Showing posts with label business of writing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label business of writing. Show all posts

Cricket Media's New Call

Want to get your mind off a certain virus?  Have extra time in quarantine?  Need a break from the dark, gritty novel you're writing, or that manual on how to survive an apocalypse? 

If you write for kids, or would like to get into it, consider Cricket Media's call for submissions (due June 15) for Cricket, Spider, Ladybug, and Babybug.  It's a highly competitive market which pays professional rates.  

BABYBUG®: Beep-Beep, Vroom-Vroom! and Breezy Summer
LADYBUG®: Making Make Believe and My Family
SPIDER®: Wordplay and Get a Move On!
CRICKET®: Best Friends Forever? and Tales of the Sea 

Submission details here:
If you want a subscription for your own kids (or your own market research):

Melinda Brasher's fiction and travel writing appear most recently in Hippocampus, Deep Magic, and Twenty-Two Twenty-Eight.  Her newest non-fiction book, Hiking Alaska from Cruise Ports is available on Amazon.    

She loves hiking and taking photographs of nature's small miracles.  

Visit her online at

Amazon KDP Allows Author Copies

A while back, I was excited to learn that Amazon KDP (their e-book publishing program for independent authors) was streamlining the process so you could publish paperbacks through the same platform you publish e-books. Previously, you had to use CreateSpace, their paperback publishing program. Two processes. Two websites you have to check up on. Two separate payment systems. Two of everything. So combining it would be awesome.

Then I did some investigating and found several reasons not to be so excited. One of the main ones was that through KDP you couldn't order author copies at cost, like you can through CreateSpace. Author copies are pretty important for selling at appearances and local bookstores, for giving away as prizes, for putting your writing in the hands of people who don't like e-books or online shopping, for getting more honest reviews, etc. Yet KDP didn't do it.

Well, they've changed their mind. As of now, it's just available for "selected publishers," but they promise that within weeks, both proof copies and author copies will be available for everyone at cost (plus tax and shipping). Hoorah! It remains to be seen if they will be priced similar to their CreateSpace counterparts and if this new feature will make publishing everything through KDP the way to go, but it's something to consider.

For more information, go here: (proof copies)

Melinda Brasher's fiction appears in Nous Electric SpecIntergalactic Medicine Show, and other magazines  For an e-book collection of some of her favorite published pieces, check out Leaving Home.  

Her newest book, Cruising Alaska on a Budget; a Cruise and Port Guide helps budget travelers plan a trip to majestic Alaska.  Visit her online at

Pen Names

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Recently I was doing an author interview and the question came up whether I'd ever considered using a pen name.  

It's a tricky topic.  I write in several genres, and I've heard other authors recommend that you use pseudonyms for the different types of work you do.  One reason is that you don't want to confuse your readers.  Let's say that you write sweet historical romance and then write a steamy paranormal romantic thriller.  If your original readers pick it up without realizing and then read it expecting what they're used to, they may be disappointed or even feel betrayed.  

In my case, I've decided that my travel writing and my fiction are so different that I don't think I'll confuse my readers if I use the same name. They won't likely pick up Cruising Alaska on a Budget and assume it's a YA fantasy like Far-Knowing.  

I've also published contemporary and sci fi short stories, all under my name.  I haven't quite decided if that's a good move or not.  On one hand, my work may seem a bit scattered--various target ages, various genres.  Some readers don't like reading outside of a certain type of fiction, so it may be harder to build a solid following.  On the other hand, I know authors who write in different genres or for different age levels and I seek out all their writing.  Plus, using the same name streamlines the marketing and allows all my work to build on itself.  

It would be interesting to hear more thoughts on the topic, so leave your comments and experiences below.  

Some of my different work, all under the same name:

Far-Knowing, a YA Fantasy
Leaving Home, a collection of flash fiction, short stories, and travel essays across various genres

Being an Arizona girl, Melinda Brasher loves glaciers, streams, whales, bald eagles, and real trees with green leaves.  That's why she's in love with Alaska.  If you want to see a bit of Alaska for yourself, check out her latest book, Cruising Alaska on a Budget; A Cruise and Port Guide.  Read it for free with Kindle Unlimited.

The Submission Grinder--a useful resource

Submitting short stories to magazines takes a lot of time and effort.  I’ve found a resource that’s helped.  It’s the (Submission) Grinder website, a listing of magazines, e-zines, anthologies and contests you can send your fiction to.

I like it because the magazines are searchable by length, payment, genre, whether they accept reprints, and even style of writing.  It also has a good layout for each magazine's main page, clearly showing the most important information and giving fairly reliable links to their website and specific guidelines.    

