This month, firstwriter.com
is pleased to unveil a new notes and reminders system that makes
it easier than ever to organise your search for markets for your
writing. firstwriter.com is all about saving you legwork
and making your searching quicker and more effective – we've
done this already this year with the new abilities to save
searches (so you don't have to keep entering the same details),
and the ability to see what listings you've already looked at
and when, and whether those listings have been updated since the
last time you looked at them (to save you looking at the same
listings again and again, and allowing you to target your
attention more effectively). With the new notes and reminders,
your firstwriter.com account becomes even more
personalised and effective!
So how do these new features
work? The notes facility allows you to add your own custom notes
to listings. These will appear right there on the listing every
time you view it after logging in, but of course only you will
ever be able to see your own notes – they are entirely personal
and other users won't be able to see them. This means that you
can jot down all kinds of useful information, such as extra
research you've conducted about the listing; which of your
pieces you think might be suitable; what you've submitted to
them, and when. There's nothing worse than carrying out a
search, finding a market that you know you've seen before, but
not being able to remember whether you approached it, or
dismissed it as a possibility, or why. Sometimes you can end up
wasting a lot of time retracing your steps, reading through a
listing and its website, only to find for the second of third
time that little niggle that makes it seem unsuitable – now
you'll be able to write that information directly on the
listing, so that the next time you find it in a search you'll
know exactly what conclusion you came to before.
You can also search the notes you
make, meaning you can use it as a tool to organise the listings
you find. For instance, while searching for a publisher or agent
for your current book you might spot others that might be
suitable for the next book you're writing. You could add the
name of your next book in a note on each suitable listing and then, when
you're ready to start making approaches for that book, search
your notes for its title. You'll be given a list of all the
notes you wrote relating to your new book and links straight
back to the listings! You can then edit or delete your notes to
keep a track of which ones you've applied to and which ones you
You can also add reminders to
your notes, by adding a date that you would like to be reminded
on. Your subscriber home page will then show a list of
your upcoming reminders, and when they hit their due date they
will turn red, so that you know you need to action
them. They will remain as red reminders on your homepage until
you dismiss them. This will stop them appearing as reminders,
but the information will still show on the listing as a note.
This feature has all kinds of
useful applications: for instance, lots of agents, publishers,
and magazines will promise to respond to your query or
submission within a given period of time – some may even
encourage you to chase them up after that time has elapsed.
Keeping track of who to chase up and when can be a challenge,
but the new notes and reminders make it a lot easier to keep on
top of that aspect of placing your work. When you submit to a listing you can add a note to
record the date you made your submission, and set a reminder to
alert you in three months (or whatever their quoted response
time is). If they respond before that you can edit the note to
record the fact that you've received a response and remove the
reminder; otherwise, after three months, that note will appear
when you log in on your home page in red, and you'll know to
send a follow up email to chase their response. You can then
keep altering the date of the reminder so that it keeps
reminding you to follow up until they finally respond and you
can dismiss the reminder!
In other instances you'll find
publishers or agents temporarily closed to submissions, with
dates for when they will re-open, or suggestions of when to
check back for more information. Similarly, magazines often have
particular reading periods, and if it's not within their reading
period when you come across their listing you won't be able to
submit. In the past, you might have passed over those listings
and missed those opportunities, but now you can leave a note on
the listing with a reminder to check back on
whatever date they gave. When your reminder turns red on your
home page you can click straight back to the listing and perhaps
be among the first to get your submission through their
fw:Thank you for
taking the time to talk to us, Lorna. What is your book called,
and what is it about?
LE: The book is called
International Trade and the Successful Intermediary. It's a business book that shows intermediaries how they can trade in commodities using the same rules and procedures used by large corporations worldwide.
fw: What got you
started writing the book?
