Issue #102

Free Writers' Newsletter

Sep 29, 2011  



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Poetry competition deadline delayed

With the deadline for's Tenth International Poetry Competition fast approaching (October 1, 2011), 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 over $750) plus a free licence for WhiteSmoke 2010+ (worth $99.95) you can enter online now in seconds by going to  

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 United Kingdom. All winners and ten special commendations will also receive vouchers worth $36 / £24, which can be used to take out an annual subscription to for free, giving full access to our database of over 850 literary agencies, over 1,400 magazines, over 1,450 publishers, and over150 constantly-changing competitions (you can start enjoying all these benefits now by clicking here).


International Copyright Registration 
Register your copyright online for instant copyright protection in more than 160 different countries worldwide. Click here for more information.


New literary agency launched

Terra Chalberg and Rachel Sussman have launched their own literary agency, catering to a range of literary and commercial fiction and nonfiction. The pair first met ten years ago while working at Simon & Schuster. Since then Terra Chalberg has been an agent and foreign rights director at The Susan Golomb Literary Agency, while Rachel Sussman has spent six years as an agent at Zachary Shuster Harmsworth.

The new agency is accepting queries from authors by email. For more details about the new agency, click here.

For over 850 other literary agencies, click here



Launch of PUBSLUSH Press

This months sees the launch of PUBSLUSH Press: a full service publishing platform that aims to present a fresh approach to the traditional publishing model:
"Everyone agrees, the publishing world is quickly changing. With the growth of e-readers, the loss of Borders, and decreasing physical book sales, everyone is wondering where the world of publishing is headed. We think we have a solution, and we want you and your aspiring authors to be a part of the revolution."

Everyone agrees, the publishing world is quickly changing. With the growth of e-readers, the loss of Borders, and decreasing physical book sales, everyone is wondering where the world of publishing is headed. PUBSLUSH Press believe they have the answer. They are a full service publishing platform that allows aspiring talent to emerge from the slush, by using social media to connect writers to their readers.

The process is simple. First, authors submit the best ten pages and a summary of their book. Then, users review, share, and fund books they would like to read. If the book reaches 2,000 supporters, they publish it! Also, during this process, the site allows editors at major publishers to easily browse the top submissions and extend deals to authors. 

If published, supporters not only receive a first edition copy, but they get bragging rights and the chance to support aspiring authors. Even more importantly, users will support aspiring readers. For every book sold, PUBSLUSH will donate a book to a child in need.

To celebrate their launch, they have announced a nationwide writing competition, running until October 15, 2011. They are encouraging authors to submit their book ideas to be chosen to win an iPad 2 and a chance to be published. More details can be found here.

For more information about PUBSLUSH Press, click here

For over 1,450 other book publishers, click here


Click here for great value writing classes!


Navigating a virtual book tour
By Shelly Frome

Like any venture, there are certain factors at play before considering a virtual book tour. Assuming, of course, the goal is to improve your “platform” beyond your friends and acquaintances on Facebook, etc. and your fans at the local bookstore. The first step then is to determine your niche. Otherwise the success rate via this particular promotional tool becomes more problematic.

In other words, given the feedback you’ve received from editors, reviewers, others who’ve encouraged you, book groups or what-have-you, what are the chances your latest work will instantly appeal to a wide range of readers and increase sales? Moreover, how does this effort of yours potentially measure up? If we’re talking about fiction, among the standard categories are mysteries and thrillers, horror, romance (contemporary, historical, time travel), science fiction, fantasy and the like. If your work is literary and/or falls outside any typical genre, the marketing prospects dwindle. The manager of any given tour may have some difficulty setting up a number of stops because each and every site is geared for readers of a certain kind of book and even a certain kind of author.

By the same token, this yardstick applies to nonfiction as well. Even if your work fills a significant gap, it still has to centre on topics like social, political and religious issues, parenting, struggles with addiction and relationships, how to reinvent yourself during the downturn in the economy, pitfalls and strategies in starting your own business and so on and so forth. Because, no matter how you look at it, the realities are that online marketing is set up for special interests. 

And that, as they say, is just for openers. A tour runner may tell you that readers from all over the globe log on to just about anything, you’ll get access to top search engines, coverage in prestigious online publications and exposure to millions of book buyers. However, on the basis of personal experience, all of this promotional hype should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt. It’s true you’ll be asked to write a summary that will draw in readers that’s as provocative as an ad for a best seller plus a short promising bio. Hopefully your photo on a personalised tour page will enhance your chances. But everything rests on how attractive any of this will be to potential hosts. Simply put, the hosts who operate these sites are looking for guest posts that are especially apt and compatible. 