You can also sign up for an account and track your submissions, helping keep you organized and giving valuable information back to the community about rejection rates and response times.

They plan to add non-fiction and poetry listings in the future (though some of the magazines here accept non-fiction and poetry too, so it can be useful if you have a portfolio of various genres).

Head on over to the Submission Grinder and submit some of your work!  

Melinda Brasher currently teaches English as a second language in the beautiful Czech Republic.  She loves the sound of glaciers calving and the smell of old books.  Her travel articles and short fiction appear in Go NomadInternational LivingElectric SpecIntergalactic Medicine Show, and others.  For an e-book collection of some of her favorite pieces, check out Leaving Home.  Visit her online at

The Business of Writing

Writing is a business. If you are a writer, what kind of business background do you need?

I have a college degree, but I took only two business classes. Decades later, I am a college student once again. I am not pursuing a degree, but a certificate. There are a number of business classes I have taken or still need to take. Some of them are: business taxes, accounting, Microsoft Office 2013, management and marketing. I am halfway to being “finished” but I plan to continue enrolling in classes. There are other related programs to pursue, and enough to keep me busy for at least the next few years.

Of course, I have also enrolled in writing classes, but those are through other entities. I need to learn more about how to write better and I enjoy learning from other writers.

What business classes have you invested in? How did they help you? What other classes would you enjoy or find useful?

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Debbie A. Byrne has a B.S. in Mass Communication with a minor in History. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and is working on her first children’s book.


Submit to Fiction Magazines with Themes

I love magazines with themes or prompts, because they expose the many, many ways our minds work differently to produce so many stories from one kernel of an idea.

For all you fiction writers out there, if you're having writer's block or if you want to challenge yourself to write something you normally wouldn't, try writing for one of the magazines or e-zines below. 

Paying Markets ($10-$50)

THEMA Literary Journal.  Each issue is based closely around a specific theme.  All genres.  Reprints accepted.  Current and upcoming themes:  "Was that today?" and "We thought he'd never leave."  Submission guidelines

The First Line Literary Magazine.  Each story must start with the same sentence.  All genres.  Current and upcoming first lines:  "Fifty miles west of Bloomington lies Hillsboro, a monument to middle-class malaise," and "We went as far as the car would take us."  Submission Guidelines.

Pantheon.  As the name suggests, this magazine's issues center around various gods and goddesses.  All genres welcome.  Reprints accepted, but unpaid. Current themes:  "Ares" and "Gaia."  Submission Guidelines.

Infective Ink.  All genres.  Current and upcoming themes:  "The future of dating," "Great friendships."  Submission Guidelines.

On the Premises.  This is run like a contest, but with no fee.  Third to first prizes $100-$180.  Honorable mentions, $40.  All genres.  Current Contest:  "Decisions, Decisions."  Submission Guidelines.

Long Count Press. E-book anthologies of fantasy fiction.  Currently closed to submissions, but check in the future.  Last theme:  "Mesoamerican Fantasy."  Submission Guidelines.

Timeless Tales.  Retold fairy tales.  Next theme:  "Twelve Dancing Princesses."  Reprints accepted.  Submission Guidelines.

Subterrain.  A Canadian magazine that requires paper submissions (and an SASE with an IRC).  Upcoming themes:  "Pulp Fiction," and "Meat."  Submission Guidelines.

Semi-Pro and Pro Markets

Crossed Genres.  Science fiction or fantasy only.  Current and upcoming themes:  "Typical" and "Robots, Androids, and Cyborgs."  5 cents/word.  Submission Guidelines.

Unlikely Story.  Their two main themes are "entomology" (bugs) and "cryptography" (codes and ciphers).  They also have other theme issues, like "cartography" (maps).  All genres.   5 cents/word.  Reprints accepted at a lower rate.  Submission Guidelines.

Crab Orchard Review.  Literary.  One yearly theme (submissions accepted October).  This year's theme:  "Stories that covers any of the ways our world and ourselves have changed due to the advancements, setbacks, tragedies, and triumphs of the last twenty years, 1995-2015."  $100 minimum.  Submission Guidelines.

Penumbra.  Speculative fiction only.  Upcoming themes:  "Pain" and "Lewis Carroll."  5 cents/word.  Submission Guidelines.

Cobblestone Publishing's non-fiction magazines for kids 9-14 accept 800-words stories based on specific themes.  Your choices:  Calliope (world history), Cobblestone (American history), Dig (archeology), Faces (world culture and geography), and Odyssey (science).  Check the guidelines for query dates and themes.  Very good rates.  Submission Guidelines (choose the individual magazine you're interested in).


