Resell your article again and again? Here’s the needed tool.

If you’ve had a good article in print, why not sell it again and again? To do that you need a cover letter to send to the second editor.

These are full-page letters sent to editors who buy reprints (same as second rights)—usually editors who pay on publication. If you sold first rights to the original purchaser, this gives you an opportunity to sell the same text again and again, each non-exclusively! The letter accompanies a copy of the manuscript that you want to resell, in print as it appeared in the publication that bought first rights or as a digital attachment. (I used to cut up the printed article and paste it on mimeo paper to be read in consecutive order, with photos as printed pasted last or where they fit. Most important was that the article was readable, so sometimes it was necessary to copy it at 150% or more.)

That probably seems like using a crank to start a car! Now I send the cover letter and include either a link to the article I want to sell, or as an attachment (though many editors won’t open attachments).

I give details about this process in a digital report called “25 Professional Query and Cover Letters” from which this blog’s query letter was extracted, which is also available from Kindle or Nook). Details as well in the Travel Writer’s Guide.

Here is the format I generally use: (1) two paragraphs selling the idea in prose similar to the article enclosed; (2) the third paragraph discusses rights: I’m selling reprint (or second) rights or I can rewrite it for a first rights sale; (3) the photos are again available for purchase, plus others not in the article that I’ll gladly provide for possible use; (4) how the original (or rewritten) text can be sent, for their selection, and (5) a bit about my writing background, with a kicker closer. Include an SASE, a return postcard, or at least your email address in the cover letter.

What follows is one of my favorite cover letters, because it sold a lot of reprints! The process has hardly changed at all, and I’ve modified it where it has. Use this as an example, if it will help.

[Return address]
[Phone/email address]
December 1, 1995

[Editor’s name]
[Title, publication]

Dear _______:

Your readers are my kind of people: history buffs. A date doesn’t make them swoon. Then-and-now mental leaps don’t give them cramps.

So they should particularly enjoy a fun, fact-filled article about life exactly 100 years ago. The year 1896 provides a perfect mirror to see how far we’ve progressed in a century: the only plane flying then weighed 28 pounds; Ford’s car, his first, was a two-cylinder “quadricycle”; there were three permanent movie theaters in the world; I.B.M. and annual stock balance sheets were brand new; Marconi was yet to send his first radio transmission; gold was rumored on the Klondike; a balloon crashed trying to be the first to fly the North Pole, while the South Pole remained unseen; the first modern Olympics began that year; radioactivity was discovered, and violins cost $2 at Sears.

First rights to the article attached were sold to ______, which published the piece two months back. I am offering you second rights to the text as is. Or I can significantly rewrite it to emphasize, through anecdote and quote, the historical anomalies and odd similarities between that time and now. Just let me know.

The photos you see in the article reproduction are also available on a one-time rights basis. Or I can send you some 50 choices to select from, to give your rendition its own visuals. If you use jpgs, please explain how you want them submitted.

The actual copy can be sent two ways, if interested: (1) you can simply use the article as sent, or (2) I can attach it to an email. Just tell me which works best for you, _____.

Me? Some 1,600 articles in print and author of a dozen books, including How to Sell More Than 75% of Your Freelance Writing and The Travel Writer’s Guide. Would you let me know your verdict in the enclosed SASE or by email (address above? I hope you and your readers are up for a fun century-link!

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

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Emceeing or show planning: What to remember when prepping a one-hour presentation

This coming Saturday I will give a 75-minute presentation to BAIPA in San Rafael, CA, about niche publishing.

I’ve been giving presentations (seminars, workshops, breakout sessions, speeches, or talks) for about 30 years (in fact, 2000+ times, paid), but this Saturday’s is a free program, in part because I’m a BAIPA member, I want to share this unique information, and because they asked!

So let me share what is going through my mind about five days before the talk, in part because so many people have asked me I prepare before I speak. Incidentally, free or paid, there’s almost no difference.

First, I have to know what the listeners know about the topic, what they want to know, and anything I must avoid saying.

