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Since its inception in the 1980s, the IWOC monthly newsletter, Stet, has featured helpful news, tips, and information for IWOC members and the entire Chicagoland freelance writing community—including previews and recaps of IWOC meetings and events, book and service/software reviews, and advice for developing and sustaining business as an independent writer. As of January 2018, the standard monthly newsletter format has been replaced with the blog format contained on this page, which allows articles to be posted in a more timely fashion. 

Whether or not you're a member of IWOC, we invite your contributions. Our only criteria are writing quality and the usefulness of the information to writers. IWOC reserves the right to gently edit submissions. For information regarding submissions, contact the Stet editor.

ViSIT THE Stet ARCHIVES

Over the years, the Stet delivery format has evolved from snail-mailed paper copy to emailed PDF/HTML file to site-hosted, aggregated blog. Stet issues in PDF/HTML and aggregated-blog format from 2002 to 2017 are available for viewing in our archives.

  • To view PDF/HTML issues of Stet (published from 2002 to 2015), click here.
  • To view Stet in its aggregated-blog format (published from 2016 to 2017), click here.

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  • 31 Jul 2022 9:42 PM | Laura Stigler (Administrator)

    Believe it or not, IWOC isn't secretly run by a chipper group of hamsters scurrying on a treadmill. It actually takes people to keep this beloved organization going – people like...you! Wait, don’t turn away! It’s not hard work, really. And the more people who volunteer, the easier it is for everyone. Not to mention the more beneficial to IWOC (and you). So I’ve three quick ways members can get involved.

    1)  TO MEMBERS: Please! Nominate a candidate for the Board of Directors. Submit names to the Nominating Committee, by Tuesday, August 30. Who would you like to see on the Board of Directors? Among IWOC members, whose ideas, creativity, energy, street smarts and just all-around get-along personality do you believe would serve IWOC well? If you know someone, do tell. And if that name happens to be yours, that would be the best of all! 

    2)  Run for the Board of Directors. Serving on the Board is not the time-consuming drudgery one fears. It is fun. The time commitment is nominal. Just one 1-hour meeting a month. Plus, you’ve got the bully pulpit for presenting your ideas, bringing them to fruition, and creating the IWOC “of your dreams” – which could help your own career as well as those of your fellow IWOC’ers. To qualify as a candidate, first, you must be an IWOC member. Having been a member for at least one year is preferred, but not required. Appreciating the value in IWOC and having the desire and viable ideas to make it even better are what matter most.

    Or... 

    3)  Come join a Committee.  Maybe this would be more up your alley. Choose a Committee that jibes with your interests, skills or desires. There’s one for Membership, Programming, Public Relations, Social Media, Stet Blog, the Website...or form a new Committee altogether. It’s amazing how simply getting involved in this way can boost your confidence, your enjoyment level – and your cachet on your resumé.

    We all have a stake in this organization. There is a reason you joined IWOC (or may want to), whether it’s to get more work, learn more about the business and craft of writing, find networking ops, or venture out of your writer’s lair to meet new like-minded friends. But keeping IWOC beneficial, relevant, and vibrant doesn’t happen by magic. (Or hamsters.) It needs members getting involved. Please do.

    If you’ve questions about any of the above, please contact me at president@iwoc.org. 

    Not a member? Become one! And start taking advantage of all the benefits that members enjoy.


    -- Laura Stigler

  • 04 Jul 2022 2:11 PM | Laura Stigler (Administrator)

    Moving right along here on our “IWOC Offers That???” tour...Hope you got a chance to explore our previous points of interest you never knew existed? The Meeting Podcasts, Contract template, our Mentor Program, the Rate Survey? Did you take some selfies? Good! Today, we’re going to do a deeper dive into IWOC’s Member Resources page. So grab your scuba gear and let’s jump right in...

    “Cold Call Marketing” PDF: Geez, no wonder no one likes it down here. Just the thought of having to make cold calls leaves most of us...cold. But you know what? After you read Jim Leman’s lively presentation on this tried-and-true marketing technique, cold calling becomes a concept you can really warm up to. Love the excitement Jim conveys about how the mere act of cold calling “excites certain molecules in the atmosphere,” almost magically bringing in business from out of nowhere – sometimes from clients you haven’t heard from in years! Try it. It works. But read Jim’s take on it first.

