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This month we have Expert Advice from Rob Innis who gives us his experiences of taking a chance and how to avoid repetition. Ten Top Tips helps you set up your online presence. Success Stories come courtesy of emails to tutors and Useful Websites and Inspiration hopefully do what their names suggest.

It Can Pay to Take a Chance

By Rob Innis

I would love to say that all my publishing successes to date have been because of a planned strategic submission policy but in all honesty – I can’t!

I’ve discovered over the years that the all-important research and analysis of potential markets is absolutely necessary for publication success – trying to sell 750 words on ‘How to hitch and tow a Caravan’ to Vegetable Growers’ Monthly is always going to be a long shot – and The Writers Bureau courses cover this process in detail. I also agree with Francis Bacon that “Knowledge is Power” and boy has that stood the test of time (he said it around 1600!) – a thorough, up-to-date knowledge of a magazine’s editorial style and submission guidelines is vital knowledge to possess, and relatively easy to obtain.

“I like Lorraine Mace’s advice for competition entries, she says, ‘Quickly list all of your ideas, then throw them away and think again. Because everyone else has already thought of your first list.’ I believe that advice can be applied across your other writing too. “Think out of the box”, it sounds hackneyed but it is true. Readers are looking for fresh content. They want something different– so you have to come up with something new whilst remaining within the publisher’s guidelines or genre.

“However, even armed with all this information, finding the different angle or some relevant quirk to catch that busy editor’s eye is not easy.

“But there are other ways of getting noticed by editors. Here are some of my other more unusual approaches. I spotted on one magazine’s website that some of their offers to download information were out of date. A quick email politely pointing this out proved I had read their site – that opened the door. Another creative writing magazine in start up mode needed some assistance with some technical blog issues – I volunteered and one thing led to another. I submitted to another magazine, which initially rejected my article but offered me the opportunity to join their blogging team. Subsequently, a blog of mine was published as an article in a later magazine edition. Also the blogging gave me good exposure and some more precious contacts, which lead nicely on to other opportunities. And, reworking an old biblical parable into a modern day humorous setting with some topical news references recently cracked another market for me.

“Every success not only provides more confidence to try something else but more valuable exposure.

“Perhaps my approach is a bit ‘Give us a job’. Does it come across as desperate? No, I like to think it’s helpful and flexible. It’s an ‘I am willing to do that and let’s see what happens’ approach. “The world is a tough place, with magazines and opportunities disappearing daily. Many publications are choosing to stay more in-house, or sticking with trusted and established contributors. Therefore, we have to work hard to be creative to get noticed and be accepted and this involves taking a chance.


Seek and Destroy those Repetitions

By Rob Innis

“Something we, as writers, must avoid is repetition. It can make work mundane and monotonous for our readers. Our job is to write using a variety of suitable vocabulary to keep the reader interested and, hopefully, entertained. This does not infer that we should attempt to find overly complicated and pretentious words to describe each and every detail. In fact, this can result in readers becoming confused and disconnected from our writing.

“An easy trap for writers to fall into is the dreaded repetition. We all strive to edit as professionally as we can. However, our eyes can become oblivious to our output, making the identification of repeated words extremely difficult to see.

“This is where becomes a very effective writer’s tool.

“Simply cut and paste your text into the site and it will list your most used words. Some are inevitable. Others you may wish to seek alternatives for and re-edit. If, like me, these repeated words still do not jump off the page but lurk amongst your text, determined to appear in the final version, bring a second tool into play – the ‘Search’ facility within Microsoft Word. This will seek out, highlight and destroy the offending words. “With these two simple tools at hand who amongst us still has reason for repetitive prose?”

Rob Innis is a Freelance Writer, living in southern Spain, and was a Writers Bureau student. His articles are regularly published in various magazines and internet sites. He also writes short fiction and has recently been published in the anthology ‘Courting the Bull’. He is Deputy Chairman of the Torrevieja Writers Circle and a member of Writers Abroad. He edited the Writers Bureau Student E-zine, Chapter and Verse, for a year producing four editions. For more: