Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Authors Guild Raises Doubts About Amazon's New Pay-Per-Page Policy

With the recent announcement that it will begin paying Kindle Unlimited authors by pages read, rather than borrows, Amazon has set off a spate of commentary, from Fortune to a satirical jab by the Telegraph.

According to the Guardian, self-published authors may see a drop in KU revenue to as little as $.006 per page read, prompting some speculation as to whether Amazon intended to cut back on short works by this maneuver.

Nobody has ever paid authors by the number of pages read. Authors have been paid by pages written, especially when their works are serialized, and they have been paid by the word. But the idea of paying an author for the number of pages a reader actually reads is unprecedented.

There is no comparison to be made in the history of authorship. (Not even pricing books by how much they weigh, or by how large they are.)

The confusion Amazon has generated is apparent in the Authors Guild statement below. In it, the Guild raises a number of questions, largely having to do with logistics (What counts as a page read?), and implications for authors (Will they have to generate cliff hangers? and the eternal, Will quality suffer?)

None of these critiques of a system in which reader attention span determines the economic success of an author addresses the underlying problem with this scheme.

It monitors readers in ways that are highly intrusive.

How much I read of a book, or which pages I read of a book, is none of Amazon's business. Not only should Amazon keep its nose out of my reading habits, it should not draw any conclusions from them. I often read nonfiction books piecemeal. Sometimes, I read works of fiction in snippets. (Short stories, poetry collections.) Should a writer get paid less if he or she wrote only one short story or poem that touched my heart? What if that poem were "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"? If I didn't read any other poem in that collection, would it mean Robert Frost was less beloved in my eyes? Would it make him less well known to the reading public than someone who had written a book of dirty limericks (of which I guarantee every single page would be turned)?

You betcha. And, as a consequence of paying authors via this bizarre system (especially if it catches on) careers will be hampered, talent will go unrewarded, and readers will be served continual crowd-sourced pap - all under the banner of "books readers want to read."

Once again, publishers (in this case Amazon) not only determine what authors get paid, but what readers should like. But unlike industry manipulation of bestseller lists, fixed reviews, and well-placed hype, this is an invasion of privacy with no benefit to either readers or authors.

From the Authors Guild:

Starting July 1, Amazon will pay royalties to its indie authors based on the number of pages users actually read, rather than the number of times the book is “borrowed.” In its announcement, Amazon touted its unilateral amendment to its terms for self-published e-books enrolled in its Kindle Unlimited (KU) and Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL) e-lending services. The change, Amazon said, is a response to authors’ complaints about the unfairness of its current single rate for all books, regardless of length. Writers of longer works will stand to benefit, provided those books are read in full, but it could slash the earnings of entire classes of authors, such as poets and children’s book writers, whose works tend to have fewer pages. The new regime leaves intact Amazon’s unfortunate practice of paying indie authors out of an opaque royalty pool, which pits self-published authors against one another in a zero-sum scramble for readers. With a finite amount of money to go around each month, one author’s gain is another’s loss.

The royalty adjustment comes almost a year after Amazon launched Kindle Unlimited, an e-book subscription service where readers pay $9.99 a month for access to hundreds of thousands of titles, most of which are self-published by members of Amazon’s KDP Select program. KDP Select authors, who are automatically enrolled in both KU and KOLL, agree to make their e-books available exclusively through Kindle platforms, preventing these indie authors from exploring other revenue streams as long as they are enrolled in Select. Authors may, however, drop out of KDP Select by contacting Amazon with the ASIN of the book they would like to remove, according to the announcement.

Under its outgoing royalty structure, Amazon pays a fee for each book “borrowed,” provided at least 10% of the book is read. The fee is the same for short story–length books as it is for a 500-page novel. Some writers quickly learned how to game the system and flooded Kindle Unlimited with excerpts and shorter works, even publishing books in chapters, since once a reader crosses the 10% “borrow” threshold the author earns the same no matter how long or complex the book is. While there are any number of other possible solutions to the problem, Amazon’s solution is to pay per page read. This represents an entirely new way of thinking about compensation for authors.

Exactly how this will impact books in the long run is hard to know, but it undoubtedly will affect KDP Select authors’ writing and the ability of some of these authors to make a living. For now, many questions remain to be answered. Will authors enrolled in the program feel compelled to write longer books? Will they feel the need to make sure every page has a compelling detail or cliffhanger? Will there be more padding (to make a book longer) or less (so every page is read)? If books do get padded, will readers start reading differently and skipping more? What happens to the long works of nonfiction that might take years to write and add greatly to our society’s knowledge base, but are rarely read in full by the lay reader? Will skimmed pages count? How long does a reader have to spend on a page for it to count as “read”? What data will Amazon share with authors and publishers? Will the data it gathers (most likely kept close) give it even greater dominance in indie publishing? Will it share any of its reading statistics with writers to help them have more pages read? Will they eventually foist this payment method on publishers, starting with the smaller ones who have little to no negotiating power?

At first glance, it appear that tying royalties to pages read will only incentivize authors to produce books that compel readers to keep reading. It’s not so clear whether that will result in better books. What is clear is that Amazon’s contracts with its indie authors are non-negotiable terms of use that Amazon can change at any time and which become binding on its authors within 30 days of their posting. Since its Kindle Select terms require exclusivity, this unilateral change in the royalty structure has the potential to disrupt the livelihoods of KDP Select authors with little to no warning. Even with Amazon’s monthly tinkering with the royalty pool, under its per-borrow scheme authors in recent months could at least count on a rate of somewhere between $1.33 and $1.40 per borrow. Writers of children’s books, particularly books for young children, will necessarily see that rate go down significantly.