    “There’s An App (and Website) for That” PDF: Members Betsy Storm and Jennifer Rueff really got their apps together for this one. All kinds of apps divided into categories to help the way you work and even your writing go smoother. Look! There’s a bunch to help you do Research! And over there! Writing-related Websites! Aww, look at that: A grouping that helps manage time. Wait! Here come apps about Billing! Blogging! and – ok, enough rubbernecking. But do check out this wildly informative document. It’s app-solutely fabulous. (A few corrections: the website to “Grammar Girl”: is https://www.quickanddirtytips.com/grammar-girl/;  For the “Word Press” app: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/wordpress-website-builder/id335703880; for Free Wi-Fi apps, Google “Free Wi-Fi” apps.  

    Hmmm... what else can we discover while we’re down here...Eureka!

    “Get and Keep Clients” PDF. Who doesn’t want to do that? Leave it to member Joen Kinnan to share her wealth of knowledge in a way that’s not only like having a conversation with a very wise friend, but will have you come away feeling almost as wise as she! Timeless common sense advice that’s not always common. Like: “The minute you get an assignment, think of yourself as being part of the client’s team.”  Many more gems where that came from. Dive into this PDF, and you’ve found a treasure.

    Better come up for air now. Maybe grab a bite (I’m in a seafood mood). Then feel free to return to Members Resources to search through the above in glorious detail. 

    Not a member? Join! And have access to the wondrous world of IWOC!

    -- Laura Stigler

  • 31 May 2022 9:02 AM | Laura Stigler (Administrator)

    Alright everybody, back on the bus! We’re about to embark on the second leg of our “IWOC Offers That???” tour, the first having been launched in the March Stet, where we discovered 1) a treasure trove of podcasts and handouts from meetings past, and 2) a “Letter of Agreement” template that can sure come in handy, especially when negotiating with a first-time client. Chomping at the bit to find out what else IWOC offers that may have escaped your notice? Let’s roll.

    First stopOur “Find a Mentor” Program. Wait, what? There’s a Mentor Program? When did this happen? Oh, about four years ago, when we finally got the hint after being asked at every turn, “Does IWOC provide mentoring?” I can now answer not only with a resounding “Yes!”, but that we currently have 17 members representing writing disciplines from across the board, who are eager to share their expertise and knowledge. And the beauty of it is, mentoring works both ways: Whether you get a charge out of taking someone under your wing and imparting your hard-fought wisdom – or if you wish to be mentored and have some of that wisdom imparted to you, our Mentoring Program is a win-win. For everyone.  ("Find a Mentor" is located under the "For Members" tab.)

    Next stop: The Business & Rate Survey. Let’s admit it. Finding out what other writers charge is one of our guilty pleasures. Aren’t you dying to know, say, what journalists are paid for writing a magazine article? What is the going rate for writing a brochure, or radio spot? And white papers: how much does one get for writing those? Our juicy Business & Rate Survey has all the answers, gleaned from IWOC member participants. Why would anyone want to know such stats, other than unabashed curiosity? For one thing, they provide you with a reference point when you’re trying to determine what you should charge for a particular project. You don’t want to price yourself out of the market. Then again, you want to be paid what you’re worth. IWOC’s Business & Rate Survey (posted on the Member Resources page) is invaluable in helping you confidently establish your own rates. 

    Gonna let you off the bus right here so you can mosey around the various points of interest on your own – all located under the “For Members” tab. If you haven’t joined IWOC yet, do it! If you’re a lapsed member, come back! We’d love to see you again. Either way, you’ll be able to gain (or regain) access to the above benefits and so much more.

    See you next time...when I point out even more “IWOC Offers That???”  attractions.

    Happy exploring!  

    -- Laura Stigler

  • 26 Apr 2022 10:59 AM | Laura Stigler (Administrator)

    So ya want da lowdown at what went down at IWOC’s foist annual Spring Suppa Club, eh? Yeah, well lean close and I’ll tell ya. Just keep it between you, me, and dat poor sap holdin’ up da lamppost. 


    I remember it like it was yestaday.  Was 5:30 on the night of April 12th.  “Da shank of da evening,” as my foddah used to say. Or was it my muddah? Or bruddah? Nah. Pretty sure it was my foddah. (HEY! Who you tellin to get on wid it? I’m tryin’ to get you da facts here, so shaddup, will ya?) Ok, so where was I? 

