Monday, December 22, 2014

10 Writing Contests in January 2015 - No Entry Fee

I know I am repeating myself, but you, dear writer, should enter writing contests at every given opportunity. Agents and editors take note of who wins writing awards, and it's a tremendous lift to your platform (not to mention sales) if you can put "award-winning author" on your bio.

Here are ten contests with deadlines in mid- to late January. None of these contests charge an entry fee. So, if you have a short story, an essay, a book or collection in the making - go ahead and submit. You have nothing to lose.


The Writers’ Trust of Canada/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize is awarded annually to a new and developing writer of distinction for a short story published in a Canadian literary publication. This award is made possible by James A. Michener’s generous donation of his Canadian royalty earnings from his novel Journey, published by McClelland & Stewart in 1988. Prize: A $10,000 prize will given to the winner and the journal that published the winning entry receives $2,000. Two finalists each receive $1,000. Deadline: January 14, 2015. Read full submission guidelines HERE.

The Roswell Award. The Los Angeles Science Fiction One-Act Play Festival is initiating a new short story writing contest for adult writers over the age of 18 called THE ROSWELL AWARD. All submissions must be short stories (not plays) and must be an original work of science fiction (not fan fiction) and be no longer than 1500 words. The contest is open to U.S. writers and writers outside the U.S. Five finalists will be chosen and their stories will be read aloud by professional actors associated with iconic Sci-Fi TV shows in a special awards ceremony to be held at the festival on May 23, 2015 at 7:00 PM (Memorial Day Weekend). Prize: The winner will receive a cash prize of $1,000.00. Submissions can be made at Terms and conditions can be read on the website. Deadline: January 15th, 2015. Finalists will be notified by March 15th. How to submit: Submissions can be made at Terms and conditions can be read on the website. Read submission guidelines HERE.

The Ellen Meloy Fund for Desert Writers was established in 2005 to honor the memory of Ellen Meloy. The Fund provides support to writers whose work reflects the spirit and passions embodied in Ellen’s writing and her commitment to a “deep map of place.” Ellen’s own map-in-progress was of the desert country she called home. Genre: Only literary or creative nonfiction proposals will be considered. No fiction or poetry proposals will be reviewed. Prize: $3,000. Deadline: January 15, 2015. For more details click HERE.

Transitions Abroad Narrative Travel Writing Contest. Professionals, freelancers, and aspiring travel writers are invited to write an article which describes how traveling in a slower manner and attempting to adapt to the space and time of locals, their culture, and their land has deepened your experience of both the people and the destination. One of the results of a slower form of immersion travel is the experience of epiphanies that change one's perceptions of the world, of others, and of oneself. We urge you to translate one or more of those moments into a narrative which will convey this view to many who still tend to see travel as a way to "do" as many countries, cities, and continents in the world as possible—as if travel was some form of competition or consumption. Prize: $500 first-place. Deadline: January 15, 2015. For more details click HERE.

Bethesda Literary Festival Essay and Short Story Contest. The Bethesda Urban Partnership & Bethesda Magazine have partnered to honor local writers at the Bethesda Literary Festival held April 17-19, 2015. Genres: Essays and short stories. Restrictions: Open to residents of Montgomery County, MD and Upper NW Washington, D.C. Prizes: First Place: $500 and published in Bethesda Magazine. Second Place: $250. Third Place: $150. Honorable Mention: $75. Deadline: January 23, 2015. For more details click HERE.

The Danuta Gleed Literary Award for best first collection of short fiction in the English language was initiated by John Gleed in honor of his late wife to promote and celebrate the genre of short fiction, which she loved. Restrictions: Canadian residents only. Prize: A $10,000 prize will be awarded for the best first collection of published short fiction in the English language. Two finalist will also be awarded $500 each. Deadline: January 30, 2015. Read full guidelines HERE.

Historical Novel Society Indie Award HNS Indie Award, first offered in 2014, recognizes excellence in indie-published historical novels. Restrictions: English language only. Prize: The winner shall receive £100 or $100 ($100Aus). Deadline: Closing date January 31, 2015. How to enterClick HERE for complete rules.

