have to laugh - I've ALWAYS wanted to say that! LOL) - Yes, often the magazines take a long time to respond.

 

What is changing is that simultaneous submissions are more "acceptable" than they used to be

 

and also, it is perfectly acceptable to contact a magazine editor (by email or by letter) after 4 months or so and just politely ask

 

whether they've had an opportunity to review your mss and when you might expect a reply.

 

Editors do understand that we're professionals out here trying to make a living

 

and they'll respond positively to a professional and polite approach that shows them you understand that they're busy

 

but that you also need to make a living. (or at least sell this article!)

roe

Do you always wait for a rejection before you send another piece to the same magazine?

Melanie Snyder

Terrific question, roe - sometimes. It depends. (How’s THAT for a wishy-washy answer?)

 

I'll give you an example: I sent an article to a mag last fall on spec (means they didn't ask me to write it - I wrote it and sent it and asked them if they wanted it...

 

SO - while I was waiting to hear from them, I had an opportunity to pitch (via query) another piece that was ABSOLUTELY perfect

 

for that same magazine. So I went ahead and sent the query, even though they hadn't responded yet about the first article.

 

The result was, the editor responded almost immediately via email, said they were VERY interested in the 2nd piece

 

and also that they were still reviewing the first one. So now I had two possible sales to this market, and had shown myself to be more than a "one hit wonder" (LOL)

roe

What type of non fiction do you write?

Melanie Snyder

My "specialties" are business & technology; parenting & education; and history & the arts (let's see, did I leave anything out?)

 

I am actually trying really hard to focus my writing energies right now in a couple of these areas to really build expertise and - most of all - published clips

 

but, I got a request last week from an editor for whom I had just written an in-depth parenting related piece

 

who asked if I'd write some HEALTH articles for them.

 

This is a major metropolitan market publication

 

and this request came after I had only written a single feature article for them

 

so I felt like I REALLY should say YES to the request to do a health piece - which she immediately assigned to me and I'm writing now (well, not RIGHT now ...)

Mary Rosenblum

(with her third and fourth hands..)

Melanie Snyder

I have to say, in 10th grade (25 years ago!!) I was scheduled for typing class by accident

 

and I thank my lucky stars every single day now for that inept school administrator who put me in typing class.

 

In those days - typing class was for the girls who planned to go get an MRS degree - NOT ME!!

Mary Rosenblum

I had the same experience, Melanie and I am SO glad I learned to touch type! :-)

babbles

After receiving a rejection from one publisher do you ever send another story that is different from the first one you sent in?

Melanie Snyder

Funny, isn't it, how sometimes the stuff we're so MISERABLE about at the time turns out to be the greatest gift!

 

Hi babbles - yes, I try to keep "trying" with certain publishers - I spend a lot of time researching markets

 

and I've found this to be so important!

 

So, if I really REALLY want to get published with a certain market, I just keep trying - and try to keep learning from each rejection.

 

For example, in my writing for children - "Highlights for Children" is kind of the pinnacle, isn't it?

 

So, I bet in the last 10 years, I've sent at least 20 different pieces to them

 

All rejected ..... SO FAR!! I'm not giving up yet. And, in fact, I've "graduated" from form rejection letters with not even so much as a signature

 

to the GOOD STUFF - a handwritten comment, with the signature of a junior editorial assistant's assistant.

 

That was my latest rejection from Highlights. So, you know what I did?

 

I re-wrote the article using the suggestions of the junior editorial assistant's assistant, and wrote a cover letter DIRECTLY TO HIM

 

telling him I appreciated his suggestions, had incorporated all of them, and was submitting the revised article as he had encouraged me to do.

 

So, I'm waiting to hear on that one now!

Mary Rosenblum

Melanie that is great! My fingers are crossed for you.

 

What you have done is EXACTLY the way all new writers need to deal with markets. You don't say 'they don't want me, I quit. You keep working at figuring what they'll buy and sending it in! Good for you!

coway

Are you in medical field of some sort to be asked to write Health article?

Melanie Snyder

It really is what you have to do - pick yourself up, dust yourself off and say, OK - what should I do next? I know - send out another article.

