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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment #365

Quality Still Sells

A few years back, I sold an article to a magazine called “Grit.” They then asked me to submit other articles, which I didn’t because I had no desire to play the submission game. The reason I mention that is because, as a bonus to the payment for that article, I still receive free copies of that monthly magazine in the mail. This has been going on for three or four years now, and it’s a nice value for one article.

The other reason I mention it is because I actually sat down yesterday and read a few of the articles in that magazine. I was astounded, and not in a good way, at the quality of, or lack of quality of, the articles in that magazine. “How To Plant A Garden?” Really? Hasn’t that topic been beaten to death by now? And there was nothing new in that article. It was a rehashing of the same information we have been given for decades. Another article suggested a rain barrel as a way of collecting water for use in the garden. Seriously? I’ve known that for years, and I’ve known that because there are hundreds of articles to be found on exactly that topic.

The point of this? There is still a market out there for original ideas. Heck, evidently there is still a market for rehashed, non-original ideas. If you are at all interested in submitting articles to magazines for payment, I say go for it. You have nothing to lose, and you have an excellent chance of making some money.

Now let’s do this Mailbag thing!

The Mail Room

The Mail Room

Photo Challenge

This from one of our members, responding to the photo challenge of a bison standing in the road.

From Moon Dot: “The mother bison was sad. Her calves were still missing. She remembered the last time she saw them on the road near the hill. The feeling of losing children was bothering her. She stood on the road and looked into the distance but didn't find her children. She wanted to uproot the trees on the road and find calves. But it was impossible to do so.”

Last week's photo challenge

Last week's photo challenge

Thank You

A special thank you to Rodric, one of our regular members, for an article he wrote last week about the Mailbag and yours truly. It was a lovely tribute and it touched me.

Writing a Novel

From Jill: “You’ve written several novels, so I ask you this, as I prepare to write my first: if you could give one word of advice for a novice about to embark on that journey, what would it be?”

It’s a great question, Jill, and it’s a difficult one. Remember, as you read my answer, it is only my opinion. You can go online, look up that question, and see multiple different answers. So keep that in mind as I tell you that, to me, the most important advice I can give anyone is to make sure the first few pages are dynamic and memorable.

In writing, this is sometimes referred to as the Ten Second Rule. You have ten seconds to capture the attention of the average reader. Let’s face it, with self-publishing, you now have millions of novels to choose from, and potential buyers often make the purchasing decision based upon the first couple of pages. If the writer has not captured their attention in that time, the time it takes to read a page or two, the potential buyer will just move on to the next choice.

It happens time and time again.

And the same is true of agents and publishers. On the off-chance you want to attract the attention of an agent or publisher, remember that they often ask for the first couple pages of your manuscript, and they make their decision based upon those couple pages.

It’s important!

Capture the reader early or you'll lose them permanently.

Capture the reader early or you'll lose them permanently.

Why Hubpages?

From Joel: “I know you’ve been with HP for quite a few years, and I know you are highly respected here, as a member and as a writer. I’m pretty new here, but I already can see some problems with this site, problems like low pay and editors changing our articles and the such. I was wondering, with so many sites available, why you stay with HP?”

That’s an easy one for me to answer, Joel. You are correct in all that you say about HP. I think many of the things the management of this site is doing suck. How’s that for succinct? And you are correct, it would be just as easy for me to post my articles on my blogs and build my audience on those blogs.

But my friends are here, and that makes all the difference to me. This is where my homies are, plain and simple. I have online friends from around the world, and it’s because of HP, and that’s amazing to me. I could take a road trip across the United States, and in each state I could meet up with an HP friend. I could hop on a plane and fly to probably thirty countries and meet up with HP friends. And they would be genuinely happy to see me, and that is just too cool for words.

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This is my extended family, Joel. It has nothing to do with the site HP, and everything to do with the friendships I have made here.

I hope that makes sense to you, and I hope you stick it out here and allow us to get to know you.