Announced just weeks before it takes effect, the change is a reminder of Amazon’s power not only vis-à-vis traditional publishers and authors, but also among those self-published authors who have often been the e-tailer’s most vocal apologists. It’s never been more clear that indie authors who publish with KDP Select are dependent on Amazon’s business decisions, including how much money to distribute via the monthly royalty pool.

This is also a sad reminder that traditional publishers—whose unsavory contract terms we’re focusing on as part of our Fair Contract Initiative—aren’t the only ones who offer writers take-it-or-leave-it publishing contracts.

In additional Amazon news, the retailer has come to terms with Penguin Random House, the last of the Big Five publishers to negotiate e-book terms with Amazon after the expiration of the consent decree resulting from the U.S. v. Apple e-book pricing litigation. Neither side disclosed the nature of those terms or what pricing model (wholesale or agency) will govern under the terms of the new agreement.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

25 Fabulous Writers' Conferences in July 2015

Here are 24 fabulous conferences scheduled for the month of July. Even if you don't plan to attend any this month, take a look at some of the websites. Just reading the roster of authors, agents, and industry professionals who attend these gatherings is exciting!

In addition to the national and regional events, there are also a number of smaller venues offering an intimate day or two of workshops and readings. In all cases, writing conferences are memorable, instructive, and inspiring events. I encourage every writer to attend one.

Omega Institute Poetry Festival. July 5 - 10, Rhinebeck, New York. Readings and workshops led by poets Nick Flynn, Marie Howe, Li-Young Lee, Alison Luterman, and Aja Monet.

Idyllwild Arts Summer Program Writers Week. July 6 - 11, Idyllwild, California. Workshops, craft talks, readings, and one-on-one consultations in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Faculty includes poets Natalie Diaz, Luis J. Rodriguez, and Ed Skoog; fiction writer Samantha Dunn; and nonfiction writer Amy Friedman. Guest writers include poets Victoria Chang and Matthew Dickman, nonfiction writer Sandra Tsing Loh, and critic David Ulin.

Summer Fishtrap Gathering of Writers. July 6 - 12, Wallowa Lake, Oregon. Workshops in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, as well as panel discussions, readings, and open mics. The theme for the 2015 conference is “Hidden From History: Stories We Haven’t Heard, Stories We Haven’t Told.” Faculty includes poets Sherwin Bitsui and Allison Hedge Coke; fiction writers Karen Fisher, Craig Lesley, Jan Vandenburgh, and Erika T. Wurth; and nonfiction writers Tom Kizzia, Page Lambert, and Robert Michael Pyle.

ThrillerFest X. July 7–11, New York. This is the annual conference of the International Thriller Writers. The ThrillerFest conference has four main components: Master CraftFest, CraftFest, PitchFest, and ThrillerFest. Master CraftFest was designed as an educational tool for aspiring writers as well as debut and midlist authors to gain advanced training from the masters of the craft in an intimate, day-long training session. CraftFest was designed for all writers to learn from bestselling authors and subject experts who kindly offer their advice and assistance to advance attendees’ writing techniques and further their careers. PitchFest was designed to match writers with agents, editors, publishers, and producers.ThrillerFest, the final two days of the conference, is intended to offer readers a chance to meet the best authors in the industry and be introduced to debut and midlist authors. Expect innovative panels, spotlight interviews, and workshops to educate and inspire.

Centrum Port Townsend Writers’ Conference. July 9 -19, Port Townsend, Washington. workshops in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, as well as craft lectures, readings, open mics, and time to write. The faculty includes poets Kim Addonizio, Erin Belieu, Gary Copeland Lilley, Jimmy Kimbrell, and Joseph Stroud; fiction writers Claire Davis, Skip Horack, and Pam Houston; and creative nonfiction writers Lisa Norris and Luis Urrea.

The Summer Writers Institute at Washington University. July 10 - 24, St. Louis MO. An intensive, two-week program featuring workshops with experienced instructors and published authors. Writers also benefit from readings, craft talks, and individual conferences with instructors. Faculty includes Stefan Merrill Block, Fiction; Heather McPherson, Modern Humor; David Schuman, Flash Fiction; Kent Shaw, Poetry; Kathleen Finneran and Deborah Taffa, Pers. Narrative; Richard Chapman, Screenwriting; Colin Bassett, Lit. Journalism; Mary Jo Bang, Keynote.

All Write Now! July 11, Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Sponsored by the Southeast Missouri Writers' Guild and the Heartland Writers Guild. Writing workshops spanning the gamut of genres, from romance to non-fiction plus practical application workshops for pitching, publishing, using technology.

Antioch Writers' Workshop. July 11 - 17, Yellow Springs, Ohio. morning classes and afternoon seminars in fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry for all levels of writers--beginning to advanced. The workshop includes opportunities to give readings, receive professional critiques, interact with faculty, and meet with a visiting agent. We also offer "a la carte" options for writers to attend only the morning classes, only the beginning writers' afternoon seminar, or a one-day Saturday Seminar. Faculty: Lee Martin (keynoter and morning fiction); Dinty W. Moore (morning non-fiction); Cathy Smith Bowers (morning poetry.) Afternoon seminar faculty includes Sherri Wood Emmons, Cathy Essinger, Roxane Gay, Matthew Goodman, Gregoy Belliveau, Jeffrey Ford, and others. Visiting agents Suzie Townsend (New Leaf Literary) and Hannah Brown Gordon (Foundry Literary + Media). A la carte registration closes on July 7.