Nelson Algren Literary Awards is a short story contest sponsored by the Chicago Tribune. This contest is open to residents of the United States. All entries must be: fiction, less than 8,000 words, double spaced, written in English. Prize: One grand prize winner will receive $3,500. Four finalists will each receive $1,000. Five runners-up will each receive $500. Total value of all prizes: $10,000. Deadline: Closing date January 31, 2015. How to enterClick HERE for complete rules.

Imagine Little Tokyo. Little Tokyo Historical Society (LTHS) seeks fictional short stories in Japanese or English for its second annual “Imagine Little Tokyo” writing contest. The setting of the story should be in Little Tokyo – either past, present or future. Prize: $600. The winner of the youth division (18 or younger) will receive $400. Deadline: January 31, 2015. How to enterClick HERE for complete rules.

Highlights for Fiction sponsors an annual contest for short fiction open to writers 16 and up. Genre: Mystery stories. Prizes: Three prizes of $1,000 or tuition for any Highlights Foundation Founders Workshop. (For a complete list of workshops, visit Deadline: All entries must be postmarked between January 1 and January 31, 2015. How to enterClick HERE for complete rules.

Friday, December 19, 2014

2 New Agents Seeking Writers

Here are two new agents who are actively seeking clients. Pippin Properties is primarily devoted to picture books, middle-grade, and young adult novels. Steve Laube Literary Agency is focused on the Christian market.


Heather Alexander of Pippin Properties


About Heather: Heather came into publishing through editorial at Dial, working with such authors as Jenny Martin, Vin Vogel, Scott McCormick, and Jeanne Ryan. After six years at Penguin, she was asked a very interesting question: had she ever considered becoming an agent? Many discussions later, she accepted a position at Pippin Properties, where she is building her roster of authors and illustrators, including A. N. Kang, Darren Farrell, and Jennifer Goldfinger. Follow her on Twitter: @HeatherAlexand

What she is seeking: Picture books, middle grade, YA, and literary graphic novels. Specifically quirky picture books with a strong emotional core, middle grade about a moment that changes a kid forever, and beautifully written YA. She enjoys contemporary, historical, funny, high stakes, gothic style horror, and magical realism, but not high fantasy, medieval, or time travel. She favors literary over commercial and as an agent, she is excited to develop new talent and help shape careers, which is what she loves to do best.

How to submit: Send a query addressed to Heather via email along with your first chapter of your manuscript or the entire picture book in the body of the email to info [at] Please include a short synopsis of the work(s), your background and/or publishing history, and anything else you think is relevant. No attachments, please.


About Dan: Dan is a 30-year veteran of the Christian publishing industry. He was former director of marketing for Tyndale House Publishers. Beginning in 1995, he led the publisher’s marketing team for the successful Jerry Jenkins-Tim LaHaye Left Behind series, becoming director of business development for the series (which has sold more than 60 million copies to date). In 2002, he added the role of director of international publishing until leaving Tyndale in 2006. After stints as publisher for two audio book companies and some publisher consulting, Dan joined the Steve Laube agency in 2013. His publishing background is the business side rather than editorial, best for authors who need help navigating the shifting sands of publishing. A graduate of Wheaton College, he lives with his wife Carol, in Wheaton, Illinois. Together they have four grown children and one grandchild. Follow him on Twitter at @danbalow or through the agency blog at where he posts every Tuesday.

What he is seeking: Mostly nonfiction for the Christian market, but represents a select number of novelists working in Christian historical, contemporary, Biblical, and futuristic genres.

How to submit: Email a query to Dan through his assistant at vseem [at] The submission process and form is available at the Steve Laube Agency website at

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

51 Facebook Groups for Authors

Before Facebook, writers could only meet on Wednesdays
Updated 2/3/23

Facebook groups are a great way to connect with readers and writers. In addition, they provide a venue for announcing your new release, promoting your free days on Amazon, discussing topics related to publishing, and marketing and writing tips, and anything else related to books.