 

Hi coway - no - that's the weird part - I'm NOT in the health field (unless you count the 4 years I worked as a nurses aide in a nursing home to pay for my college)

 

but the editor contacted me within an hour after I emailed her the very first article she had assigned to me and

 

said she liked my writing.

 

She asked if I'd be willing to write health articles for them. So, I will be interviewing doctors and doing research (which I LOVE by they way

 

and encourage any of you interested in non-fiction writing to hone your research skills!)

roe

Congrats. Have you had special training or education in these areas?

Melanie Snyder

No, roe, I haven't (if you mean training in medical field) - if you mean training in how to do research - I learned some in college - not formally --

 

just doing term papers, you know, the usual stuff. The rest of it, I've taught myself by reading incessantly.

 

Also, I have found I've had to get REALLY good at interviewing people - another critical skill if you're going to write non-fiction

ladybird39pm

My problem is that I choose an editor, send for a sample and discover that my work is not suited for that magazine!

Melanie Snyder

Hi again, Ladybird. If you're talking about magazines - make use of the library and the Internet. Lots of magazines now have at least portions of their mags online

 

and most libraries have a pretty decent collection of mags....

 

Also (Mary - am I allowed to promote a particular product??)...

Mary Rosenblum

Sure. Promote away!

Melanie Snyder

Well, I have found that an online database called WoodenHorsePublishing is just terrific for finding magazine and periodical markets.

 

I also subscribe to WritersMarket.com.

 

Both are searchable, online - they cost about 30.00$  each for a year, I think.

 

WoodenHorse has the full writers guidelines and editorial calendars for the, I think, 2000 or so mags and newspapers they list in their DB.

 

They also have some really useful info like demographics of the mags readers --

 

well worth it if you're serious about writing for magazines!

sailor

Mary said you turned a rejection into a request from the editor to write a different article. Can you explain how you did that?

Melanie Snyder

Hi sailor (giggle!) - yes - what happened is I sent a query last fall to write an article for a parenting magazine on teen gambling on the Internet ( a HUGE problem, BTW! scary!)

 

I had already done a ton of research...

 

and had, in fact (Mary knows this) already written the article as one of my LRWG assignments.

 

Remember that one, Mary?

Mary Rosenblum

I do...

Melanie Snyder

So - I didn't hear anything from the mag.

 

Then, out of the blue, the editor emailed me, asked if I REMEMBERED sending them a query about this topic.

 

(Of course I did - were they kidding??)...

 

She asked if, instead, I'd write an article about PARENTS gambling, how it impacts families, and how it influences kids,

 

with a little bit of additional info on how kids are now being influenced by so many forces

 

to get into gambling.

 

Here's the best part - THAT SAME EDITOR - is the one who, as soon as I turned in the article on parents gambling

 

asked if I'd write health articles. SO - there you are. A rejection that wasn't REALLY a rejection after all!

paja

It's a game for you, isn't it?

Mary Rosenblum

It is. You're having fun, aren't you?

Melanie Snyder

Hi paja .. . hmmm - not really a game. I try to keep it fun.

 

You have to - to deal with the rejections! (I used to have a friend who'd say, "We laugh . . . because we CANNOT CRY!)

 

But at the same time, amid the fun, I take this all very seriously. I work like a maniac at it and want to get to a point where I can do what I love - writing- fulltime and quit my "day job"

Mary Rosenblum

And if it is NOT fun, you can make much better money as a plumber!

Melanie Snyder

Well, the way I look at it, if I don't try to have some fun and keep loving writing - that will show in what I write - and then, it's all downhill from there!

Mary Rosenblum

Yep. :-)

pook

When you research a topic, do you also give your opinion? How do you find your slant?

Melanie Snyder

Hi pook - if it's nonfiction, I try to keep my opinions out of it. Having said that

 

I also write about things that interest me, or things I feel are important

 

so I guess that in itself is a form of "opinion" about the topic.

 

As far as slant - that's a terrific question. Actually, I set a goal for myself at the beginning of this year

 

to make sure that for every TOPIC I was going to take time to research and write about

 

that I'd make sure I had at least 3-5 possible markets

 

and at least 5 different slants mapped out before I even started my research.

