Writers' Newsletter

Issue #194
May 2019

Harlequin Presents/ M&B Modern Blitz

Harlequin Presents/ M&B Modern Blitz – Saturday May 18, 2019

Harlequin Presents/ M&B Modern are looking for new authors. You can submit your first chapter between Wednesday 15th May and Sunday 2nd June 2019, and get a response by Friday 14th June 2019.

What you need to know:

  • The Harlequin Presents/ M&B Modern blitz will be open for submissions from Wednesday 15th May – Sunday 2nd June 2019.
  • Send a cover letter that introduces you and your book and includes any publishing credits, first chapter and synopsis only – ytou don't need to have completed the full manuscript.
  • If they like your voice, they’ll invite you to submit further chapters and work with you on developing your story to its full potential. Please note that requests for additional chapters are not a guarantee of publication. 
  • Only one entry per person.
  • All submissions will get editorial feedback by Friday 14th June 2019.

[Click here for more]

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More About Agents

By G. Miki Hayden
Instructor at Writer's Digest University online and private writing coach – Friday May 3, 2019

Are you talented? Are you lucky? For you, then, agents count. Read below.

Agent Location

Does it help if your agent is in Manhattan, if she’s agoraphobic and never leaves the house? 

My opinion is an agent with a Manhattan address is probably more impressive (even if she doesn’t lunch), than an agent who lives in Butte, Montana. Of course most authors who live all over the place won’t understand the cachet of the city address or 212 area code (though many Jane-come-latelys or folks who’ve moved may find themselves stuck with a 646 telephone code).

Why is a New York City address (Manhattan preferred) more reassuring to the editor who lives in a hole in the wall in the East Village? New Yorkers are just “we versus them” types and feel more comfortable with those we might rub elbows with in the subway.

On the other hand, that really doesn’t matter when push comes to shove. Email, the phone, fax, and iPhone do the job for those agents in Atlanta and Phoenix just as well as for those on E. 77th Street.

The difference in terms of doing the deal is the agent’s reputation, his willingness to get on the plane and come to Manhattan to discuss contract items in dispute, and the book itself. Ah, yes, ladies and gentlemen, the book itself has been known to count when a sale is in view.

Geography is not the deciding factor in selecting the agent you approach or you sign with, but can be an element in making a decision. You might prefer to have an agent close to where you yourself live, so you can meet with her in person—or you might want to feel she is in the loop in the publishing capital of the world. 

A big agent located in Manhattan might not work as hard for you as the smaller agent in a regional literary agency, either. On the other hand, the regional agent might not have the clout to negotiate as large an advance as the NY agent with other major clients who publish with that editor or house. 
Just something else to think about. Ponder, ponder. 

Agent Commissions

Give him your firstborn and a big wet kiss.

The standard fee extracted from your check by the agent is 15 percent. That’s been the charge for a good long time, but a few agents remain out there who ask only for a 10 percent commission. Moreover, if you’ve basically gotten an offer and ask an agent to negotiate on your behalf, sometimes that agent will stipulate only a 10 percent fee on the book that has already been sold.

Agents will also sometimes take 10 percent on an overseas deal in which a second agent in the other country also takes a 10 percent bite of your earnings. On the other hand, a total of 25 percent on the foreign deal—the standard 15 percent for your agent and the 10 percent foreign subagent fee—will sometimes be extracted from your pocket.

Agents will also possibly bump their commission down to 10 percent of you’re a multimillion-dollar-selling client. In that case, heck, what’s the difference in a mere 5 percent. Let the client feel she’s getting a great deal.
Bear in mind, however that an agent’s rate is set by the agent, and if you sign the contract, you sign the contract. The agent might withdraw an offer of representation if you try to negotiate, just as a dentist might send you away if you try to get the work done for a discount. 

You should ask about the rates when you’re deciding on your agent, anyway, making no assumptions, but wanting to have a hard number to go by and, at the same time ask about fees for copying, phone calls, postage, and such, and how they’re charged and what are the limits and how is that billed—and when (such as is the amount deducted from the sale?).

Oh, and yes, never pay for representation per se. Just pay when the book has been sold— though some agents will charge the office-expense type of fees up front. 

Never forget that the writing counts. Contact Miki for coaching or a line edit at or take a Writer’s Digest class with Miki and she’ll pinpoint exactly what you can improve. (Plenty.)

About the Author

G. Miki Hayden is a short story Edgar winner. She teaches a mystery writing and a thriller writing and other writing classes at Writer's Digest online university. The third edition of her Writing the Mystery is available through Amazon and other good bookshops. She is also the author of The Naked Writer, a comprehensive, easy-to-read style and composition guide for all levels of writers.

"Holder, Oklahoma Senior Police Officer Aaron Clement is out for justice above all, even if he irritates the local hierarchy. Hayden in Dry Bones gives us nothing-barred investigation and plenty of nitty-gritty police procedure—which makes for a real page turner." — Marianna Ramondetta, author of The Barber from Palermo

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Some of this month's news for writers from around the web.

Rankin and Cleeves to headline Bute Noir crime writing festival

Rankin and Cleeves to headline Bute Noir crime writing festival – Thursday May 16, 2019

Ian Rankin and Ann Cleeves will headline this summer's Bute Noir crime writing festival. 

