I subscribe to emails from The Review Review magazine, which is a wonderful resource for finding literary information. Their latest email highlights a writing magazine (Tethered By Letters) that also has a submission tracker page. What this does is highlight some reputable magazines and when they are open to submissions. This is extremely useful, so I thought I would pass on the information. I always encourage writers, particularly new writers, to submit work to such places. They are a great way to get your foot on the publishing ladder without too much pressure. And most good ones pay, too.
As first published on Medium. Please feel free to join me there.
Writing is by its nature a solitary affair. Although we may duet on a poem, seek advice on this fact or that, in essence, we sit, write and publish on our own. Other people walk by our windows, peer in at our small, homemade offices, favourite seats and coffee mugs, shake their heads with pity at our flickering candles and laptop screens and wander away. Yes, writing is a lonesome trade, and it’s just how we like it. It’s the others that don’t understand, not us that’s strange.
For most writers, the hours typing on a keyboard are the best hours of our lives. We love the act of creation, be it in the thinking, or transferring said thoughts to paper, so to speak. There’s no effort to being alone because being alone is what we crave: time to think; time to reflect; time to unravel the worlds that others will tread. We impart our ideas to books, short stories and poems, lean back in our chairs and then think: what now?
For the introverted writer, the next stage of creation is the hardest. There are so many places to send work, so many ways to publish and we’re too scared to use any of them. At least, most are and I include my past self in this. So, what do we do?
The first thing is to not stop. No matter how scary the great, wide world appears, we should never stop doing what we love. Writing out our hearts gives us the same freedom that others find in sport, communal drinking, and social networking. And it is this latter item that can help a writer most.
Hiding behind a computer screen is much easier than hiding behind a book and not just because people cannot see your feet and hair — if you’ve got some. A computer gives us access to the world beyond our windows in privacy. And I assure you, the people out there really do want to read what we’ve written. There are so many great ways to find readers, magazines and publishers out there and just from asking/typing the right questions. We can all do that when no one is watching.
Below is a list of the most active and easiest Social Networks to scan and glean information from:
All the above can furnish a novice or accomplished writer with great information. Type for example ‘UK/US Publishers’ into a Facebook search or Twitter and you will be amazed at what is revealed. Type ‘Literary Magazines’ into Medium and you’ll be furnished with lots of ‘in-house’ publications to try your hand with. Type ‘Writer’s Resources’ into Pinterest and it will knock your socks off. Then see if you like the look of what they have to offer. Do they sound like your cup of tea? Do they look good? There’s even a chance you’ll already know by association someone that writes for them. Just try those searches and different connotations of the same questions — they invariably yield contrasting results.
Then comes the hardest thing sending your precious work out. The worries begin. What happens if they don’t like it? What happens if they think I’m rubbish? And the list goes on. Think of it this way and it might help. When I first started submitting work, I was very nervous. My self-confidence was low. I then saw an article backed up by several quality Online Magazines that said this: only three percent of all submissions are accepted. Argggghhh!!!!
You could go ‘OH NO!’ and never submit so much as a haiku. But I looked at it rather differently and it was a great help. I said to myself that I should not worry in the least until a piece of work had been returned to me ninety-seven times. Only after that was I a failure and even then only due to someone else’s opinion. But I’ve never had a piece of work rejected more than six times as it happens. So what a fool I would have been to have given up. You should never give up if you are doing what you love.
In conclusion, I say the following. Enjoy writing what you want, how you want, where you want. When you’ve finished, don’t be scared. I’d be surprised if you aren’t a member of at least one of the social networks above — you’re probably reading this on one of them right now. Use them. Plunder them. Take advantage of the world that is only a keystroke away. No more hiding in the dark when you’ve such wonderful lights to shine for others.
This is my latest post on Medium. Please feel free to join me there. I hope this list is of help to you all.
I thought we might as well start with those platforms that have given so many people a voice on the internet. Blogging can offer community, pride to those who thought they’d never be heard, and perhaps most of all, place. Yet despite being the gateway to technology to those who have never experienced it, the big blogging platforms still remain free.
Medium (Multiple Platforms) For those who like a clean, quiet and thoughtful place to write.
WordPress.com (Multiple Platforms) The original noisy neighbour, WordPress powers most of the internet, and although harder to use than some, still remains accessible and highly customisable.
Blogger (Web) Google owns and administrates this platform. Easy to use and powered by internet royalty, Blogger is often the introduction to the world beyond our window.
Browsing the Internet
I think three browser recommendations is more than enough. All are free. All are very good, to lesser and greater degrees. And perhaps most of all these days, each can be made as safe as possible.
WorkFlowy (Multiple Platforms) WorkFlowy is a place to write your thoughts, prep, or organise a whole project. Exceptionally easy to use, although let down a little by its mobile apps, WorkFlowy can soon become the go to place for creatives. Highly Recommended.