    Oh yeah. So it was da shank of da evening. Limo drops me off right in front of da Exchequer – a joint dat foist opened in da ‘20’s. No, you idiot! Not 2020. I’m talkin’ 1920’s. You shoulda seen dis joint! Plastered all over da walls was shots of me -- newspaper shots, dat is. Yeah, me, wid my big mug lookin’ all cocky an’ stuff. Dere were lotsa uddah pictures, too, of famous types: Marilyn. (Marone, what a woman. May she rest in peace.) Sinatra’s mug shot from dat time he was arrested for who knows what. It’s like, dis place was a history museum!  

    So I walk in, and who do I see sittin at da bar? Tom “Pretty Boy” Lanning. I tell him to come wid me to da back room, cause dat’s where da whole IWOC gang’s meetin’ up. He follows me like a lapdog. Waiter leads us into dis private room, see? All set up with a long table, fireplace, bar. Da works. Pretty soon, da rest of da gang comes sashayin’ in. Dey all dutifully take dere seats round da table: Jeff “Baby Face” Steele. Anne “The Hatchet” Hagerty. Jorge “Spats” Rennella. Kelsey “The Knife” Hoff. Julie “Ice Pick” Polanco. Jay “The Terminator” Schwartz, Diana “The Siren” Schneidman. Brent “Bugsy” Brotine. Grace “Gumshoe” Budrys. Zulma “Muscles” Ocampo. Cindy “Bruiser” Bertram. Thomas “Rat-a-Tat” Thorson. Pam “Boom-Boom” McKuen. And yours truly, “The Prez.”

    Before ya know it, da hooch is flowin, everyone’s talkin up a storm -- I mean, dese writers, always cooped up in some lousy room. Just dem and da typewriter. It’s enough to make a body wanna bust out and shoot da breeze, know what I’m sayin here? 

    In no time, food comes out: Greek chicken. Italian beef sanwiches. Rigatoni marinara – meatballs on da side. Greek salad. Greek roasted potatoes. Mediterranean vegetables. We ate like we was kings. (Or presidents, ha ha!)

    And den...now get dis: Da chocolate cake comes out. No, no one jumped out of it. No, no, no. Nothin like that. But I swear, if anything was to die for, it was dat cake. 

    Leftovers? You wanna talk leftovers? Waiters brought out boxes and bags, and everyone stuffed ‘em with everything they can get their meaty little hands on. We all lived to eat like kings another day.

    After two hours, da gang started movin on, back into da streets, back to dere typewriters. Back to dere lousy rooms wid da 40-watt light bulb hangin over dere heads. But for one night at least, we were top of da world, Ma. Top of da world. 

    -- Laura Stigler

  • 29 Mar 2022 8:12 PM | Laura Stigler (Administrator)

    Finally. The long night is over. Peeling off our masks, we are now beginning to emerge from our Covid cocoons, eyes blinking at the sun in a state of cautious elation. Like residents in a small town, we find ourselves smiling at strangers on the street – if only because it feels wonderful to see smiles. And to wear lipstick again. Then just as we’re about to jump for joy in celebration of regaining our freedom, the other side of the world explodes into warfare.

    What a seesaw life is. While one person is flying high, wind in their hair, another comes crashing to the ground. It doesn’t seem fair, does it? How can anybody be completely happy knowing others are, at that very moment, going through unspeakable suffering. Is it selfish to be happy at times like these? Thoughtless? Do we muffle our own happiness out of guilt? That doesn’t seem fair either.

    Even during these perilous times – and perhaps especially – it’s imperative we allow ourselves to be happy. We owe it to ourselves. We owe it to those around us. Suffering may be a part of life, but it shouldn't outweigh the important role of happiness. As proof, all you have to do is look at a crocus. The weather may still be wintry. The days, bleak. But despite forces working against them, here come the crocuses. Spot one poking skyward through the hardened soil, rearing its cheery head, and your spirits can’t help but be lifted. Hope has arrived. 

    We could learn a lot from those feisty crocuses. Yes, never forget what’s currently happening. Offer money, food, clothing, prayers. But keeping your own spirits up can have the magical effect of raising the spirits of those around you. That, too, is important work. There is so much going on right now that’s turning the world upside down. Spreading a bit of cheer in your own way helps turn it right side up.

