As well as the £500 first prize
there are prizes of $150 for the best US runner-up, and £100
for the best runner-up from the UK. All winners and
ten special commendations will also receive firstwriter.com
vouchers worth $30 / £20, which can be used to take out an
annual subscription to firstwriter.com for free, giving full access to
our database of over 800 literary
agencies, over 1,000 magazines,
over 1,000 publishers,
and over 150 constantly-changing competitions (you can start
enjoying all these benefits now by clicking
This month we’re pleased to announce a new feature on
firstwriter.com which will make the job of searching our databases for
publishers, and magazines easier than ever. From now on, the system will remember when you’ve looked at a listing, so that you can see which listings you’ve viewed and which ones you haven’t at a glance.
On the results page you’ll now find listings that you’ve viewed before will be shaded purple, and the date you last accessed them will also be shown.
If the listing has been updated since the last time you looked
at it then it will be shaded pink, so that you know it may be
worth looking at it again. When you open a listing that you’ve viewed before you’ll
also be able to see a list of all the previous dates on which you accessed it.
This is like an expanded and more detailed version of the common browser functionality whereby links (normally shown as blue) turn a different colour (usually purple) after you’ve visited them. The system that has now been built into
firstwriter.com has a number of important advantages, however. For instance, your browser will only show the links as purple for as long as it maintains a record of your browsing – which may be for a few weeks or may only be for your current session. After that, the information about which listings you have visited disappears. With
firstwriter.com that won’t be the case.
Similarly, if you change your computer, your browser, or simply access the site from different computers (such as at work and at home, or on a laptop) the browser-based functionality wouldn’t keep up with which listings you had viewed and which you hadn’t. The
firstwriter.com system, however, will be available to you no matter what browser or computer you use. You will always be able to see which listings you have
And, of course, you get a lot more detail. Instead of just knowing whether you’ve clicked a link in the past or not, you can see straight away when you last clicked it, and how many times you’ve viewed it, etc.
So how does this actually help you when you’re searching for markets? Well, imagine you have a saved search of listings you want to approach, which you’re slowly working through over a number of sessions. Now, every time you log in, you’ll be able to see exactly where you had got up to in the list. And don’t forget that we’re constantly adding new listings to the databases – these will now stand out far more obviously, because they will not be marked as having been viewed – helping you make sure you don’t miss the latest opportunities.
But that’s not all. Let’s imagine you’re a writer of science fiction novels. You use
firstwriter.com to try and place your first novel, and visit lots of the listings for
science fiction agents and
publishers. Now let’s imagine you finish your second novel, and want to start submitting that to the same agents and publishers. Obviously lots will be shaded purple because you’ve already visited them – but because the actual date you visited them is also shown you’ll be able to tell the difference straight away between ones you’ve approached about your second novel already, and ones you’ve only approached about your first.
You get the same benefit when searching for
magazines, where you might be churning out lots of articles / stories / poems aimed at the same market. The ability to see when you last approached each magazine will allow you to target your work far more quickly and effectively.
The feature is also useful when you’re broadening your searches. For instance, if you’d been searching for
publishers and agents you may have exhausted all the options and decide to broaden your search to just “fiction” in general. You’ll now get a much longer list that includes all the romance fiction listings that you’ve already looked at – but all those that you’ve previously viewed will be shaded purple, so you can immediately pick out and target the new listings.
homepage you can also access a list of your recently viewed listings, making it easier than ever to find your way back to listings you may have spotted last week, or even last month!
You can view the listings you've accessed across all databases
at once, or restrict it to a particular one.
You work for days getting that story together –
you edit, you edit again – you rewrite until all the blood has dried up in your
veins and the tear ducts have dried up in your eyes. Maybe not that much but you
edited and rewrote that story so many times that chronic pain actually set in!
When it’s time to mail it off to that perfect
market – to that perfect editor who is ready to read your perfect masterpiece,
you decide to place page three under page five so that he or she will read and
look for the missing page. But then, it is a masterpiece and you know that the
editor can’t wait to finish the entire piece. You painstakingly look it over
again for any typos or smudges – it’s actually perfect – listen to that
dialogue! This is the best story you’ve ever written. You can’t wait to read it
again once it is in print!
“I’ll wait three or four weeks before I check on
the status of my manuscript,” you whisper to no one in particular. “Maybe two
months before I start checking on it – give the editor time to read it and pass
it to all his department friends. This story will fly!” you almost shout it out!
Two weeks later, your manuscript is returned – by
looking at it, you know it has been unread, untouched. The editor must have
missed it or something – this is the best story ever written, you’re thinking.
How could it have been so invisible to the editor who returned it?
Instantly, you get on your computer and find the
email address to the editor you submitted your story to. You immediately demand
a response about why your manuscript was returned unread. Not long you receive a
nasty little reply stating that the editor does not accept unsolicited
manuscripts. And this is the ending of the nasty little reply: “Had you
researched our market you would have found that we clearly do not accept
unsolicited manuscripts. Your work was clearly invisible to us as was the fact
that our writer’s guidelines were clearly invisible to you.” The Editor
Well, if that don’t beat all, you muse! So much
for the perfect manuscript and the perfect market – it’s time to start all over
and do some market research. Your story deserves a home – writing is only part
of the job. Market research is the other part. “I will find another perfect
market for my story,” you whisper to yourself.
“I will find an editor who will read my
manuscript – a market where my masterpiece is not invisible – a place where my
writing is not invisible and is worthy to be published.” You comb every market
in firstwriter.com until you find another market that is suitable for
your story. This time, you read all the "Additional information" and make sure
you click through to the magazine's website to check their full writer’s
guidelines – and this time, you read every word of the writer’s guidelines
before sending out your manuscript – it deserves to be read – it is not
Several weeks later, you receive a letter from
the editor. “…We are going to publish your story in an upcoming issue – very
nice job with the dialogue – another job well done!...”
Study writer’s guidelines – even the fine print!
Don’t let your writings become invisible to editors – writing is only half the
job! Knowing your markets is the other half!
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.
uses English spelling conventions.
Spellings such as "realise"
differ from other spelling conventions
but are nonetheless correct.
New online journal launched Galleys Online Journal of Literature is a new online magazine seeking poems, short stories, and personal essays. If your work is rejected, they guarantee a thorough critical response within one week.
Private Photo Review seeks Israeli poets Israeli poets (preferably living in Israel, rather than Hebrew poets living in other countries) are invited to submit 4–6 poems on any subject (though poems on Israel or the Hebrew world are welcome), in English, up to 50 lines.
Submit directly to Alessio Zanelli at
photoreview.com by October 30, 2009, including short bio and contact details in the same Word document as the poem.
Competition for travel writing articles
The British Guild of Travel Writers has announced a new travel writing competition as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations. The competition is open to articles up to 800 words on the theme "A Very Special Place", by writers over 18 who have not been previously published in the travel field.
First prize is a four-day writing holiday in Istanbul. The closing date for entries is December 31, 2009. For full details, go to