Category Archives: * Getting published

Writing Exercises and Submitting Short Stories

Something that can really help with your creativity and writing is doing exercises. Expanding your imagination, or learning to see things from different viewpoints, can enhance and develop your writing skills.

To that end, you might be interested in visiting the Write Spa website of Winslow Eliot. Every few days there is a post suggesting a visualization you can do, and a way you can write about it. For example, for June 5th, 2010, you imagine yourself on a lovely desert island, sending a concise message in a bottle each day. You need to decide how to narrow down what is most important to you on that day, and how you would explain it briefly to a stranger.

Meanwhile, if you do have a piece of fiction to submit, Duotrope’s Digest is a site for locating places where you can send it. The site lists more than 2900 fiction and poetry publications, and has a search form to help you narrow the list down to publishers in your own genre.

For more specific submissions, here are a couple of current examples:

  • A Cup of Comfort is looking for true stories from the lives of Christian women
  • New Love Stories Magazine is looking for Male/Female love stories with just enough sexual spice to liven things up but not wander into pornographic realms
  • The Bark wants stories about humans’ relationships with dogs
  • Not to leave out cat-lovers, Cat Fancy magazine is looking for similar pieces about cats

As always, you should read the submission guidelines for these websites and magazines, so you’ll send materials they are interested in, and in the right format. (Thanks very much to freelance writer Windy Lynn Harris for some of these suggestions.)

Happy writing, and good fortune in finding markets for your stories!

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Filed under * Getting published, * Writing tips

Author Greed and Demands on Agents

I was actually surprised to read this blog post at the Waxman Literary Agency blog: Letting the Market Speak. Holly Root, the blogger in this case, talks about authors who demand that agents live up to certain timelines or other standards the authors have set.

“Get me a publishing deal for four books a year. Get me a movie deal. Get me foreign publication.” And so on, and so on, and so on.

I was astonished that there are as-yet-unpublished writers who actually think that a) they can express those desires and the whole publishing world will just fall obediently in line to accommodate them, and b) they can order an agent around like that and actually expect that agent to take them on.

Rather than being thankful that the agent is interested in helping them further their career, and being eager to learn from the agent’s experience and get some advice on helpful ways to proceed, these writers apparently just waltz in and assume that whatever decrees they lay down, the agents should just fall all over themselves to try to fulfill. Even if the demands would hurt the author’s own career, if only they knew what the agent knows.

I’m surprised that writers are so naive as to assume they can plan out the course of the career like that. It seems to me they’ve fallen prey to too many business marketers who promise that they can climb the ladder of success by being “proactive” and having a business plan. This doesn’t even work that well in the straight-on business world. (Just have a chat with the hordes of people who’ve been “downsized” unexpectedly in the past year or so.)

I’m also surprised – though I suspect I shouldn’t be – that these writers are simply that incredibly selfish. That’s not entirely their fault, because another facet of today’s business and consumer climate is to teach people (incessantly) that they are the center of the universe. The fact that they’ve come to believe it shouldn’t surprise anyone.

But one assumes that they’re capable of thinking, if they’re really writers. And they should be capable of discovering the utter fallacy of that “center of the universe” thinking. They need to recognize that the universe is going to do what it’s going to do, whatever this writer’s own stipulations, and in a clash of wills like that, the universe always wins. Add the publishing market in there, not to mention the human wills and decisions of the agent, other members of his or her agency, and all the people working at all the publishers…

Well. You get the picture. No intelligent writer will walk around with the attitude of “the world revolves around my business plan.”

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Filed under * Agents, * Getting published

Why self-publishing may be a bad option

Patty Jansen at the Beyond Infinity blog has written an informative but rather disturbing post about self-publishing: shattering the illusion – self-published book and bookstores.

This isn’t really encouraging:

So why on earth would a run-of-the-mill bookshop stock a book from an unknown self-published writer, who can only offer 30% off RRP, and whose stock is ‘firm sale’ (in other words: non-returnable), who cannot be paid through regular digitised channels, whose stock carries a lot of extra administrative work?

No reason, really.

It’s not that it can’t be done, but it appears that the option of self-publishing should only be on the table as a very last resort, unless you’re content with mainly online and word-of-mouth sales. Or plan to spend virtually all your time trying to encourage bookstores to sell a few of your books.

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Authors, deadlines, and the troubling economy

The New York Observer has an interesting article today, by author Leon Neyfakh: Note to Authors: Make Your Deadlines!

Neyfakh talks about how it used to be okay to go somewhat beyond your delivery deadline if a publishing company had bought your book, before the economy began forcing publishers to take more heed to their cash flow and bottom line. In the past, even if they had “buyer’s remorse” and regretted that they’d contracted two years ago to publish the book, they usually wouldn’t cancel outright.

Now, Neyfakh says, that’s changed to a large degree. If a publisher no longer wants to do the book, they’re going to start looking for an excuse. And getting it in late can now loom very large, resulting not only in cancellation of the contract, but the demand to pay back any advance.

Neyfakh remarks,

As a result, authors are under unprecedented pressure from their agents to stay on schedule. Most of the literary agents interviewed for this article said they have tried to impress on their clients that if they want to make sure they don’t lose their contracts and find themselves having to pay back an advance that in many cases they’ve already spent, they had better be vigilant about turning their manuscripts in on time.

It may not matter that the Muse hasn’t visited enough to make your prose just perfect. It may be more important to sit down, get the thing written, and hand it in on time, to make sure it will still be published. Or save that advance until you’re absolutely sure the book’s going to happen.

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