    In its own way, IWOC is trying to do just that. In celebrating life, each other and the emergence from the sacrifices we’ve all made, we’re planning to get together on April 12 in what we hope to be an annual event. We’re calling it our Spring Supper Club at the Pub – the Exchequer Restaurant and Pub, that is. Something fun. Maybe even silly. But much needed. 

    We hope you join us in partaking in a little cheer that we can all take home with us and spread throughout our communities. 

    Let us all be crocuses. 

    -- Laura Stigler

  • 28 Feb 2022 10:24 PM | Laura Stigler (Administrator)

    There are some Chicagoans (probably millions) who have never been to the top of the Willis Tower. By the same token, there are some IWOC-ers (probably thousands?) who’ve never really explored IWOC’S website – never so much as taken a peek to see all the benefits and hidden jewels available.

    I can jump to such an assumption because more than once, IWOC members have approached me in a panic, not knowing what to do in various circumstances. (“Oh no! I can’t make the meeting!” or “I’ve no idea how to write a contract!”) 

    This has occurred often enough that it leaves me no recourse. Time to put on my Tour Guide hat and for the next few blog posts, show you around some not-to-be-missed IWOC attractions that exist on the “Member Resources” page of our website. My hope is that it will turn you into a regular visitor, a place you frequent often when looking for answers or inspiration. A place about which you can tell all your friends and fellow members. A place that in the professional sense, will make you proud enough to call IWOC “home.”  

    So let us begin, shall we?

    First stop:  Meeting Podcasts. Believe it or not, many members have no idea that we offer them. It’s one of the greatest benefits of being an IWOC member, because come rain or snow, flu or work overflow, the podcasts mean you never have to miss a meeting. All the information and any handouts or PowerPoint presentations are right there, to be listened to and viewed while staying in your jammies. (I can hear you “ooo-ing” and “ahh-ing” already!)  

    Next stop: Contract Link. Or more specifically, the “Letter of Agreement” Link. As Samuel Goldwyn once said, “An oral contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.” So true. Coming to terms with clients when discussing the scope and cost of a project will go a lot smoother when you have it in writing. This Letter Of Agreement is ready for downloading, offering both you and your client a point of reference and peace of mind.

    I’m going to let you off the bus now. Feel free to check out the above and maybe even make discoveries I might not be aware of. Share them in the comment section!

    Meet you back here in a month or so, when I’ll show you some more “IWOC offers that???” highlights. 

    Happy exploring!

    -- Laura Stigler


  • 29 Jan 2022 9:04 PM | Laura Stigler (Administrator)

    In light of a recent suspicious email that circulated among IWOC members, I thought it might be appropriate to reprint a previous post of mine along with a few new thoughts. Never hurts to revisit tips we should all keep top of mind in order to make ourselves less vulnerable to hackers and scammers. I hope these help: 

    In terms of privacy, the only thing that’s safe to say is that that nobody’s safe. If you so much as glance at a YouTube video, peek at a website, have a website, subscribe to anything online or even simply “like” something – boom! You’ve just given away a part of yourself. Your habits, your information – it’s all out there, and most aggravatingly, you’re now prone to be a victim of scams. Such as the one that was raised at our September, 2020 Roundtable meeting – which triggered other scam stories.

    One member – let’s call him Brian -- confessed that he was contacted for what seemed like a fabulous writing assignment from Biogen -- a well-known biotechnology company. Problem was, the “assignment” wasn’t really from Biogen. After going through hoops filling out forms and providing some pretty private information, the red flags starting waving. It had to do with requesting that Brian deposit money in a bank account. Fortunately, Brian then ceased all communication and suffered no real harm – other than wasted time and remorse for having been so trusting. 

    How did this all happen? Could have been that the member’s email was “scraped” – a process where spammers obtain email lists from other spammers. If your email is on the net, you’re vulnerable. Now think of all the places where you’ve entered your email, hm? Let’s just say, lots. So I’d like to offer a few security tips, some from personal experience, some from what I’ve heard. While they aren’t guaranteed to keep you scam-proof, hopefully they could help prevent such occurrences. 

    1Regarding the latest “job offer” scam that our members received on 1/11/22. Just like that one, watch out for those that offer general flattery and purport to offer jobs, but never tell you a dang thing about the supposed job being offered – and then ask you to click on a link and apply. A strong chance it’s phony. The 1/11 notice also told you to click on what looked like a very weird website that didn’t even relate to the sender’s (weird) email or the name of a company (which, by the way, wasn’t mentioned). All those are big red flags. Do. Not. Click. Ever.