Taos Summer Writers’ Conference. July 12 -19, Taos, New Mexico. Workshops in poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and publishing, as well as master classes for full-length manuscripts, readings, manuscript consultations, and a visit to the nearby D. H. Lawrence Ranch. Faculty includes poets Jeffrey Davis, Joy Harjo, Valerie Martínez, Tomás Q. Morín, Hilda Raz, and Richard Vargas; fiction writers Jonis Agee, Tom Barbash, John Dufresne, Minrose Gwin, Jesse Lee Kercheval, Priscilla Long, BK Loren, Lynn Miller, Antonya Nelson, Matthew Pitt, Bob Shacochis, Summer Wood, and Margaret Wrinkle; and creative nonfiction writers Debra Monroe, Mark Sundeen, Candace Walsh, and Robert Wilder; editors Nancy Naomi Carlson (Tupelo Press) and Elise McHugh (University of New Mexico Press); and agents Allison Hunter (Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency), Alexis Hurley (Inkwell Management), and Jane Von Mehren (Jane von Mehren Associates). Each workshop is limited to 12 participants; each master class is limited to 6 participants. 

Tin House Summer Writer’s Workshop. July 12 -19, Portland, Oregon. workshops in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, as well as seminars, readings, and meetings with agents and editors. Participating writers include poets Natalie Diaz, Cornelius Eady, and Tony Hoagland; fiction writers Dorothy Allison, Robert Boswell, Lan Samantha Chang, Manuel Gonzales, Marlon James, Victor LaValle, Jenny Offill, Benjamin Percy, Karen Russell, Jim Shepard, Karen Shepard, and Claire Vaye Watkins; and creative nonfiction writers Charles D’Ambrosio, Maggie Nelson, and David Shields. 

The Gathering. July 16 - 19, La Plume, Pennsylvania. Workshops in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, as well as lectures and performances. The theme this year is “The Story,” which will focus on personal encounters with history. Faculty includes poet Denver Butson, fiction writers Adwoa Badoe and Gina Nahai, and nonfiction writers Katherine Boo and Elizabeth Gordon.

PNWA Conference. July 16 - 19, Seattle, Washington, Sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. More than 50 seminars, editor/agent forums & appointments, practice pitching, keynote and featured speakers, reception, awards ceremony. Many agents and editors attending.

Green River Writers Workshops:Turning Memory into Story: Memoir Writing Workshop. July 16 - 19, Las Vegas, New Mexico. Using memory as a starting point, Green River Writers Workshops focus on the craft of storytelling through memoir, fiction, historical writing, and poetry. Both experienced and beginning writers are welcome. Faculty: Gerald Hausman, Loretta Hausman, Alice Winston Carney.

Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference. July 17 - 19, Grapevine, Texas. The theme is “the great divide between the Haves and Have-Nots in American society and the social, economic, racial, cultural, and political fissures created by this divide.” Workshops in creative nonfiction as well as panel discussions, lectures, readings, and pitch sessions with agents. Faculty includes Jill Abramson, Barbara Ehrenreich, Anne Fadiman, and Alex Tizon. Attending agents: Jim Donovan (Jim Donovan Literary), Jim Hornfischer (Hornfischer Literary Management), Dave Patterson (Foundry Literary + Media), and BJ Robbins (BJ Robbins Literary Agency).

Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing Summer Seminar. July 19 - 24, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Workshops in poetry and fiction, one-on-one manuscript consultations, panel discussions, and readings. Faculty includes poets Emily Skaja and Marcus Wicker, and fiction writers Michael Martone, Phong Nguyen, and Alexander Weinstein.

Stonecoast Writers’ Conference. July 19 - 25, Portland, ME. Workshops in poetry, short fiction, novel, and nonfiction/memoir, and a mixed-genre Creative Writing Bootcamp. The Stonecoast Writers’ Conference is open to students of all experience levels. However, admission is selective. Writing sample and deposit required.

Writing the Rockies. July 22 - 25, Gunnison, Colorado. Workshops, readings, panels, seminars and other events in poetry, genre fiction, screenwriting and publishing. One-to-one visits with faculty for critiques & pitches. Sponsored by Graduate Program in Creative Writing, Western State Colorado University. Faculty includes Poetry: Fred Turner, Kim Bridgford, Dave Mason, Emily Grosholz, Marilyn Taylor, Tom Cable, many more. Screenwriting: JS Mayank, Genre Fiction: Russell Davis, Michaela Roessner, Diana Tixier Herald Publishing: Caleb Seeling, Larry Meredith.

Midwest Writers Workshop. July 23 - 25, Muncie, Indiana. Craft and business sessions, agent pitches, manuscript evaluations. Numerous authors, agents, editors, and publicists attending.

Agent, Editor, Authors Critiques & Pitch Workshop. July 23 - 25, Seattle, Washington. Critiques with a pro, a pitch session with an agent, panels with everything from geography and world-building, Indie and Hybrid vs. Traditional, the editing process, marketing, and much more. Also a two-hour block of time set aside for a free, open to the public portion. Authors will speak in an open discussion on several aspects of writing and there will be an opportunity for book sales and signings.

North Carolina Writers' Network Squire Summer Writing Residency. July 23 - 26. Greenville, North Carolina. Workshops in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, as well as a presentation and readings. Faculty includes poet Amber Flora Thomas and fiction writer Luke Whisnant.

Iota Short Prose Conference. July 23 - 26, Lubec, Maine. Workshops, craft discussions, readings, open mics, one-on-one meetings with faculty, and field trips to nearby locations for poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers. Faculty includes poet and prose writer Richard Hoffman and nonfiction writer Sarah Einstein.

Dallas-Fort Worth Writers' Conference. July 23 - 26, Dallas, TX. Agent pitch sessions, workshops, speakers, social events. Faculty: Charlaine Harris, Kevin J. Anderson, and Shilo Harris will be keynoting the event.

Napa Valley Writers’ Conference. July 26 - July 31, St. Helena, California. Workshops in poetry and fiction, craft lectures, panels, and evening readings with wine receptions at venues around Napa Valley. Faculty includes poets Jane Hirshfield, D. A. Powell, and Arthur Sze; and fiction writers Robert Boswell, Lan Samantha Chang, Michelle Huneven, and Antonya Nelson.