The Outliner of Giants (Web) To those familiar with using templates, this outliner will be a dream. Again, easy to use and available in any browser.
Google Keep (Multiple Platforms) Google Keep is a notebook, place for reminders, and a generally bright and visual place to store notes. A highly underrated part of the Google portfolio, you’ll be surprised by this one.
Pocket (Multiple Platforms) If you’ve ever wanted to stash, store, or explore information you find whilst browsing the net or even other apps, Pocket provides that place. Available as an app, extension and any number of other ways, Pocket is superb.
Instapaper (Multiple Platforms) As above, but more text orientated. Instapaper provides a good place to read those things you might not have had time for initially. Highly recommended.
There is much beauty on the internet but it tends to be scattered around. Here are some wonderful sites that you might like to spend an hour or three perusing.
Pinterest (Multiple Platforms) Many peoples’ favourite image site. Pinterest has everything from photos to art and more. Beautiful in presentation and with the offer of community, a popular and easy to use wonder.
Deviant Art (Multiple Platforms) Deviant Art offers predominantly art of a fantasy nature although they would say far more. Some of the illustrations on there are breathtaking.
Pixabay (Multiple Platforms) Photography based, Pixabay offers free imagery to all and what staggering imagery it is.
There are many places to write without ever downloading a thing even though you could. Here are a few of the more reputable offerings.
Google Docs (Multiple Platforms) The premier online word processor that is now also available almost everywhere. Good for all types of writing it is hard to find any fault with Google Docs.
Celtx (Multiple Platforms) For the budding screenwriter. Celtx won’t be much good to anyone other than the next James Cameron, but if you are, knock yourself out.
LibreOffice (Multiple Platforms) For those who can’t afford Microsoft’s offerings, (which is a lot these days). Beloved of those who use it, LibreOffice is a great free option.
Hemingway (Web) A place to write and have that writing checked, this site offers something a little bit different. Well worth trying, and truly beneficial.
Often the only thing standing between us and our dreams is a little help. I hope some of the above websites and applications can offer just that.
Please note: As far as I am aware, all the above are either free or offer free structuring at the time of writing.
I thought I’d give everyone a heads-up that I have a new page on my blog. After the wonderful responses to the posts I’ve meant mostly for my Medium account, I have decided to collate all that information (and more to come) on a separate page. I hope this enables people who haven’t read them, and those who have but can’t find the information, to access them more easily. I have already added some extra useful stuff and shall endeavour to keep doing so.
This is my latest Medium.) post. Please feel free to click the link and join me there.
A friend recently asked me for advice on the submission process. It wasn’t until she cross-examined me with several pertinent questions regarding her work that I remembered just how frightening the whole business can be if you’ve never done it before.
For me, and many others, the writing itself is never an issue. I revel in the art of creation, but being your typical introverted writer absolutely dread others seeing it. On top of this, I hate being made a fool of which stems from doing things wrong and being reminded of it (you know who you are). This is my own personal nightmare. I can turn off to what people say in both pros and cons regarding my work, but not to my own incompetence. Hence, I made sure of several fail-safes when submitting work.
Here are a few tips I have gleaned over time. I genuinely hope they help. If even one makes life easier for you, then this has been worth the writing.
The Bio Business
Most authors hate talking about themselves and the ones that don’t never shut up. So, when a magazine or publisher asks for a simple bio to be attached with your submission, it can render a writer paralysed. There is no need for this to be the case. In most circumstances, all that is required are two or three sentences stating a little about yourself and your previously published work or highlights. If you have none, it doesn’t matter, the editors are reading what you’re sending them not what you’ve sent elsewhere. Here are two examples of what are acceptable. Always write them in third person.
John Smith is a British writer born and bred in Lancashire. His work has been published in such notable periodicals as Clarkesworld Magazine and The Guardian. John writes daily for his own self-titled website.
John Smith is a new British writer born and bred in Lancashire. A writer of speculative fiction, John loves all aspects of the written word and its distribution. John writes a daily blog with a substantial following.
Number one has many qualifications and number two has none. They both sound good though. Never be afraid to tell it as it is.
PS: As a Yorkshireman, I have no idea why I chose to use Lancashire for my example, but it pained me to type it.
Once you have a short bio you’re happy with SAVE IT. Copy the thing and keep it safe. My tip is to never retype your bio, but, instead, copy it into emails, websites, or whatever is required. This method guarantees it always being the same, always correct and requires less checking. You can update it as and when.
Standard Manuscript Format
THE WHAT! Yes, it does sound terrible, but it isn’t. A lot of sites and potential places to send work will quote the name William Shunn. The reason for this, is William was kind enough to create a submission ready template that anyone can download from his site. Get it HERE. By writing your stories in this template or transferring them to it, you are guaranteed a professional looking manuscript. The template is essentially for Microsoft Word but I have opened it in several other word processors notably Google Docs and Apple Pages and it has worked fine. Plus, once you know how it looks, you can always type your own.
