Showing posts with label submissions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label submissions. Show all posts

Why First Impressions Matter


By Terry Whalin 
@terrywhalin

As an editor, it is no exaggeration to say I’ve reviewed thousands of submissions during my years in publishing. As a writer, you have one opportunity to make a good first impression. While it may sound simplistic to say it, your impression is made in a matter of seconds. A key piece of advice is to lead with your strongest material and work hard on the subject line of your email, the first sentence and paragraph of your submission and all of the overall details.

Several years ago, I interviewed another acquisitions editor and asked him how he knows if he’s found a good submission. He said, “Terry, I read the title and if it is a good title, I read the first sentence. If it is a good sentence, I read the first paragraph. If it is a good paragraph, I read the first page. If it is a good page, I read the next page…” I hope this helps you see why you have seconds in this important process. The typical editor or agent reviews many pitches and can easily tell a good one. Don’t bury your good information on page five or six because they may not reach it.

How To Make A Good Impression

While these guidelines may be common sense, you’d be surprised how often writers make poor impressions when they neglect the basics. Make sure your pitch is well-crafted and appropriate to that person or editor. Use the right name. Personalize the pitch and don’t write “Dear Sir” or “Editor/Agent” which looks like it went to thousands of people at the same time—whether it did or not.

Check and double check to make sure all of the details are there. For example, at Morgan James Publishing, we acknowledge every submission with a letter in the mail. We receive over 5,000 submissions a year and only publish about 200 books so that is a lot of physical correspondence. If your address is not on your pitch, then I have to ask for it in order to get your submission into our internal system. If you include your address from the beginning, then you eliminate one extra time-consuming email I have to send to you.

Take a few minutes and make one final check of their publishing guidelines before you send your submission. Re-read the pitch and make any final adjustments.

Insights for Writers

Producing an excellent book proposal or query letter is an acquired skill—something you have to learn. Yet every writer knows these tools are a critical part of the publishing industry. I understand excellent book proposals require a great deal of energy. I’ve written two proposals which received six-figure advances from traditional publishers. My Book Proposals That Sell has over 150 Five Star reviews. I have a free book proposal checklist to give you some ideas. (Follow the link). Also, I have a free teleseminar at: AskAboutProposals.com. Finally, I created an online course with detailed information at: WriteABookProposal.com.

Remember Your Audience: Editors and Agents

While the process takes some work and planning, I’ve been inside some of the top literary agencies and publishers’ offices in New York City. Each of these professionals is actively looking for the next bestseller—even if they don’t respond or send you a form rejection. Every writer (whether brand new or much published) has to pitch to get a book deal. Learn the process and pitch with excellence which is spotted in seconds.

Tweetable: 

How do you seize your one opportunity? This prolific writer and editor provides the details here.  (ClickToTweet)


W. Terry Whalin, a writer and acquisitions editor lives in California. A former magazine editor and former literary agent, Terry is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written more than 60 nonfiction books including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams and Billy Graham. Get Terry’s recent book, 10 Publishing Myths for only $10, free shipping and bonuses worth over $200. To help writers catch the attention of editors and agents, Terry wrote his bestselling Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success. Check out his free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. His website is located at: www.terrywhalin.com. Connect with Terry on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

Literary Magazines with Themes--On the Premises



If you're looking for a short story contest with no entry free and quite good pay, try On the Premises.

As indicated by the title, this e-zine always has themes.  The current contest, running until March 6, is "More Than One."

"For this contest, write a creative, compelling, well-crafted story between 1,000 and 5,000 words in which one or more characters face this problem:  there is more than one of something that there should absolutely, positively be only one of."

Sounds fun!

Guidelines:  https://onthepremises.com/

They also have mini contests between regular contests.  The mini contests require VERY short prose, and the themes are often quite interesting.  For example, in the fall I entered one about purposely bad world-building.  The results were quite fun.  You can read them here (including my winning entry):  https://onthepremises.com/minis/mini_43/ 



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 http://www.melindabrasher.com




Market Research--Horror Tree


For those of you looking for markets to submit your fiction to, especially if you write horror or other speculative genres, here's a resource for you:

Horror Tree  (Horrortree.com)

It's a blog that includes various types of posts, including interviews with authors.  

