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  Issue #27

Free Writers' Newsletter

   May 26, 2005  

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For beginners: ten ways to prepare to get published
By Jill Nagle, Founder and Principal
GetPublished, guerrilla guidance for your writing adventure
Author of How to Find A Literary Agent Who Can Sell Your Book for Top Dollar 
www.FindTheRightAgent.com

Like any field, excellent writing requires study, practice and mentorship. Very few successful authors ever published their first draft of their first work. Nearly all had to expend considerable effort to improve their craft. Here are some ways to prepare for that moment of publication. These tips also help keep you on your toes after publication for better and better writing results as your career develops.

1) Read, read, read in your field. You can never read too much when you're trying to excel as a writer. Reading in your field helps you develop a discerning eye. You need this discerning eye for when you step back and look at your own work.

2) Cultivate role models. Know who the top-selling authors are in your field. Find out more about them. How did they get to where they are? Do searches on the internet for information about particular authors whose careers you admire. Let your role models inspire rather than daunt you. There is no competition, only inspiration, potential teachers and opportunities for co-operation. That author you envy this year may be writing a blurb for your first novel next year.

3) Research your markets. If you want to publish in periodicals, whether literary fiction, journalistic writing, or anything else, realise publication standards serve a purpose other than to frustrate new authors.

4) Take classes. Many cities offer writing classes through community colleges or local writing groups. Online writing classes are popping up everywhere. If possible, choose a writing teacher who has published in a field you'd like to enter. Even better, find someone you already consider a mentor. Not every published author has what it takes to offer beginning writers what they need, but many do.

5) Join or start a writer's group in your area. We teach best what we most need to learn. There is no better way to improve your own writing than to help others with theirs.

6) Find a writing buddy with whom to check in on a regular basis. The two of you can be each others' inspiration, accountability market, guidepost and reality check. Having structure and someone to check in with may help you look forward to your otherwise lonely writing sessions.

7) Play with changing voices. Copy other writers you admire. How does that feel? Pretend you suddenly got an injection of creativity serum or IQ booster, then write like mad for ten minutes. What happens to the quality of your words? Is this a possible new direction for you? As creative and intelligent beings, we have so much more within us than we could ever dream.

8) Accept the reality of rewriting. Unlike other professions who get to rest on their milestones, for writers, a completed manuscript often represents a beginning. The best writing comes after lots of rewriting, even for seasoned authors. You needn't throw any of it away, but not every sentence belongs in every work. Save the scraps, but don't get attached to where they go, or the integrity of your project will suffer.

9) Get clear on what you want out of getting published. Many writers move forward without knowing where they want to wind up. As a teacher once told me, "if you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there". The answer to what you want out of getting published will help you determine the best route to take. And in publishing, those routes are many
and varied.

10) If what you want is to get published in the least amount of time, considering hiring a ghostwriter. An extremely common but rarely discussed practice, many successful authors talk to ghostwriters, who put their skills to work on an author's behalf. Although some such ghostwriters get a cover credit, many do not, hence the "ghost" terminology. If you have more money than time or inclination to toil, ghostwriting may be the option for you.

Author Jill Nagle is founder and principal of GetPublished, which provides coaching, consulting, ghostwriting, classes and do-it-yourself products to emerging and published authors. Her most recent book is How to Find An Agent Who Can Sell Your Book for Top Dollar.

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Writers can now leave feedback on magazines

The introduction of the user feedback feature on the publishers and literary agents databases has opened up a whole new dimension on these listings, giving for the first time a writer's perspective based on actual writers' experiences. Though still very much in its early days, there are already listings with three or more different comments from various users on them, enriching the database and providing more information than ever before for writers.

This feature has now been extended to the magazines databasefirstwirter.com's longest-running directory. Have you had a rude rejection letter from a magazine? Did they take longer than they promised looking at your MS? Well now you have the opportunity to name and shame them, and warn other users about the way they behave. Equally, if you've been treated very well by a magazine (received helpful advice, or a particularly quick turnaround on your submission) you can leave positive feedback to commend them to other writers.

To leave feedback, all you have to do is find the magazine's (or publisher or literary agent's) listing (the best way to do this is to go to the Advanced Search page and enter part of the name) and click the "Leave Feedback" button at the top of the listing (there's also a link in the "User feedback" section half way down the page). Then just type in your comments and click submit! It doesn't cost anything, and it helps make the database better for everyone, so what are you waiting for? Remember – this feature relies on you, the users, so it can only be as good as you make it!