The Motivating Surroundings

From Becka: “When you sit down to write, where do you find is the most conducive place to do your best writing? Maybe I didn’t say that properly. Where do you go to achieve your best results when writing?”

I really think, Becka, that this varies from writer to writer. For me, it’s in my office, door shut, no distractions. I turn off the music, I give the dogs a bone, and I write for as long as the distractions are held at bay. Once the distractions of daily life start, my writing is done. I can’t write with noise or the phone buzzing or dogs asking for treats. Inspiration, for me, comes from many sources and in many settings, but the actual writing can only happen in my office.

But it varies with many writers. Some do their best writing in a coffee shop. Some go out into the garden. Some I know sit on a park bench and write.

Whatever floats your boat, my friend. Find that special place for you, sit down, and start creating.

Back to Submitting for Magazines

It is not hard to do, the submission process, but my only word of advice is to follow the submission guidelines to the letter. If they ask for articles of 1300 words, do not send them one which numbers 1305. If they tell you they want the articles done in Calibri 12 font, give them that and nothing else.

You might get rejected a few times, but once you are approved you will be on their select list, and it will be much easier to be approved from then on.

Enough about all of that. Thanks for joining us this week. I always learn from the questions submitted, and I hope you feel the same. If you have a question for the Mailbag, include it in the comments below, or send me an email to

Have a fantastic week, and remember to let love be your guiding light in all things you do.

2021 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on June 17, 2021:

That, well noted. Thanks.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 17, 2021:

Rodric, I understand that need for money. I was there about ten years ago, trying to scramble for every penny I could. Good luck with the submission game, and thanks for your friendship.

Rodric Anthony Johnson from Surprise, Arizona on June 16, 2021:

Bill, thanks for acknowledging me in the opening. I love the camaraderie we have achieved on HP. I have been here for my entire adult life it seems, though that is not true. I have written in this setting for over 10 years seeing my income sink, my friendships build, and my writing improve. I am so glad to be on HP.

I still want some money, though! I think I want to try submitting to magazines now.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 16, 2021:

And I appreciate it very much, Devika! Thank you so, so much.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 16, 2021:

Thank you Brenda, for your detailed comments. I didn't know that about Misbah! I'll have to ask her about it. I hope this finds you well. Take care and have a fabulous Wednesday.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 16, 2021:

Thank you Linda! I appreciate that you are always here.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 16, 2021:

Thank you very much Miebakagh!

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on June 16, 2021:

Bill is a great writer, and worthy to follow.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on June 16, 2021:

Hi Bill Ever since I discovered you I knew I had to follow you. I have had good writing advice form you and it doesn't stop there. You are supportive and know what to provide in this community. Writing is just part of who you are, always sharing quality and you take pride in sharing your work with us.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on June 15, 2021:


I do submit poetry & once in awhile it gets piblished, but no big money to really mention.

But it's a stepping stone to get to where I want to it's good.

I'll have to find that article by Rodric on the mailbag. I'm certain it is a good read.

Your advice to Jill is absolutely correct. It's that beginning's got to grab attention.

I even think this is true with any kind of work.

I agree with your reason to be on Hubpages. The people here have become part of my family.

I'm sure if I needed an ear...they would gladly be here for me.

I usually have some kind of noise in the background when I it a tv or radio. I'm nof sure H could write in total silence, although the volume is kept low.

As for submissions, you are so right. They are super picky about following everything to detail.

Even line spacing.

I hope everyone tries to submit. It is a lot of fun.

Just hopefully they won't get discouraged by rejections, because that comes with the territory.

Our own Misbah has recently submitted some work & I will let her tell you the outcome when she knows.