Writer’s Digest Conference, July 31–Aug. 2, New York. Annual Writer's Digest Conference featuring: Pitch Slam, with more than fifty agents and editors in attendance, educational tracks devoted to publishing and self-publishing, platform and promotion, and the craft of writing,  speakers and instructors, including New York Times bestsellers Jonathan Maberry, Hallie Ephron and M.J. Rose, self-published author G.P. Ching, and Writer Beware co-founder Victoria Strauss.

Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators Annual Conference. July 31–Aug. 3, Los Angeles, California. More than 100 writers, editors, illustrators, & agents. Workshops, breakout sessions, manuscript and portfolio consultations, panels, discussions.

Monday, June 22, 2015

25 Writing Contests in July - No entry fees

July is a busy month for writing contests. The 25 free contests featured this month include every genre, and prizes span the gamut - from publication to 6-digit awards.


John Glassco Translation Prize. Sponsored by Literary Translators' Association of Canada.Restrictions: Open to Canadian citizens or permanent residents only. Genre: The work submitted must be the translator's first published book-length translation into English or French. The book must have been published between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015. Prize: $1000. Deadline: July 1, 2015.

Kate Tufts Discovery Award. Sponsored by Claremont Graduate University. Restrictions: Poets must be citizens or legal resident aliens of the United States. Genre: Poetry. Book must be author's first full-length book of poetry, published between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015. Self-published books are accepted. Prize: $10,000. Deadline: July 1, 2015.

Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. Sponsored by Claremont Graduate University. Restrictions: Poets must be citizens or legal resident aliens of the United States. Genre: Poetry. The work submitted must be a first book of poetry published between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015. Manuscripts, CDs, and chapbooks are not accepted. Prize: $100,000. Deadline: July 1, 2015.

Montgomery County Writing ContestRestrictions: Open to Montgomery County residents only. Genre: Fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. Prize: $250 and publication in Montgomery Magazine. Runners-up will receive $100 and have their work published on montgomerymag.com. Deadline: July 1, 2015.

Richard J. Margolis AwardGenre: Journalism. Prize is awarded annually to a promising new journalist or essayist whose work combines warmth, humor, wisdom and concern with social justice. Prize: $5,000 and one month of residency at Blue Mountain Center. Deadline: July 1, 2015.

We Said Go Travel Writing Contest. Theme Independence: A Place that Makes You Feel Free to be Yourself. Prize: 1st Prize – $500 usd cash 2nd Prize – $100 usd cash 3rd Prize – $50 usd cash. Deadline: July 4, 2015.

The Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award. Sponsored by Sisters in Crime. Restrictions: Open to emerging writers of color. An unpublished writer is preferred, although publication of one work of short fiction or academic work will not disqualify an applicant. Prize: $1,500. Deadline: July 5, 2015.

Glamour: "My Real Life Essay" ContestRestrictions: Open only to legal residents of the 50 U.S./D.C. Genre: Essay. "Every woman has an inspiring true story somewhere inside her. Is it about the time you overcame an obstacle, tested your courage, met the love of your life, or found your passion?" Prize: $5,000 and publication. Deadline: July 15, 2015.

Linda Flowers Literary AwardGenre: Fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. "Submissions should detail examinations of intimate, provocative, and inspiring portraiture of North Carolina, its people and cultures, bringing to light real men and women having to make their way in the face of change, loss, triumph, and disappointments." Prize: $500 and a stipend for a writer’s residency at Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities in Southern Pines, North Carolina. Deadline: July 15, 2015.

The Undergraduate No-Fee Contest. Sponsored by Sandy River Review. Restrictions: Undergraduates enrolled in college or a Spring 2015 graduate. Genres: Fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. Prize $100. Deadline: July 15, 2015.

Middle and High School Teacher Creative Non-Fiction Writing Award CompetitionGenre: Creative nonfiction. Restrictions: Open to full- and part-time middle and high school teachers. Teachers may submit one piece of writing with a maximum of 20 single-spaced pages. Prize: $5,000 and travel and lodging to attend a special award ceremony in Fall 2015. Deadline: July 16, 2015.

Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection PrizeRestrictions: Book must be published in UK. Genre: Poetry collection. Prize: £2,500, a week of ‘protected’ writing time on the East Suffolk coast, plus a fee-paying invitation to read at the 2016 Aldeburgh Poetry Festival. Any first collection of at least 40 pages with primary publication in the UK and Republic of Ireland between 1 August 2014 and 31 July 2015 is eligible. Deadline: July 24, 2015.

The New Writers Award. Sponsored by the thirteen members of the Great Lakes Colleges Association. Genre: First published volume of poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction. Prize: $500. Deadline: July 25, 2015.

Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for NonfictionRestrictions: Books must be English-language, first-edition trade books published by a Canadian press, written by Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada. Titles must be published between September 18, 2014 and September 17, 2015. Genre: Literary nonfiction including, among other forms, works of personal or journalistic essays, memoirs, commentary, criticism both social and political, history, and biography. Prize: Winner: $60,000; Finalists: $5,000. Deadline: July 29, 2015.

Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction PrizeRestrictions: Books must be English-language, first-edition trade books published by a Canadian press, written by Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada. Titles must be published between October 1, 2014 and September 30, 2015. Genre: Novel or short-story collection. Prize: Winner: $25,000; Finalists: $2,500. Deadline: July 29, 2015.

The Asher Literary AwardRestrictions: Open to published female authors from Australia or New Zealand. Genre: Poetry or prose. Work must carry an anti-war theme. Prize: $12,000 AU. Deadline: July 30, 2015.

