Getting Over the Transom

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Writer's Little Instruction Book: Getting Published by Paul Raymond Martin

Denise and I have never met. Never networked at a writers conference. Never chatted on the telephone or the Internet. Yet she assigned me to write a monthly how-to column for a newsletter she edited.

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Our relationship began when I noticed an item about her newsletter in a writer's magazine. I requested guidelines and a sample issue. I submitted my work over the transom. (Many offices used to have a window above the door called a transom, and it was often tilted open as night for ventilation. Legend has it that developing writers, without an agent or industry contacts, would submit their work by throwing it through the open transom after hours.)

Denise declined the first two articles I sent her but responded with handwritten notes. On my third try, acceptance! After that, she continued to turn down some queries and accept others. We kept in touch.

Two years after our initial contact, Denise invited me to create a how-to column for the newsletter. I stumbled a bit at first, but she kept me on track. One by one, for eighteen months, the columns were written and published until Denise shut down her newsletter.

As important as personal relationship are in the writing business, publication is not merely a matter of who you know. The door to publishing can be opened with persistence, professionalism, and good writing. Denise and I still haven't met.