    2. When providing your email address, replace the @ with “at”.  So it looks like:  “Alice at gmail.com”  I’ve even seen: “Alice at gmail dot com”  Looks illiterate, but supposedly these obfuscations have some degree of success in foiling the scrapers. One drawback is that it may be annoying to business prospects. So this method is up to you. Click here to get more opinions on it.

    3. As mentioned in #1, sender’s email address is weird. Whether it’s seemingly from a prospective client, your bank, credit card company or any company you may have dealt with, if the sender is telling you to click on a link, DON’T! DON’T CLICK ON ANY LINKS. Look at the sender’s email address. It’s not Kosher if the address is totally different from the company it claims it’s from. For instance...

    I received an email supposedly from my email provider, with their logo in the message area. Looked good! But uh-oh. They told me that my account “is about to be disconnected, so CLICK HERE TO REACTIVATE!!!” Their email address had nothing to do with my provider’s name. So I immediately marked it as spam and trashed it. (It also made no sense that my account was to be disconnected. I keep meticulous records and my auto-payments were in good standing.)

    4. But even if the email does have the “correct” name, it often can include some nonsensical figures, such as in the Biogen email one member received, which was followed with a grouping of odd letters after the word “Biogen.” A dead giveaway. That being the case, trash it immediately or relegate it to “Junk.” You can also block suspicious emails. 

    5. Check spelling. What if the email does look totally legit? Closely examine the message area. It might look like a genuine logo or banner. But there’s most ALWAYS a tell. Misspellings. Grammatical errors. Odd wording. Case in point: Normally I get alerts from USPS when a package is being delivered. The other day I got a so-called alert from tracking@usps.net. That email address sure looks like it was from USPS, no? But the legitimate alerts are always from “auto-reply@usps.com” (Note: not “.net”) Also, within the message, “USPS” was spelled “Usps” – upper and lowercase letters. Again, dead giveaway. Plus, the info in the message was unlike the usual messaging. Into “Junk” it went. 

    6. Enter url separately. Say the email looks legit, company logo, graphics, etc. You’re directed to click on a link to “update your information” or credit card, etc. If there is a website listed in the email, and you’ve an account with that company (bank, email server, etc.), quit that email, go to your browser and enter the company's actual url separately. If you have anything to correct or update with your account, you’ll know it by going to your profile. Either you’ll have a message waiting, or you’ll see for yourself if any info needs updating. Still have questions? Call the company. If it’s legit – or not, they’ll tell you so. 

    7. Google the company name followed by the word “scam.” If Brian searched “Biogen scam,” he would have seen a list of reports of the scam that borrowed the name of this reputable company.  

    And finally...

    8. Never open an email from the IRS. They never use email. They only send directly through USPS.

    These are just a few of the warning signs that when not heeded, can open you up to computer viruses and worse.  Be vigilant. The best rule of thumb is: Don’t click on anything or respond to anything that looks the slightest bit suspicious. Trust your instincts. It’s safe to say, they’re usually spot on.

    -- Laura Stigler

     P.S. Have more hints? Just click the 3 dots by the headline to comment.

  • 28 Jan 2022 10:39 PM | Sarah Louise Klose (Administrator)

    There are only two forces that can carry light to all the corners of the globe … the sun in the heavens and The Associated Press down here.” --Mark Twain

    The above quote was published today by--wait for it--the Associated Press (AP). Well, I wonder how many people even know what the AP is. Journalism majors and others in the news business are familiar with it, but I imagine most folks have never heard of it, or its class of trade -- the wire service.

    You can Google it -- but that's the point. Wire services were created shortly after the invention of the telegraph, in 1846 to be precise. It used the new technology to get the news out across the country, enabling information to travel at close to the speed of light from sea to shining sea.

    Today, this seems trivial. You must remember this, though: before the invention of "the wire" as the telegraph was nicknamed, it could take months for news to travel across great distances via media such as the Pony Express. The speed of information was limited to the speed of physical travel, by horse or wind. Terrestrial news was like light from a distant galaxy. The concept of relativity comes to mind. To cite just one example of the often-tragic cost of the snail's pace of information dissemination, the Battle of New Orleans was fought after a treaty was signed to end the War of 1812.

    Thus, "time makes ancient good uncouth." Huh? That was my reaction the first time I heard the quote. It was over 30 years ago. When my septuagenarian boss uttered those seemingly odd words, it was the first time, but not the last, I heard them. As time marched on, their insight resonated more and more powerfully.

