Tuesday, 26 January 2010

100 Stories for Haiti - extended deadline

We have well over 300 submissions — THANK YOU! But we’d like more … Extended deadline: WEDNESDAY, JANUARY, 27, 2010!

By the end of Wednesday, no matter where you are on planet Earth, please cut and paste a story, maximum 1000 words, into the body of an email. More details to be found by using this link: 100 stories for Haiti or by clicking on the image on the right.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Two more Amazon Vine reviews

It seems that the Amazon Vine reviewers (so far, at least) approve of The Writer's ABC Checklist. We've had another two good reviews - and in both cases it's clear they've looked at it from the point of view of how it can help writers.

The first is from an Amazon Vine reviewer called Sarah McCartney:

Lorraine and Maureen are my new heroes. Sometimes, all you need to be inspired is some practical, factual advice. There are hundreds of books about writing and I already own half a shelf full of them. What more was there to say? It turns out that 242 pages' worth just about sums it all up. This is a book for people who already write and just need a kick in the pants to turn them into professionals, and for professionals to keep them up to speed. It gives you essential information on everything from how to format your writing, to checking your work for libellous statements, with the best short piece on punctuation I've read in my whole half-shelfful. The best thing is that it doesn't miss out all the secrets that published writers normally keep to themselves because they're a bit scared of the competition.

It also serves to put off the dreamers. A long time ago I played the sax semi-professionally. Loads of people would come up to chat and tell me they wished they played the sax too. "I'll teach you," I'd say, and then their eyes would glaze over and they'd wander off. They were in love with the idea of being a sax player; the idea of learning for a couple of years didn't have the same appeal. With writing, most of us already pretty proficient at getting words on a page, or a screen, but there's the same mystique about how wonderful it would be to be a writer. There are romantics who dream of having a writer's lifestyle, as seen in style magazines, but don't really want to learn where to stick an apostrophe.

If you're not afraid of putting in a bit of effort to turn your work into a professional piece that you'd be proud to post off to publishers, get this book now. If you've had a few rejections and want to improve your chances, add it to your basket and head to the check-out. If you'd rather dream about it, read your poems to your admiring friends, restrict your short stories to uncritical girlfriends, start another couple of novels but ever finish them, you'll find The Writer's abc Checklist disappointingly practical. Which is fine, because the rest of us don't want your work cluttering up publishers' inboxes.

I'll be recommending it to all my writer chums and every student who writes to me asking how to get started.

And this one is by an Amazon Vine reviewer called E. Chittenden:

It's going to be hard to review a book that gives you advice on achieving something that is often judged by other parties. Without having "used" the book, only having read it, I can say it's an excellently presented book. I sincerely hope that I get to use the advice given in the book as it might make my life a little easier if I plan on becoming a successful author (here's wishing!).

The book is really well presented giving lots of cross referencing and different names for essentially the same thing. I think the authors certainly practice what they preach in terms of advice, which is always a good thing. The book covers the positive and negative aspects of a career in writing in a really proactive manner, which is nice. Instead of books saying "you'll get rejected" and not offering positive advice, suggesting not to give up is a really good thing. It's never nice reading the negative side of publishing without encouraging you to keep going.

With many different topics covered I can see that it will become a very useful tool whilst starting out on my path to a career in writing. I would certainly recommend this book to someone looking to start a career in writing, it gives lots of helpful advice and information.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Another five-star review

The Writer’s ABC Checklist has received a five-star review from an Amazon Vine reviewer. I’ve copied it below, exactly as it appears on the Amazon site.

This great little book is of invaluable use to those who are in or are entering the world of publishing work. The title is very apt, as it says exactly what this book is. It isn't a quide on how to write, though it does contain sections on vocabulary and writing to a target audience, etc. With advice about copyright and submitting work there is loads of practical advice amongst the pages of this book.

This is a great little reference work as it is written in an easy to use index format and contains useful addresses, what to do if your work is accepted, and if it isn't, when to admit work for magazines and newspapers and where to seek an agent or getting help on signing contracts. If you want to get something published then you can't go wrong with this. There are things covered here that you probably haven't even considered and it is all written in a very easy to understand style.

All in all this is a must have for those interested in submitting work for publication.

I had no idea such a programme was in existence. This is what it says on the Amazon website: Amazon Vine™ is a programme that enables a select group of Amazon customers to post opinions about new and pre-release items to help their fellow customers make educated purchase decisions. Customers are invited to become Vine Voices based on the trust they have earned in the Amazon community for writing accurate and insightful reviews. Amazon provides Vine members with free copies of products that have been submitted to the programme by publishers or manufacturers. Amazon does not influence the opinions of Vine members.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

100 Stories for Haiti

The following has been copied from the 100 Stories for Haiti post put up by Greg McQueen (whose brilliant idea this is). If you have a story to donate (or expertise in the editing world and you'd like to help out) please use the contact email address below.

