by Kathi Kamen Goldmark and Sam BarryJanuary 2009
Advice for aspiring writers
The Author Enablers are here to answer your questions about writing and publishing. Together, Kathi and Sam have more than 25 years of experience in book publishing. Kathi is an author, radio producer and former publicist; Sam is a marketing manager at a major publishing company and a freelance editor. They are also proud members of the Rock Bottom Remainders, the all-author rock band founded by Kathi in 1992.
New year, new you
The headline is a reference to a marketing term from the self-help world that, frankly, doesn't make much sense, but seems to sell books come January and February. However, in the spirit of new beginnings, we bring you three brave folks who are attempting new ventures. And we say, more power to them!
Dear Author Enablers, I am a successful artist and have been told by many people that my art would look great on book jackets. How can I get my work considered for such a thing?
Publishing companies do need art for book jackets, so the trick is getting your work in front of the right person. This is like any other freelance job search—you need a portfolio, a good website and a couple of contacts to get started. To find out whom to submit to, you need to do some research—contact the publishers (and in the case of large houses each division or imprint) for the name of the art director. You can either go to Literary Market Place (available through libraries or atliterarymarketplace.com) for a list of publishers, or you can get information from the copyright page of books that have covers similar to your art. Good luck!
Dear Author Enablers,
I'm new to the world of writing and publishing. I've mainly written book reviews to this point (just sold my first to a magazine!), but my true passion is fiction. I've had a flash fiction published and now have a short story to pitch (1,200 words). I don't know where to start, though: the magazine I usually write for only prints fiction of 500 words or less, and my editors and mentors haven't had any specific suggestions as to where I should shop my work.
I picked up 2009 Writer's Market; am I on the right track looking there? Are there advantages to submitting to online publications vs. "real," hard-copy pubs? And should I have a cycle of stories written, or actually published, before looking for an agent? I figure once I have a dozen or so I could look in that direction.
If you can offer any advice/insight, I would be indebted. If the day ever arose where I could in some way enable you, I would consider it my pleasure to do so.
Rochester, New York
There are hundreds of literary magazines and journals, and listings of these can be found online or in a reputable publication directory such as the 2009 Novel and Short Story Writer's Market (by the editors of Writers's Digest Books). Don't forget to check out the submission guidelines first. Also, keep in mind that a majority of publications do not allow simultaneous submissions. Then start pitching, or shooting, or passing, depending on the season. But don't start flashing.
Online publications, just like print publications, vary in quality and style—so there's no one answer. These are wild west days for publishing, and it's both exciting and a little confusing for everyone. And yes, you should have a larger body of work completed before seeking an agent.
Dear Author Enablers,
I am finishing my first novel. In my book I write that a woman is singing "Aura Lee," an old song. Do I need permission from the author or anyone involved to use the name of the song?
It's our understanding that mentioning the title of a song does not require permission. If you want to quote lyrics, however, you have to find out who holds the copyright and usually pay a small fee for usage. (You can easily check the BMI, ASCAP and SESAC music-rights agency websites for this information.) In the case of "Aura Lee," the song is old enough that chances are it has drifted into public domain, which means no one gets to charge money for usage. (We notice Elvis had no problem borrowing the melody as the tune for "Love Me Tender," and he's, well, the King.) So you've got something old (a song in public domain), something new (your novel), something borrowed ("Aura Lee") and something blue ("Love Me Tender"). All you have to do now is set a date.