Tag Archives: Publication

Regarding the Blogosphere

I love blogging. I’ve found a way to meet other writers without leaving the house (I like leaving the house, but Sebastian sometimes makes that a challenge) and to motivate myself to write more, and more widely, than I ever have before. It’s a Good Thing.

And, so various books-on-publishing would tell you, it’s Building A Platform, with which to one day publicise and maybe even sell my Great Work. Although those or other books-on-publishing will also tell you that blog /twitter / facebook followers do not convert very well to sales figures. Not very well at all.

A friend recently pointed out that the blogosphere is mainly made up of bloggers. You might think, well of course, but actually, that’s not what we want, is it? What if only chocolatiers bought chocolate? Or only train drivers rode trains? As writers, we want to reach READERS, and although some of them might be other writers, most (we hope) aren’t. #

I’m delighted to have so many followers – 512, so WordPress tells me – and I take nothing away from them in saying this. Thanks to anyone who reads this blog, regularly, occasionally or even just this once. I value you!

But followers don’t convert to sales – they don’t even convert to views. If I follow a blog, it’s because I want to see what that person has to say, on a regular basis, but I seem to be in the minority. Many people seem to hit follow in the hopes that “If I follow her, she’ll follow me” or something. They hit follow, but do they ever come back?

So, my fellow bloggers – as most of you are – how do we get the rest of the world to join us in the ‘sphere? Or do we have to burst out and find new (or perhaps old) ways to reach them?

 

20 Comments

Filed under Writing

Paranoia and the Acclaimed Novel

At the risk of dipping a toe into controversy…

Everyone seems to be up in arms at the moment about the government “spying” on their communications. I must admit I’ve not been following it that closely, but I’m not sure what the great revelation is – we known for years that keyword scanning and the like go on, that GCHQ or the like therefore have access to our communications and that therefore (at least in theory) they could abuse that power.

I also happen to have just finished reading Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I’d never read it before, but apparently it was the one book chosen for the “Keep Toronto Reading” campaign. There are obvious reasons why – it’s set in a dystopian future where everyone fills their head with mindless TV and books are not just abandoned but banned. Less obvious reasons and a few conspiracy theories also abound but I’ll leave those to your imagination (or your search engine) to fill in.

f451

It’s a while since I read 1984, but F 451 strikes me as a slightly lighter touch on the whole dystopian future thing. Nevertheless, it has some clear warnings to those who wish to find them there, and received critical acclaim with comments describing its world as bearing “many alarming resemblances to our own.”

So, whether or not we are sleepwalking into a police state in reality, it occurs to me that playing on people’s fears might be a good route to publishing success. At least, if one can’t provide Harry Potter-esque escapism to distract the masses and keep them “happy”!

6 Comments

Filed under Writing

Who Are You Writing For?

To those authors who read endless guides on getting published, this is a question about audience, market share, and pitching, but to everyone, it is also a question of heart. Whenever I open a book, I stop at the almost blank page at the beginning – the one that says something simple like “For Amy”, cryptic like “For H.K.”, or effusive, like “To Mum, for all the times she picked me up before I fell”.

463px-In_Flanders_Fields_(1921)_dedication

It’s not the same as the Acknowledgements at the back, although I usually read those too. This isn’t the place for colleagues, research assistants, or a long list of family and friends. It’s a moment of intimacy, even though reading those words tells the vast majority of the readership nothing at all.

I always pause there, but I can’t tell you why. Maybe it reminds me that there’s an author behind the words; that there is a true story hidden behind the fiction. Maybe it just appeals to the romantic within me. Perhaps it’s simply that I am addicted to reading (I’ll read anything – toothpaste tubes, adverts, ingredients lists … even contract small print!) and can’t turn the page without taking it in.

If I ever get a book properly published, I don’t know who I will dedicate it to. There are so many possibilities – people who have changed my life, or shaped my craft; those who matter the most to me on a wholly personal level; various people I have loved and lost; even the people I have never met who have somehow influenced that particular novel (Melanie’s story, for example, could be dedicated to other child carers like her).