I like it for its postings of magazines accepting submissions.  One thing I really appreciate is how clearly it outlines the pay structure (or lack thereof).  Other pertinent information (deadlines, what they're looking for, word count, etc) is also very clear.  It's a great resource.  On the left, you can also narrow your search.  

If you're a writer of speculative fiction, I challenge you to go check this out and submit at least one story to a magazine you find here.


Melinda Brasher's fiction and travel writing appear most recently in Hippocampus (May/June), Leading Edge (Volume 73) and Deep Magic (Spring 2019).  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 http://www.melindabrasher.com



Using Anthologies to Study the Market

One piece of writing advice I hear a lot, and which I agree with, is that you must read.  But not everyone agrees on the particulars.

Some say you should read like a reader and others say you should read like an editor or a scientist, dissecting what you read to see what works.

Some say read, read, read your genre and then stop reading while you write, so you don't accidentally let whatever you're reading influence your own work too much.

Others say read, read, read all the time, in your genre and others.

I write short stories in a variety of genres, novels (fantasy and sci fi), travel essays, travel guides, and various other types of work.  But I have to admit that my reading habits are a bit more narrow.  I tend to mostly read novels instead of short stories.  I read travel guides to places I plan to travel, but don't read as much other travel writing as I should.  Part of this, of course, is due to limited time.

So, to make my reading of short work more efficient, I use the anthology approach.

Benefits of Reading Yearly Anthologies


Long-standing, well-respected anthologies are great because they collect some of the (subjectively) best fiction of the year from various magazines.  You don't waste time with mediocre stories.  You get a feel for what's current and what editors are throwing their support behind.  Go ahead and dissect these stories and learn from them.

Another valuable aspect of an anthology is that you see which magazine first published which story.  This is very useful for your own work.  You know the old advice about submitting to magazines:  read a few issues first to see if your work fits.  This is excellent advice.  Unfortunately, we don't always have time to read a few issues of every magazine.  Luckily, anthologies give you a shortcut.  Pick out the stories you like or that could be good matches to yours, then see which magazines they were published in.  Start submitting to those magazines. 

Some Good Anthologies:


The O. Henry Prize Stories, edited by Laura Furman.

The Pushcart Prize; Best of the Small Presses, edited by Bill Henderson.

The Best American Short Stories, edited by Heidi Pitlor and various yearly editors.  Obviously the yearly editor puts a slant on things, so some years may be more "best" than others.

The Best American series has other genre-specific anthologies, such as The Best American Essays, The Best American Travel Writing, The Best American Mystery Short Stories, The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy, etcLook for your target genre to see if they have one that matches.

The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by Rich Horton.  Also in the series, The Year's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror, edited by Paula Guran.

The Best Horror of the Year, edited by Ellen Datlow.


Many of these can be found at your local library as well as at online and brick-and-mortar bookstores.



You can read (and listen to) Melinda Brasher's most recent short story sale at Pseudopod.  It's a tale of a man who doesn't believe in superstition...until he has to.  You can also find her fiction in Ember, Timeless Tales, Intergalactic Medicine Show, and others. If you're dreaming about traveling to Alaska this summer, check out her guide book, Cruising Alaska on a Budget; a Cruise and Port Guide. Visit her online at http://www.melindabrasher.com








Literary Magazines with Themes: The First Line

Image courtesy of The First Line Magazine
The First Line is a literary magazine where each issue contains stories that all start with the same first line.  

Next year will be their 20th year in print, so they're doing something a little different.  To celebrate all past issues, they're welcoming stories based on previous years' first lines.  For the spring 2019 issue (stories due Feb 1), you can choose from twenty different first lines.

If you're interested in a little inspiration or a fun challenge, take a look:  The First Line

Sample First Lines for Spring:

The rules are clearly spelled out in the brochure.
"Well, there's ten minutes of my life I'll never get back."
My father and I left on a Thursday.
I remember the radio was playing the best song.
Whitney Heather Yates knew she was in trouble from the moment she learned how to spell her name.
It sounded like she said, "Every day when I get home, I find a naked body in the bed."
The party was only the beginning of what would happen tonight.
"Step this way as our tour of Earth continues."
"How did you end up with a nickname like that?"
The first thing I saw when I woke was Chris' face.
"The incident on the island is the stuff of legend, but let me tell you the real story."
Jimmy Hanson was a sallow man who enjoyed little in life save for his _________. [Fill in the blank.]


