I update my resume every year, but as a writer I recently discovered I should have a publishing resume. It makes sense. Why would a publisher or agent want my resume that lists career highlights that have nothing to do with my writing career?
At a recent James River Writers workshop, I learned what to include on this type of resume, as well as how I could gain additional credentials to put on the resume. Such a resume can help authors secure fellowships, awards and prizes. A publishing resume needs to include categories such as awards, speaking engagements and published works.
Why You Need a Publishing Resume
“It sets you up for all sorts of opportunities,” said Dana Isokawa, the associate editor of Poets & Writers Magazine, where she edits the magazine’s sections on writing contests and fellowships, literary news and trends, and conferences and residencies. “It’s a literary calling card.”
What I like about this idea is that it’s a great summary of my work to date.
“You want to sell yourself,” said David Streever, a journalist, author and editor-in-chief of RVA Mag’s print quarterly. He recommends placing your publishing resume on your own website.
When it comes to adding links to articles you have written, the panelists had several suggestions on how to find freelance opportunities. One suggested making a list of all the topics you know and are good, and then finding stories on those topics to pitch to relevant publications.
Pitching editors is most often done by email. Be sure to proof the emails. “I get nervous when I pitch,” David said. “My brain shuts off.” To avoid mistakes, proof the email several times or ask someone else to review it before sending.
Another way to build your writing portfolio is to write a blog.
One area that the speakers highlighted was fellowships, which provide opportunities to further your writing and to be inspired by other writers.
Martha Steger, a prolific freelance writer, did caution writers to look for hidden fees, such as fellowships that only cover the cost of the stay and do not pay for WiFi, parking or travel.
The value of belonging to writers groups also was touted. “You want to be part of a community that really cares,” Dana said.
Karen A. Chase suggested creating a budget for your submissions. At the end of year, have an ROI. If you enter a cost that costs $50 and you get a prize of $100 that is a 50 percent return. By allocating a set amount and tracking it, you can determine where you have success and where you might need to make changes to your approach.
I’m going to spend my next writing block working on my literary calling card.