At the same time as adding the user feedback feature the magazines database has also been generally upgraded to the level of the publishers and literary agents databases: "Report an Error" and "Print this Page" functionality has been added, and the overall look has been enhanced. Flags have been added to the listings on all these three databases, making it easier to tell which listings pertain to which countries, and the keywords for the material they handle have been expanded and standardised across the databases.

"This paves the way for future developments and innovations in our service," says firstwriter.com Managing Editor, J. Paul Dyson. "By standardising the terms the three databases use we've made it possible for them to interact and become more integrated in the future. There are lots of ways in which this can potentially improve information delivery to the customer, but the first benefit you'll notice will be in the InstantAlert email services, which we're looking to make more integrated and more customisable for the customer, allowing them to eradicate unwanted emails and drill down to the InstantAlerts that really matter to them."

Now that the upgraded version of the magazines database is online work has begun in earnest on the improvements to the InstantAlert services, however no date has been set for their implementation. In the meantime, remember to leave your feedback on any magazines, publishers, or literary agents you have dealings with.

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Resources for writers at firstwriter.com

Visit firstwriter.com for the following invaluable resources for writers:

To advertise on this newsletter for as little as $30 / £20 click here

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In this issue:

Spelling conventions

fwn uses English spelling conventions. Spellings such as "realise" "colour", "theatre", "cancelled", etc. differ from other spelling conventions but are nonetheless correct. 

News:

Submissions sought for webzine's first issue
Shakespeare's Minivan
, an online literary magazine, is seeking submissions for its first issue.

Minivan describes itself as more than just another webzine: it's a place where average, working people can reclaim their right to an imagination.

Minivan publishes quality fiction, poetry and essays by people with full-time, non-writing jobs and families to support. If you get up at 4am to write – if you can't quit your day job – this is the magazine for you. It will look at work in all genres, as well as fragments of unfinished projects. For submission guidelines, log onto the website at shakespearesminivan.com.

For details of more than 500 other magazines click here

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Agent gives teleclass on finding a literary agent
Hilary McMahon, a literary agent from Westwood Creative Artists, will be appearing as a teleclass guest for writers attempting to secure a literary agent.

Westwood is a renowned and highly successful agency and Hilary represents many talented authors. She’ll be spending a full hour sharing her insider knowledge on what an agent can do for a writer, what agents are looking for in proposals these days, and how writers can best work with agents once they’ve been signed.

The class will be held on May 31, 2005 at 2pm ET. For more information, click here

To search over 600 literary agencies, click here

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Surrealism group launches magazine
The London Surrealist Group has recently launched a magazine, Arcturus.

For more information on the group and their magazine visit londonsurrealist
group.org.uk
or email info@london
surrealistgroup.org.uk
.

For details of more than 500 other magazines click here 

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How to sell more books online
The key to successfully selling anything online is search engine placement. Various studies have shown that 54 per cent to 85 per cent of online purchases begin with a search engine, and 34 per cent to 69 per cent of clicks go to the top three spots.

Ink Tree Marketing is offering the services of a search engine optimisation specialist (who is also a self-published author) to five of their subscribers – all you have to do is join their mailing list. The five lucky writers will receive a customised, one-on-one service that will help them achieve higher online book sales. 

Those interested should send an email to info@
inktreemarketing.com
with the subject line "Search Engine Optimisation" as soon as possible.

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Hudson Valley Poets Fest 2005
Taking place in the beautifully resonant environs of the Widow Jane Mine, Rt. 213 in Rosendale, NY, the Hudson Valley Poets Fest will be held on Saturday, August 13, 2005, from noon to dusk.

Hosted by Mike Jurkovic, HVPF '05 will feature many regional poetic luminaries, published both nationally and internationally. Poets already scheduled include Will Nixon, Barbara Adams, Sharon Nichols, Bill Seaton, Cheryl Anne Rice, Robert Milby and John Faucett, who will be reading from his new book Along the Road Travelled (ISBN 1859291260, by Remus House, released May 21, 2005).

Artists, craftspeople, and socially conscious organisations who wish to set up booths can contact Dietrich Werner at rosendalebuff
@aol.com
for information.

For more information concerning HVPF '05, please contact Mike Jurkovic on +1 (914) 474-7758 or at rnrcurmudgeon
@yahoo.com

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Partner sites:

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© firstwriter.com 2005
While every effort is made to ensure that all information contained within this newsletter is accurate, readers are reminded that this information is provided only as a collection of potential leads that the reader should follow up with his or her own investigations. Unless otherwise stated, firstwriter.com is not associated with and does not endorse, recommend, or guarantee any of the organisations, events, persons or promotions contained within this newsletter, and cannot be held responsible for any loss incurred as a result of actions taken in relation to information provided. Inclusion does not constitute recommendation.