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HUG A GREETING CARD WRITER DAY!

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Jeff Powers 

 Jeff Powers photo

of

Columbia, Maryland

email: jollyjeff@excite.com

Jeff Powers did just that. He signed up for my greeting card writing course through Writer’s College on September 1, 2003 and to date, has sold eight greeting card verses and has many more on hold for definite consideration. I’m so proud of Jeff’s accomplishment and know he’ll provide inspiration for those of you out there who have dreams of becoming a published writer—one who is paid for words you’ve written.

Tell us a little about yourself and when you first started writing greeting cards.

I started writing greeting cards in 1992 when I noticed the greeting card section in Writer's Market and thought, hmmm, maybe I'll try that. My first batch got rejected twice, then on my third try I sold one to Oatmeal Studios. I'm proud of the fact that for years Oatmeal used that verse when they sent out rejection letters as an example of the kind of thing they were looking for. It read: Outside: Happy Anniversary to  a couple that shows others how it's done. Inside: Maybe you'd better start pulling the shades.

Why did you choose greeting card writing over other writing genres? Do you write in other genres and if so, which ones?

I chose greeting cards because I'm impatient. I found that books and even magazine articles took too long to write. I discovered I could write greeting cards in my spare time and see a finished product on a regular basis.   I also write essays and a journal for writing.com and blogit.com. Some are humorous, a few are political, many are just things I've thought about and decided to write about.  I took a correspondence course on direct mail copywriting, but I flunked the final assignment. I can still redo the assignment but I'm inclined not to. I'd rather write greeting cards which people are happy to find in their mailboxes, rather than junk mail which usually just gets thrown out.

Tell us about how your writing day works. Do you find a particular time of day more productive than others?

When I started writing, I had a full time job and did most of my writing on weekends. In January 2004, I took a leave of absence from my job to try my hand at writing full time.  
I do most of my writing at the library. I typically get there about 10 am and spend the morning doing business-type things, such as answering email. Then I go home for lunch, come back and do most of my writing in the afternoon. Sometimes I try writing while doing other things like watching TV. I got an idea from a car commercial which I think is pretty good, although I haven't sold it yet. It says, Outside: Even though you're not a pony anymore...(Inside) You've still got plenty of horsepower. 

Men traditionally send very few greeting cards. Approximately how many do you send each year and for which occasions?

I guess I'm a typical male when it comes to sending out cards, since I've probably only sent about 5-6 in the past year, mainly for birthdays. In the years I get around to sending Christmas cards, I send out 15-20, but that hasn't happened recently. My excuse is that I don't have copies of many of my cards and I don't want to send out cards by inferior writers. (It’s a joke!!!) It's amazing how hard it is for a writer to get copies of his/her own cards. I've sold about 40 cards altogether but I've only ever seen copies of maybe 10 of them.

I know you wrote and sold greeting cards before taking Sandra’s course through Writer’s College (www.writerscollege.com). Since you completed Sandra’s class in October, 2003, how many greeting card verses have you sold?

I've sold eight cards to two different companies since taking Sandra's class. I didn’t even know that the one company existed before I took her class, so that information alone has paid for the class several times over.

Do you regard greeting cards differently now that you write them too? Do you notice things about them that you never considered before?

One thing I've noticed is editors need so many birthday cards that they sometimes turn verses that really fit better for a different occasion into a birthday card. I've seen several cards that basically carry love or friendship themes with "Happy Birthday" tacked on to them.

I also know you write a lot of humorous verses. Have you ever written serious contemporary prose or rhymed verse? If so, which type of verse is your personal favorite to write? If not, do you plan to write other types of verses beside humor?

I tried writing some contemporary prose awhile ago, but it wasn't very good. I didn't really enjoy doing it and it didn't sell. Other than that it worked out well. :-) I do plan to try again though, because at some point, I'd like to teach a class in greeting card writing and I would need experience with all types of cards to be able to do that.

Are there any occasions or particular occasion slants you’d like to see on the racks that aren’t currently there?

One occasion I'd like to see a greeting card for is Independence Day. The imagery of fireworks lends itself to mildly risqué puns such as: Outside: Let's spend Independence Day watching fireworks. Inside: And then we can make some of our own.

What do you find most interesting or fun about writing greeting cards?

The most fun thing about writing greeting cards is when I come up with something really good, something  that makes me think: "Did I write that? How did I do that?"  
The most interesting thing is seeing which ideas are purchased and which ones aren’t. I've sold what I thought were some of my worst ideas and had what I thought were some of my best ideas repeatedly rejected.

Give aspiring card writers two or three pieces of advice you deem vital to success in the freelance greeting card writing arena. 

It probably sounds trite, but the best advice I can offer is to be persistent and keep trying. I had one idea rejected by ten companies before I finally sold it. I've also had the experience of having an idea rejected, resubmitting it to the same company a year or so later and having them buy it.  I would also encourage folks to send out everything they write even if they don't think it's that good. I've found that what I think is good and what an editor thinks is good can be two very different things.

Thanks Jeff! Aspiring writers should take heart that there are definitely opportunities out there for freelance writers in the greeting card arena. Your experience is proof of that. We appreciate your taking the time to answer our questions.     

 
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