Do read each group's rules before you join, and make sure to follow them. (You will be banned if you spam the group with multiple posts, or if you stray off topic, e.g. you decide to post an ad for your hand-knitted dog sweaters.) 

Note that when you are on a group's Facebook page, similar groups will pop up in the right hand column. You may find some niche groups there for your particular genre or interest.


I've just launched a Facebook group. I would be remiss if I didn't put it right at the top of this list.

How to Get Published 

General Reading and Book Promo Groups

  1. Amazon Book Clubs:
  2. Great Deals on Amazon Kindle:
  3. All About Books:
  4. KindleMojo:
  5. We Love Books:
  6. Books: (book links only– no contests, etc.)
  7. Books #2:
  8. Books #3:
  9. Passion for Books:
  10. Books, Books and More Books:
  11. Ready to Read: (new releases)
  13. I Luv Books:
  14. Book Junkies:
  15. BOOK REVIEW & PROMOTION - (26,000+ Members) - Authors can post books for sale.
  16. Authors (46,000+ Members) - Different types of posts allowed on specific days. Read guidelines.
  17. Book Lovers (20,000+ Members) - Closed group (only members can see posts).
  18. Writers and Readers Unite (39,000+ Members) - Authors may post about their new books and readers may post review or comments.
  19. Authors & Book lovers (24,000+ Members) - This is a discussion group for authors and book lovers to chat about their favorite books. All Authors are welcome to promote here.
  20. Nook & Kindle Readers (24,000+Members) - Share your Kindle and Nook favorite books with us all. Readers and writers alike. Let us know what you are reading or what you have written. We love free download books too. (Closed group).
  21. Book Promotion (34,000+Members) - The purpose of this group is to enable authors to promote their books, to readers of all tastes.
  22. Indie Writer Book and Self Promotion (30,000+ members) - Closed group (only members can see posts).
  23. Readers and Authors Promotions (10,000+ members) -  This group is for Authors to promote their books and for Readers who are looking for great books to read. Authors promote as much as you like.
  24. Writers and Authors' Promotions (95,000members) - Sister group to Writers Helping Writers, this group is for members to promote their own books as well as those of others.
  25. Kindle Book Promos Laura Dobbins says any kindle deal of any kind can be posted free on her Facebook page.

Free Book Promos
  1. Free eBooks for Kindle, Nook and More:
  2. Free Today on Kindle and Beyond:
  3. Free Kindle and Nook Books for Readers:
  4. - Free/Discount Kindle Book of the Day.

99-Cent Book Promotions

  1. Author 99cent Book Promotions:

Author Groups

  1. Author & Book Lover Discussion Group:
  2. Indie Authors International:
  3. Author Meeting Place:
  4. Authors:
  5. Author Exchange:
  6. Writers' Group:
  7. Kindle Authors Helping Authors:
  8. Writers Like Writers:
  9. Support an Author:
  10. Aspiring Novelists
  11. Creative Writing
  12. Calls for Submissions (Poetry, Fiction, Art)
  13. Writers Helping Writers 
  14. Nanowrimo Participants
  15. Women Writers, Women's Books
  16. Support An Author
  17. Fiction Writing (I love this group!)
  18. Author Bosses Writing
  19. Words Within Words
  20. Inner Circle Writers Group
  21. Writers' Ink 

Monday, December 15, 2014

How to Get Reviews for Your Self-Published Book

Updated 10/12/22

Getting reviews is the bane of the self-published author's existence. Without access to major media channels, self-published authors have to rely on contacting individual reviewers, which is roughly the equivalent to handing out flyers in malls.

In spite of the fact that contacting individual reviewers is time-consuming, arduous, and less efficient than, say, a review in the New York Times, it is probably the best way to get reviews. Book bloggers will more likely respond to an email requesting a review than a giveaway. (Paid services, of course, will always generate reviews, but these are, for the most part, editorial reviews, which won't increase your ratings.)

Below is an extremely useful article that summarizes all the different strategies you can employ for getting reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, on blogs, and elsewhere.