Authors Mark Billingham, Denise Mina, Stuart MacBride, Chris Brookmyre, Ruth Ware and Mick Herron will also join the line-up for the festival in Rothesay, which takes place from Friday 2nd August 2 to Sunday 4th August. 

Organisers have also signed up authors Oscar de Muriel from Mexico, Lilja Sigurdardottir from Iceland, Thomas Enger from Norway, Alexandra Sokoloff from the USA, and Liz Nugent from Ireland as well as leading Scottish talent including Alex Gray, Lin Anderson and Craig Robertson.

[Read the full article]

ICM Partners join forces with Curtis Brown Creative for writing course

ICM Partners join forces with Curtis Brown Creative for writing course – Wednesday May 15, 2019

US agency ICM Partners and Curtis Brown Creative are teaming up to launch a six-month online novel-writing course. 

The course, which starts in September, will provide 15 writing students with the opportunity to connect with literary agents from the US and UK and the chance to glean knowledge and industry insights from US and UK publishing perspectives. 

ICM Partners have worked with Curtis Brown for more than 10 years on UK and translation rights representation and now ICM literary agents Heather Karpas and Zoe Sandler will take part in 'agent days' during the creative writing school's new course. 

[Read the full article]

James White Award suffers technical problem

James White Award suffers technical problem – Saturday May 11, 2019

If you've submitted a story to this year's James White Award Short Story Competition and did not receive a confirmation email you will need to resubmit your story.

The competition organisers have suffered a technical problem with their website submission form which has meant that they have not been receiving submitted material. Their back-up system has also failed.

The James White Award accepts science fiction stories between 2,000 and 6,000 words. Winners receive £200 and publication in Interzone.

[Read the full article]

Click here for the rest of this month's news >


A selection of the new listings added to this month.

New Publisher Listing

New Publisher Listing – Wednesday May 15, 2019

Publishes: Fiction; Poetry; 
Markets: Adult; 
Preferred styles: Literary

Publishes fiction and poetry collections. Particularly interested in collaborative / transmedia pieces. Send submissions by email with author bio / resume.

[See the full listing]

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New Literary Agency Listing

New Literary Agency Listing – Thursday May 9, 2019

Handles: Fiction; Nonfiction
Areas: Biography; Business; Cookery; Crime; Culture; Current Affairs; Film; Finance; Historical; Legal; Lifestyle; Medicine; Music; Philosophy; Politics; Psychology; Science; Self-Help; Sociology; Sport; Technology; Travel; TV
Markets: Adult; Children's
Treatments: Literary

Send query by email with first ten pages in the body of the email (or full manuscript for picture books). No attachments. See website for full guidelines.

[See the full listing]

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New Magazine Listing

New Magazine Listing – Wednesday May 8, 2019

Publishes: Articles; Fiction; Nonfiction; Poetry; 
Areas include: Short Stories; 
Markets: Adult; 
Preferred styles: Literary

Publishes poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and opinion / editorial pieces. Submit up to five poems or prose up to 10,000 words.

[See the full listing]

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Click here for more of this month's new listings >


Some of this month's articles for writers from around the web.

Your Complete Guide to Popular Literary Devices in Great Writing

Your Complete Guide to Popular Literary Devices in Great Writing – Thursday May 16, 2019

We all know what it means to read “good writing,” right?  Well, no, we don’t. It’s true that we often recognize something as “great” when we see it. Our teachers may reference the “literary devices” that make it good. But if you have to talk about a book in a class, it can be hard to describe “greatness.” This is even more nerve-wracking on a test or quiz. I can’t just write “I liked it” and move on!


One of the best ways to connect deeply with texts when you are just learning about how to define good writing is through literary devices. Literary devices are like strategies or techniques that a writer can use. They showcase creative thought and connections between things that might otherwise not be connected. When we notice a great connection being made, we get the opportunity to share it with others in our classes or among our friends who also are reading such a book.

Below are just a few of the literary devices you may encounter as you delve into the great works of literature. You might also notice variations of them in your reading for pleasure, and thinking about literary devices may allow you to marvel even more at the genius of your favorite authors.

[Read the full article]

Writers blocked: Even fantasy fiction is now offensive

Writers blocked: Even fantasy fiction is now offensive – Thursday May 16, 2019

It was Lionel Shriver who saw the writing on the wall. Giving a keynote speech at the Brisbane Writers Festival three years ago in which she decried the scourge of modern identity politics, Shriver observed that the dogma of ‘cultural appropriation’ —which demands no less than complete racial segregation in the arts — had not yet wrapped its osseous fingers around the publishing industry. But, she warned: ‘This same sensibility is coming to a bookstore near you.’ Reader, it has come.

[Read the full article]

Jeffery Deaver interview: The secrets of writing a bestseller

Jeffery Deaver interview: The secrets of writing a bestseller – Wednesday May 15, 2019

Thriller writer Jeffery Deaver was penning award nominated novels - but for some reason they weren’t selling.

After his sixth book - a mystery in the Poirot vein - came out to critical acclaim, but little money, he knew he had to act.

“They were well received, but they didn't do extremely well in terms of sales. Then I re-read them and I realized they weren’t as good as I had hoped,” says Jeffery.

That’s when he began working on something he calls his ‘mint toothpaste’ business plan.

“I’m a big list maker and I was aware that I needed to be more scientific about it. So it was in my late 30s I outlined a book for the first time - after writing half a dozen. That book was exponentially better and so I have been following that model ever since.”

[Read the full article]

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