New edition of writers' handbook
This month sees the digital release of the
latest edition of firstwriter.coms 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
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
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
There are no adverts, no advertorials,
and no obscure listings padding out hundreds of pages. By
including only whats 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,
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
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!
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"
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
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
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.
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
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
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
For complete prose details
www.sequestrum.org/contests and select your genre.
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,
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
For initial submissions, send:
a plan for the book with
if possible, a sample; and
a CV of the writer with
For full details,
click here, or visit the website at
For the details of over 1,700
publishers that don't charge fees,
The London Magazine short
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
The competition is open to
short stories up to 4,000 words, by writers from all over
the world. The entry fee is £10.
more information on the
The London Magazine go to
For full details of the contest, go to
For the details of over 100
other writing competitions,
Call for poetry
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
dont 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
firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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
Categories: The contest does not
have categories. All genres of romance including erotica and
LGBT are accepted.
Final Judge: Editor Esi
Sogah with Kensington Publishing
For more information visit
For the details of over 100
other writing competitions,
writers at firstwriter.com
Go to o firstwriter.com
for the following invaluable resources for writers:
on this newsletter for as little as $30 / £20 click