 

That way - the return on my investment of time in the research and writing would have a much better chance of being POSITIVE ROI!

 

(can you tell I was a business major??)

Mary Rosenblum

ROI = Return on Investment for the non-business majors out there. :-)

Melanie Snyder

oops - thanks Mary.

Mary Rosenblum

That is exactly how the full-time freelancers I know do it, Melanie.

 

And they are supporting families that way.

Melanie Snyder

I went along for a long time NOT thinking about my writing as a serious business...and because I didn't treat it like serious business, I didn't get very far.

 

It wasn't until I really sat down, wrote up a business plan, set goals for myself, set up a website (stand by for shameless self-promotion)

 

www.MelanieGSnyder.com

 

that I started really moving forward.  Yes - it has nothing to do with what KIND of writing you're doing - writing IS a business! And, fortunately, also a great pleasure!

Mary Rosenblum

And, by the way, this same sense of 'business' is what helps you in fiction, too. You CAN plan your submissions to help your career!

roe

How do you decide which topics to write about. You must have an interest in them obviously, but what makes you decide?

Melanie Snyder

Hi roe - good question. As I said earlier, I've been trying to focus a bit more.

 

So, I'm working right now on topics in education (which I've always been HUGELY passionate about - issues in public schools, character education

 

and also parenting (which I HAVE to be passionate about

 

because I have two teenagers!!)

 

Sometimes I'll read something that piques my interest and think, WOW, I really should know more about that.

 

Next thing I know, I've delved into research.

 

Then I think - gee, I know enough that I could write a short article (that's how the Internet gambling article got started!)

 

Then, of course, there's that pesky health article assignment - on appendicitis! Anyone know anything about that? Email me later at Melanie@MelanieGSnyder.com

rupbert

Will you submit educational topics to professional journals?

Melanie Snyder

Hi rupbert - I tend to write more "for the masses" - not scientific stuff or professional-journal stuff really.

 

I aim for good quality consumer magazines

 

and not just the ones that appear on the popular mag rack at Barnes & Noble

 

(in fact some of those are actually quite awful - though they're great to have as a clip!)

 

Anyway - I like to write about topics that regular folks like me might be interested to know about.

rupbert

About how many experts do you interview per article?

Melanie Snyder

Ooh - good question. To some extent, it depends on the market, the audience and the length of the article. But generally

 

for a 1500-2000 word article, I'll probably INTERVIEW about 4-5 experts and then quote maybe 3 of them.

 

Also depends on whether it is a highly controversial topic - then I'd probably quote a few more people just to try to present many sides of the issue. And, of course, since I set out at the beginning to write at least 5 different slants on the article I "over-interview" - in other words, ask plenty of questions so I have plenty of material to write all those other articles!

pook

Suppose you want to survey the general public. How would you go about that?

Melanie Snyder

Hi pook - surveying the general public - hmmm...I haven't done really broad-based surveys

 

but I have surveyed special groups. For example: when I was writing an article about an educational organization called the Core Knowledge Foundation

 

I located some teachers organizations and some homeschooling organizations,

 

found their online discussion boards and posted questions there

 

giving my private email address so that anyone who was willing to respond to my questions could email me.

pook

Do you tape your interviews?

Melanie Snyder

Actually I don't. I do the vast majority of my interviews over the phone (including 6 people in NY over the last month - and I live in Virginia!

 

What I do is TYPE their responses into the computer directly while I'm interviewing them on the phone.

 

Thank goodness for the MUTE button!

 

I send an interview request email to someone I've located who I think would be a good person to quote

 

and ask that person if they're willing to be interviewed, what the topic and slant of the article might be, the publication it will appear in, if I know that at the time.

 

Then wait to hear from them...

 

Then, I tend to send them some prelim questions thru email, ask them to respond and then do a follow-up in-depth interview by phone.

 

That way I ensure that I'm not wasting too much of THEIR time or mine on the phone call - I already have some basic info from them that often leads to other questions.

paja

I've tried typing during interviewing. It really slowed things down for me. Any suggestions?

