INTERVIEW WITH KAREN MOORE
New media is great! While I was on Linkedin, I met Karen Moore, the author of You Can Write Greeting Cards. Karen has an extensive background in card writing, including 8 years writing for American Greetings. I have always featured her book on the sidebar of my blog and it also sits on my bookshelf.
I took advantage of this opportunity and asked her to do an interview for my blog about writing sentiments for cards.
One important lesson I got out of this interview is how one little thing, like a phone call, can impact your writing career. It doesn't take much to open a door for yourself.
Karen offers 6 week classes on Greeting Card Writing.
For more information, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
QUESTION: You have a long history in the gift industry. Can you give us a brief description of your journey into this profession and why you were drawn towards it?
KAREN: I have a Master’s in Education and was teaching 5th through 8th grades Reading and English. Every summer, I would be laid off and then brought back a day or two before school started. The third year that happened, I decided to see what else I might be able to do and settled down with the yellow pages in Cleveland, Ohio.
Turning randomly to the greeting card manufacturers, I’d never considered that option until seeing the phone number for American Greetings. I decided to call and find out what might be needed to be a writer there since I had been writing poems and stories all my life.
That phone call miraculously opened the door to my whole new life.I spent almost eight years at American Greetings, being tutored by some of the best in the industry, learning everything from how to handle licensed properties to writing calendars. I went from there to other positions at Gibson Greetings, Current, Inc., DaySpring and a variety of freelance contracts.
QUESTION: Your book covers about every question I can think of on the topic of card writing, but for people who haven't read your book, give me a list of things a new card writer should do, to increase their odds of getting their work published.
KAREN: It’s always important to know two things: 1. What ways the market is responding to new trends and 2. What each company considers to be their bread & butter lines.
If you can tap into either of those areas, your chances improve of getting on board with them as a freelancer and potentially a contract writer.
Doing your homework and showing them you know something about their consumers or showing them that you’re on top of a trend they are interested in can pay the dividends.
QUESTION: While a writer can follow all the guidelines perfectly, what is the best way to make our work stand out among all the other submissions?
KAREN: Of course, these days, not all companies are open to freelance, so for those that are, I recommend going the distance on your initial submissions so they know you’re a serious contender. That means offering ideas for a specific audience, let’s say novelty cards for kids, or birthday cards for teens. Go after something that isn’t easily answered by the publisher, but something they will love if you do it right, and you’ll increase your chances to become part of their stable of writers.
Also, be sure to take any follow-up suggestions they might have for you and do them carefully. If they open the door a little bit, it’s up to you to keep the relationship going. They have a lot of people vying for attention and those people are directly competing with you.
QUESTION: What topics and subject matter do you think are going to be more popular down the road?
KAREN: I’m not particularly clairvoyant about what topics might meet the future most directly, but I always recommend that writers read the current greeting card racks and try to discover what is missing, where the needs are that aren’t addressed adequately. If there’s bigger emphasis culturally on things like job loss, reinventing yourself, facing an uncertain future, or finding ways to laugh at any of those things, then it’s worth developing ideas for that market segment.
I also suggest that writers go to bookstores and see what the best sellers are in terms of topics. Those interests are the same ones that can translate well into new greeting card line opportunities.
QUESTION: For you personally, what it is like to be a writer in the gift industry? Do you have a story that might be inspiring to others?
KAREN: First of all, I love the greeting card industry. For me, it is a kind of ministry that works to connect people at every significant moment of life.
It also works to simply say that you’re important to me that you exist and that we can share this one moment in the day and offer each other a hand or a smile.In my early years, I loved working with Tom Wilson and getting to create new ideas around Ziggy and the Care Bears lines and Strawberry Shortcake. Later, I got to work with Mike Peters, Jim Davis, and the Kersten Brothers and I learned to appreciate those genius’ cartoonists of the industry.
As I evolved into a more inspirational writer, I enjoyed writing whole greeting card lines for Chicken Soup for the Soul and Hugs and Women of Faith. All of these opportunities enriched my experience.
Finally, consulting here in Costa Rica with a cute bumblebee character called Pechi and helping him find his wings has brought more color and texture to my writing life. It’s been a gift to me to keep finding new opportunities to grow in this business and now mentoring others, makes me feel like I can give back part of the gift that was given me along the way.
QUESTION: What are some things a writer can do today, to get started in a career of card writing?
KAREN: Many things can be done and no one has a handle on what exactly will get you in the door, but these are some things to keep in mind.
1-Once you’ve done the homework and created ideas, you need to make sure those ideas are the best you can possibly make them. You have to believe in them because if you don’t, it’s tough to convince others to believe.
2-Secondly, you have to be willing to learn from the feedback you receive, refine your work and persist in your effort.
3-You have to find your voice. What you have to say is important and no one else can say it more effectively than you can as long as you’re authentic. Yes, you’ll find yourself listening and writing for other voices too if you work with licensed properties, but for your work to make a difference, it needs to have your signature.
Not everyone has your gift for words. Be confident and the world will receive you.
Favorites Trade Shows: New York Stationery Show, Book Expo America
Side job ideas for writers: Write articles, blogs, newsletters, anything that keeps you researching a bit and current with the market
Favorite Quote: It never serves the world if we hide our gifts under a bushel.
Contact info: email@example.com
Information on Karen's Classes:Course Outline/One Each Week
Overview of Greeting card formats and gathering ideas
Writing for Kids
Developing Rhyme/Additional Copy
Preparing copy for Submission and potential markets
Contact info: firstname.lastname@example.org
They pull the definition of "art" off the gallery walls, and they put it in the hands of the people.
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Here are a sampling of their unusual books:
(fyi: In case anyone's interested-I am not receiving any compensation for recommending this publisher.
I just really love their products)
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