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  Issue #79

Free Writers' Newsletter

   Sep 26, 2009  

        

Competition deadline delayed Bookmark and Share

With the deadline for firstwriter.com's Seventh International Poetry Competition fast approaching (October 1, 2009), firstwriter.com has announced a last-minute delay to allow for final entries to be submitted. If you haven't yet entered your poems for your chance to win £500 (that's nearly $1,000) plus a free licence for WhiteSmoke 2008+ Creative Version (worth $99.95) you can enter online now in seconds by going to https://www.firstwriter.com/competitions/poetry_competition.shtml

FanStory.com Writing Contests - Click Here

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 here).

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New way to keep track of writing markets
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This month we’re pleased to announce a new feature on firstwriter.com which will make the job of searching our databases for literary agents, book 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.
 

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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 viewed.

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 romance fiction 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.

From your subscriber 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.

To get started with the new feature, just start searching the databases at www.firstwriter.com/subscriber/agents, www.firstwriter.com/subscriber/publishers, and www.firstwriter.com/subscriber/magazines, and start opening listings!

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Invisible writing: when an editor brushes off your manuscript
By Marcella Simmons
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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 invisible!

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.

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Resources for writers at firstwriter.com

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

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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:

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.

For more details, click here.

For over 1,150 other magazines, click here

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Travellers Friend seeks short stories
Travellers Friend is a collection of stories, puzzles, and humour, published in e-Book format and aimed at travellers or tourists.

Light/happy stories up to 3,000 words are currently being sought which are compatible with the holiday mood.

For more information, contact Albert Able at ablejsy@
jerseymail.co.uk
.

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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 az@private
photoreview.com
by October 30, 2009, including short bio and contact details in the same Word document as the poem. 

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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 click here.

For over 150 other contests, click here.

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