    Their source is a poem by James Russell Long: "The Present Crisis":

    "New occasions teach new duties

    Time makes ancient good uncouth"

    So, when Twain praised the AP, he was right, but the AP using this ancient quote in the 21st Century is quite a stretch.

    Time often makes ancient good uncouth. Many of the attitudes, notions, conventions, and traditions of my youth were good then but most uncouth now. Time marches on, crushing ancient wisdom. I keep a 1965 edition of the encyclopedia as a reminder of how wrong we were then. So, living in the past is a very poor choice. Citing old bromides can make an author look dated.

    21st Century technology has been a mixed blessing for society. We live in an information age where bad news and rumor, fake news and misinformation still seem to win the race. When the AP was in its heyday, it was THE source for news. Today, everybody is their own wire service. The ubiquity of information technology has some terrible side effects.

    However, one must not be a Luddite. Eschewing technological progress is the wrong answer. Instead, we must not only master technology but human nature. While Facebook and other social media are often blamed for the human condition, in fact they are just the latest information technology. The challenge is to teach folks to evaluate information better. While everyone is created equal in terms of human rights, everyone is capable of being a publisher these days, and everyone is entitled to their opinion, not everyone is an equally valuable or credible source.

    The internet has disrupted the information marketplace in many ways. One of the most impactful is that it has made information valuation a much more challenging task. There are so many sources to choose from -- literally billions -- that it is more important than ever to entrust only trustworthy sources.

    Terry Nugent is an IWOC Board member. President-Elect of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) GCAC, and Principal at Terryfic Writing, LLC.


  • 31 Dec 2021 6:06 AM | Laura Stigler (Administrator)

    The IWOC Winter Holiday Party 2021 came and went. And what a swell soirée it was! Everybody who is anybody was there -- as many as in pre-pandemic days, if not more! Nevertheless, there were many, many anybodies who were not there. Those sweet souls were sorely missed. Perhaps they’ll join us next time? Oh, darlings, let’s hope so!


    The whole affair took place in the Rainbow Room at the Waldorf – oh, wait. Silly me. I’m thinking of something else. This one was at the exotic Star of Siam on Illinois Street, just east of that Great Street. En masse, in masks, we all descended into the restaurant’s lower level, entering a warmly lit room spacious enough should anyone have the wild idea of breaking into the Lambeth Walk.

    The maître d' asked if we would like music piped in. I politely told him, “No thank you, our lively conversation and irreverent wit will be musical enough!” Truth be told, our dear Cole Porter had another engagement and when asked, Noël Coward refused on the grounds he will not play second fiddle – or as he so cleverly put it, second piano to anyone, let alone to Cole. So we went without music – but nothing else!

    Did someone say, “food”?  I was just getting there! Would you like a grand tour of the buffet table? Come this way, darlings. I will point everything out – just stand back a bit, please. In case you dribble. 

    First, there were the hors d’oeuvres, starting with the satays: Spears of grilled chicken and beef, to be dipped in peanut sauce. Yes, peanut sauce! Can you imagine??? There was most flavorful gyoza – chicken & veggie-filled dumplings wrapped in a delicate – what would you call it, noodle? Pasta? How should I know! I never touched a cooking pan in my life! There were rows upon rows of veggie spring rolls, cut in adorable bite-size morsels. And a refreshing cucumber salad steeped in a sweet-sour vinaigrette. Je ne regrette pas la vinaigrette! 

    Let’s move on to the entrees, shall we? There was a bowl of Pad Thai piled high – a dish comprised of noodles and other sparks of deliciousness. There was cashew chicken! mixed with pineapples, pea pods, bell peppers, straw mushrooms and those devilish dried hot peppers (on which I specifically warned the chef to go lightly. Still, one poor gentleman found himself choking on an errant hot pepper hidden amongst the chicken. I offered him my flute of champagne. Crisis averted! Merriment resumed.) And then there was my personal favorite – slender slices of tender beef frolicking amongst the broccoli in an outrageously savory oyster sauce. If I could, I would bathe in it! Dessert: fresh, juicy slices of pineapple and papaya. Exquisite! Sadly, there was no tureen of mock turtle soup, due to the shortage of mock turtles. But we managed. 

