Some of the best essay advice ever

I have been looking for places to send my essays. Marketing never ends in this business. There are several challenges: I want to submit to publications where the chances of acceptance are good; I want my stuff published in places where both regular people and important people in publishing will read it, and I would love to get paid. Also, I don’t want to write junk. Compared to finding homes for my stories, writing them is the easy part.

Sending out essays is a lot easier than it used to be because most publications take submissions online. No more packaging perfect copies, letters and self-addressed stamped envelopes in 9 x 12 envelopes and taking them to the post office. But that easiness should not fool anyone into thinking marketing still doesn’t take some serious work.

It is vital to find the right publications, read them to make sure what you’re sending is a good fit, and follow their guidelines down to the last keystroke. And proofread. I almost sent out a letter today with the name of the magazine spelled wrong. Yikes.

But what do they want? Most publication guidelines are pretty vague about content.  I was thrilled to find the guidelines for the New York Times Magazine “Lives” section. It’s the best advice I’ve ever seen for writing an essay. Among the tips: “More action, more details, less rumination” and “don’t try to fit your whole life into one Lives essay.” Click here for the whole list in “How to Write a ‘Lives’ Essay.”

After reading those suggestions, I’m going to take another look at what I’m sending out. You should, too.

Then, as always, go write.