I’d like to welcome my friend and avid freelance writer, Kathleen Ewing as guest blogger this morning. She offers some great advice for finding writing markets. Heed her suggestions and you’ll surely increase your article/story sales.
Finding Your Markets–by Kathleen Ewing
Before you fork over a chunk of money to subscribe to a writer’s market database, try your hand at compiling your own market list by using the power of search engines. You will discover markets better targeted to your specific needs at no cost other than a few minutes on the computer.
Start with your favorite search tool. Google, Bing, Yahoo and AltaVista are some of the most popular. Enter a plain language search string such as “fiction markets” or “freelance writing markets” or “magazine editorial guidelines” without the quotation marks. If you find nothing of interest, don’t search beyond the first two pages of results. You may find the word “fiction” in one portion of the results and “markets” in another. To eliminate that occurrence, place the quotation marks around your search string so the search will find only that exact phrase. By capitalizing “Fiction Markets,” you will be more likely to find results that have that phrase for the title of the article or website page.
If you are finding the horror genre markets included in the results and you wish to eliminate them, type the phrase “fiction markets” not horror. Some search engines will give you different results if you type “fiction markets” –horror. For more targeted results, add your genre to the search string: “romance fiction markets” not paranormal or “fiction markets” +romance. Always try the plain language version before you try the +/- option. When using the symbols, don’t leave a space between the symbol and the word you are adding to or deleting from the search.
Experiment with various keyword combinations to find what works best for you. Discard any search strings that yield poor results, but make sure you write down each of your successful search strings so you can apply them later at other search engines. Each search tool produces slightly different results. At http://www.thesearchenginelist.com you will find a list of those search tools. It’s not a complete list, but it is fairly comprehensive, and includes a brief description of the type of coverage you can expect from each search site. Select the ones that most closely define the type of material you are seeking.
Don’t be intimidated by the “Advanced Search” feature of the search engine. It is simply an additional device used to refine your search. Some tools, such as AltaVista or AskJeeves, permit you to type a search string in the form of a simple question. In addition, most search sites have a page that offers tips and shortcuts on how to search that are specific to that site. Check these options to assure that you are getting the best research from that site.
Finally, try search engines that pull results simultaneously from several search tools. Three of the top meta-search tools, Dogpile, WebCrawler and MetaCrawler, all compile results from a variety of major search sites such as Google, Yahoo and AltaVista as well as others.
No more paying someone else a fee to do the searching for you. No more hours wasted sifting through dozens of generalized market lists. Soon you will have your own database of markets, every item of which you personally targeted specifically for your writing products.
Kathleen Ewing is a freelance writer who is working on her first novel.