Fiction magazines these days come and go, so be sure to verify the details before submitting.  And, as always, read the submission guidelines, word count requirements, and theme information very closely.  Some are so specific you'll pretty much have to write a story with the magazine in mind.  Others are looser, so you can match up stories you've already written. 

Whatever you do, have fun and keep writing.

Melinda Brasher's first fiction sale was in THEMA, one of the magazines above.  She has other stories published in various magazines, including On the Premises.  She also loves to travel and is currently writing a budget traveler's guide to cruising Alaska.

Beating Procrastination and Increasing Productivity

 Procrastination by definition is the act of avoiding an action or activity. It can creep in when you least expect it taking up valuable writing and marketing time. Spring is one of the worst times for me when procrastination hits full force. After all, there are windows to clean, yard work to do, Easter to plan, sunshine to enjoy and the list goes on. There will always be "things that need doing" or "places to go" but what about the writing time? And marketing and promoting is one of those activities that I definitely procrastinate at. So how to beat procrastination and increase productivity while still enjoying time to do other things becomes a life skill necessary for writers to master?

Schedule writing and marketing activities first. That may sound easy but I am sure you will agree that it is anything but. The act of putting writing/marketing time on the daily calendar is the first step but it takes discipline to stick to the plan. Although the calendar is not written in stone, it helps to make it a practice to follow a schedule. That being said, avoid over scheduling. Making an unreasonable plan of action will lead to more procrastination and a backlog of work.

Set Goals. Setting goals has been a lesson for writers in every genre. While authors may disagree about outlines versus story arcs, character sketches versus writing free form, or the importance of theme versus plot most agree that setting goals for a successful writing career is invaluable. The key is to  make them attainable and to revisit them often to test your progress.

Rest. Students get a spring break to rest, take a break, and to rejuvenate for the remainder of the school year. It is usually a rest period from sports practices, testing, and homework. Writers need the same kind of break. Schedule not only a rest period for the story or article you have written so you have a clear eye to revise, but schedule a rest from writing altogether. It may be only a day or even a few hours but take time to get clear away from the act of writing and marketing and enjoy something different. Here is where you can do that gardening, window washing, or shopping with the grand kids. Take advantage of rest periods and notice how fresh your work looks when you get back to it.

Look honestly at the activities which cause more procrastination than others. Usually those are the types of things that you don't like to do or that make you uncomfortable. For me, it is definitely the marketing or promoting myself. For others it might be the business side of writing, tax and record keeping, or even the research. Schedule those activities that you don't enjoy but are necessary first. Get them over with so you can move on to the writing and creating, the one activity all of us love to do.

Scheduling the tasks in a manageable order and allowing reasonable increments of time to accomplish each item will help beat procrastination and increase productivity. Target each task towards a specific writing goal and those action steps will lead to success.

Happy writing and Happy Spring!

Planning for Success

We are having a big family reunion this weekend to coincide with our son's wedding and our house-warming in our new home. The relocation itself took almost 2 years to plan as we searched for the right location and the right home.The planning for a successful and stress free family gathering has  been in the works for over 3 months.

 In the process of trying to plan a successful family gathering it occurred to me that it is similar to the writing process. There are certain steps that I take in planning any big event that I want to turn out so why wouldn't the process work for a successful writing career.

First, I researched. Research included looking at properties, schools, churches, shopping etc for the relocation and it was detailed. I took notes, made calls, read whatever I could get my hands on, and talked in person with the people who knew what I needed to know. Writing articles, books, poems, or cartoons deserves the same research for market, style, topic, ideas, and anything else that would make the piece reach the heart of the reader. In essence, research is the first part of the writing process.

The next part of the writing process is the planning stage where you lay out all the research and start making decisions about which information is essential and which parts of the research can be kept on hold. Planning is part of any successful action whether it is planning a party or planning an article.

Implementing the plan is when you get down and dirty with action steps that make the plan go from a plan into an event or end product. You clean and cook preparing for guests, you write (cook) your words and then you revise (clean and polish) to prepare your manuscript.

At different stages of any action plan you must take time to assess. The assessment gives you the information you need get the project or event just right. Planning a party or planning a book takes the same assessment at different times to make sure you are still on track. Take a look at what can be added to make your writing piece shine or maybe what you can delete.

Evaluation is the last step. In my case, we will hope the guests have a good time, no one is hurt or sick, and that the house is still standing after three nights of campfires, cookouts, and a wedding. In the case of your writing your hope should be personal pride and satisfaction in a job well done and of course the ultimate goal of publication. You want to reach your readers with a product they love.

