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Kathy ButtEDITOR'S NOTE: Kathy Butt is one of the top women outdoor writers of our day. She's paid the price to be successful, and she has worked hard to establish her reputation and her name as a professional journalist. She's been successful in all the areas of outdoor journalism, and if you study her story, you too will see the keys to being a successful journalist.

Q: Kathy, how long have you been writing?
A: I've been writing for about 9 to 10 years.

Q: How did you get started writing?
A: Actually, a friend of mine, John Sloan, introduced me to writing, and he mentored me along the way.

Q: Tell me about your first writing experiences. Did you get any rejection slips at first?
A: Yes. I tried for about a year and a half before I finally sold a story, and I was getting really discouraged. After I finally sold one story, it all started to click and fall into place.

Q: How important was a mentor to you?
A: Very important. If you can find someone who can show you the ropes and how to send query letters to editors, you already will have completed a major step in getting started.

Q: Who was your mentor?
A: In the beginning, it was John Sloan.

Q: And what did he do for you?
A: He taught me how to write query letters and how to lay out a story and put it together. I learned how to write a lead-in and the importance of writing the finishing paragraph of a story.

Q: How many magazines do you write for?
A: I freelance and write for several archery publications and Black Powder. I also write for North American Hunting through these publications. I sell to several different magazines, but I don't know the total.

Q: How many TV shows are you on a year?
A: I don't do too many TV shows. I'm starting to do a few things, but that has gotten to be a little side-line.

Q: What has writing meant to you?
A: I write because I like to hunt. Writing gives me an opportunity for me to go to new places and hunt with new people. Writing is not my passion, but it is just a way for me to hunt more.

Q: What would you tell anyone who wanted to be a writer?
A: Find someone that will help you and teach you how to be successful in getting letters to editors so that you can get results.

Q: What is the trick to getting results?
A: Doing it right in the first place. Do your research, read magazines and find out what these markets like. Then, send story ideas and query letters. Know ahead of time what these magazines look for.

Q: If you could tell a writer one thing to become successful, what would you tell him?
A: Find a mentor. Find someone who is willing to share their time and knowledge with you.