LE: I found my co-author Davide Papa's business
FTN Exporting online. I was fascinated by his knowledge and expertise and immediately saw that the material he was producing
had potential for publication. I emailed him and told him my views, and offered to collaborate with him on producing a
publication for mass market distribution. I think he had been approached by others in the past but as I am a barrister he felt I would be able to provide valuable input into the book writing process.
fw: Once you'd both
agreed to write the book, how did you go about putting it
LE: Davide and I wrote the book entirely by email. In fact,
we've still never met or spoken to one another. It took about twelve months from start to finish. I'd work on a part, send it over to him and then he'd send it back to me for my input. It was like a long game of virtual tennis.
fw: What did you
see as the biggest challenges of actually writing the book?
think there are two elements to writing business books. Firstly,
and most importantly you need to have something to say and the
expertise to be able to say it. Secondly, it's important to be
able to structure and communicate those ideas succinctly and
coherently in a way that can be understood by many. I've read a
lot of legal textbooks that assume that people already have a
working knowledge of the subject matter: Davide and I wanted to
ensure that our book was accessible to people who didn't
necessarily have any prior experience in international trade or
fw: Was it your first
attempt at getting published, or had you written anything
LE: I have had short stories and magazine articles published, and am lucky enough to have won several competitions, most recently a Northern Promise Award from New Writing North, which is the literary agency for the North East of England. I'm not yet ready to send the novel I'm working on out to agents, but I'll certainly be using
firstwriter.com when I am!
fw: So did firstwriter.com
help you find your publisher for your current book?
LE: The fact that this book has been published is purely down to
firstwriter.com. Having been a member of firstwriter.com since 2005 I knew that it would be the best way to identify potential publishers. I started with "A", and didn't have to look very far – the second publisher I approached
Publishing Limited) agreed to print the book. We were very lucky in that respect –
I had envisaged months of rejection letters.
fw: How did you select
which publishers to approach?
LE: I only approached publishers who had a track record in publishing similar types of books. I sent the queries out as an exclusive offering consecutively. Unbelievably, we found our publisher on the first day. The first publisher responded to my query within the hour to say that the book wasn't suitable for them, and the second agreed to publish. I'm not saying it didn't take time for them to say
"yes", though. They conducted their own research into the subject and held meetings with their marketing department about how best to publicise the book if they did decide to accept it. I think the whole process took about six weeks before they confirmed that they would publish the book.
fw: Wow! That's enough
to make any author jealous! What do you think they liked about
you? How do you think you're a good match?
We were able to demonstrate that there was: a) an unfilled need for this kind of knowledge b) that the subject matter was totally unique c) that we were qualified to write it.
We were pleased to be accepted by
Ashgate/Gower Publishing in the United Kingdom because they also have offices worldwide, and the subject matter of the book is inherently international.
fw: What has the
publishing process been like?
LE: The publishing process has been quite labour-intensive, and we made significant changes during the editing process. However we accepted all the suggestions the editor made because we knew it would strengthen the book. Funnily enough I think the hardest part was compiling the index
– it took me about a week to complete!
advice would you give to other writers trying to get published?
LE: The market for both fiction and
nonfiction is really tough at the moment but my advice would be not to give up. If you really want to write, and have a burning passion to want to do it well, make sure that you're writing something that is commercially viable enough to be picked up by an agent/publisher. I have learned a lot from books about the craft of writing and Carole Blake's book
From Pitch To Publication is invaluable for those who are serious about getting their fiction published.
fw: So where do you go from here?
LE: The book comes out on
December 3, 2009, so we're sending out our press releases at the moment. As far as other writing is concerned I'm currently working on a legal thriller/courtroom drama.
fw: Best of luck with
it, Lorna, and thanks for taking the time to talk to us.
Elliott is a barrister who writes extensively on legal issues in
the United Kingdom and internationally. She is head of the European branch
of the Academy of Global Intermediaries, and is currently
writing a legal thriller based on her experience of working
within the criminal justice system. She lives with her husband
in the North East of England.
International Trade and the Successful Intermediary
can be purchased directly from the publishers at http://www.gowerpublishing.com – fwn readers can enjoy a 25% discount by
entering the promotional code G9CGS25 at the checkout!
To search firstwriter.com's
database of over 1,200 publishers, click
uses English spelling conventions.
Spellings such as "realise"
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but are nonetheless correct.
Kenyon Review seeks poetry and prose The Kenyon
reading period began on September 15 and runs through
to January 15, 2010, accepting
submissions of up to six poems, short fiction and essays
up to 7,500 words, plays or excerpts up
to 35 pages, plus translations of poetry and short