Thursday, September 30, 2010

Building a Platform for Your Writing Career

Song of the Day: Billionaire by Travis McCoy feat. Bruno Mars

    Hello all! I usually post about Literary Magazines today, but I think I'll move it to tomorrow because I was inspired by a recent blog post on the Writer's Digest website. Today's post is inspired by Jane Friedman's post, Fiction Writers Need Platforms, Too. It's about how fiction writers should be building platforms for their writing careers. Friedman says,

    "what separates successful writers from NOT-successful writers (no matter what the genre), is platform, or visibility to a readership. If a novelist is unable or unwilling to develop a platform for his writing career, he will find that his books don't sell and the publishers lose interest fast. A novelist should never rely on the publisher to make his book sell."
     I couldn't agree with this more. The more you promote your name as a writer, the better off you are. People will know who you are, and will be more inclined to pick up your material. Friedman lists ways that writers should start targeting their audience to develop their platform. According to Friedman, "these are all discussed in the book, Get Known Before the Book Deal by Christina Katz, which has a special chapter on fiction-writing platforms."

The following approaches are from Jane Friedman's Post:

Look at how and where you write. How have you developed your fiction-writing chops? Through critique groups? Online workshops? Creative writing programs? Lounging at Starbucks? Whatever writing community you participate in, that leads to a part of your platform. For example, if you are a graduate of an MFA program, that makes you part of the MFA community, and gives you a way to build visibility with that community. If you are an expert critiquer in online workshop settings, and word spreads about you, then you're building a platform. Think about your interactions with other writers and how you network. These can provide the seeds."

"Community/regional presence. Also think about your interactions within your community or region, which may or may not be connected to writing. Can you establish programs relating to reading, writing, or the themes in your work?"
"Special relationships. Maybe you were mentored or coached by a notable writer or someone in the community. Or you have connections with people in the media (whether family or friends or colleagues), or with other influencers and tastemakers. Who do you think will be willing to help you? And how can you offer something in return?"

"Look to your work. What themes, topics, or things are explored in your work? It's likely you will return to the same themes or topics throughout your writing career. Becoming known as someone who explores certain themes or topics in life can make you interesting and visible to particular audiences. And that's what platform-building is all about: Knowing what audiences will be most interested in your work, and always thinking about how you can be more visible to them, and reach out to them in meaningful."

I've also added some of my own thoughts. I think social media is a huge part of building platform.

Twitter: I know it's crazy, but it's true. I was definitely the leader of the anti-twitter revolution, until my friends Pam and Marquita encouraged me to stop fighting that war. They told me that it's great for writing careers. You can follow author and other writers, publishers, agents, etc. It helps you make connections and stay on the "up and up" with information in the literary world.

Blogging: Not only do I love blogging, but it also helps me get connected with other writers. In addition to that, it's a learning experience. There are some great blogs out there with information on techniques and resources for writers.

Here is the link to Jane Friedman's Post:

What about you? Are you starting to build platform for your writing career? In what ways?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Opportunities in the Great Big Literary World

Song of the Day: Dreams by Brandi Carlile
  Hello All! I usually post opportunities on Monday, but yesterday got a little crazy. I’ve decided to attempt to find jobs as well (We’ll see how that goes). I’ll start posting jobs next week. In the meantime, here’s what I dug up this week.


1. Writer’s Digest “Your Story” Competition

Writer’s Digest provides an open-ended prompt and participants submit a story of 750 words or less based on the given prompt. Writer’s Digest Editors will choose the top 5 and post to the Writer’s Forum. Members of the Writer’s Forum will then vote for their favorite story. The winning entry will be published in a future issue of Writer’s Digest. The contest closes on October 10, 2010. For the writing prompt and official rules, click the link below.


1. Florida Literary Arts Coalition’s Other Words Conference:

The conference takes place at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida from November 4-6, 2010. According to the Website:

“The theme of this year’s conference is “Writing about Something.” This general framework suggests that panels should have themes such as writing about art, writing about place, writing about baseball, writing about physics, etc. This will allow participants who want to include readings of their poetry, fiction, or nonfiction in their presentation to do so as long as it follows the thematic guidelines. There will also the more pragmatic, nuts and bolts panels about publishing, submitting work, agents, editors, small presses, teaching creative writing, collaboration, and others.”

The conference will also feature creative writing workshops. If you’re a member of Florida Literary Arts Coalition, the cost of the conference is $50 ($80 for non-members). If you’re a member and a student the cost is $0 (wowzer!) and $25 for students who aren’t members. For more information visit the link below.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Literary Magazine Limelight- LITnIMAGE

Song of the Day: Distant Dreamer by Duffy


Who they are: An online literary magazine featuring very short fiction as well as images.

What they are looking for: Here is what was posted on the site:

  “ LIT: Short for literature. But in our case, we’re really talking only fiction, and very short
    fiction at that. Our tastes in lit cover forms, themes and subjects from all over the proverbial
    map, as it really boils down to one thing in the end: Is it a great story or not? At LITnIMAGE we’re  
    partial to ones that are. So visit us frequently to discover some of the best in contemporary fiction by 
    established and emerging writers alike.

    LITnIMAGE features art in the here and now. We like art that's edgy, that has yet to be labeled or  
    attributed to a movement. We embrace thought-provoking work that causes viewers to broaden the way
    they see and feel. We enjoy work that guides and challenges our ideals. Content is significant;
    aesthetics  follows its lead. LITnIMAGE recognizes not only the skill and creativity of artists, but the 
    time and hardships they undertake to wake their audience. We're proud to spotlight the results of their

Response Time: Four to Six Weeks (often sooner)

Simultaneous Submissions? Yes, but please notify the magazine immediately

To read one of their issues or to get more information, visit the link below.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Differences Between Genres

Song of the Day: So Good by Destiny’s Child

    Does anyone else out there also get confused about genres sometimes? I know there’s a lot of cross genre writing happening but sometimes I feel like I don’t truly know the definition of some genres. The October 2010 issue of Writer’s Digest focuses on publishing. In an article revealing agents who are looking for new writers I came across a section defining the genres of the writing world. I thought it was very helpful, and I figured I’d pass it along.