Bastiat Prize for Journalism. Established in 2002 by the International Policy Network. Genre: Journalism. Articles must have been published in English for the first time June 30, 2014 and July 31, 2015. Prize: The total prize fund is $16,000, divided between first ($10,000), second ($5,000) and third ($1,000) prize winners. Deadline: July 31, 2015.

Eden Mills Teen Poetry Contest. This year’s theme: SECRETS and DREAMS. Restrictions: Open to Canadian teens. Genre: Poetry. Prize: 2 $50 prizes, 2 $25 prizes. Deadline: July 31, 2015.

Foyle Young Poets of the Year AwardRestrictions: Open to young poets age 11 - 17. Genre: Poetry. Prize: Publication. Deadline: July 31, 2015.

Harvill Secker Young Translators’ Prize. Restrictions; Entrants must be between 18 and 34 years of age on the submission deadline. Genre: Translation from Polish to English. Prize: £1000 and a selection of Harvill Secker titles. Deadline: July 31, 2015.

Landfall Essay CompetitionRestrictions: Open to New Zealand writers. Genre: Essay about New Zealand. Prize: The winner will receive $3000 and a year’s subscription to Landfall. The winning entry/ies will be published in the November 2015 issue of Landfall. Deadline: July 31, 2015.

The Linda Bruckheimer Series in Kentucky LiteratureRestrictions: Contest is open to any writer of English: who is a native of Kentucky, or who has lived in Kentucky for at least two years, or whose manuscript is set in or about Kentucky. Genre: Poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction. Prize: Publication by Sarabande Press. Deadline: July 31, 2015.

Platt Family Scholarship Prize Essay ContestRestrictions: Open to students who are FULL TIME, undergraduate students in an AMERICAN COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY during the Spring 2015 semester. Genre: Essay "If Lincoln has lived." Prize: 1st Prize $1500 | 2nd Prize $750 | 3rd Prize $500. Deadline: July 31, 2015.

Stone CanoeRestrictions: Open to people who live or have lived in Upstate New York (not New York City). Genres: Drama, fiction, nonfiction, poetry, art. Prize: $500 and publication. Deadline: July 31, 2015.

SLF Diverse Writers and Diverse Worlds GrantsRestrictions: Open to writers from underrepresented and underprivileged groups, such as writers of color, women, queer writers, disabled writers, working-class writers, etc. -- those whose marginalized identities may present additional obstacles in the writing / publishing process. Genres: Book-length works (novels, collections of short stories) of speculative fiction. Prize: $500. Deadline: July 31, 2015.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

2 New Agents Actively Seeking Writers - Literary Fiction, Thrillers, Romance, Memoir, Nonfiction and more

Updated 6/9/19

Here are two new agents looking to build their client lists. Mary South (Lowenstein Associates) is seeking literary fiction, and in nonfiction: neuroscience, bioengineering, women's rights, design, and digital humanities, as well as investigative journalism, essays, and memoir. Saba Sulaiman (Talcott Notch Literary) is seeking literary and commercial fiction, romance (all subgenres except paranormal), psychological thrillers, cozy mysteries, and memoir. In young adult, she seeks contemporary realistic stories. She also is looking for middle grade fiction. In nonfiction, she accepts humor books.

ALWAYS check the agency website before submitting. Agents may switch agencies or close their lists and submission requirements may change.

If these agents do not suit your needs, you can find a comprehensive list of new and established agents seeking clients here: Agents Seeking Clients.


Mary South of Lowenstein Associates


About Mary: Mary South is the digital marketing manager, foreign rights liaison, and new agent at Lowenstein Associates. She is also a senior editor at NOON. Previously, she worked for Random House, Google, The New Yorker, and McGraw-Hill. She has an MFA in fiction from Columbia University and a B.A. in literature, with honors, from Northwestern University.

What she is seeking: She is interested in receiving queries for literary fiction with a compelling voice, an exquisite use of form, and the utmost attention paid to the beauty of the sentence. She also has an interest in nonfiction on subjects such as neuroscience, bioengineering, women's rights, design, and digital humanities, as well as investigative journalism, essays, and memoir.

How to submit: For fiction, send a one-page query letter, along with the first ten pages pasted in the body of the message by email to assistant@bookhaven.com. If non-fiction, please send a one-page query letter, a table of contents, and, if available, a proposal pasted into the body of the email to assistant@bookhaven.com. Please put the word QUERY and the title of your project in the subject field of your email and address it to the agent of your choice. Please do not send an attachment as the message will be deleted without being read and no reply will be sent. Response within 4-6 weeks.


Saba Sulaiman of Talcott Notch Literary

About Saba: Born to Pakistani expatriates in Sri Lanka, Saba double-majored in Economics and Middle Eastern Studies at Wellesley and studied modern Persian Literature at the University of Chicago, where she got involved with editing the department’s academic journal. “And it finally hit me—working closely with writers to hone their craft; seeing a piece of writing from its inception through to its eventual publication; and advocating for what I believed was stellar prose worthy of recognition—this was my calling. So I interned at various newspaper and magazine publications, worked as an editorial intern at Sourcebooks, and then wound up at Talcott Notch, where I’m excited to begin my career as a literary agent. When I’m not reading, you’ll probably find me learning another foreign language, playing Scrabble, watching a Bollywood movie, or singing in the bathroom (the acoustics, am I right?).” Find her on Twitter: @agentsaba.

What she is seeking: In adult fiction, she seeks upmarket literary and commercial fiction, romance (all subgenres except paranormal), character-driven psychological thrillers, cozy mysteries, and memoir. In young adult, she seeks all subgenres except paranormal, fantasy, and sci-fi. She’s particularly interested in contemporary realistic stories, fast-paced mysteries, or lush historicals. She also seeks middle grade fiction. In nonfiction, she accepts humor books.