Is this something that published authors think long and hard about, or do they go by gut instinct? Is it perhaps just another place where the muse stamps her authority or where a publisher makes suggestions? I don’t know, but I hope one day to find out.

Do you have plans for a dedication? Do you stop and read them, or is that just me?

8 Comments

Filed under Writing

Ladies’ Night in Submissionville

Sorry, boys, but this week’s place-to-submit is Women Only. It’s the Lucy Cavendish College Fiction Prize, an award run by one of the women-only colleges at Cambridge University in the UK and open to entrants worldwide provided they are a previously unpublished female writer over the age of 21. Entries should consist of the first 30 pages of a novel, submitted with a <10 page synopsis of the rest of the book.

You can find full details here: http://www.lucy-cav.cam.ac.uk/whats-on/latest-news/post/128-lucy-cavendish-college-2013-fiction-prize

The entry fee is just £10 per entry (you can submit up to 3 entries).

Closing date isn’t till 27 March 2013, so you’ve got lots of time to polish those opening chapters.

The top 5 entires will be shortlisted (max one per entrant) and those five writers invited (with a guest each) to attend a prizegiving dinner where the winner will be announced. The prize is £1000, and all shortlisted entrants have the opportunity to meet and approach agents and publishers at the dinner. Publication isn’t part of the prize, but there certainly seems to be a history of success over the time the prize has been running.

As if that’s not enough, the event (although sadly not the judging of the competition!) is run by my best friend, so you will get to meet her if you’re shortlisted. Frankly, that’s a better prize than £1000, if you ask me.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Awards, Writing

Submissions – Ploughshares

One of the places I have submitted in the past, but now decided may not be the best for my work, is Ploughshares. It’s a serious literary magazine, with a strong pedigree in bringing newcomers to American literature and is guest-edited for each edition by some pretty big names. The magazine (really more like a paperback book) is published three times a year, and mailed out in hard copy to subscribers, who pay $30 per year for the privilege.

There are three ways to submit to Ploughshares.

Open Submissions

Fiction, poetry and certain types of non-fiction manuscripts are accepted unsolicited between 1 June and 15 January. Up to five poems can be submitted together, prose pieces should be submitted individually and be no more than 6,000 words long (5,000 is prefered).

There are no submissions fees for mail-in submissions, but a $3 charge is levied to submit online. Payment is $25 per page (Min $50, Max $250) together with two copies of the title published and a year’s subscription to the magazine.

Pshares Singles

The magazine has recently launched a new series, publishing one longer fiction piece (6,000-25,000 words) in electronic format once a month. The submission criteria are the same as above, and I believe so is the payment scheme.

Emerging Writers’ Contest

Finally, Ploughshares runs an annual contest for up-and-coming writers. This is defined as anyone who has yet to publish a book, including chapbooks and self-published works, in any genre. The contest is currently CLOSED and runs from February to April each year, with the winning entry published in their “Fall Edition”.

Entries should be no more than 5,000 words (or 3-5 poems) and the entry fee of $20 includes a year’s subscription to the magazine. Winners in each genre (fiction, non-fiction and poetry) are awarded $1,000 prize.

 

So, why won’t I be submitting any more?

Last year, I entered the Emerging Writers’ Contest. I didn’t win, or indeed receive any response to my entry, but this decision is not sour grapes on my part. It is proof of the lesson which is drilled into us time and again by books and articles and anything else giving advice on writing and publishing, and that is to know your market and choose wisely when submitting. My entry into the EWC gave me a year’s subscription to the magazine (for less than a year’s subscription would have cost, I hasten to add!). I’ve now read a couple of their publications in a lot more detail than the free excerpts online allowed me to do and I’ve come to the conclusion that it isn’t the place for my writing.