Related posts:

Top 20 Sites for Finding Reviewers

Fantasy and Sci-fi Reviewers for Self-Published Authors

High-Impact Paid Promotion for Indie Authors

Also see:

The Indie View - List of over 300 reviewers


The Indie Author's Guide to Customer Reviews

By Daniel Lefferts

Source: Publishers Weekly, Feb 1, 2017

The self-publishing revolution has taken place, in large part, online, with readers discovering books and connecting directly with indie authors through sites like Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, Wattpad, Smashwords, and more. In addition to book blogs, online book clubs, and online advertising, one of the central means by which readers learn about self-published books is the customer review. Reviews offer (ostensibly) unbiased commentary about a book, and while positive reviews are undoubtedly more desirable than one-star pans, having a mixed bag of reviews is better than having none at all.

[Note: this article was originally published in Nov. 2014 and was updated on Feb. 1 2017.]

“Along with the cover image, a book’s aggregate review score creates the first impression on Amazon” says Aaron Cooley, who self-published his novel Shaken, Not Stirred. “But the total number [of reviews] is important, too.”

But if customer reviews are, by their very nature, customer-generated, what can authors do to get more of them? Without resorting to “sock-puppet” reviews—that is, reviews written by the book’s author using an alias—how can authors turn that discouraging “no customer reviews yet” message into a smattering of star ratings and commentary?

Click HERE to read the rest of this article for tips on Blogger Outreach, Paid Review Services, Editorial Reviews vs. Customer Reviews, Approaching Reviewers on Amazon, and Getting Reviews on Goodreads.

More helpful articles:

7 Strategies and 110 Tools to Help Indie Authors Find Readers and Reviewers

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Writing Advice from Frank Herbert: Concentrate on story

I agree completely with Frank Herbert (whose ground-breaking book Dune was rejected by publishers 20 times, by the way.)

Story is everything.

Though Herbert is giving this advice to beginners, it is something published writers need to keep in mind as well, especially as they launch into experimental forms. Stories need to have a beginning, a middle and an end - although not necessarily in chronological order.

And, like Ray Bradbury, Herbert believed that metaphor lay at the heart of a novel.


Writing advice from Frank Herbert, originally published in WotF Vol 2:

The single most important piece of advice I ever got was to concentrate on story. What is “story”? It’s the quality that keeps the reader following the narrative. A good story makes interesting things happen to a character with whom the reader can identify. And it keeps them happening, so that the character progresses and grows in stature.

A writer’s job is to do whatever is necessary to make the reader want to read the next line. That’s what you’re supposed to be thinking about when you're writing a story. Don’t think about money, don’t think about success; concentrate on the story—don’t waste your energy on anything else. That all takes care of itself, if you’ve done your job as a writer. If you haven’t done that, nothing helps.

I first heard this from literary agent Lurton Blassingame, a highly respected expert on successful storytellers and storytelling. He’s a man who’s been watching writers’ careers and building writers’ for decades. And I have heard essentially the same thing from many other successful figures in writing; some of the top writers in the world have said it. It is the best advice I can give beginners.”

—Frank Herbert

Friday, December 5, 2014

2 Literary Agents Actively Seeking Writers

Updated 2/2/23

Here are two new agents looking to build their client lists. Both are from established agencies with good track records. Abby Saul is looking for great and engrossing writing, no matter what the genre. Melissa Edwards represents authors of children’s fiction, adult commercial fiction, and select pop-culture nonfiction. 

IMPORTANT: You should NEVER query an agent without checking the agency website first. Submission requirements change, and agents may close their lists, or switch agencies.

Note: You can find a comprehensive list of new and established agents seeking clients HERE.


Abby Saul of The Lark Group

About Abby: Abby founded The Lark Group after a decade in publishing at John Wiley & Sons, Sourcebooks, and Browne & Miller Literary Associates. She's worked with and edited bestselling and award-winning authors as well as major brands. At each publishing group she's been a part of, Abby also has helped to establish ebook standards, led company-wide forums to explore new digital possibilities for books, and created and managed numerous digital initiatives.

