This month has seen a significant drop in the cost of taking out a
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.
"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
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.
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
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
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?
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
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.
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
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
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
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,
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