A great article. Thanks for sharing

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on June 15, 2021:

I always find something interesting to read in your articles. Thank you for continuing to share your knowledge and opinions.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on June 15, 2021:

Same with me here.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 15, 2021:

Thank you Bobbi! I can't imagine leaving HP. It would take a disease or serious injury to make me disappear. You are stuck with me, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 15, 2021:

And I am grateful that you are here, Nithya! Thank you for being such a loyal online friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 15, 2021:

It's a great point, Flourish, and one reason why I no longer play the submission game. Take me or leave me, it makes no difference to me at all.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 15, 2021:

It is my pleasure, Amara. Thank you very much.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 15, 2021:

I hope you do, Miebakagh. Thank you and have a wonderful week.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 15, 2021:

I'm happy to hear that, Rozlin! Blessings to you as well, and thank you.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 15, 2021:

MizB, if Bev walks into the office while I'm working, I just stop. There is no point in trying. She is incapable of not talking or doing things quietly. lol Don't tell her I said that.

We had record rainfall this weekend, but I think summer weather is about to start. It better because my petunias have taken a beating.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 15, 2021:

Heart cancer, Heidi? Honestly, I've never heard of that. It makes sense, but I've never heard of anyone or any animal having it. Dammit! Enjoy the good times, my friend. It's all a bonus from here on.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 15, 2021:

I totally agree, Peggy. My India friends call me Sir Bill! Where else would I get such respect? lol

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 15, 2021:

Mr. Happy, I'm with you on creating another profile. I won't do it. I'm tired of trying to sell my writing or impress people with meaningless words about me. Here I am, a writer, take it or leave it.

I hope all is well with you, my friend. Have a splendid week.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 15, 2021:

Yes, Mary, I'm sure you know about proposal submissions. Thanks for the confirmation.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 15, 2021:

Pamela, you and me both. Pleasure I do receive from all of you. I am filled with gratitude, so thank you for being a part of that.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 15, 2021:

Indeed, Chitrangada Sharan, gratitude is the overwhelming feeling for me and HP. This site and my friends on it bring me happiness. Thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 15, 2021:

Linda, I never sat with the cool kids, so I decided to form my own club, and you will always be welcomed here.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 15, 2021:

And Gyanendra, I am blessed to have such a friend as you from so far away. Blessings to you always!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 15, 2021:

All excellent points, Mary, and I agree with all you said. Thanks for stating a much-needed opinion.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 15, 2021:

I'm very happy to hear that, Rosina! Continued good health for you.

Barbara Purvis Hunter from Florida on June 15, 2021:

Hi Bill,

You make this site enjoyable with you friendly communication with everyone. I remember--I believe we started about the same time--however, so many of my favorite people no longer write here.

I remember, Paula--she a sweet person and many more have left. I came back because I wanted to find out if it was the same.

And, I found you were still here and others too. A nice community of writers who are wonderful in sharing their talents.

Take Care,

Bobbi Purvis

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on June 15, 2021:

An interesting writer’s mailbag Bill. I write here just because of the many great friends I have made here.

FlourishAnyway from USA on June 15, 2021:

I would have no use for submission requests. If it's not accepted, one would be left with no pay and a piece of writing that took quite a while to produce, was customized for a specific purpose, and might not be easily repurposed for other audiences. Few other lines of professional work follow that model.

Amara from Pakistan on June 15, 2021:

Interesting as always..

Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us, Sir..

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on June 15, 2021:

That I agree. But I've not thought about creating an article with ideas from the mail bag. I'll soon be taking a keen interest in this.

Rozlin from UAE on June 14, 2021:

I liked your idea of mailbag. I enjoyed reading all the questions and their answers. This makes easy to create a hub. Thanks for sharing.

Blessings to you, Mr. Bill.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on June 14, 2021:

Yep, I made it on Monday today, Bill. I stay on this website for the friends we make here. I agree that to really write, one needs a quiet place. I was writing a lot more when I was working because my job was such that work was funneled to me unless I had a special research project to do. It gave me free hours with nothing to do, and I don't like to play Solitaire. Now I share an office with Larry, and he doesn't understand why I can't concentrate with his racket going on. The cats are nearly trained to walk behind my screen instead of across my keyboard, so they aren't nearly as distracting. Except for the day Tas unplugged my computer while I was writing something.