Melanie Snyder

Hi paja - well, I do get hand-cramps sometimes (like NOW for instance). Do you interview over the phone?

paja

Just twice for a religious periodical.

Melanie Snyder

You could just take notes by hand - it helps if you have some sort of abbreviations or "shorthand" that you can use.

 

Also, if you pose some initial questions by email and get their email responses - then THEY"VE done the typing for you for at least a little bit of it.

coway

Do you ask if they want to read the article before publication, after you do the interview?

Melanie Snyder

Coway - that is a terrific question

 

and one that people in the writing business DISAGREE ABOUT

 

so this is going to be just how I do it - and lots of other people disagree with this - STRONGLY.

 

What I do is I tell each interview candidate in that initial request to interview them on topic X

 

that my "offer" to them is that if they agree to be interviewed

 

I will provide a draft of the article BEFORE I SUBMIT IT TO THE EDITOR

 

for them to review to be sure that: 1. I haven't MISQUOTED them and

 

2. That I haven't taken what they said out of context.

 

I do NOT give them "free rein" to edit the article

 

and, this is very important, I do NOT accept their comments or input on OTHER parts of the article, other than where I've quoted them

 

or directly used what they said.

 

Now - some writers think this is not a good thing to do - but the way I look at it,

 

when I write a non-fiction piece - MY reputation is on the line - but so is the reputation of the people I've quoted

 

AND - who knows - I may want to come back to some of them some other time and ask to interview them for some other article.

 

If I've messed up somehow on that initial article - misquoted them or taken what they've said out of context...

 

and have damaged their reputation somehow - of course they will NOT ever want me to interview or quote them again!

Mary Rosenblum

It may make a potential interviewee more comfortable if the topic is controversial. I have never received a copy of an interview before the interviewer published it, by the way. And I have been misquoted, so it might have been nice!

sailor

How important is it to get geographic variety when selecting experts to interview?

Melanie Snyder

I've found that the key is being VERY CLEAR in what you tell them about what you're offering for them to "review"

Mary Rosenblum

Good point!

Melanie Snyder

Good question - it depends on the publication. If it is a regional publication

 

they almost always want LOCAL / REGIONAL experts,

 

but for a national publication, you really need to be interviewing people with some cachet in their field .

 

So it isn't so much about geographical variety as it is about the right experts - with the right level of knowledge - on the right subject.

pook

I've read a lot of material on interviewing but none of it seems to help formulating the questions.

Melanie Snyder

That's a good observation, pook. I've found that too. For me, the key to what questions to ask is...

 

what I'm going to do with the answers (in other words - the various SLANTS I'm going to take in the articles I plan to write on that topic

 

I read once that the one "must ask" question at the end of every interview is "What else would YOU like to tell me about this subject that I haven't asked"...

 

I have gotten some of the absolute BEST quotes from people when I finally get to that question....

 

so it's making me think maybe I should be asking that one at the BEGINNING of the interview! LOL!

pook

Can you give an example of the different slants on a parenting article?

Melanie Snyder

Sure! I'm writing one right now on college funding. The assigned article from one publication was 2000 word feature...

 

with sidebars, examples, etc - so a HUGE amount of research for this one....

 

So, I've turned that article in and have now turned my focus to how to take all of this great research...

 

and spin out a bunch of other articles. The slant of the one I turned in is for parents of children who may be anywhere from newborn to HS senior...

 

what are ALL of the various stages in the process of planning and saving for college, applying for financial aid, understanding...

 

how financial aid works, how the "system" works (it really is a "system")!....

 

so a very "comprehensive" slant for this article.....

 

other possible articles I'm going to write now from that same material are....

 

for parents of teens: everything you need to know about financial aid but were afraid to ask ....

 

and another one for parents of young children: why (and how) to start investing NOW for your baby's college education...

 

and another one for parents of teens: How to involve your teen in paying for college (teens saving, investing, applying for scholarships, etc)

 

Did I answer your question? Feel like I've been sort of rambling here.

Mary Rosenblum

I think you did a thorough and excellent job!

sailor

How did you change an article into a paid workshop presentation? Was that your plan when you wrote the article? Is that an extreme version of slant?