Guidelines Highlights:

-Stories must be between 300 and 5000 words and unpublished.  Poetry is also welcome. 
-Multiple submissions are fine, so if you find several of these prompts interesting, go to town!
-Pay is between $25-50.
-Submit electronically before February 1 for the spring issue.  Other submission dates and first lines are available on their website.



You can read (and listen to) Melinda Brasher's most recent short story sale at Pseudopod.  It's a tale of a man who doesn't believe in superstition...until he has to.  You can also find her fiction in Ember, Timeless Tales, Intergalactic Medicine Show, and others. If you're dreaming about traveling to Alaska next summer, check out her guide book, Cruising Alaska on a Budget; a Cruise and Port Guide. Visit her online at http://www.melindabrasher.com



A New Tool for Submitting Your Work

For all you writers out there submitting short stories, non-fiction, flash fiction, or poetry to literary magazines, I thought I’d share a new tool I found. It’s a (relatively) new feature on Submittable, and it’s called “Discover.”

What's Submittable?


If you submit your work a lot, you almost certainly already have a Submittable (formerly Submishmash) account. Skip to the next paragraph. For those of you who don’t know about Submittable, it’s a submission platform that many literary magazines use nowadays. On their website they’ll link to their Submittable page, and if you’re already logged in, you just need to fill in some basic information, paste in a cover letter if required, and upload your document. It also gives you a handy dashboard of all your submissions, the dates, results, etc. Accounts are free and some magazines will only accept submissions this way.

The New Tool:


The new Discover feature lists magazines that use Submittable and have open calls for submissions.  The listings don’t have quite enough information for my tastes. For example, they don’t break it down into paying and non-paying markets. You can’t filter by type of submission or other important factors, such “for locals only” restrictions or calls for the visual arts. It also includes opportunities such as writer's residencies. There are quite a few markets that charge reading fees or contest entry fees. So it’s a bit laborious. 

Why it's Cool:


Despite its limitations, the key is that these markets are all currently OPEN, and the listings clearly indicate when they close. Since temporarily closed markets are one of the big obstacles I run into when submitting my work, I think this is useful.

Check it out and see if you like it:



Here's a little screen shot of calls closing today:






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 http://www.melindabrasher.com.

Literary Magazines with Themes--Fall 2017 Edition

It's time for another of my roundups of literary magazines with themes. Due dates range from the end of this month to January 2018

As always, read website guidelines carefully and have fun!  Entry is free to all the magazines listed below, and all are paying markets.

On the Premises
Theme:  Community
Genres:  Fiction
Deadline:  September 1, 2017
Word Count:  up to 5000
Pay:  $60-220
Guidelines: http://onthepremises.com/contest-rules/


Timeless Tales
Theme:  Rumpelstiltskin
Genres:  Fairy Tales--Fiction, Poetry
Reading dates:  August 18-Sept 1
Word Count:  up to 2000, 1500 preferred
Pay:  $20
REPRINTS ACCEPTED
Guidelines: http://www.timelesstalesmagazine.com/submissions


Ladybug
Theme:  Spaceships and Superheroes
Genres:  Fiction, activities, crafts, activities, recipes for kids age 6-9
Deadline:  August 31, 2017
Word Count:  varies depending on type of work, but very short
Pay:  varies by type--professional rates
Guidelines: https://cricketmag.submittable.com/submit/17817/spider-magazine-for-ages-6-9

Enchanted Conversation
Themes:  Godfather death (reading period Sept 1-Sept 30)
      Elves and the Shoemaker (reading Period Nov 1-Nov 30)
Genre:  Fairy Tale, fiction and poetry
Reading Period:  Sept and Nov 2017
Word Count:  700-3000 stories, poems of any length

The First Line
First line must be: "I'm tired of trying to see the good in people."
Genres:  Fiction
Deadline: November 1, 2017
Word Count:  up to 5000
Pay:  $25-50
Guidelines:  http://www.thefirstline.com/submission.htm

