Traditional Publishing

Writers' News

Submissions for the Bournemouth Writing Prize 2024 are now open – Monday November 20, 2023

Poets and short story writers are invited to submit their entries to this year’s Bournemouth Writing Prize, run by Fresher Publishing at Bournemouth University.

The international writing competition offers the opportunity to win a cash prize and record a reading of your work at BU’s recording studios. All entries will also be considered for inclusion in the anthologies that Fresher Publishing produces each year. 

This year’s judges include Ansa Khan Khattak – Editorial Director at Spectre, Antony Dunn – a published poet and Julia Silk – an agent at Greyhound Literary

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New Literary Agent Listing: Megan Brown – Monday November 20, 2023

I am interested in nonfiction books. Specifically, I am most excited about pursuing projects in Bible study, reference, theology, Christian living and devotionals, spiritual formation, the integration of work and faith, marriage and family, church life, ministry, leadership, evangelism, and missions.

[See the full listing]

Nonfiction author Kim Cross breaks down how to sell a book proposal – Saturday November 18, 2023

A book project is no pursuit for impatient writers. Bringing a book from the page to stores requires a blend of timing, stamina and alchemy: a ripe idea, relevance in the zeitgeist, a confluence of favorable market conditions and editorial partners who have the determination — and means — to help sell it. Journalist Kim Cross waited nearly eight years for these factors to converge before “In Light of All Darkness” would live in the world.

Cross, who is based in Idaho, began nursing the idea of filling in reporting gaps of an infamous true crime case in 2015. She spent the next year or so tracking down archival material, interviewing subjects and mapping out the arc of a propulsive story about the kidnapping of Polly Klaas, a 12-year-old who lived in Petaluma, California, in 1993.

Cross initially pitched the book in 2015 — shortly after the publication of her first book, “What Stands in a Storm” — but didn’t land a deal. After a potential offer fell through, she shifted her attention to other projects. Then, in 2021, Cross found an editor and publisher who felt like a good fit and were committed to publishing the book “with muscle,” as she puts it.

Storyboard talked with Cross about what nonfiction writers need to know about the book publishing process, how a book proposal mirrors and diverges from a magazine pitch, and the roles that each editorial partner plays. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

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Peek inside a successful book proposal – Friday November 17, 2023

Author Kim Cross annotates the lengthy proposal that landed a contract for the book that revisits the 1993 Polly Klaas kidnapping

This is one of two posts featuring Kim Cross on the successful pitch-and-proposal process that led to her new book, ‘In Light of All Darkness.’ In this post, Cross annotates the proposal that landed her a contract after previous pitches fell short. In a companion piece, Cross answers questions about agents, timing and money.

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5 Pieces of Terrible Writing Advice You Should Totally Ignore – Thursday November 16, 2023

We've all heard some terrible writing advice in our lives. It might have been from so-called "experts," professors, or even in an unhelpful YouTube tutorial, but there are good writing lessons at the heart of every bad note. Let's look at a few together to see what you can glean.

Tell me if this rings a bell, you're attending a screenwriting seminar, listening to a lecture, or getting notes from someone, and they lean in and tell you they have a piece of advice. After hearing it, you shake your head. You feel a little worse off than you started, and you're not sure what to do next.

Terrible writing advice is all around us. Bad writing advice comes from many sources. We hear it in blogs, podcasts, and all over Social Media.

Today I want to go over the 5 biggest pieces of terrible screenwriting advice I've heard, debunk each of them, and give you the proper lessons to take away from each of them.

Ready? Let's go...

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My First Thriller: Joseph Finder – Thursday November 16, 2023

Joe Finder must have thought he knew the secrets to selling a book. His first, a work of nonfiction, Red Carpet: The Connection Between the Kremlin and America’s Most Powerful Businessmen, had a hardcover run of 10,000. 

It sold out.

Sounds like an early and smooth ride into the literary sunset. But there’s a catch. (There’s always something in book publishing.)

Finder, a Harvard graduate student in Russian Studies at the time, managed to anger one of the richest and most powerful men in America while writing Red Carpet. The man was so mad he approached Finder’s academic advisor with a proposal: kick Finder out of school and he’d write Harvard a check so big they’d have to use a wheelbarrow to deliver it. He also tempted the university with a trove of personal papers for its archives.

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New Publishing Imprint Listing: Gold SF – Thursday November 16, 2023

Dedicated to discovering and publishing new intersectional feminist science fiction, promoting voices that answer to the unprecedented times in which we find ourselves, and orientated towards to social, economic, and environmental justice.

[See the full listing]

Big Publishing Killed the Author – Wednesday November 15, 2023

The suggestion that Beloved, Toni Morrison’s acclaimed novel about slavery and its afterlives, is also a parable about the publishing industry would be bizarre, even offensive—if, that is, Morrison herself hadn’t explicitly suggested it. For years, Morrison had felt not merely penned in by her career as an editor at the publishing giant Random House; she had felt indentured, “held in contempt—to be played with when our masters are pleased, to be dismissed when they are not,” as she declared in a speech six years before publishing Beloved. Upon leaving her job at Random House to focus on writing full-time, she felt “free in a way I had never been, ever.… Enter Beloved.” It was, she continued in the novel’s preface, “the shock of liberation”—liberation from the world of corporate publishing—“that drew my thoughts to what ‘free’ could mean.” In the novel itself, Morrison has Baby Suggs, the protagonist’s mother, describe freedom from slavery in strikingly similar terms.

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How To Write A Query Letter That Makes Literary Agents Take Notice – Tuesday November 14, 2023

Writing a query letter is a crucial step in the journey of getting your manuscript published. Literary agents receive countless submissions daily, and your query letter is your first chance to make a lasting impression. To ensure that your work gets the attention it deserves, you need to craft a compelling query letter that stands out from the rest. In this guide, we will provide you with a step-by-step process on how to write a query letter that literary agents will find irresistible. Let’s get started!

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How to Become a Short Storyist

By G. Miki Hayden
Instructor at Writer's Digest University online and private writing coach – Tuesday November 14, 2023

I wanted to become a novelist, but a friend of mine gave me a tip: “Write short stories as credentials you can mention in query letters for your novels.” I decided to follow her advice, plus I could write a short story in a couple of weeks for some quick satisfaction.

Since then, I’ve written and published generous handfuls of short stories, won a couple of short story awards, and made a little money at the game—mostly very little—but all coinage counts.

I want to herein present some revelations as to “how I do it.” But in addition to my having short stories published many times, I also have many worthy pieces not yet published, so don’t follow me there.

I don’t concentrate on just one element in the story when I write and then layer in other aspects—though you can do that. I also rarely restructure. I write and then polish. However, while I certainly think that writing everything at the same time produces a more cohesive piece, I also will suggest that my students (at Writers Digest’s Writers Online Workshops) can deposit in elements later on if they aren’t able to provide them in the initial draft.

The most common essentials that students will miss in their short story writing are emotion, setting, and point-of-view character internals.

The eliciting of emotion is definitely an important fundamental of fiction, but that’s probably the hardest thing for writers to do. So I don’t really mean that exactly, as creating suspense, tension, the onset of romance, or even reader sorrow is extremely difficult. If writers can actually trigger reader feelings—wonderful—they may make a lot of money selling their manuscripts. But if they can’t, then they can at least include the mechanical representation of these sensations. We are always able to write “His heart thudded in his chest, and he thought he would faint.” That will substitute for the real thing in many instances, and a writer does need to have at least elements of emotion to round out any story.

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