What she is seeking: Abby’s looking for great and engrossing writing, no matter what the genre. Her top picks from the current Browne & Miller agency wishlist: (1) Complex, literary-leaning psychological thriller/crime novel. We love a dark story really well told—think Tana French or Gillian Flynn (or, for the TV junkies, True Detective, Top of the Lake, or The Fall). (2) Gothic novel, contemporary or historical—anything that takes a cue from Rebecca, Victoria Holt, or The Thirteenth Tale but offers a fresh twist. (3) Substantive women’s historical fiction with romantic overtones—love American, English, and French history, but we are definitely open to other settings and time periods. Check out Abby’s manuscript wishlist online.

How to submit: Query Abby at


Melissa Edwards of Stonesong

About Melissa: Melissa is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis and Vanderbilt Law School. She is a member in good standing of the New York State bar. While Melissa began her career as a commercial litigation attorney, she always maintained aspirations to work in publishing. She is a tireless advocate for her clients and a constant partner during the publication process and beyond.

What she is seeking: Melissa represents authors of children’s fiction, adult commercial fiction, and select pop-culture nonfiction. She is looking for warm and timeless middle grade fiction and accessible young adult fiction. For adults, she is looking for fast-paced thrillers and smart women’s fiction. She can be found on Twitter @MelissaLaurenE, where she often tweets her active Manuscript Wishlist requests under #MSWL.

How to submit: Submit a one-page query letter via e-mail that describes your work and your background to Include the word “query” in the subject line of your email and paste the first chapter or first 10 pages of your work into the body of your email. Please do not send attachments.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

PitchMAS is coming up fast! Writers, pitch your books directly to agents

PitchMAS is a biannual pitch fest for writers held in December and July. It is co-hosted by Jessa Russo, a native Californian who describes herself as "the most extroverted introvert you know."

Most pitch fests are for screenplays, so this is a rare opportunity for those who write books to present their pitches directly to agents. (For a list of agents participating in December's pitch fest click HERE.)

Does PitchMAS actually work? 

The answer is yes. Vicki Leigh found an agent, and subsequent publisher, through participating in PitchMAS. (Read her story HERE.)

From the PitchMAS website:

FRIDAY 12/5/14

(A blog post will go LIVE on 12/5, right here on the PitchMAS blog, where you will post your pitches in the COMMENT SECTION. Your peers will then hop around and critique/advise you on what works/doesn't work. Tamara and Jessa WILL NOT be participating in the workshop; this is for peer critique/help only.)

SUNDAY 12/7/14 - MONDAY 12/8/14

For this event, we will be accepting your 35-word pitch submissions VIA EMAIL ONLY--email address will be posted when submission window OPENS. Submission window will be open from Sunday 12/7/14 at 9:00amPST until Monday 12/8/14 at 6:00pmPST
We will delete any submissions received before or after that submission window, and it isup to you to figure out your own time zone differences.

THURSDAY 12/11/14
{35 Words or Less}
The TOP 50 pitches will go live on the PitchMAS blog at MIDNIGHT on Thursday, 12/11/14. Agents and editors will have the entire day (as well as all day Friday!) to comment and make requests. 
Please do NOT comment if you are not an agent or editor. THE ONLY EXCEPTION TO THIS RULE is if an agent/editor has asked a SPECIFIC question. Any other non-agent/editor responses or comments will be deleted. 

FRIDAY 12/12/14

{140 Characters or Less}
All day long on Friday, 12/12/14, we will have our PitchMAS Twitter Party! Agents and editors will follow the hashtag #PitchMAS, reading your awesome pitches. ANYONE can participate, even if you didn't make it into the 50 selected blog pitches. However, your manuscript MUST BE COMPLETED and POLISHED. 
Twitter pitches MUST BE 140 Characters or Less and HAVE TO include the hashtag. Don't make the agents and editors work by breaking your pitch into more than one tweet. That will just annoy them and your fellow pitchers. We also advise against making them click a link to get to your pitch. Guess what? They won't.  
Please keep your Twitter pitching to no more than TWO PITCHES PER HOUR. Do not fill up the feed with your pitch over and over again. This will annoy the agents and editors involved, as well as ruining it for everyone else and people WILL remember you for it. 

