first writer .com fwn
 Issue #149

Writers' Newsletter

August 2015  

   

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New edition of writers' handbook

This month sees the digital release of the latest edition of firstwriter.com’s directory for writers, with a brand new look, and print versions due to become available soon. The new edition provides details of over 1,400 literary agents, book publishers, and magazines, including revised and updated listings from the last edition, and over 600 brand new entries not included in the last edition (that's over 40% new listings).

Previous editions of the handbook have been bought by writers across the United States, Canada, and Europe; and ranked in the United Kingdom as the number one bestselling writing and publishing directory on Amazon UK. The new edition continues this international outlook, giving writers all over the English-speaking world access to the global publishing markets.

Readers of this edition can also benefit from insights from Andrew Lownie, of the Andrew Lownie Literary Agency Ltd, who describes how literary agencies sell their authors.

Subject indexes for each area provide easy access to the markets you need, with specific lists for everything from romance publishers, to poetry magazines, to literary agents interested in thrillers.

International markets become more accessible than ever, with listings that cover both the main publishing centres of New York and London, as well as markets in other English speaking countries. With more and more agents, publishers, and magazines accepting submissions by email, this international outlook is now more important than ever.

There are no adverts, no advertorials, and no obscure listings padding out hundreds of pages. By including only what’s important to writers – contact details for literary agents, publishers, and magazines – this directory is able to provide more listings than its competitors, at a substantially lower price.

The book also includes free access to the firstwriter.com website, where you can find even more listings. You can also benefit from other features such as advanced searches, daily email updates, feedback from users about the markets featured, saved searches, competitions listings, searchable personal notes, and more.

“I know firsthand how lonely and dispiriting trying to find an agent and publisher can be. So it's great to find a resource like firstwriter.com that provides contacts, advice and encouragement to aspiring writers. I've been recommending it for years now!”

~ Robin Wade; literary agent at the Wade & Doherty Literary Agency Ltd, and long-term firstwriter.com subscriber

The digital version is available on a variety of devices, including:

Kindle (Amazon.com) ($12.46)

Kindle (Amazon.co.uk) (£7.99)

Google Play (£5.03)

Various other ebook platforms through Smashwords ($9.99)

The Apple version will be available on iTunes shortly, and the print book will also soon be available through all good bookstores. Watch this space! 

  

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

  

Reply to a bad review

In the years that we've been publishing our Writers' Handbook and other titles we've been pleased to get a lot of good reviews: previous editions score averages of four stars on Amazon, and an amazing 70% of reviewers for our 2015 edition gave it the maximum score: five out of five. Customers have called it "excellent", a "wonderful book" and "a must have for writers" – but, inevitably, amongst the generally positive reviews there are also the occasional negative ones. This is only to be expected, of course – you can't please all of the people all of the time – but it can be frustrating when the criticism comes not from a fault with the book, but a customer's misunderstanding of the intent. This isn't the customer's fault, of course – it identifies that, in that instance, we've failed to adequately communicate the reasons for the choices that have been made.

So, in this article, we're going to try and redress that balance by explaining some of those reasons. To do this, we're going to offer some responses to criticisms left in particular by a user on the UK version of Amazon, who goes under the moniker of "Montaillou" of London. Before we do so, however, we'd like to thank Montaillou for the time he took over his detailed analysis, which is invaluable in helping us to understand where we need to improve our communication about the book.

Montaillou's first criticism is that the book is not comprehensive – that he could search for lots of well known publishers and find that they weren't there.

This is true, but that is because comprehensiveness was never something we were aiming for. When we looked at other books of this kind being published by other publishers we realised that every year people were buying a large, expensive book, the vast majority of which was absolutely identical to the large, expensive book they bought the previous year. We asked ourselves: what's the point in having to pay for the same content over and over again?

We also found that even though people were having to pay for the content over and over again, the currency of it wasn't very good. The publishers weren't actually checking the information they were publishing. We found one listing in The Writers' & Artists' Yearbook (the bestselling directory of this kind in the UK) which had been incorrect for six years. They'd reprinted it in six different editions. That's six times they've sold that information to their customers, and it wasn't even right.

So we decided that we wanted our book to be smaller, cheaper, and focus on recently updated listings, so that it had better currency. Errors like the one in The Writers' & Artists' Yearbook couldn't happen in our handbook, because we only publish listings that we've actively independently checked and verified ourselves within the last 30 months. If we hadn't checked a listing for six years, we wouldn't publish it. Simple as that.

What this means is that when you buy a new edition of our handbook you get a lot of new material and a substantially different book to the previous year. In 2015, over 30% of the listings were brand new. In 2016, over 40% are new. There's therefore a lot more value in buying the new edition, but each edition only costs a little more than half of the price of the "comprehensive" books.

The obvious counter-argument to this is that if you only buy one edition you don't get comprehensive coverage – so that's why we give away free access to our full online database with every purchase. That way you still get access to the comprehensive coverage, but you're not having to pay for it.

Montaillou goes on to list well known publishers that aren't included in the 2015 edition, such as Penguin, and contrasts this to the fact that there are lots of other, less-well-known publishers included:

"the only reason I can think of for such a bizarre set of choices is that publishers were charged to have their details included, and many or most declined to play ball. That's pure speculation on my part; but the alternatives – sloppiness and laziness – are even worse..."

However, there is another alternative which Montaillou hasn't considered, or may not be aware of.

First, let's just be clear: no publisher is charged for being on our website or in our handbook. Nobody but a vanity publisher would pay, and the listings would be worthless.

