From Writer to Writer: Mahesh Raj Mohan's Advice for New Writers

Meet Mahesh Raj Mohan

Born and raised in Oklahoma, I decided to be a professional writer when I was eight years old; aside from a brief stint as a canvasser, all of my paying jobs have been related to writing or editing. My reviews have been published by Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper The Oregonian and Hugo-nominated website Strange Horizons.

My screenplay, “Indian Errand Day” is a 2011 Kay Snow Award Winner. I live near Portland, Oregon with my wife Sara.

Mahesh’s Advice for New Writers

As you blog, create a network, appear on bidding sites (like eLance), and/or query editors, you will generate leads.

After you and the prospective client begin to discuss the project, you need to ask yourself three questions:

  1. Do you really want to write or edit this material?
  2. Is the time frame reasonable to you?
  3. How did the client react when you mentioned your rate?

If you answered “no” to any of those questions, then politely decline the project.

Here’s why:

-If you are not interested in the material, you won’t produce your best work.

-If you rush a project, you won’t produce your best work.

-If the money is way below the rate you established, you’ll resent every second of the project.

Writers and editors are not pack animals, and we are not magicians. But prospects need to understand your boundaries and whether or not you are a good fit for the project. They will appreciate your honesty.

There is no shame in turning down work that doesn’t meet the criteria I listed above. Also, don’t worry that your pipeline will dry up.

If you cast a wide enough net, you will generate more leads. And, as time goes on, these prospects will convert into clients, and some will become repeat clients.

Happy hunting!

Connect With Mahesh

Portland Freelance Writer | Twitter//

From Writer to Writer: Melissa Breau on Getting Started

Meet Melissa Breau

My name is Melissa Breau. I’m a freelance writer, editor and a cheesy romantic who likes long walks on the beach and arguing about comma placement.

I specialize in helping business owners put their passion into words. I write freelance for several magazines, including as a columnist at Pet Business and edit ebooks for self-published authors.

Melissa’s Tips for Getting Started in the Writing Biz

The best thing I ever did for my own writing was learn how to read someone else’s writing critically. Find a really good story–what was done right? Find a really bad story–what was done wrong? Keep that part of your brain switched to “on” whenever you’re reading.

Realize that writing is not one of those things you can ever truly perfect; that’s part of its charm. Because of this, you should ALWAYS be working to become better.

Know that everyone gets nervous when pitching. Proofread your pitches; maybe even let them sit overnight. But be sure to send them out, because if you don’t you definitely won’t land the assignment.

Learn how to dissect a publication; can you tell which style guide they use? What about their voice? Identify these things before you pitch; then check for them in your final piece. The closer you manage to match the publication’s tone, the more your editor will love you.

Finally, there is an amazing group of writers and editors available on social media. Introduce yourself and then listen. They share some excellent tips… (if necessary, resort to flattery).

Connect With Melissa

Jargon Writer | Twitter

From Writer to Writer: Jeena Cho

Meet Jeena Cho

Hi! I’m Jeena. I’m a full time bankruptcy attorney, wife, and a part-time writer. I practice bankruptcy law with my husband. I’ve been writing for a very long time, but blogging since 2009.

Jeena’s Advice

Don’t ever take rejection personally. (I know, it’s hard!) Try to get some feedback as to why your work was rejected, then pick yourself back up and try again. And again. And again.


Connect With Jeena

Scripting Happiness | Twitter | Facebook

From Writer to Writer: Heather Schweich

Meet Heather Schweich

I’ve been writing articles and essays as a hobby for about 5 years, but started seriously blogging at Milk Bubbles about 3 months ago. I tend to run on about nursing, parenting, and marriage all while wrangling two precocious boys. I currently call Central Florida home, but would not mind moving somewhere that has more than one season!

When not tied to a keyboard or serving as a human jungle gym, I have an on-again, off-again relationship with my sewing machine and crochet hooks. On the rare occasion I have a 3- or 4-hour block of kid-free time you will probably find me curled up with my nose in a Sci-Fi or Fantasy novel.

Bloggers Face Rejection Too

If your article or guest post gets rejected, try not to take it personally. As much as your writing is a part of you, no one is saying no to you, they’re just saying no to the piece. There are hundreds of reasons why your piece might not work and none of them have to do with who you are as a person.

Take any comments you are given and apply them as much as you can without compromising what makes your writing special. Evaluate any critiques you get, burn the ones that aren’t helpful and incorporate those that are. Your work should evolve and grow through this process, but never lose that quality which makes your writing distinctly yours. Be yourself!

Keep trying and try everyone. Determination pays off!