She does not want: picture books, cookbooks, self-help books, diet books, military themes or travel writing.

How to submit: Send a query to ssulaiman@talcottnotch.net and paste the first ten pages of your manuscript in the body of your e-mail. “If it’s been longer than 8 weeks, feel free to follow up with me.” For more detailed and up-to-date instructions on how to query me, visit sabasulaiman.com

Friday, June 12, 2015

10 Calls for Submissions: Anthologies, June - Aug 2015: Science fiction, Horror, Nonfiction, General Fiction, Poetry

Anthologies are themed collections of short stories and/or poems by various authors and published as a single book.

It is a good idea to get your work into a print anthology for several reasons: 1) Anthologies generally get a wider distribution than magazines; 2) Print anthologies don't preclude publishing your story online, or on Amazon, later on;  3) Establishing a relationship with a publisher may pan out later when you are ready to publish your novel; 4) Anthologies are a great writing credit; 5) Many anthologies accept reprints, which will extend the life of your stories.

Please read the submissions pages carefully. All of these are paying markets.


Living with Fibromyalgia (Fibrostrong)

Genre: Nonfiction
Deadline: June 15, 2015
Reprints: Not specified
Simultaneous submissions: Not specified
Payment: $25
Length: 2,000 max

"Each story should about one single event or a couple of closely related events. The premise behind the book is to deliver hope, humor, joy, and a hearty dose of personal success into the readers living with Fibromyalgia and their loved ones."

World Traveler Press

Genre: Travel
Deadline: June 30, 2015
Reprints: Yes
Simultaneous submissions: Not specified
Payment: $75
Length: 2,000 to 4,000 words

WTP is looking for submissions in the following two categories:

Women’s Travel: "The best travel essays follow both an inner and external journey. Tell us about travel that changed you, touched you or just left an impression you’ll never forget. Your submission can be funny, scary, exciting, thoughtful or even inspirational. The common threads are travel, a woman’s point of view and excellent writing."

Adventure Travel: "Our first adventure travel book, Adventures of a Lifetime, was well received, so we’re publishing another anthology focused on adventure travel. We’re seeking true life tales of unforgettable adventure, from swimming with beluga whales in the Arctic to climbing in Nepal. We’re especially interested in stories that offer an emotional or personal connection with adventure travel."

Defying Doomsday

Genre: Speculative fiction
Deadline: July 1, 2015
Reprints: No
Simultaneous submissions: No
Payment: 7 cents per word
Length: 3000 - 7000 words

"(One of) the protagonist(s) must be a character with disability, such as physical impairments, chronic illnesses, mental illnesses and/or neurodiverse characters etc. We will consider stories with characters experiencing all kinds of disability and hope that submitting authors will be creative with the possibilities. However, we are not looking for issue stories or stories where disability is the sole focus of the narrative. Some sort of cataclysmic event must have occurred or be in the process of occurring. We are open to a variety of events, including apocalypses, alien invasions, devastating war, natural disasters etc. Be creative! We are most interested in stories set in the near future, however, we will also consider stories set in the far future or an alternate timeline version of the recent past. We are not interested in fantasy (that means no magic)."

The Emby Bestiary

Genre: Dark Fiction, Horror, Sci-fi for children
Deadline: July 1, 2015
Reprints: No
Simultaneous submissions: No
Payment: 7 cents per word
Length: 2000 - 8000 words

"An Emby Bestiary is looking for stories like that: yarns about monsters that will make a big impression on young imaginations. They can be good monsters that help upon a tale of discovery or evil monsters that lurk in a cautionary tale. The two requirements are that the creatures be original and that the tale be suitable for children (think middle-grade fiction up to pg-13) Take us back to the campfires of our youth as you spin a tale that you can tell your own kids."

Chicken Soup for the Soul "Random Acts of Kindness"

Genre: Nonfiction story or poem
Deadline: July 31, 2015
Reprints: No
Simultaneous submissions: No
Payment: $200 per story or poem
Length: 1200 words max

"Chicken Soup for the Soul stories are written in the first person and have a beginning, middle and an end. The stories often close with a punch, creating emotion, rather than simply talking about it. Chicken Soup for the Soul stories have heart, but also something extra—an element that makes us all feel more hopeful, more connected, more thankful, more passionate and better about life in general. A good story causes tears, laughter, goose bumps or any combination of these.The most powerful stories are about people extending themselves, or performing an act of love, service or courage for another person."

Clockwork Phoenix

Genre: Speculative fiction.
Deadline: July 26, 2015
Reprints: No
Simultaneous submissions: No
Payment: $0.06 per word on return of counter-signed contract as an advance against royalties, then an evenly divided share of royalties after earnout, plus one print contributor copy and electronic copies in preferred formats.
Length: Stories should be no longer than 10,000 words; stories under 5,000 words preferred.

CLOCKWORK PHOENIX 5 is the next volume in the anthology series edited by Mike Allen, tentatively scheduled to be published by Mythic Delirium Books of January 2016. It is open to the full range of speculative and fantastic genres. “The stories should contain elements of the fantastic, be it science fiction, fantasy, horror or some combination thereof. A straight psychological horror story is unlikely to make the cut unless it’s truly scary and truly bizarre."

Genre: Any fiction
Deadline: July 31
Payment: $50
Reprints: Yes
Length: 5,000 words or less

Submit: Fiction stories about ghosts or haunted objects.

Gothic Blue Book

Genre: Dark fiction
Deadline: August 15
Payment: $25
Length: 3,500 words max

"Original Gothic Blue Books typically took place in either a monastery, convent or castle. In years past we have asked for short stories that take place in one of these locations, or a modern day location such as a morgue, haunted house or cemetery. This year, we have added new location recommendations – hotel, inn, or bed and breakfast. The haunted hotel has a long, complex history in the field of horror and we look forward to your entries."