One little addendum here is to always check what a site requires. Some editors hate one font and love another, like a certain spacing in documents etcetera, etcetera. That’s no problem just select all on your document and alter it to how they want. Easy.
A Few Basic Tips
Don’t mail your work with a stupid email name. I would suggest using a separate email account (Gmail allows you lots) to look more professional. Example: JohnSmithauthor@gmail.com as against Johnthebigman@gmail.com
As previously stated, always format your work as requested. At times, it can seem petty, very petty, but they ask for a reason and the writer should respect that reason.
I have mentioned before about having a Submittable account. Many writing outlets use Submittable to manage their submission process. Get one HERE. Submittable is a wonderfully easy site to use and also acts as a submission manager/database for you the writer.
Many sites you submit to offer email updates on when and what they require at any given time of the year. As a rule, you won’t get bombarded by emails so it’s well worth signing up to them. Plus, if they don’t help, you can always unsubscribe.
You will be one of possibly hundreds of people sending submissions to your sites of choice. No matter how good a story is a publisher can only print so many. NEVER be discouraged. If you keep at it, keep polishing your work and choose your destinations with appropriate care, you WILL be published. They say you always remember your first time although I’ve forgotten. Either way, it’s wonderful to see your brainchild enjoyed by others.
I hope this little list has helped unlock some of your submission process worries. Good luck. I hope you become the next J.K. Rowling.
Author’s Note: This is my latest post to Medium. Please feel free to join me there if you so wish.
Useful Sites for the Novice Writer
I often think the act of writing to be not that difficult, you pick up a pen or open a laptop and start to note your ideas. The problem comes for many people with what to do with them once you’ve finished.
As a long time WordPress blogger (that’s me,) I know that there are many wonderful writers out there who just don’t know what to do next. Some are afraid to display the products of their imaginations, others just aren’t that computer savvy; I was both.
There are in fact a great many places to display one’s literary masterpieces (hopefully) and here is a list of some of the easiest ways to find them. I have assembled (just like The Avengers) the best databases plus a few extras you may need. To all those writers who struggle with such things, I hope this helps.
Writingcareer.com. The writingcareer site is a wonderful place to start hunting down destinations for your finished product. Maintained by the more than generous skills of Brian Scott, the website is a veritable cornucopia of freelance information from pay to display poetry sites to major publishers. For many folks, you’ll never need another site than this.
thereviewreview.net. The Review Review (that really should be lower case) is an online magazine with all kinds of useful information and a very handy newsletter option. They review other magazines, websites and even people, virtually anything to do with publishing. The site is well worth bookmarking and as mentioned I would personally sign up for the email too.
AuthorsPublish.com. Sign up to this email and you’ll get a great surprise. Almost every week and often sooner, Authors Publish send out an easy to read email of useful publishing sites and information that open out into a web browser. This was one of the best things I was ever introduced to and has proven an invaluable source for literary aids.
Submittable. Many websites require you to post to them via Submittable (argghhhh!) you scream. Don’t worry. Submittable is one of the easiest sites I’ve ever used and even manages your submissions. To anyone with a bad memory like me, it’s invaluable. So many sites use the Submittable database that its almost worth setting up an account (they’re free) before you even choose to submit work just so you’re prepared. Also, a latest development there is that they, too, post sites looking for submissions.
Two Bonuses and some Advice.
Only about three percent of submissions are ever accepted. This does not mean your work is poor or even anything less than superb. There are many reasons why a magazine won’t accept your work from personal preference (we’re all different) to just how it fits with other pieces. Having guest edited on an arts magazine, I know just how difficult it is to choose from multiple submissions. So, my advice is this: Think of submitting the same piece ninety-seven times before having it accepted. If the story, poem or article is good it will be taken on much sooner. However, thinking this way, you’re never disappointed by a rejection. Rejections are standard issue and to me it’s like water of a duck’s back. Send it elsewhere just try to go for places where the piece fits better.
To those two bonus items.
Storytracker. Storytracker is an app that works a bit like Microsoft Excel but is specifically designed for the collation and tracking of your stories. I’ve used it for a long time and am incredibly grateful to its developer for making my life easier. Currently, I think, it’s available for Mac and iOS.
OmPad. For those people who cannot afford a writing app for all occasions this may help. If you have a browser, OmPad will open in it, has a choice of backgrounds that you can change, and then write in. It does nothing else. Every time you open that same browser the last piece of writing you did will be there. Easy! And free.
I hope this simple list helps. It would be nice to think the next Hemingway appears because of it.
For those of you kind enough to have asked, I have a little more information about the wonderful anthology I have been included in. There is a cover reveal on the 28th of this month (I’ll post it when I see it) and a link to the book itself for those of you on Goodreads. Here is the link: ‘Fright Before Christmas’ Goodreads Link
It looks like quite a lot of sites will be previewing the book the moment the cover is officially launched, so that should be good too.