Melanie Snyder

Oh - that was a fun one...

 

No - it wasn't my plan to turn the article into a paid workshop presentation.

 

I wrote an article on "Internet safety for kids" - what parents need to know about helping their kids to surf safely online - all that sort of stuff.

 

So the article got published in a regional parenting magazine.

 

Then a woman from a regional technology organization got together with me and we said - hey, lots of parents probably need to understand this stuff better

 

so I turned key points from the article into a PowerPoint presentation, we put flyers together, distributed them to all the local PTA groups

 

and ran a workshop for parents using almost all of the same material that was in the article. You could DEFINITELY call this "extreme slant!"

Mary Rosenblum

No kidding!

pook

Do you always query first for a nonfiction article?

Melanie Snyder

Great question - I used to do the research, write the article and send it off

 

and wait

 

and wait

 

and wait.

 

And then I really started studying HOW to write really good queries,

 

how to do JUST ENOUGH research to prove that you had a good topic and knew where you were going with it.

 

I've worked really hard at getting good at writing queries that will capture the editor’s attention. Now I query about 95% of the time.

rupbert

Hi, what elements make for a great query letter?

Melanie Snyder

Terrific question rupbert!

 

You need the HOOK first and foremost - what is the really essential aspect of this topic that is new, fresh, different - that will get the editor's attention?

 

You have about 2-3 sentences right up front to HOOK 'EM!

 

Then you go into a few details in the 2nd paragraph about the proposed length of the article,

 

which, of course, assumes that you've studied their writers guidelines and KNOW how long their typical articles are - and

 

you tell them then why YOU are the one and only PERFECT PERSON to write this particular article - based on your own expertise, experience...

 

research you've done - whatever it takes to let them know you have the credentials to write it.

 

Final paragraph is a summary of what other markets have published your articles (NOTE: if you haven't been published - don't worry.

 

Do NOT say "I haven't been published anywhere else yet" - just leave the topic alone!

 

Say something friendly and businesslike such as "I hope you will find this topic of interest for (NAME OF MAG).

 

Say "I will be happy to take your suggestions about the slant such an article should take" - which tells them you're going to be good to work with.

 

Then you attach a list of the information sources you propose to use - people you'll interview, books, recent research, internet sites

 

that tells them you've thought this through - and also attach a couple of clips...pieces you've had published that are in similar publications or on similar topics

 

or if you haven't been published yet - again - don't worry - send them 1-2 of your absolute BEST writing samples

 

again, preferably pieces that are a similar style, tone or topic to what you're proposing to them.

Mary Rosenblum

That is an excellent how-to Melanie. I think you need to write a good 'how to break into nonfiction' book. :-)

Melanie Snyder

I'm actually working on several book proposals at the moment (for anyone interested in book proposals.

 

you MUST READ Michael Larsen's "How to write a book proposal" - the "bible" of writing book proposals that WORK~

Mary Rosenblum

That's a great reference, Melanie. Let's talk about those proposals in just a second here.

roe

It sounds like you spend hours a day writing or researching.. How many hours do you actually spend a day?

Melanie Snyder

Hmmm...well, I have a full time "day job" - you know - the one that actually pays the bills (LOL)

 

I work 4 days at week (LONG days) at my full time job....ironically for a PUBLISHING COMPANY - doing NOTHING AT ALL to do with writing or publishing...but I digress.

 

I write 1 full day a week - starting usually around 5AM and working well into the evening

 

and I do a ton of writing on weekends - fitting it in around the schedules of my two teenagers - soccer, band, driving lessons, etc.

 

I'd say - in total - I probably spend about 20-25 hours a week on my writing business - about 60% of it writing, 30% of it doing research on markets and topics.

 

and the other 10% (does this add to 100?) doing the "business" stuff like sending out invoices, keeping my submissions tracking spreadsheet updated.

paja

The "perfect person" part of the query has always stopped me. How do you say it?

