Writing is for the dogs – especially if you’re a member of the Dog Writers Association of America. Even if you’re not, the annual Seminar and Writing Competition Awards Luncheon in NYC is open to the general public (for the same cost), which is how I ended up there.
Bonus: it’s on the same weekend the annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which fills the Hotel Pennsylvania’s lobby with beautiful purebred pooches.
So, while I was in NYC basking in the glow of all things dog, I walked from my hotel room to the Golden Ballroom to attend this doggone worth it writing event, which included presentations by five dog writing pros: Carol Bryant from Fidose of Reality; Ranny Green, WKC media; Larry and Charlene Woodward from Dogwise Publishing; and Mara Bovsun from Family Dog Magazine.
Here’s what I learned:
Own and Promote
If you’re writing a blog, pick a niche that’s even more focused than ‘dogs’ or ‘travel’ – a niche within a niche that standouts from the noise. Carol Bryant, creator of FidoseofReality.com and Club Cocker pet blogger and social media community, advices you to own your domain name and site. Also, spend as much time promoting your posts as you do writing them, but select your social media outlets carefully. You don’t have to be on everything.
Focus but Don’t Fixate
Don’t name your blog, site or publication after your dog, Bryant says. “Unfortunately, your site might outlive your pet.” If you’re dog crazy, you’ll likely always have one so keep your site topic focused. “I think about all those Mommy bloggers out there writing about their experiences,” she says. “What happens when their kids grow up?” (A surge in Grandma bloggers, maybe?)
Write about Dogs for Those Who Do … and Don’t
According to Ranny Green, co-director of the WKC media team, focus not only on magazines and newspapers but unconventional writing markets such as organizations that need to develop content for members. Or pitch a pet column to regional lifestyle and news publications that don’t already have one, only after researching potential ad revenue (with stats) to support your proposal, of course.
Niche Content is Prince
Let the big guys be big. While king-sized book publishers were buying smaller publishers and dropping titles (and writers) in niche markets that didn’t have best-seller numbers, Dogwise Publishers saw an opportunity: be a big dog in a small park. Dogwise, owned by Larry and Charlene Woodward, publishes dog books by expert trainers and any other topic of interest to what they call “Big D dog people.” Charlene says, “Feed us an idea and be willing to listen to us.” Know your market well and focus.
Find Exceptional Subjects
Mara Bovsun, editor of Family Dog (a WKC publication) suggests if stories about exceptional people fill the pages of lifestyle magazines, stories about exceptional dogs attract readers to dog publications and sites. Similarly, if a topic is already a trend, it’s too late. “Be ahead of the curve,” she says. “Or even better, find a story that bucks the trend.”
Sit, Stay, Speak
Yes, you have to sit and focus when creating blog posts, stories, pitches and especially book content, but also be prepared to speak publicly. “Good public speakers make good book promoters,” says Charlene Woodward of Dogwise. Also, you can make more money speaking as a dog writing expert at seminars and conferences … like the panel demonstrated at the Dog Writers Association of American seminar on February 14, 2016 at the Hotel Pennsylvania in NYC.
Next year, I’ll enter the writing contests too. Check out Dog Writers Association of America.