BAIPAfolk (Bay Area Independent Publishers Assn) have almost all published (mostly self-published) at least one book. My guess is that about a third of their titles are for children, another third is adult fiction, and the rest, adult nonfiction. Since my topic addresses that last third, I suspect they want to know how they can convert their present book or write a future nonfiction book for niche readers. I suspect that the rest want the same information, and if at all possible, they’d like to know if fiction or books for kids can be sold the niche route. (Not really.)

So I must be careful not to malign fiction or children’s work, rather to focus on nonfiction.

Since most of them both wrote and published their book(s), I needn’t dwell too long on the writing and book design: they are experienced in their chosen category. I will recommend that they find five other books directed at the same age level and to the same niche they will write to, read them carefully and fully, and from them outline what they need in content and style to sell their own book to this new market.

What most of my listeners don’t know is the upside-down marketing process for niching. (The full process is in my book Niche Publishing: Publish Profitably Every Time). In summary, they will likely find a pressing need or resolve an aggravating frustration, frame their solution so it works specifically with folks in that niche, then create a pretest mailed to a selected number from the niche (like 200 or 500). The test will be a flyer, a cover note, and a stamped, return postcard. The flyer will tell the book’s title, table of contents, price, book format, the author’s bio, and approximate page count. If the reply brings enough positive responses (like “yes, I will pay that much for that book”) that the venture will be profitable, then the author/publisher finishes the book, has it printed, sends a flyer by direct mail to the niche, and mails (or digitally sends) the ordered book.


Before I forget, if you are interested in emceeing, here are three other, related blogs and four speaking products that you should find helpful. (All but one by Gordon Burgett, who has given 2000+ paid speaking/emceeing performances.)

* “Emceeing: how to write a script that works! (posted 7/5/12)
* “Emceeing: writing a full script for a two-hour show” (posted 11/4/12)
* “Emceeing: the thinking behind writing the script for the 11/4 two-hour show script” (posted 12/27/12)

* A new $4.95 ebook including the above blogs plus more how-to information is at “Emceeing, Show Planning, and Script Writing,” plus an excellent booklet, “How to Be a Great Emcee” from SpeakerNetNews ($4.85) is buyable, full of current, applicable “emceeing” information.

* “Four Special Tools That Get Speakers Booked First!” (ebook, available through order form or from Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords)
* “How to Set Up and Market Your Own Seminar” (audio seminar with workbook, available through order form)


That’s a very fast summary, but my talk must explain how that process works, the listener’s role in it, and what they must do (and spend) step by step. I must give them an example of each of the testing tools, plus a list of the steps in order to follow. I do that by creating a link list that those interested can peruse and call up as needed; i.e., a sample reply postcard they can see on their monitor or print out. (Here is a link to the link list.)

So I must explain what niche publishing/marketing is, where they find niches, how they can participate, and the mechanism by which the pretest marketing can almost eliminate risk and can keep their costs minimal until they know what kind of book they can produce that will pay for itself many times over.

The other major concern is keeping their questions few and on track so all can follow the procedure as it is explained. Thus I will ask them to please note down any question, and I will open up the talk at three points to clarify or expand anything not sufficiently explained.

The rest is Speaking 101: start and end on time, remember to thank those most responsible for your appearance, speak clearly and maintain eye contact with the crowd, limit the items in focus to about three at a time, provide a handout (or a digital link to the support material) that reduces their need to take notes, dress properly, and have fun.

I hope this quick review serves as a helpful checklist when you too are speaking-bound!

Oh yes, do I write the presentation out word for word, then memorize it? I write out the opening, plus the closing paragraph, memorize them, but keep a note card in front of me in case I draw a blank, usually on names. The rest I organize in outline form, the major points in order with the key items to explain about each, and where I will use visuals–which when, and the point of each. If I have a humorous insert I will write in the first line and punch line and circle them. I usually go through the entire presentation once, and sometimes write in good segues between key points in the margin. If it’s a new topic and/or a major presentation, I might mentally deliver it again a few times before speaking.

Best Wishes,

Gordon Burgett

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