Connect With Heather

Milk Bubbles | Twitter

From Writer to Writer: Meryl Evans

Meet Meryl Evans

I write and edit content for businesses and publications. I also help businesses build and maintain relationships with clients and prospects through content including email newsletters, emails, websites, landing pages, blogs, articles and more. I started blogging on June 1, 2000 — around the same time I started my freelance business.

Rejection Isn’t Personal

Some of the world’s most famous authors have been rejected many times. Here are a few that I found around the web and the number of times rejected in ().

  • Diary of Anne Frank (15)
  • Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling (9)
  • Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach (18)
  • Chicken Soup for the Soul by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (140!!!!) And how many books do they have now?
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (26)

Search for “rejected books” or something similar, and you’ll find many more.

It’s not you. It’s not your writing. It’s them.

No, this isn’t an analysis of a bad date. Publishers and editors have a perspective that we don’t know about. We don’t know what they have in hand. We don’t know what they want. We don’t know their plans.

Yes, even if you submit a fantasy novel to a publisher known for fantasy books. You’re on the right track submitting to the publisher, but the publisher may have specific things in mind that have nothing to do with the author or the book.

You don’t have teachers grading your papers — telling you what you need to fix. If you get an feedback of any kind, listen to it. Be thankful the publisher or editor took the time to provide it. Use it to help you grow.

You’re human, so you can’t help but take it personally despite knowing that it’s not personal. Take a moment. Take a deep breath. Talk to someone. Exercise. And then come back to it ready to do what writers all do — try again.

Connect With Meryl

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Blog

From Writer to Writer: Donna Baier-Stein

Meet Donna Baier-Stein

I write stories, poems, a novel, and direct marketing copywriting. I have taught writing at NYU, Johns Hopkins, Gotham Writers Workshop and elsewhere. I am interested in editing and helping authors revise their work.

My poetry and prose have appeared in Virginia Quarterly Review, Kansas Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, Washingtonian, and many other journals and anthologies. My story collection Great Drawing Board of the Sky was a Finalist in the Iowa Fiction Awards; and my novel FORTUNE received the PEN/New England Discovery Award and is now represented by William Morris Endeavor.

I’m also the founding editor of Bellevue Literary Review have been a freelance direct marketing copywriter since 1980. I have two nonfiction books on copywriting published by McGraw Hill and Thomson Shore.

Donna’s Advice for Writers

  • If possible, get comments from rejecting editors which you can incorporate into a rewrite. It is also very helpful to share your work with others.
  • Be diligent about doing revisions as soon as a piece of writing is returned to you.
  • Read your work out loud and listen for places you can cut over-long sentences or “dead” sections that aren’t properly dramatized.
  • Work with a professional editorial consultant to learn how to shape your work into a well-crafted story, poem, or novel.
  • Take courses in writing.
  • Read books about writing.
  • Practice your craft every day, even for one hour.
  • Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. (Very few authors write first drafts, final copy.)
  • Understand that writing is a process.
  • Learn to write early drafts without your editorial critic stopping the artistic flow. Then go back and edit ruthlessly.
  • Be patient and be persistent.

Connect With Donna

Website | Twitter | Facebook

From Writer to Writer: Wade Finnegan

Meet Wade Finnegan

I embrace all types of writing because I enjoy the challenge. I consider myself a storyteller, but not in fiction. I like to tell the stories of others. I really enjoy the niche of outdoor writing and sports. (I took a hiatus to play professional golf.) I’m a people person.

Even though I’ve been writing for years, I still feel like a beginner.

Wade’s Advice to Writers is Simple

Keep going. Those who continue to push will be successful in the long run. There is room for all of us as writers, we just have to keep at it long enough to find our place.

Connect With Wade

Quality Writing | Twitter | Facebook

From Writer to Writer: Lindsey Roth Culli

Meet Lindsey Roth Culli

Hello! I’m Lindsey and I write books for teens and people who used to be teens.

I earned my MFA in Creative Writing in 2010. Since then, I’ve been writing novels and teaching college students how to write… papers.

I’m represented by Amy Tipton of Signature Literary Agency.

Lindsey’s Take on Handling Rejection

If you’ve just been rejected by an agent, an editor or a lit magazine, then CONGRATULATIONS! That’s great news! Wait. What? Why?

I know it sounds weird but I think it’s great news because it means you are officially in the game.

If you’re getting rejections that means you’re actually submitting your work and that, friend, is half the battle.

Making your writing a priority so that you actually have something to submit and have rejected is further than many, many, many would-be novelists ever get.