The following definitions were provided by the October 2010 issue of Writer’s Digest:

Defining Genres:

High Fantasy: Fantasy set in other worlds involving some—or all—non-human characters and creatures, such as dwarves and dragons.

Literary Fiction: Fiction that doesn’t fall into any of the popular, or commercial, fiction genres (such as thriller, romance, horror, etc.). Literary Fiction is often driven by character and voice rather than plot.

Middle Grade: Fiction for readers 8-11 years old, with themes that tend to avoid hot-button topics such as sex and drugs.

Narrative Nonfiction: A true story told using the tools of fiction, including character arcs, three-act structures and cliff hangers.

Steampunk: A form of alternate-history storytelling in which a historical setting, usually Victorian England, features advanced technology powered by steam.

Up-market Fiction: A term traditionally used to describe women’s or literary fiction that has the power to cross over to book clubs with mainstream appeal.

Urban Fantasy: A story with unnatural (usually paranormal) elements that is set in an Earth-based reality rather than a far-off world. Most vampire fiction falls into this category.

Women’s Fiction: In the words of Scott Eagan: “These are not simply stories with female characters, but stories that tell us the female journey. Women’s fiction is a way for women to learn and grow and to relate to others what it is to be a woman.”

Young Adult (YA): Fiction for readers 12-15 years old, usually featuring high-school aged protagonists.

     This clears things up a bit, at least for me. I write mostly literary fiction, and it makes sense. My work tends to focus more on the character, rather than the plot. Until I read this article, I had never heard of steampunk, and it's the only genre I'm still not sure about! Hope this gave some of you some insight.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Opportunities in the Great Big Literary World

Song of the Day: I Believe by Fantasia Barrino

Hello all! As writers, we often do not get compensated appropriately for our efforts. Plus, the current state of the economy isn’t helping much either. So, I thought it would be helpful if I tracked down some contests you can enter for less than $10. Take a look at what I found.

1. Southwest Review- Morton Marr Poetry Prize

   Open to writers who have not yet published a first book of poetry. Submit no more than six, previously unpublished poems in a "traditional" form (e.g. sonnet, sestina, villanelle, rhymed stanzas, blank verse, etc.). The entry fee is $5 per poem. Contest deadline is September 30, 2010. Visit the link below for official contest rules.

2. Georgetown Review 2011 Literary Prize

One poem, story, or essay will receive $1,000 prize and publication in the Georgetown Review. Runners-up will also receive publication (they published 16 contest pieces from last year’s competition). All styles and genres are accepted. Entry Fee is $10 and the contest closes October 1, 2010. Follow the link below for official rules and guidelines.

3. The Mid-American Review Sherwood Anderson Fiction Award and The 
    James Wright Poetry Award

    The contest is open to all writers and only accepts unpublished work. Publication and a prize of $1000 will be awarded to one story and one poem. All participants will receive a copy of the Mid-American Review, where the winners will be published. The entry fee is $10 and the contest closes on October 1, 2010. Click the link below for official guidelines and details.

Good Luck and Happy Writing!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Opportunities in the Great Big Literary World- I'm Baaaaccckkkk!

Song of the Day: Dream Big by Jazmine Sullivan 

      Guess who's back?! Sorry all but I had to take a momentary leave of absence. I'm currently working on a few big projects, and I really needed to take a break from blogging, because, well, something had to give. I was also away at my LAST residency this past August! Despite all the drama and the realization that I must write 25,000 words by spring, I am well on my way to graduating with my MFA from Fairleigh Dickinson University next fall. Pray for me. You might be curious about the big projects I'm working on. The first project is my novel. Yes, I've really started it, and yes, I've finally got a concept that I 'm committed to. The beginning (the first 25,000 words to be exact) will be part of my creative thesis. I have the first two chapters so far, though the second chapter needs some work (judging from some of the very constructive comments of my peers at FDU). The second project I'm working on is my literary magazine! That's right, I'm starting a literary magazine with a few good friends of mine. It will be called The Black Fox Literary Magazine. There are just a few more things that need to be smoothed over. As soon as they are, there will be more information. So, that's my update, now on to the good stuff. Here are some new writing ventures! Good Luck!

1. American Literary Review- 2010 Literary Awards

   The literary magazine is offering three prizes of $1000 each to one short story, one poem, and one essay. The winners will also be published in the Spring 2011 issue of the American Literary Review. There is a $15 entry fee (which I think  includes a subscription, though this isn't very clear). The contest closes on October 1, 2010. See the website for the official rules and details.

2. The Boston Review- Aura Estrada Short Story Contest

    The Boston Review is offering one prize of $1,500 and publication in the Boston Review's Summer 2011 issue to the best short story. Stories shouldn't be more than 4,000 words and must be previously unpublished. The entry fee is $20 and the contest deadline is October 1, 2010. Entrants will receive a subscription to the Boston Review beginning with the Summer 2011 issue. See the Boston Review's website for official rules and details.

3. The Chariton Review Short Fiction Prize

    The Chariton Review's annual short fiction prize is offered to one short story. The author will receive $1,000 and publication in the Spring issue of the The Chariton Review. Three finalists will also be published in the Spring issue. All entrants will receive a copy of the spring issue. The deadline for the contest is September 30, 2010. See the link below for official contest rules and details.

There you have it, now get a move on! Happy Writing!