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  Issue #51

Free Writers' Newsletter

   May 26, 2007  

        

firstwriter.com subscription price drops

This month has seen a significant drop in the cost of taking out a paid subscription to firstwriter.com, making it as cheap to open an account now as it was way back in 2003, when the subscription service was first launched. The lower price point is being tested on a trial basis, so if you've ever considered taking out a paid subscription but have hesitated because of the payment involved, now is the ideal time to take the plunge.

Margaret Reid Poetry Contest for Traditional Verse
Deadline-June 30:
$4,500 in prizes. Traditional verse forms e.g. sonnets and haiku. Published / unpublished poems welcome. Enter online or by mail. Guidelines.

"Hopefully this will help make our services available to people who might not otherwise have seen them as an option," commented Managing Editor, J. Paul Dyson. "We've returned the minimum entry-level cost of subscribing to its 2003 level, which is a great deal for writers. When you take inflation into account, that means it's now cheaper than it's ever been to get access to our services. We're hoping that this will encourage more people to at least give it a try for a few weeks – and when they do, we hope they'll realise that the service is about a lot more than just getting contact details for agents and publishers. Those subscribers who end up relying on our site, and subscribing to it religiously for years, usually cite other elements of the service – particularly the InstantAlert emails – as the reason they stay subscribed, and it's amazing how many of our success stories agree that this was how they got their agent or publisher."

So what do you get as a subscriber to firstwriter.com? As indicated above, the most obvious benefit is access to the extensive databases of literary agents, book publishers, magazines, and writing competitions. All of these databases are searchable by a wide variety of criteria – from the kind of material they handle and the country in which they are based (which are common to all the databases), to specific criteria for the different directories: such as the level of prize or entry fee for competitions; the maximum length of stories or articles they are willing to consider (magazines); and their attitude towards unsolicited submissions (agents, publishers, and magazines). The agents, publishers, and magazines databases can all be searched using well over a dozen different criteria, meaning you can stop spending hours trawling the internet for leads, and start finding exactly what you're looking for in a matter of seconds.

You can try all these databases out for free by going to www.firstwriter.com/Agents, www.firstwriter.com/publishers, www.firstwriter.com/magazines, and www.firstwriter.com/competitions. You can try out all the search functionality and see the range of results returned without spending anything – all that will be obscured are names and contact details (these are uncovered after you subscribe).

What you can't try out before you subscribe, however, are some of the less obvious aspects of the service, such as the InstantAlert emails, which are a free optional extra available to you after you subscribe. These are emails delivered direct to your inbox that give you the latest information on listings on all four of our databases. Every time a new listing is added, or an existing listing is changed, we send out an alert to notify our subscribers – and the best thing is that you can choose exactly what you want to receive and what you don't. If you receive everything you could be getting between 5 and 10 alerts every day – but you can set your preferences to receive as few or as many as you want. You can specify listings that handle only a certain type of material, target a particular market, or are based in a certain country – ensuring that you only receive relevant information. So, if you're only interested in publishers of historical fiction for children which are based in the United States, you can set those as your preferences and that is all you'll receive information about. You can only sample this aspect of the service by subscribing, and the new, lower start price should make doing that easier.

Another important feature that you can't really appreciate till you're subscribed is the User Feedback feature. This allows users to post feedback about agencies, magazines, and publishers right on the listing for other users to see. This gives you a unique "writer's eye" view of the business in question, with opinions and information from others who are actually approaching the same businesses. This helps you know what to expect when you send your query – do they usually take months to respond? If they're rude in their rejection is that a statement about you, or are they like that to everyone? And, equally, if they tell you that you're writing's great but they're just too busy, should you really feel encouraged or do they say that all the time?

Have you protected your Copyright? Copyright piracy is estimated to cost millions annually. Before sending your work to agents, publishers, or contests, make sure you take out copyright protection. Click here for more information.

Perhaps most importantly, the User Feedback feature helps you identify and avoid those publishers and agents who are out to exploit, not represent writers. Like the feedback feature on eBay, our User Feedback section helps keep users safe by providing a place where users can warn each other about potential scams, so that you know to avoid them, even if you see them advertised elsewhere on the internet. With the ever-increasing numbers of scams advertising all over the internet, it's becoming more and more important to have access to a space like firstwriter.com, where you can quickly locate a given business and check what's being said about it.

