Thursday, February 19, 2009

Free Fiction Market Listings

You've probably heard that old saying, "Why pay what you can get for free?"

Good question!

As a writer, one of the biggest challenges you'll probably face is knowing where to send your manuscripts. After all, that's the whole idea isn't? You want to get paid for your writing! When I first started as a writer (Yikes! Has is really been twenty years?), I would go the library, locate a copy (hopefully a current copy) of The Writer's Market, and try to find a market that accepted short stories. The process was time-consuming, frustrating, and irritating. Because of the transient nature of publishing, generally, the current Writer's Market was out of date before it even hit the bookstores! But now we have the Internet. The Writer's Market is still out there, but I have found much better places for market listings. The best part is, these websites offer FREE information! Here is a list of some of my very favorite sources for market listings:

  • Ralan's Webstravaganza - this website offers markets for fantasy, horror, and science fiction writers. The markets are broken down by rates (semi-pro and pro rates paying at least $.03 per word and paying markets being anything less). There are also links to book publishers and anthology markets. This is one of the best sources on the web.
  • The Write Market - aka the mother lode. Seriously, this site has it all - fiction and non-fiction markets, how-to information, even greeting card markets.
  • Writers' Write - sometimes, genre markets get all the press, but at Writer's Write, there are listings for juvenile, literary, and young adult markets as well.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What Not to Write

Coming up with a fresh, new idea for a story is always a challenge. In fact, many writers (myself included) would argue that there are essentially seven basic plots and that every bit of literature from Homer's Iliad to The Dark Knight make use of these archtypes. This doesn't mean that you should give up on the idea of creating something fresh and new, however. It just means that your plot might not be as unique as you thought it was.

The editors at Strange Horizons Fiction have seen their share of overused plots. In fact, they've compiled two lists of these plots for would-be contributers to their e-zine. The first is 'Stories We've Seen too Often' and the second is 'Horror Stories We've Seen too Often'. Both of these lists are an excellent resource and offer a glimpse into the editor's point of view (sometimes a very ellusive thing.)

The point is that if the editors are telling you what they don't want to see, then trust their instincts, not yours. Relying on the hackneyed, the over-used, or the cliched will not help you get published.

Now, if you're out of ideas and feel that your creativity needs a boost, you can visit the Plot Scenario Generator. Maybe a little randomness is just what your story needs!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The HDIGIP Quiz (or How Do I Get It Published?)

How do I get it published?

Great question!

I could blather on for months about important question; however, I'll instead direct you to the HDIGIP quiz. Although the quiz is intended for writers of children's books, any writer with a manuscript would do well to take it. The advice offered is sound and the quiz itself is just a lot of fun to take.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The 'Forever' Stamp is a Writer's BFF

U.S. Postal rates are about to go up. Again. According to the United States Post Office, on May 11, a first class stamp will cost you $ .04.

So what does this mean for writers?

Well, if that SASE you've included in a recent query or submission letter was stamped with a 42 cent stamp, your response might be slow in coming. Or, possibly, it might not come at all. According to the US Postal Service, letters marked 'insufficient postage' are sent to the return address on the envelop. However, if there is no return address, or if you are unable to pay the postal carrier the missing postage, your SASE will be forever gone.

Just think - that acceptance letter you've been dreaming of might never make it to you!

That's why the Forever stamp is the writer's BFF. Currently, I have about three snail-mail queries that include SASE's. But I can be assured that those replies will be returned to me, even though a price increase is imminent.

I would love to see a day in which every publisher and agent accepts e-mail submissions and queries, but until that day comes, invest in a book of 'Forever' stamps!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Why Do You Want to Be a Writer?

Think this isn't an important question? Well, think again!

Some people envision writing as an easy path to fame and fortune. "Look out Jane Austin and J.K. Rowling! Make way for (insert name here)."

Others want to make a living doing what they love. "I love to write. I write all the time. Wouldn't it be great to get paid to do something I'm doing already for free?"

Then there are those who feel that they don't have anything else to do. "I lost my job; what else am I going to do but write?" Or... "I'm graduating from high school in four months, I need to find a way to make a living." Or... "My kids are grown up, and I need a hobby. Writing seems like a good idea."

Understanding why you want to become a writer (and, possibly, an author) is an important first step because your motivation will impact your goals, your habits and your outlook.