Thursday, August 11, 2011

Boost Your Writing with an Editorial Calendar

Seasonal material sells. So does topical (trendy) material.

People like to read about things which are already on their minds. It doesn't matter whether what they're feeling is joy, or anger, or annoyance, they are attracted to things which express those feelings.

Editors know this, and that's why it's often easier to break into a more difficult market with a good seasonal story or article, or with one which is on a hot topic. Hot topics, however, are usually a matter of luck. A trend happens once and fades. News stories come and go. And once they're gone, interest in them is gone too.

Seasonal material, however, is perennial. It comes back every year. It can be planned for.

Writers who write short -- whether it's short stories and novelettes, poems, or jokes, or articles or blog posts -- always benefit from having seasonal material. Preferably not just Christmas stories (which happens only once a year, and has lots of competition) but material relating to Tax Day, or Election Day, or Talk Like A Pirate Day.

And depending on what you're writing this for, you need to plan ahead. Way ahead. For instance;

With Traditional Magazine Markets: Many markets want a six month lead time at least, so if you want to write a Christmas story, August is already too late. Especially if you haven't written it yet. Right now, however is a great time to be thinking of Valentine's Day stories, which you could start submitting in September.

If you're self-publishing, or know of some online markets which are faster on their feet, you still want to leave time for editing, formatting, and covers. And you also may want to leave time for the story to trickle through distribution systems, and also time to gather some reviews and do some promotion.

So for the self-publisher, now it the time to be thinking about Thanksgiving and Veterans Day stories and articles.

And for the blogger, you may only want a little time to think up the story, and set it aside before polishing it. Sure you could write something and post it instantly, but odds are, you need a little creative time for some projects -- so in August, bloggers should probably be thinking about September and Labor Day, and Back-To-School, and, yes, Talk Like A Pirate Day.

To keep on top of this, it helps to have an editorial calendar of events and subjects. And to that end, I am going to start a new monthly feature on this blog: a calendar of topics 1-month, 4-months and 7-months out. I'll be posting that first calendar sometime later today.

See you in the funny papers.


Unknown said...

This is really important to know. Thank for the post.

The Daring Novelist said...

Thanks Clarissa,

Every writer is different in exactly how much lead time they need, but it's good to be aware of lead times.

Of course, some people just write during whatever season has them in the mood, and then put the story aside for submission later.