THEMA Literary Journal
Theme:  Dancing in the Wind
Genres:  Fiction
Deadline: November 1, 2017
  
Shooter
Theme:  New Life
Genres:  Stories, Poetry, Non-fiction
Deadline:  November 5, 2017
Word Count:  2000-7500
Pay:  Up to 25 GBP
Guidelines: https://shooterlitmag.com/submissions/

Ouen Press
Theme:  Taste
Genres:  Fiction
Deadline:  Dec 31, 2017
Word Count:  3000-10000
Pay:  Contest winners:  100-300 GBP
Guidelines: http://www.ouenpress.com/19.html

Pantheon:
Theme:  Gorgon; Stories of Emergence
Genres:  Flash fiction issue--dark, weird, speculative, horror
Reading Period:  Opens January 1, 2018
Word Count:  Around 1000 words preferred
Pay:  $.06/wd
REPRINTS ACCEPTED ($.03/wd)
Guidelines:   https://pantheonmag.com/submission-guidelines/


Melinda Brasher's fiction appears in Nous Electric SpecIntergalactic Medicine Show, and other magazines. One of her first sales was to THEMA above.  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 http://www.melindabrasher.com.

Five Ways to Annoy an Editor

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The wonderful thing is that you can annoy an editor at any and all points throughout the publishing process. This allows you to get your own back for all the odd comments sprinkled on every page of your great works from kindergarten onwards. After all, your inbox is full of emails insisting you can make a fortune with your writing in a weekend. Who needs an editor anyway?

Well, if you want to be traditionally published, an editor comes with the package deal. So let's get off on the most annoying foot from the start.

Submissions


1) Resist reading the publishers' instructions for sending in submissions. Send in a hefty paper manuscript with all pages stapled together when the instructions ask for email only.

   Choose a jolly font -- something unusual like Bauhaus 93 or all caps like Algerian. Ignore the boring fonts  like Times New Roman which are so often requested by publishers. Word will happily suggest something it considers better if you run out of ideas.

    You'll get more words on the page if you use single spacing and keep the font tiny --try 8 pt.
   
    And  better not reread your manuscript before sending it off. After all, you want your editor to have lots to do. 

Remember the Rules


2) Follow every typewriting rule you can remember. Sadly we no longer need two spaces before every new sentence. With computers, one space throughout is all that's necessary. Your editor can sort that one out fairly easily but hitting the space bar to create paragraph indents or using tabs does mean tedious days of  extra formatting.

    Life is hard enough with the latest version of Word happily saving every copy of your work in a single file and creating huge files which need to  be reduced to manageable size.


3) Ignore all rules regarding point of view. After all if you know who's speaking what's the problem? 

The problem is that readers like identifying with a particular character or characters in a story. This is difficult if they can't have an in depth involvement. If characters are batting thoughts and feelings about like ping pong balls, it may be exhilarating but it is more likely to lead to confusion than empathy.

However, it's your book. 

Find the right agent


4} Choose an agent who supports your beliefs and ignores requests for blurbs and synopses, sends in an unread manuscript on parenting to a house specializing in Romantic Fiction. Yes, we can see there is a connection there somewhere but publishers and their editors are apt to concentrate on fact or fiction, or at least have different imprints for each.

What's an Editor For, Anyway?


5} And the final definite No-no. Your editor is not there to write your book. Your editor is there to help you polish your book, make it shine. If you have problems with spelling and grammar, at least do your best to check the manuscript through with Word's tools if nothing else. Read your manuscript out loud--that's a good way to find missing words.

*****
Any more thoughts on annoying editors, or even on annoying editors? Let us know in the comments below :-)
  



Anne Duguid
Anne Duguid Knol

A local and national journalist in the U.K., Anne Knol is now a fiction editor for award-winning American and Canadian publishers. As a new author, she shares writing tips and insights at Author Support : http://www.authorsupport.net .

Her Halloween novella, ShriekWeek is published by The Wild Rose Press as e-book and in print  included in the Hauntings in the Garden anthology. (Volume Two)

Her column on writing a cozy mystery appears  in The Working Writer's Club .

Honoring Your Voice

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