I write mainstream, some might even call it “literary”, fiction. I don’t write genre pieces, so Ploughshares ought to be a decent fit in that regard. However, what I don’t write is Literary Fiction in the sense that Ploughshares publishes it. Poems are usually incomprehensible to me, and even the short stories in their publications have a hint of poetry to them. I like a story to have a beginning, a middle and an end – a satisfying balance and a reason behind the words. I like likeable characters, or at least ones that I can be moved by, and I can’t handle even 6,000 words inside the head of a character who is clearly weird.

All of which is a poor attempt at describing the pieces I find in my latest copy of Ploughshares. The writing is good, by some definitions, but if a friend sent it to me and asked for critique, I’d rip it apart. I think most of my critiqueing friends would too.

So the truth is, I won’t be submitting to Ploughshares again unless my writing style changes. But if you think Literary suits the way you write (and for some people it really does), then it’s a fantastic place to try your work. The rates are decent, the lack of submission fees is a bonus and it’s definitely a publication with kudos behind the name. And if you’re not sure, enter next year’s EWC and try a year’s subscription for yourself. It might just be the springboard to great things.

Leave a comment

Filed under Writing

Submitting your “Grey” Fiction

That’s right, it’s not purple prose or blue movies, the new colour on the writing scene is Grey. 50 Shades of it, to be precise.

I have written exactly one piece of smut, which I used to bolster the word count of my first nanowrimo novel. It was almost certainly all terrible, but since I haven’t properly edited that draft yet, it’s still there in all its filthy glory. However, although I don’t think I’m ready to start submitting anything quite so colourful for a while yet, some of you may be.

And if you are, Oleander Press in Cambridge, UK, is looking for your submissions. Here’s the text of submissions call a friend of mine sent me today:

“In response to the extraordinary success of the 50 Shades trilogy,
Oleander’s setting up a new imprint to publish romance and erotica short
stories. If you know of anyone, including yourself of course, who can write well
and might be interested, please ask them to contact us at info@oleanderpress.com
and I’ll talk them through the plan. Basic info is that, in the first instance,
they’ll be published straight-to-ebook and the romance stories should be 100-150
pages (30-45,000 words), and the erotica 10-20 pages (3-6000 words). For
examples see the relevant sections at Amazon.”

Oleander also accepts other types of submissions – you can find out more about them on their website

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Writing

Submissions Options – Glimmer Train

Glimmer Train is one of the most famous and respected of online writing magazines I’ve found. They publish a range of fiction, promise to read everything that’s submitted, and pay for publication. They also run contests and publish a companion “Writers Ask” magazine, which includes interviews and reviews and some articles about writing and publication.

So far they haven’t had the taste and good sense to accept anything I’ve submitted, but I don’t hold that against them!

CONTESTS

Entry page: http://www.glimmertrain.com/writguid1.html

Glimmer Train runs a different contest each month, each with an entry fee and a prize or series of prizes:

STANDARD SUBMISSIONS

Entry page: http://glimmertrain.com/standard.html

In addition to the contests, there are four periods for Standard Submissions. These are a lot more open and have no reading fees. Payment is $700 for any story published, together with 10 copies of the issue.

  • January.Results by April 30.
  • April.Results by July 31.
  • July.Results by October 31.
  • October. Results by January 31

OTHER POINTS

A Glimmer Train publication looks great on your writing CV. They focus entirely on unsolicited submissions and most of their work comes direct from writers, rather than through agents.

Contest entries include a free subscription to the Writers Ask magazine, although my personal view of that publication is it’s not incredibly useful. I have learned a lot more from proper writing mags and certainly wouldn’t pay for this one in its own right. The entry fee can also get your story submitted into the relevant “standard submissions” period, so you get extra cover. To begin with, though, I would consider just a standard submission – the rewards aren’t as great, but entry is free and it’s a good way to get a feel for whether you can produce what they are after.

To check it out in more detail, you need to log into the Glimmer Train site with a username and password. It’s free and easy and they don’t produce a lot of spam emails – just a few reminders about contest deadlines etc, so if any of this interests you, sign up and see what you can find.

Leave a comment

Filed under Writing