Next, assuming you’ve cleared this initial hurdle, there are other things you should keep in mind. More often than not, once you’ve signed on you’ll be sent a set of interview questions to accompany each scheduled stop. (Again, the number of stops all depends, along with the timeframe of your promotional package.) These questions, in turn, tell you a great deal about the personality of the host, the exact nature of his or her site and the types of books and authors favoured. For example, take this sampling I received from a number of hosts from various national and international blogs: 

When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer? Which of your characters would you most like to invite to dinner and why? Is there a particular message you want readers to grasp? What books have influenced your life most? Who are your favourite authors? What books are you reading now? Are you immensely disciplined, writing a set number of words every day, or are there times when you can’t get started? Some authors claim that desk research is enough to get important details right or do you insist on firsthand research? If your novel were to be made into a film, which popular actor would be featured? What are you writing now and what are your plans for a sequel? 

As you can see, these are all leading questions. Are you whimsical, expert, spiritual, old school, prolific or trendy enough to meet their criteria? 

By the same token, if you happen to be the right kind of author you may find you’ve gathered a number of good reviews; if not, you may be in store for the exact opposite. As a case in point, my trans-Atlantic “cozy” recently received high praise from a host in the United Kingdom while, at the next stop, the tour was cancelled because the writing was judged to be substandard according to conventional accepted usage because "sentence fragments were incorporated and in one descriptive passage the unfortunate phrase ‘in this neck of the woods’ was utilised." 

On balance, there is no telling what any of this will mean in terms of a spike in sales. Or how, say, an assortment of twelve interviews, fifteen interviews coupled with a majority of good reviews, one cancellation and two mixed reviews, plus two or more stops that never materialised because the site wasn’t updated will eventually play out. It’s also possible that a number of people who log onto these sites may be aspiring writers simply looking for tips. 

On the other hand, there’s the opportunity to scan the interviews and the critiques other guests have received who are trying to succeed along more or less the same path. You can then take into account the kinds of work they’ve done to date and the direction they’re heading in. In this ever changing pursuit, getting some clear idea how comparatively well you’re doing might just be worth the candle. If you’re willing to take the risk, that is, and have a keen sense of integrity so you can take this all in with the proverbial grain of salt.. 

About the author
Shelly Frome is a professor of dramatic arts emeritus at the University of Connecticut, a former professional actor, a writer of mysteries, books on theatre and film, and articles on the performing arts that have appeared in a number of periodicals in the United States. and the United Kingdom. A member of Mystery Writers of America, his fiction includes the noted Hollywood novel
Tinseltown Riff, The Twinning Murders (a trans-Atlantic cozy in the British village tradition), Lilac Moon and Sun Dance for Andy Horn. Among his works of nonfiction are the acclaimed The Actors Studio and texts on the art and craft of screenwriting and writing for the stage. He lives in Litchfield, Connecticut. 



2012 San Francisco Book Festival call for entries

The 2012 San Francisco Book Festival has issued a call for entries to its annual competition honouring the best books of the spring season.

The 2012 San Francisco Book Festival will consider nonfiction, fiction, biography/autobiography, children's books, compilations/anthologies, teenage, how-to, cookbooks, science fiction, audio/spoken word, history, wild card, gay, photography/art, poetry, unpublished, travel and spiritual works. There is no date of publication deadline.

The grand prize for the 2012 San Francisco Book Festival is $1500 cash and a flight to San Francisco for the gala awards ceremony and day festival.

Submitted works will be judged by a panel of industry experts using the following criteria:

  • General excellence and the author's passion for telling a good story.
  • The potential of the work to reach a wider audience.

The deadline for submissions is April 25, 2012. Entry forms are available online at or may be faxed / emailed to you. Contact the office at +1 (323) 665-8080 for fax requests. Applications must be accompanied by a non-refundable entry fee of $50 in the form of a check, money order or PayPal online payment in US dollars for each submission. Multiple submissions are permitted but each entry must be accompanied by a separate form and entry fee.

Entry fee checks should be made payable to JM Northern Media LLC. Entries must be mailed and cannot be delivered in person or by messenger services to the JM Northern Media offices.

For over details of over 170 other writing contests, click here


New site for writers is a site dedicated to the power of the word. You have up to 300 words to say something beautiful, funny, controversial, scary, informative, innovative, poetical, or just plain interesting. Fact or fiction, educational or farcical, say whatever you want, but say it well.

Others can read your work, give it love and share it with their friends. The best work is available to read in digests.

The founder is looking for talented writers to help get this brand new site off the ground, by authoring wurdzls, feeding back ideas, suggestions and issues, and telling their friends.

Any problems, ideas or suggestions, can be directed to 

For links to over 80 sites for writers click here


Smashcut call for entries

Smashcut are currently adding more producer / filmmaker / agent readers to their judges panel, and more sponsors to their Sundance Networking Event. Now they are seeking screenplays to add to their list of entrants!

In addition to the normal prizes, the trip to Sundance, the two free tickets to their networking event for every entrant, the Smashcut staff are highly committed to getting the word out each season regarding the Smashcut Top 100. 

For more information go to 


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Spelling conventions
uses English spelling conventions. Spellings such as "realise" "colour", "theatre", "cancelled", etc. differ from other spelling conventions but are nonetheless correct. 


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