Again, these comments aren't viewable until you've subscribed. The new entry price of $2.99 / £1.99 / €2.99 has been applied to two of the subscription packages available: the Monthly Subscription, which continues with monthly payments of $4.49 / £2.99 / €4.49 if you don't decide to cancel; and the Combination Subscription (MA),which continues with annual payments of $39.99 / £26.89 / €39.99 a month after you subscribe if you don't decide to cancel (saving you 25% a year compared with paying monthly!). There is no minimum term contract to any of the subscriptions, however, so if you decide that the service isn't for you then you can cancel and pay nothing more than the initial $2.99 / £1.99 / €2.99 it costs to create the account.

To subscribe easily online, please go to www.firstwriter.com/subscribe

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My faded passion
By Marcella Simmons

I used to think that I would write every day of my life, but my passion faded somewhere between working and getting the kids raised and prepared for adulthood. The passion faded because I grew tired and weary, and somehow let life get in my way of succeeding at the very thing I’d always dreamt of becoming.

It sounds crazy but it happened to me, and it can happen to the next person very easily. I didn’t plan on not succeeding at writing, and I certainly didn’t plan on working long hours and raising six kids on a single parents’ income with little or no child support. The years crept by, and my passion disappeared, and so did my self esteem and goals I had set many years before.

It just wasn’t fair. I had a lot going for me during the early years of my career. Through trial and error, I learned what it took to be a writer. I mailed out endless manuscripts and was paid in copies several hundred times – I earned a name for myself but little good it does me now. Most of the small press publications that once knew me have bitten the dust or changed editors, and no longer know me.

I long for the old days when editors used to contact me regularly to write a parenting article or a how-to on writing. Even so, getting paid in copies didn’t pay the bills back then, and it won’t pay them now, either. Where do I go from here? Do I start again with my writing, and go back to getting paid with copies?

I kept a daily journal for years, and would fill endless spiral notebooks full of things that were going on in our family – of my thoughts and dreams and my longing to be a writer. Again, life stepped in the way and I stopped. My passion for writing may be hidden deep in the layers of life and just needs to be rekindled.

It is time to pull out my two completed novels, put my editing skills to work, and try and market them. I have several article ideas in mind that might make the grade with a paying market. At least my writing and marketing talent is intact! Now that my writing passion is aroused once again, it is time to put words to paper. Let's write!

About the author
Marcella Simmons has been writing professionally since 1988 – she has over 650 published credits in over 350 small press publications nationwide. In 2005, Simmons had her first book of poetry published, and is working on several book projects at this time. She continues to write a regular weekly column for a local newspaper in her hometown, as well as many other writing projects. "Writing is a way of life for me," she says. Simmons is the mother of eight children (all are grown now) and she has seven grandchildren with another on the way. "My family is also a way of life for me, and my inspiration."

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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:

Changes to copyright registration
The Intellectual Property Rights Office has made some changes regarding its Copyright Registration Service.

The maximum file size accepted has been increased from 2MB to 3MB, allowing for larger single registrations; however the registration fee has also increased.

To get 10% off your registration fees, click here

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Literary contest to aid suffering children
Nonprofit organisation ABC (Authors for the Betterment of Children) WORDS IN ACTION is inviting submissions of first-person stories of a fictitious child, representative of a real group of children suffering exploitation or abuse, in English or Spanish.

Ten winners will be published in an anthology. For each book sold, $2 will be donated to UNICEF.

The closing date is December 21, 2007. For more details, click here.

For over 150 other contests, click here

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New literary agent and electronic publisher
A literary agent and electronic publisher called "Total Fiction" has been launched, specialising in the work of unpublished writers. 

The site aims to offer not only electronic publishing, but a community for both published and unpublished writers.

Total Fiction is currently open to submissions of almost every genre of fiction, from horror to romance.

For more information, click here

For over 700 literary agencies, click here

For over 750 publishers, click here

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Conscious Discussions talk show
Authors Lillian and Dave Brummet are to host a new talk radio show, "Conscious Discussions", covering the world of writing, the environment, and the value of the individual.

The show will be recorded live and airs every Tuesday at 10 am PST. Anyone interested in appearing on the half hour show as a guest is welcome to contact the Brummets through their website at www.sunshine
cable.com/~drumit
.

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Winners announced for Next Stop Hollywood
Winners of a competition for short stories with potential to be made into films have had their stories published in an anthology from St. Martin's Press

firstwriter.com was noted by the organisers as a strong source of submissions, having referred at least three of the best 15 submissions, from Jerry Ryan, Brian Richmond, and Barry Simiana.

Several of the stories have already been optioned.

A synopsis of each story, author bios, and one of the winning stories, "An Age of Marvels", are posted at www.NextStop
Hollywood.org

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© firstwriter.com 2007
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