Wicked Tales "Corner of the Eye

Genre: Dark fiction
Deadline: August 31
Payment: $0.01 per word (after editing) up to a maximum of $150.00.
Length: 3,000 to 20,000 words

"The life blood of an author, short stories can fuel the imagination with so few words. If you have a knack for horror, I invite you to try and scare us a little."

Futuristica Volume 1

Genre: Science fiction
Deadline: August 31
Payment: 6 cents per word against a pro rata share of royalties
Reprints: No
Simultaneous submissions: Yes
Length: 3,000 - 10,000 words

"Stories should explore science fiction, scientific fantasy, space opera, emerging technologies, etc. We prefer near future, near Earth settings. No high fantasy. No dragons or dinosaurs, unless they also have lasers."

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Calls for Submissions - June & July 2015: Sci-fi, Fantasy, Horror, Fiction, Poetry, Nonfiction

These nine publications are currently open to submissions in speculative fiction, horror, poetry, general fiction, and nonfiction. All are paying markets.

Before you submit, take a tour of their websites to see if your work will be a good fit.


Inaccurate Realities

Deadline: June 15, 2015
Payment: $15-$25
Reprints: Yes
Simultaneous submissions: Yes
Looking for: Diverse young adult stories for the theme "Hate" – science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, horror, dystopian, steampunk, cyberpunk, alternate history etc. Take the theme and do something unique and unexpected with it.


Deadline: June 23, 2015
Payment: $50 CAD
Reprints: No
Simultaneous submissions: Yes
Looking for: Original short stories in the genres of Horror, Dark Fantasy, and Speculative fiction.

Deadline: June 30, 2015
Payment: $15
Reprints: Yes
Simultaneous submissions: Yes
Looking for: Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror genres. They will consider other genres, such as humor or general interest, provided that the work possesses an original, "quirky" slant in the Northern Exposure, Ally McBeal vein.

Imaginate *New Market

Deadline: July 1, 2015
Payment: 5 cents a word
Reprints: No
Simultaneous submissions: Not indicated
Looking for: For the September 2015 edition, use the photo on homepage as your inspiration to write a short story, poem or nonfiction article. Chosen entries will be published in the September issue and winning authors will receive a byline and bio.

Lazy Fascist Review

Deadline: July 1, 2015
Payment: $75
Reprints: No
Simultaneous submissions: No
Looking for: This is the Lovecraftiana issue of Lazy Fascist Review. That means stories submitted should seek to explore some combination of Bizarro with the themes typically found in Mythos fiction.

Deadline: July 15, 2015
Payment: 8 cents a word
Reprints: Yes
Simultaneous submissions: No
Looking for: All types of science fiction and fantasy are welcome. No subject should be considered off-limits.
Note: Also receives nominations for BEST AMERICAN SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY

Deadline: July 15, 2015
Payment: $150 per story, $50 for flash fiction
Reprints: Yes
Simultaneous submissions: Yes
Looking for: Literary dark fiction, both short stories and flash fiction. 

Deadline: July 15, 2015
Payment: $30 per poem, $20 per page of prose (up to $200), and $100 per interview upon in print editions.
Reprints: Yes
Simultaneous submissions: Yes
Looking for: Narrative of any shape and kind, experimental forms of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, hybrid forms, research, lists, and charts too. Theme is "Climate Change." Climate change is one of the most significant issues of our time. How do we tell stories of it? How do its stories inform us? For Issue #4, send your best work in any form that explores the natural and built worlds here on Earth. Glaciers and cityscapes. Flora and fauna and concrete. From the pastoral all the way to Mega City One. Currently 9-12 month response time.

Deadline: July 31, 2015
Payment: Short stories (1,000+ words): $50; Flash fiction (1-999 words): $20; Poems (any length): $20; Non-fiction articles (any length): $50; Artwork: $60 or more. Send a thumbnail.
Reprints: No
Simultaneous submissions: Yes
Looking for: Speculative fiction.

Monday, June 8, 2015

How to Write a Synopsis

Whether you are submitting your book to an agent or directly to a publisher, a synopsis is an essential part of your submission packet.

Nobody likes writing synopses, in part because there is a natural desire on the part of writers to resist stripping their works of art down to the bare bones of plot points.

Writing a synopsis is also not particularly fun. If your strong suit is snappy dialogue or lyrical descriptions, you will be forced to leave all your little darlings behind.

The truth is you don't have to sacrifice creativity to write a synopsis. You can include descriptive adjectives and power verbs (avoid all forms of the verb "to be" and "to have" whenever possible). You can also include short dialogue if it is relevant to the plot.

How long is a synopsis?

Back in the day, synopses used to be quite long, roughly one page per every 25 pages of manuscript. (A 200-page book would have a synopsis of  8 pages.) But agents and editors are increasingly pressed for time, which means synopses have shrunk. The length now depends entirely on what the agent/editor requires.

It is a good idea to have several synopses on hand: a 3-5 paragraph synopsis (one page, or roughly 300 words), a 2-page synopsis, and a one-paragraph synopsis. Chances are the agent or house you are querying will ask for one of these.

Remember: A synopsis is a summary. It is designed to give an agent or editor a clear, concise idea of your story, not show your dexterity as a wordsmith.

Here are the basics for writing a synopsis

1) A synopsis must include all of your plot, including the ending. You can't end a synopsis with a cliffhanger or a question. "John dies" may seem like a spoiler, but that is exactly what an editor wants to know.

2) Be explicit. Details are important in a synopsis. A character should not experience "something unexpected." Say what that something is. For example,"The unexpected arrival of her father leaves Clarissa confused and angry." (It's important to include how your character feels. That provides a basis for motivation.)

