Scouring for Markets: The Sweet Potato Method


Photo by Manoj Jacob

Let’s face it. There are primarily two kinds of working writers: the sweet potato and the yam.

Sweet potato writers are Streamlined Producers of material, within a specific market type or favored audience. Yam writers are grazers, always looking for those Yummy Article and story Markets that suit something they already have in mind to write or have already written. Each type of writer has a different market research style.

In this two-part article, each primary style of marketing research will be explored briefly.

The Sweet Potato Method

Many writing coaches advocate this approach for market research. The writer chooses the audience she wishes to capture with her work. Next, she goes to her favorite market lists and selects specifically for that audience. When her shortened list of possibilities is complete for that session, she looks for publications with needs in her subject and writes to that subject and market with a query letter and article, story, or poem.

Every move is straightforward and predictable. Market lists are easy to find, though she might have to subscribe to some.

Five of the Best Market Resources

  • Writer’s Market lists thousands of up-to-date publishing opportunities each month for a subscriber fee of $5.99 USD per month. The writer can use this site as a supermarket and tailor-make the services she uses the most. The business here is getting published and the site is set up to help do just that. 
  • The Writer also lists mega-loads of magazines open to writers and is currently free for perusal. The Writer lists national and international contests as well, under the Magazine tab on this newly streamlined site. 
  • Writer’s Digest has many lists for use, plus a blog for agents who’re looking for new clients and specific genres, competitions, markets, etc. The tab headers hide departments for the seeker and are addictive. This site is a supermarket of writing information and delicacies. 
  • Poets & Writers website—like their magazine—has a host of selections for all writers. From magazines and literary journals to reputable agents looking for new clients to competitions, grants and fellowships, P&W has something for everyone.
  • Duotrope is a subscription service only because they could no longer do their work for free. The writer will find market lists like those on writer magazine sites that include fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. They also provide a submissions calendar for each subscriber to track submissions. The fee is $5 USD per month.

For the Sweet Potato who wants new ideas for her work, half an hour spent on any one of these sites will bring up myriad possibilities. Once the writer stashes a few interesting links with publication needs in a short file, she can begin developing individual pieces of work to suit those markets. Queries or submissions can soon follow the idea creation. 

Streamlining the process helps minimize the time necessary to find new writing opportunities, possible fiction or non-fiction ideas, and getting the work out the door. For the working writer, this approach makes money, creates a reputation, and provides credentials. That is the goal for most writers, after all.

Coming Tomorrow: The Yam Method

The Yam is another favored method of finding the right market and will come under the microscope tomorrow. The second approach differs drastically from the Sweet Potato. The Yam sees the world as a smorgasbord of writing possibilities.


Are you a Sweet Potato marketer? Where do you find your markets? Let us know in the comments below.

Be sure to check back tomorrow and find out how the Yams find markets for their writing. 

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