Plus, rejection at every stage is just practice for the rejection yet to come. First, maybe you get rejected from lit magazines, then maybe agents. Even after all your toil and trouble finding your perfect agent match, you’re still going to get rejections from publishers.

But here’s the great thing: You’re in good company. You’d be hard pressed to find any writer who has not been on the receiving end of rejection. Stephen King, JK Rowling (need I remind you that the film adaptation of Deathly Hallows part 2 just made $1B at the box office?), Anne Frank (seriously), William Faulkner, George Orwell…. the list goes on. Point is, rejection happens to, quite literally, the best of us.

Sometimes rejection is totally subjective but sometimes, rejection may be warranted. Sometimes your manuscript is just not quite there yet—good but not great, likable but not loveable. And that’s okay! Hopefully, you’ll be able to read between the lines of the feedback you’re getting from your rejections to see what needs to be fixed/tweaked/redone.

The best way I know to move forward is to keep writing. Keep revising. If your current manuscript is getting you nothing but “no,” start a new one! Frankly, if you plan to be a career author, it’s good practice. The bonus is that some time and distance between you and your other manuscript will give you fresh perspective and some objectivity to help when you return.

Many people repeat that old adage that writing is a solitary art. To that I say poppy-cock! You need people on your team. Friends who’ll cheer you on when you need cheering, beta readers who’ll give you honest first impressions, crit partners who will tear your manuscript apart so you can rebuild it to be stronger or who can help you brainstorm and work through plot holes. You’ve simply got to find some people to be your teammates and once you’ve got them, don’t let them go! (And if you need advice on where to look—I can help there, too.)

So my final snippet of advice is simple—rub some dirt on it and get back in the game, because you most definitely are in the game.

Connect With Lindsey

Website | Twitter

From Writer to Writer: Ken Armstrong of Writing Stuff

Meet Ken Armstrong

I write plays mostly. Theatre plays, radio plays and some film stuff too. Also stories. And there’s this one novel that…oh, never mind.

Ken’s Advice for Handling Rejection

Firstly – hurt. You’re allowed to hurt so don’t fight it, it’s only natural. It’s a rejection, it’s not supposed to make you waltz around the kitchen.

Now, collect yourself. You haven’t read the thing in a while because it’s been out getting rejected. Read it now, cold. Is it as good as you thought it was when you sent it out? No, of course it isn’t. Fix that.

Did you get some reasons for the rejection? 90% of the reasons will be pure bullshit, obviously, but find the 10% of truth and work on that too.

Shine the thing up and, if you still think it’s any good, send it out again to some other poor sod.

Then, most importantly, while it’s out getting rejected again, write the next big thing so you’re not preternaturally focused on this one thing that keeps getting rejected.

The next thing you write will be much better than the ‘reject’. You have my word on that.

Connect With Ken

Writing Stuff | Twitter//

From Writer to Writer: Susan Ross on Self-Publishing

Meet Susan Ross

I am a self-published children’s author with 4 books: The Great Bellybutton Cover-up, Say Please to the Honeybees, The Kit Kat Caper, and The Rose & the Lily. I published my first book in 2008. Three of my books were created while I was a storyteller.

Fifteen years or so ago, I started writing my stories down after a woman said I should write them for my (as yet non-existent) grandchildren. I sent one book out to traditional publishers. After a few rejections—in defense of the editors I did change the book considerably before publishing it—and frustrations with the typewriter, I ended up shoving my manuscripts in the closet.

Years later I saw The Bucket List. That movie, combined with the new technology of computers, prompted me to start writing again, and now the rest is history. What I like about self-publishing is that it’s the fastest route to publication, and it lets me have total control.

All books combined, I’ve sold around 5,000 copies, mostly of The Great Bellybutton Cover-up.

Susan’s Self-Publishing Tips

  • I read my manuscripts to hundreds of children and make tons of revisions before publishing. I also hire an art student to do  illustrations and hire a professional for feedback on the manuscript.
  • If you have the means and the time to promote your book, self-publish. One of the best means of self-promotion is through the use of promotional products. Companies like Quality Logo Products, Inc. offer a wide variety of different promotional items to help you promote your brand. Another option is to get a print-on-demand (POD) company so you don’t have to lay out a ton of money (like I did). For a small investment ($300 not including art, layout, professional editing) you can get your books on and buy some to sell on your own. You won’t make as much money, but you won’t have as many headaches either.
  • Before you go this route, however, you need input from your target audience. This does NOT include family and friends. Make sure your book is as good as you think it is before you invest your time and money. (I had to scrap one book because what I thought was funny kids thought was mean. Live and learn!)
  • If you have not written multiple drafts/revisions, odds are your work is not ready for the public.

 Connect With Susan

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