Melanie Snyder

Hi paja - that can be tough - sometimes it is part just plain "moxie"

 

but basically it's about letting them know that you've put some time and thought into this topic

 

and I think that editors respond favorably to seeing that attachment listing your information sources - if you do a really good job

 

thinking through who you're going to interview and digging up recent research that is relevant to the topic and finding the best reference books

 

that "information sources" page alone tells them you're the "perfect person". Beyond that, I'd mention why you personally CARE about this topic.

 

That tells the editor that you'll care about writing WELL about the topic too! It isn't REALLY about "perfection" - it's about showing that you CARE about this topic.

Mary Rosenblum

Well, this is the place where I get to ask YOU what I haven't covered that you would like to talk about! And do tell us about your book proposals! Exciting!

paja

Thanks. You're the first person to explain it.

Melanie Snyder

Wow! Glad this was useful to you!

 

So, book proposals - well, they're a new and exciting thing for me

 

and very scary. I really have no clue what I'm doing yet

 

just reading Michael Larsen's book

 

and taking good notes and highlighting and underlining passages in it.

 

and writing proposals according to what he's saying to do.

 

The ideas for these books have grown out of research I've done for articles

 

and BOTH of them are actually collaborations with people I've interviewed for those articles.

 

(This is where I think the part about being respectful to the interviewee and giving them the opportunity to see what you've written before sending it off is paying off for me).

 

Two of my interviewees for 2 very different articles (the gambling one and the college funding one) have approached me about co-authoring books with them.

 

They’re experts in their field - I'm NOT - but what I can do for them is help lend my experience as a writer - because neither of them feel qualified to WRITE.

 

So we're putting together book proposals.

 

It’s fun and exhausting and pretty scary - a whole new world for me.

Mary Rosenblum

Sounds very promising indeed! Anything on the stands right now that we can go find?

Melanie Snyder

Hmmm... If you're in New York City in July, you can learn lots about the impact of gambling on families and kids by picking up a copy of Big Apple Parent.

 

And if you're in the South - you can pick up a copy of Southern Theatre mag this summer and read about a really awesome 97 year old man

 

who just published the first ever collection of all of the original songs from Shakespeare's original plays from over 400 years ago.

 

One of my most favorite articles - this man is wonderful - a real treasure of a human being. Which, BTW, is another one of the things I most love to write about --

 

really incredible, wonderful people doing incredible, wonderful things.

Mary Rosenblum

Melanie you have done a marvelous job of taking all that ICL and Longridge had to offer and making your writing career happen with your own hard work. I am proud of you! And that is the key...approaching it seriously. Working at making the writing happen!

 

And thank you SO much for joining us tonight.

 

You were an excellent guest with a LOT of insights and tips.

Melanie Snyder

thanks Mary - your encouragement during LRWG was just awesome!

Mary Rosenblum

We could keep you here another two hours until your fingers really DID fall off!

Melanie Snyder

Thank YOU for inviting me - this has been a blast. And my TEENAGERS will be SO IMPRESSED that Mom has finally "chatted online".

coway

THANKS,,,,,you were great!

roe

Wonderful forum, great interview. Thank you Melanie, and Mary

arfelin

Thanks Melanie and Mary!

Melanie Snyder

Best of luck to you coway and roe! and sailor and ladybird and paja and all the others - I'll look forward to seeing you "in print!"

Mary Rosenblum

Thank you, Melanie! I will certainly invite you back. I hope you'll accept!

Melanie Snyder

I don't know if I'll have anything more to say - but would love to come back and learn from the others here sometime!

ladybird39pm

Thank you Melanie

coway

Mary you have the greatest guest~

Melanie Snyder

Thank YOU ladybird!

Mary Rosenblum

I think so, too!

Melanie Snyder

Take care, coway!

Mary Rosenblum

Melanie, we'll let you go. Have a good night and rest your fingers!

 

Thanks SO much for coming!

Melanie Snyder

Will do - it's past my bedtime - tomorrows writing day - gotta be up at 5AM

Mary Rosenblum

Good night!

Melanie Snyder

And thanks again for inviting me!

 

good night everyone

Mary Rosenblum

Thanks for coming!

sailor

Thanks, Melanie. Fair winds!

Melanie Snyder

You too, Sailor!

Mary Rosenblum

Good night! Write well!

 

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