It seems that when things don't go as planned we deem the project a failure but in fact it is all part of a learning and growing process. In the case of a party or event, changes can be made for the next time. Maybe less cooking, more relaxing, and fewer expectations. In the case of your writing projects, a revision can change things and make your story or article a success. Killing the character or changing the focus of a piece can be just the right thing. And sometimes the piece is perfect just the way it is but the target audience may need to change. It may take you back to the research step but then you continue with the process until you succeed.

No matter what you do in life, it seems planning will lead to success if you follow the steps and listen to your heart. Don't bypass the research or short change the process and expect success. All successes take a plan and planning is hard work. What is your plan for success?

Money in Words

In the smoky confines of the Royal Canadian Legion, my newspaper editor scrawled a few words on a paper napkin with a black Sharpie. He then slid the napkin across the table and folded his hands on his lap.

"There's no money in words!" the black letters announced.

As much as I wanted to argue the point--due, in no small part, to the warming beer in my hand--I had to agree with his assessment, at least in part.

Writing is sometimes referred to as a thankless task. On that point I will disagree. There is generally more than enough gratitude and appreciation to go around. It's the money that's in short supply.

There seems to be a misconception among non-writers that words throw themselves against the page in the perfect sequence without any effort on the part of the writer. Writing is easy. If you're good enough, and fast enough, you can dash off 500 words in 15 minutes and make the $5 fee seem reasonable.

If you think earning $5 for 500 words is ludicrous, you're right. But try telling that to prospective clients. There's more than enough of them out there, hanging out on sites like Guru where freelances bid on work and hope the clients place more value on quality than on the lowest bid.

I'm not knocking Guru or any other job site. In fact, I just renewed my Guru membership, and I will keep on bidding. I just won't be telling prospective clients what I think of their budgets anymore. (I did that once and got a rather stern warning from the site administrators. My comments, as it happens, were deemed "derogatory" under the Terms of Service.)

The key to bidding on work is to have a realistic view of your abilities. Can you work within the client's budget and still earn a respectable wage? You might be a slow, meticulous writer but a super-fast editor or proofreader.

Your also have to practice the fine art of negotiation. Is the client willing to combine a smaller up front fee with a percentage of earnings? Include that idea as part of your proposal. If the client is still interested, you have some room to maneuver, whereas a straight forward bid within budget would have left you stuck at a lower than acceptable price tag.

I won't tell you what to charge for the work you do. That's up to you, your clients, and whatever the market will bear. Just don't give it away. And remember that your price tag should grow in tandem with your experience.

So my editor was, as I say, partially right. There's no money in words--unless you're willing to fight for what you deserve.


Betty Dobson is an award-winning writer of short fiction, essays and poetry. She also writes newspaper and magazine articles but is still waiting for those awards to materialize. In the meantime, she continues to run InkSpotter Publishing, which has three new books available and several more in the works for 2012.

Why Do You Write?

Don’t worry about the type of writing you do or how long you’ve had the creative bug. Focus on the reasons why. Some of you may feel an overwhelming need to express yourselves. Others feel a passion for the written word. In both cases, writing comes as naturally as drinking water to satisfy a thirst. You write because you must.

Perhaps you write for yourself, taking satisfaction from forming an idea into a finished piece. Perhaps you write for you family, preserving bits of history for future generations. Perhaps you write for publication, sharing your work with anyone willing to read beyond the first few lines.

What about money? Wouldn’t it be great to be paid for your work? A fiction teacher once told me to consider my reasons very carefully. If I sought fame and/or fortune, I ought to give up writing in favor of more practical skills.

Is it really that difficult to earn a living as a writer?

In the world of creative writing—particularly literary fiction and poetry—proper compensation seems like a halfforgotten dream. A select few literary journals offer high fees, but competition among writers is fierce. Smaller and less established journals may offer little or no monetary compensation.

In order to earn a living, many writers turn to trade and specialty magazines for more lucrative deals. Feature articles tend to generate considerably more income than creative writing. However, most editors aren’t interested in reading unsolicited manuscripts. For the writer, that means extra time spent on research and crafting a convincing query letter. Why is your article unique? Why are you the best writer for the job? Why should the editor care?

Ultimately, you have to decide if the benefits outweigh your efforts. If you’re making good money but hate what you’re writing, you’ve probably gone off track somewhere along the way. On the other hand, an old adage suggests that if you do what you love, the money will follow.

Betty Dobson is an award-winning writer of short fiction, essays and poetry. She also writes newspaper and magazine articles but is still waiting for those awards to materialize. In the meantime, she continues to run InkSpotter Publishing, which has three new books available and several more in the works for 2012.

A Call for Writers to Find Balance

By Terry Whalin  @terrywhalin Within the publishing world, I’ve often heard it is harder to sign with a literary agent than to locate a publ...