The actual reason why it makes sense not to include publishers like Penguin is that publishers of that size simply don't accept submissions directly from authors. You have to go through a literary agent. Here's what Penguin say on their website:

"Our company policy is to not accept unsolicited manuscripts or synopses and we cannot enter into correspondence about unpublished work."

So providing Penguin's details to writers is a complete waste of time. They won't even enter into correspondence with you about your unpublished work. They won't even bother to tell you to get stuffed.

And yet, in The Writers' & Artists' Yearbook, they dedicate more than four whole pages of listings (bearing in mind that the average listing takes up only about one eighth of a page) to Penguin Random House and its imprints. What's the point? It's a ridiculous waste of time, paper, resources, and customers' money. We always knew that we definitely didn't want our book to be like that. What Montaillou interpreted as an inexplicable failure, is actually one of our book's great strengths.

That's not to say that we'd never include Penguin Random House in our handbook – the next time we update the listing it will go into the book the same as anything else – but the focus of our updating is always on providing writers with opportunities that they can actually act on. Montaillou criticises our inclusion of Logaston Press, a publisher of biographies and books on the rural West Midlands and mid and South Wales – but Logaston Press actually accepts submissions – in fact they welcome them – so for the small number of people writing biographies and books on the rural West Midlands and South Wales it is an extremely useful listing. But nobody can submit directly to Penguin, so a listing for them doesn't benefit anyone.

And then the final point is this: in the age of the internet, what is the point in providing contact details for publishers people already know about? If you want to know how to contact Penguin you can put "contact penguin books" into Google and the first page it brings up includes addresses to Penguin offices all around the world. It only takes a few seconds. There would be no point buying a book to tell you that. The only purpose a book like ours can serve in the internet age is to tell you about those publishers you don't know exist.

Publishers, perhaps, like Logaston Press... or BlazeVOX [books]. Never heard of them? Nor had we – but they accept submissions of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, and you can find their details, and the details of many more like them, in the 2016 edition of our Writers' Handbook.

 

  

Call for entries: Sequestrum New Writer Awards

Sequestrum is accepting submissions for the 2015 New Writer Awards, in which over $500 in cash will be awarded to up-and-coming voices in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry: $200 per genre winner; $50 for runners-up.

For complete prose details visit: www.sequestrum.org/contests  and select your genre.

General Details:

  • Open only to writers who have not yet published a book-length manuscript of fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction.

  • Prose and poetry will be judged separately, with one first-prize winner for each genre.

  • One first-prize winner in each genre (one fiction/nonfiction, one poetry) will receive $200 plus publication in our Spring ’16 issue.

  •  Runners-up in each genre will be awarded publication and receive payment at our usual rates (plus a little extra). Over $500 in total prizes.

  • Winners and runners-up will appear in the Spring '16 Issue of Sequestrum.

For the details of over 100 other writing competitions, click here

   

Click here for great value writing classes!

  

New publisher seeks fiction and poetry submissions

A new publishing company has been launched in Kensington, London, called Maverick Reads.

Maverick Reads is actively seeking original, unusual, quality writers of fiction and poetry for publication.

They are also looking for academics who have written or wish to write in-depth study guides for students on several disciplines, as well as monographs. They accept submissions by email to editor@maverick-reads.com

For initial submissions, send:

  • a bio;

  • a synopsis / description of the book, its themes and style (if applicable).

For poetry:

  • 6-10 sample poems, maximum 15 pages (or one long one).

For fiction:

  • 2-4 sample chapters, max 10 / 15 pages.

For nonfiction:

  • a plan for the book with topics/points covered;

  • if possible, a sample; and

  • a CV of the writer with qualifications listed.

For full details, click here, or visit the website at http://www.maverick-reads.com

For the details of over 1,700 publishers that don't charge fees, click here

  

 

The London Magazine short story competition

The London Magazinene short story contest is launching on September 1, 2015, and will run till October 31. Prizes include £500 for first place, as well as magazine and website publication for a number of finalists.

The competition is open to short stories up to 4,000 words, by writers from all over the world. The entry fee is £10.

 For more information on the The London Magazine go to https://www.firstwriter.com/magazines/details.cgi?RecordNumber=131. For full details of the contest, go to http://www.thelondonmagazine.org/short-story-competition-2015/

For the details of over 100 other writing competitions, cclick here

    

Call for poetry submissions

An NGO called The ht is calling for poetry submissions by men and women of colour from all over the world.

The Blacklight is an NGO highlighting the achievements of minority groups. They are looking for accessible poetry that is self-aware and uplifting. They don’t align with any political or world view.

Authors should submit up to five poems, along with a three-line author bio. No epic poems or haiku. Submissions should be sent to kirstenholme@gmail.com with the poems in the body of the email. No attachments. 

      

Kathryn Hayes "When Sparks Fly" contest

Fee: RWA Members $25, Non-members $3030

Deadline: August 31, 2015 11:59pm est.

Eligibility: The contest is open to anyone not publish or not contracted to publish in a novella or full length novel as of August 2, 2015. Self-published authors are welcomed to enter.

Entry: No longer than twenty pages, and must include a 2-page synopsis(not judged). The entry should exemplifies the theme of "When Sparks Fly", in a scene showing the moment when sparks ignite and the attraction between the hero and heroine becomes undeniable. Entries must be received as either .doc or .rtf (Rich Text Format) files only. Electronic entries only.

Categories: The contest does not have categories. All genres of romance including erotica and LGBT are accepted.

Judges: Traditionally Published Authors

Final Judge: Editor Esi Sogah with Kensington Publishing

Top Prize: $75

For more information visit http://www.rwanyc.com/contest.html

For the details of over 100 other writing competitions, click here

   

Resources for writers at firstwriter.com

Go to o firstwriter.com for the following invaluable resources for writers:

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