    Sated to the brim, everyone was in fine fettle. After my brief, incoherent “Welcome!” speech to the guests, I passed out wee boxes of Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels I procured from a charming castaway in Tahiti who went by the name of Trader Joe. He was hawking these decadent treats from a rather rundown straw hut. Feeling sorry for him, I bought out his entire stock and because of that, he is now retired comfortably in...where else? Tahiti!

    Throughout the evening the banter and laughter flowed as easily as the prohibited beverages. In the end, the floor opened up, revealing a sparkling swimming pool beneath. We all joined hands and dove in, fully clothed, splashing around, gaily singing and screaming as top hats, tiaras, satin heels and sequined masks bobbed about us. 

    It was an affair to remember.

    Happy 192 – I mean, Happy 2022, everyone! Cheers! 

    -- Laura Stigler


  • 30 Dec 2021 6:16 PM | Sarah Louise Klose (Administrator)

    Editor's Note: Post was edited for Stet. To read Audrey Wilson's full article published on her blog, click here.

    You’ve done it. You’ve finished your book. You’ve edited it to perfection. You’re ready to show it to the world. Which means you’re ready for your window to that world; the Query Letter.

    I queried my debut thriller Wrong Girl Gone for nearly five years before receiving a publishing offer, and I learned a lot along the way. For example, your manuscript might be great. Your idea might be pure gold. But a major aspect of publishing is marketing, and if you can’t sell your book with an A+ pitch, how can you expect a publisher to? If you’re ready to take the next step on your journey to becoming a published author, consider the following when writing your query letter.

    1. Personalize Your Introduction - Many agents receive hundreds of impersonal query letters a week. Finding an agent or publisher that’s a good fit for your manuscript takes time and patience. After all, you wouldn’t want to submit your YA Fantasy Romance to an agent who only reps Literary Fiction. Show the person you’re querying that you took that extra twenty minutes to learn about what they’re looking for in a manuscript.

    2. Perfect Your Logline - Essentially, you’re narrowing your story down to three key points: Your protagonist, the setting, and the main conflict. Once you’ve identified those, arrange them into an interesting sentence that tells the agent what’s unique about your book and why they should want to read it. We’ve included an example below, but for more examples, scroll through your Netflix queue.

    Example: Aerial’s life in her small hometown is threatened when a mysterious stranger from an alien planet not only captures the watchful eye of the townspeople, but also captures Aerial’s heart.

    3. Summarize Your Book in One Paragraph - A synopsis is typically a treatment or full description of what happens in your book from beginning to end, while a summary is a back-cover-style blurb that focuses only on the main plot and leaves the reader wanting more. Agents may request one or both of these. For marketable examples of summary, skim the latest bestsellers on your e-reader or at your local library.

    4. Define Your Genre and Know Your Audience - Agents will want to know your book’s genre and demographic. Who will want to read your book? Is it a domestic thriller or a mystery romance? Is it geared towards men or women? What age group does it appeal to? Defining these things doesn’t exclude readers from different groups, but gives the agent an idea of how they might be able to market your book.

    Example: My Book is an LGBTQ heroine-driven sci-fi romance that will appeal primarily to women, ages 18 to 34, who have an affinity for classic sci-fi films of the 1950s.

    5. Choose Your Comp Titles Wisely - Comp titles can be used to describe a variety of elements in your book, from the narrative style to the underlying themes. While it’s good to make sure that one of your comp titles is a book, film and TV show comp titles can be particularly helpful when trying to describe a visual element to your book.

    Example: My Book blends the raw narrative of Catcher in the Rye with the setting and style of Planet of the Apes.

    6. Give Your Background - This is your chance to tell the agent or publisher a little bit about your writing background, experience, and accomplishments. Won an award for that poem you wrote last year? Tell them about it. Have another book in progress? Let them know! Share the top highlights of your accomplishments. (It’s okay to brag!)

    7. Thank the Agent and Keep the Door Open - If the agent requested that you submit the first ten pages of your manuscript, include that, and let them know you’d be happy to send the full manuscript. End your query with a simple thanks, and let them know that you look forward to hearing from them. The key is to stay attentive and interested without appearing too eager.

    - Audrey Wilson

    About the Author

    Audrey Wilson is an award-winning writer, screenwriter, and video producer with a BA in Television Writing and Producing from Columbia College Chicago. Her passion for writing has led her to the publication of her debut novel, Wrong Girl Gone.

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