Hottern Heck today. About 94. It was a good day to enjoy ice cream with a friend. Wish you could have gone with us to Loblolly Creamery. Have a good week, my friend.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on June 14, 2021:

Happy Monday! It's still Monday. Pup with probable heart cancer is doing great and is back to her hungry hippo self. I'll take that for as long as it lasts.

Re: HP. I stay here because the payouts are better than I've gotten anywhere else. But, more importantly, I stay for the virtual family we've created. Heck, I have HP friendships that have lasted longer than those IRL.

And with that, I gotta get my Monday game on. Thanks for all you do!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 14, 2021:

It is amazing the friends we can make from people worldwide on this site. That is a perk that no amount of money could buy!

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on June 14, 2021:

"I already can see some problems with this site ... editors changing our articles and the such" - Ya but then, what would HP people do? They need something to do too, no? lmao

"It has nothing to do with the site HP, and everything to do with the friendships I have made here." - One gets comfortable after being in one place for a while too. I dread even thinking about making another "profile" anywhere really.

"remember that they often ask for the first couple pages of your manuscript, and they make their decision based upon those couple pages" - That doesn't cut it for me. I open a book that I think about buying in the middle too. I read a few paragraphs here and there in the middle of the book precisely because I know ... it's like when You see an advertising for a movie and You think it's great but really, they took the few good scenes to make that advertising and actually, the movie sucks. So, ya I don't trust the first two pages. I need more.

"I turn off the music" - You're right: everyone has their own methods when it comes to writing. I need music but with no words, so like jazz or something mellow, like elevator music, haha!!!

Alrighty, thanks for the mailbag - cheers! Have an awesome week ahead!

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on June 14, 2021:

I like coming back to Hp as well not so much for any other reason than to meet up with friends and I do value it. What I like in today's mailbag is your advice on magazine submission and with is the five second rule. This is the same in proposal submission.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 14, 2021:

Happy Monday, Bill. I enjoyed your mailbag full of good advice, as always. I liked the answer about writing as many times I have picked up a book and read a couple of pages, then put it down.

I had to find you on my feed, which is most annoying but at least you were here. I think we all stay on Hubpages for all of the friends we have made over the years. I care about so many people that write here, and it is a pleasure. Thanks for a great mailbag.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on June 14, 2021:

Happy Monday Bill!

I am a bit late today, but thankfully, I found your mailbag on my feed.

I am touched by your answer to the question regarding staying at HubPages. My feelings are the same as yours, and many other fellow writers and friends, who have become part of my life. I have learnt a lot, from each one of them, not only with regard to the art of writing, but also some important lessons of life.

Gratitude—that’s what comes to my mind, for all of them, and to this site, which made this happen.

Thank you for another wonderful read, and a happy week to you.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on June 14, 2021:

Bill, my Monday is "right as rain" (who said that—it must have been an Englishman) because the Mailbag is here. Great questions from old friends and new—obviously you are (still) inspiring people.

Like you, I love this community of writers. Goodness knows I'm not here for the money. I'm glad you allow me (dumb little sister) to tag along and hang out with you and the cool kids.

gyanendra mocktan from Kathmandu,Nepal on June 14, 2021:


Monday brings me joy of X'mass. You share your knowledge and experience with the people from around the world with an open heart. As you've said your reason of being here on Hubpages is friends from around the world. Your words touch the hearts of many. Even the newbies those who will stumble upon some day in the future, they too will learn great wealth of knowledge from your articles. I'm blessed to have you here.

Thank you.

Mary Wickison from USA on June 14, 2021:

Regarding lack of quality, I also see this in BBC articles and videos. The push for consistent new stories on their website is creating a slurry of low-quality content.

Many small start-up companies are using this as a platform to promote their businesses. They state their business problem and keep repeating the title while putting their logo front and center.

They cut jobs for journalists, and this has left a void, which is being filled with clickbait videos.

Rosina S Khan on June 14, 2021:

Same here, Bill. I am grateful for the beautiful friendships I can form here at HP and have a wonderful time, reading each others' articles and learning a lot. Thank you for your Monday mailbags, my friend. And yes, I am much much better and vibrant after my illness.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 14, 2021:

Denise, what do you have to lose by giving it a try? There is no cost for an online submission. I say go for it! Talent like yours should be shared on a large stage, and it doesn't get much larger than regional or national magazines.