3) Make sure your synopsis is structured. It must have a clear beginning, middle, and end, corresponding to the beginning, middle, and end of your book. The beginning introduces your characters, identifies the main conflict, and describes the setting. The middle outlines the main plot points. And the end resolves the conflict and tells us what happens to the characters.

4) Don't include too many twists and turns. It is not essential to include absolutely everything. If there are too many extraneous characters and subplots, it will be impossible to follow the story. Simplify wherever you can.

5) Make your synopsis stand out. If there is something unique about your story, make sure to give it the attention it deserves.

6) Write in present tense.

Before you start ...

It's a good idea to write a couple of synopses for books you did not write before you tackle your own. Like every other aspect of writing, synopsis writing is a skill, and all skills benefit from practice.

For a great list of synopsis examples, check out Writers DigestSynopsis Writing

Friday, June 5, 2015

2 New Agents Seeking Clients - Fantasy, Sci-fi, Nonfiction, Thrillers, YA and more

Updated 5/23/20

Here are two new agents looking to build their client lists. Moe Ferrara (BookEnds) is seeking science fiction, fantasy, and romance. Amanda Rutter (Azantian) is seeking fantasy, science fiction, and YA contemporary.

ALWAYS check the agency website before submitting. Agents may switch agencies or close their lists and submission requirements may change.

If these agents do not suit your needs, you can find a comprehensive list of new and established agents seeking clients here: Agents Seeking Clients.


Moe Ferrara of BookEnds Literary Agency


About Moe: "Becoming a literary agent was fitting for the girl who, as a small child, begged her dad to buy her a book simply because "it has a hard cover." Growing up, she had a hard time finding YA books outside of Christopher Pike and R. L. Stine, and instead tackled Tom Clancy or her mom's romance novels. Though her career path zigzagged a bit—she attended college as a music major, earned a JD from Pace Law School, then worked various jobs throughout the publishing industry—Moe was thrilled to join the BookEnds team in May of 2015 as a literary agent and the foreign rights manager."

What she is seeking: Moe is interested in science fiction and fantasy for all age groups (no picture books). She loves a bit (or a lot!) of romance in her fiction, so the right contemporary or historical romance will spark her interest. She's LGBTQ friendly, so send her that male/male erotic romance in your back pocket! At this time she's not looking for nonfiction, women's fiction, or cozy mysteries.

How to submit: To query Moe, please visit her QueryManager page at: http://queryme.online/mferrara


Amanda Rutter of Azantian Literary


About Amanda: Amanda started work in publishing with Strange Chemistry, the YA imprint of Angry Robot. After moving on from this role, she began a freelance editor/proofreader career with such companies as Wise Ink Publishing, Cornerstones Literary Agency, Aconyte Books, Black Library, and Titan Books. She was also a literary agent with Red Sofa Literary Agency, representing YA and adult science fiction and fantasy. Amanda is keen to find timeless stories in SFF, with lush writing and memorable characters.

What she is seeking: Amanda is looking for adult, YA and MG fantasy and science fiction. She is particularly keen to find hopeful science fiction, political fantasy and fresh takes on familiar tropes. Stories that definitely agree with her include: enemy to friend dynamics, women in STEM environments, antagonists with realistic motivations, and characters that overcome challenges in surprising ways. Stories that don't appeal include steampunk and zombie fiction! She would like to see witty dialogue, strong world building, and tales about characters from diverse backgrounds that don't concentrate on issues, but explore all facets of life.

How to submit: Use her submission form HERE.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

12 Free Press Release Sites for Authors

NY Times newsroom, 1942
Updated 1/18/23

Your book is about to be released, but how do you get the news out to the media? The first thing you need to do is to write an engaging press release.

A press release is a news story. It is written in third person, has a catchy title and intro, an engaging discussion of the book's topic, and contains at least one quote. The thing to remember is that a press release is a story. What the book is about, why it is significant, and how it came to be written are all important components of a press release.

There are many templates for press releases online. (Type "press release book release" into a search.) Read the releases that have been distributed by publishing houses as well as the templates. (For example, search "Hachette press release.")

After you have honed your press release, the next step is to send it to media outlets via press release distributors. (Be sure to remember your local paper. Local authors are celebrities!) Don't wait until the last minute. If your local paper, for example, would like to include a photo, or get some quotes, you will need to give them sufficient advance notice - at least a couple of weeks.

Most press release services charge a fee - sometimes a hefty one - for distribution to the thousands of media channels that exist in print, on air, and on the net. But there are a few that are free, and some only charge a nominal fee. Depending on where you want your press release to be distributed, you don't have to spend a fortune.

Below are 13 press release services that don't charge a fee and which include an "arts and entertainment" category. Most of these also include paid services for broader distribution. It is worth the time to compare what each service offers in terms of paid and free distribution. Not only will a comparison give you an idea of how broadly your release can be distributed, it will let you know exactly where the press release will go.

Recommended reading. (This is a great article comparing the effectiveness of different press release services.)

60 Free Press Release Sites Tested – A Detailed Review

* An asterisk means registration is required.

Free Services

PR Log   * Free press release distribution service
3 PR.com   *
Press Box (UK) *
Newswire * Free and paid services.
Open PR * German site
Free Press Release Center * European site
UK Prwire * UK and global news
PR Urgent *
12 PRZoom *

Paid services

PR Underground Offers syndication to 100+ News Sites. 
Newswire * The paid service has a wide reach. Not cheap.
Pressat UK based, quite comprehensive. Plans start at £110
E-releases * Plans range from $399-$699. More pricey plans guarantee distribution to hundreds of news outlets.
PR Fire *UK only. Plans range from £95 to £290
ClickPress Plans range from £100 to £200. Free for charities.
Cision/PR Newswire Popular PR service

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