Follow along with the hashtag: #PitchMAS

Click HERE for more information.

Monday, December 1, 2014

8 Reading and Writing Communities That Can Boost Your Platform

Updated 2/2/23

The bottom line for any writer is not how much money a book makes, but how many people have read it.

If you are writing a novel and would like some unofficial "beta" readers - or if you have published a short story, and the readership of the literary magazine has run its course - it's not a bad idea to post your work on a site that has a devoted readership.

Reading and writing communities can be a great way to get feedback on your writing. They also host competitions for the most popular stories, which are then publicized. On some of the larger sites, notably Wattpad, there are tie-ins with media, publishing houses.

Because each community offers something a little different, be sure to read the "about" and "FAQs" sections of the sites before you start posting. Given that your work will be made available to thousands - if not millions - of readers, it is important that your goals mesh with what the community has to offer.

Please note that not all of these sites block the copy/paste function.


With over 18 million users, Wattpad is the world's largest reading and writing online community. It began in 2006, as the result of a collaboration between Allen Lau and Ivan Yuen. In February 2007, Wattpad added over 17,000 eBooks from Project Gutenberg making them available to mobile users. Over 64,000 stories are uploaded to Wattpad or expanded every day. Wattpad is mainly geared to a young audience, with a large number of readers in the Philippines, where several Wattpad stories have been adapted into teleseries. Wattpad blocks the copy/paste function, so you can post unpublished works on the site.


"Booksie is a free social publishing site that provides a place where writers and readers can connect from across the globe. Over the past seven years, tens of thousands of writers have posted hundreds of thousands of short stories, novel, poems, articles and more. Booksie is for writers 13+ (no adult content). Booksie organizes your portfolio and gives you tools (including a micro-Blogger) to connect with your audience. You can Feature certain work in your portfolio, embed images and video, tell your writers about the latest news (micro-Blogging), and keep tabs of your fans." Note: A Booksie spin-off, Booksiesilk, is for erotica and adult content. Booksie blocks the copy/paste function.


"Critters is a member of the family of on-line workshops/critique groups, and is for serious writers of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. You get your work critiqued in exchange for critiquing the work of others, both of which are invaluable ways to improve your writing. It's run by Andrew Burt, former vice-president of SFWA and his army of software minions." Critters is listed as one of the 101 best websites for writers by Writer's Digest, officially opened on October 21, 2003. At present time there are 5,497 active members. They have processed 160,099 stories and 823,678 critiques and received 51,667,760 visits "During your first visit to CC you will be a Trial user which means there are restrictions on what you can do. Once a CC Moderator has reviewed your application you will be upgraded to a full registered member and these restrictions will be lifted. This usually only takes a couple of hours. Critique Circle runs on a credit system. You "pay" three credits to submit a story, and receive credits for writing a critique of someone else's story. The credits you receive range from 1/2 to 2 per crit, depending on the length of the crit and the length of the story." Critique Circle is based in Iceland, where 1 in 10 people will publish a book.


Mibba is a reading and writing community aimed at teens. Users can post stories, poems, blogs, articles, book reviews, and get feedback, Mibba hosts a forum, and provides writing tips and a grammar handbook. Good for budding writers.


Scribophile is an online community where writers can post their work and get critiques from other writers. The site works on a "karma" system. Before you can post your work, you must earn karma points either by critiquing someone else's work, or when other members like your critiques. The longer your critique, the more karma you earn. You "spend" these karma points when you post your work, Posting on Scribophile does not affect first publication rights, as your work can only be read by members, For more information, read their FAQs.

With 1,137,125 members, is one of the largest online writing communities. Started by a husband and wife team, promotes a friendly environment for writers.   The site offers writing portfolios, email, a newsfeed, groups, contests, survey forms, madlibs, and submission tracking, as well as tutorials. is geared to amateur writers.

Young Writers Society

"Formed in 2004, the Young Writers Society serves as a keynote global community for young writers. We aim to promote creative writing as a pastime, prepare aspiring authors for future publication, and create lasting bonds across continents and cultures alike." Membership is geared to writers between the ages of 13 and 25.

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