Blessings and good luck always


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 14, 2021:

Misbah, you are a treasure and a pleasure. I love your weird act when you were younger. It sounds like something I would have done. I did not have many friends when I was a teen. I was afraid to share my feelings. I was quite lonely.

Not so today! I love my life, love my friendships, and am quite happy. And I am quite happy having a friend like you. Thank you for your friendship, and blessings always.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 14, 2021:

You should, Alyssa. You are a very good writer. You have expertise and an enjoyable writing style. What do you have to lose, right?

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 14, 2021:

It really is neat, Bill! I love being a part of this community.

Take care my friend. Summer is here. Enjoy!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 14, 2021:

Thank you MG! I have quite a few HP friends from the subcontinent, and I find that reward enough for being a member of this community.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 14, 2021:

I am very happy you are a member of our HP community, Miebakagh!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 14, 2021:

John, I just got an email today from a new HP writer, wondering how to make money on HP. lol I'm afraid I was not very encouraging.

Happy Monday to you, my friend.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on June 14, 2021:

I can't imagine starting a Monday without your Mailbag. It has become part of my routine and one of the pleasant parts, I might add. I used to submit to a lot of magazines (children's magazines) articles with illustrations mostly because I wanted the illustrations to be published. Those were the days when I had to mail actual physical submissions and I got tired of the expense and the rejections. Now may be different with so many accepting digital submissions. I may pick that up again because of your prompting. Thanks for that.



Misbah Sheikh from — This Existence Is Only an Illusion on June 14, 2021:

Mr. Bill, have a fantastic Monday. Thank you so much for another wonderful mailbag. Mondays are great since they are now filled with wisdom. I like the questions and your responses to them. The "Ten Second Rule" was interesting to know about. Why HubPages question reminds me of my childhood weird act. Yes, you heard it right, I said weird. When I was a kid, I used to write a daily diary every night. I can clearly remember I used to do it until the age of 19. What I do was I used to write whatever was in my heart. Saying Dear Diary....... and after reading it to myself, I used to tear that page out of the diary and throw it in the dustbin. Later in life, I figured out I did this for so long because the circle of my friends was so small. I feared to express my feelings thinking how someone will judge me for my spoken words. I was my own very best friend. I left writing that diary after 19. The circle of friends began to expand, and ideas began to be shared with others. I'd love to earn a few cents a day from HP than writing for any other platform or site. I love to write at HP; it makes me happy. When friends share their ideas and knowledge with me, it makes me cheerful. It enlightens me. Wisdom is the biggest treasure with unpredictable wealth.

Stay happy, healthy, and smiling. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I am grateful

Blessings always!!

Alyssa from Ohio on June 14, 2021:

Excellent advice Bill! I've always thought it would be so cool to have an article published in a magazine. You've inspired me to look up some opportunities.

Have a brilliant week!

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on June 14, 2021:

Hi Bill. Anyone who stays with HubPages as long as we have is not here for the money, it’s all about the interaction with friends we’ve made here. It is pretty neat knowing that we interact with people from all over the world. Have a great week.

MG Singh from UAE on June 14, 2021:

Hi Bill, this is a nice article and now you have concentrated on writing. Yes, Hub Pages is a good site but then we all know nothing is perfect in life. One thing nice now is that a whole lot of writers from the subcontinent are finding a way to pages but somebody must guide them. It is a pleasure to read your articles.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on June 14, 2021:

Thanks Bill, for the read. Certain of the questions about quality of article submission and staying on hubpages appeal to me.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on June 14, 2021:

Bill, I was lucky found this mailbag early again. I agree totally with your reason for continuing to write at HubPages over other sites or your bog. I am the same, because of all the friends I have made here. Many who are new here have trouble understanding that, they seem to think money has to be the main reason.

Have a great week.

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