mfa, writing

New article; please share :)

Click this: I Took Down A Fraudulent Breast Cancer Charity

Hi blog readers,

I apologize for neglecting you. I’ve been working on a lot of things, however, so it’s been for good reason. One of them, I can now tell you about! I had an article published on marieclaire.com last week: I Took Down A Fraudulent Breast Cancer Charity.

Please, please, please read the article and share on Facebook, twitter, wherever. This is definitely the biggest publication I’ve had to date. People seem interested in the essay, so I’d like to get it in front of as many eyes as possible.

The whole process of getting this article published was a good learning experience for me. With creative writing, you usually submit your writing to lit mags. With more journalistic writing like this, you have to pitch it rather than submit it. Pitching is less formal and involves emailing editors rather than using a submission manager such as submittable. With submitting, your cover letter is usually more of a formality and the editor is probably going to read at least the beginning of your submission no matter what the cover letter says. With pitching, your email is of utmost importance, and how the editor decides if she wants to read more.

This was one of my first times pitching and I was pretty nervous about it. I first pitched The Atlantic, but did not hear back from anyone. Then, one of my friends recommended I pitch marieclaire.com after seeing an editor post a call for pitches in The Binders Facebook group (a private, women-only Facebook group in which people post about writing and publishing opportunities–I am a part of this group, but rarely check it because I only have a Facebook account for work purposes).

Koa Beck, senior features editor for marieclaire.com, responded to my pitch quickly, saying she was interested in publishing my story. This was back in July. Every step of the way was exciting for me, as I didn’t know what to expect. (I fear I might’ve annoyed her with my regular, eager emails–oops.)

I had to fill out a W9 and a contract in order to get paid. Koa and I went back and forth a little with small edits using track changes in Word. I also sent her photos and screen capped emails related to the story. Then a fact checker got involved, and I had several lengthy phone conversations with him. He picked my brain, asking how I knew things I had mentioned in the essay, and also questioning my memory on several points (Are you sure it was rainy that day? Do you think the rental vehicle was an SUV, or a sedan?) I gave him contact info for various people who had been involved in the whole Boobies Rock! incident, and he contacted them, then contacted me again to contrast my version of the story with theirs. Next, a legal team got involved, and there were a few more questions for me. Lastly, Koa sent me a preview link to the article to look over. It went live a few hours later.

The whole process was really fun and exciting for me, and I plan to do more pitching and get more mainstream/non-literary publications soon. I have a strong interest in personal essays, and am just beginning to realize that the 10+ years of blogging I’ve done were essentially personal essay writing practice.

This experience also made me (re)realize that a major benefit of entering an MFA program is the community that comes along with it. I had not planned on writing a personal essay about Boobies Rock! until I mentioned what happened to my classmate/writer friend Annalise Mabe and she urged me to write down everything I had told her. She is the same person who later read the essay and urged me to send it to marieclaire.com, so really I owe this publication to her in many ways.

Standard