It’s simple …

You have until MONDAY, JANUARY 25th, 2010 (MIDNIGHT, CENTRAL EUROPEAN TIME) to submit a short story.


Please use your common sense! The work must be yours. Please don’t waste time by sending stories you don’t own.

No stories with graphic violence, or mass death and destruction. We want stories we a lot of HEART, a dash of COMPASSION, and unmeasurable amounts of HOPE.

The editorial team will choose 100 stories from the submissions for inclusion in the ebook.



Cut & Paste your story into the body of the email. Write “SUBMISSION” in the subject line of the email. Include YOUR FULL CONTACT DETAILS — treat this the same way as submitting to any magazine or publication.

SEND STORIES TO: 100storiesforhaiti@gmail.com

And that's it! Please help us to help the people of Haiti. For more information on this project, visit this site: 100 Stories for Haiti

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Writing Competition Listings

If you’re looking for some great sites which list writing competitions, then the websites below should be comp heaven for you. All three are updated on a regular basis and cover both prose and poetry.

JBWB Competition Page

Prize Magic

Sally Quilford's Competition Calendar

Friday, 15 January 2010

Do you have a writing-related question?

Is there a writing-related question that you'd like answered in a future issue of Words with JAM? If yes, drop me a line at: lorraine@quinnpublications.co.uk and your letter could be one of those featured in the e-zine.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Using the radio to promote your book

I recently wrote a guest post for Daily Writing Tips. The post shows how to use local and online radio to boost awareness of your book. You can read the post here.

Editorial Calendars - final part

Read the Magazines
You cannot get sufficient information from the editorial calendar and media pack to successfully pitch an idea. You still need to read back copies and/or articles on the magazine’s website to get a full picture of what the editor is looking for in terms of content and style.

You should also request contributors’ guidelines. But, with the additional information provided in the calendar and media pack, you stand a much better chance of having your idea accepted because you will be able to aim at particular issues, knowing the editor is actively looking for content on a particular theme.

Trading Places
There are literally thousands of trade publications which don’t appear on the shelves of the local newsagent or bookstore. These magazines are sold by subscription only to people with an interest in the topic, or are given free to members of an industry or organisation. Their individual subject matter is almost as wide and varied as entries in a dictionary, but they all have one thing in common – the editors need content for the magazines.

If you have some expertise, or can gain the necessary knowledge on the subject, studying the editorial calendars could provide openings for you. To find trade magazines, search online using the ‘“Editorial Calendar” plus topic’ approach outlined above. There are plenty of trade publications crying out for good storylines which fit their calendar.

Think Laterally
Even though you will be ahead of the game by pitching features with an issue in mind, you still need to come up with ideas that are fresh and new. One of the drawbacks of the editorial calendar being there for the benefit of advertisers is that often the same themes reappear year after year in order to keep advertising revenue.

This means that the same old ideas keep doing the rounds. To succeed, and make the editor want to use your work again and again, you need to come up with unusual ways of dealing with tired topics.

Some thoughts to get you started:
  • All year round – a theme you can split into the four seasons, or turn seasons upside down. Skiing resorts in summer or coastal resorts offering winter attractions
  • How-to – do almost anything. Find the theme that suits you in the calendar and offer a how-to article
  • Make the national into a local event. If something nationwide is happening, offer a feature on how that impacts in your locale
  • Food, travel, family, hobbies – all of these have been written about so many times, it’s hard to find new ways to tackle them, but all are perennial topics on editorial calendars. Why not mix and match? Fitting a family holiday around a hobby; travelling to sample the most unusual foods a region has to offer; recipes for families too preoccupied with their hobbies to come to the table

Success Breeds Success
Once you’ve been successful with a magazine, go back to the calendar again and again. Editors like working with writers they know will provide good material, keep to deadlines, and come up with unusual ways of dealing with the perennial topics. Use the calendar to make the breakthrough and, possibly, forge a long-term relationship with the editor.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Making the Pitch with Editorial Calendars

Following on from yesterday's post on how to find editorial calendars, here's some advice on how to make use of them.

Which magazine should you pitch to?
The short answer to that is as many as possible. By working with several editorial calendars simultaneously you should be able to plan your year so that you are pitching ideas every month. Let’s say you have researched a subject for magazine A, knowing that magazine B is going to have a similar theme a month or two later means you can use your research twice. But do make sure the two articles tackle the subject from differing angles.

Articles that you have already had published can be reworked to suit new markets. For example, if you’d had an article published on celebrating St Patrick’s Day in New York’s Irish pubs, you might find two or three magazines that intend to use St Patrick’s Day as the theme for their March issues.

Clearly you cannot submit the previously published article, but you could use the information from it to make two new pieces. One could be on how and why Irish pubs have appeared all over the world, from PĂ©rigueux in France, to Cape Town in South Africa (both places do, in fact, have Irish pubs). The other could be on Irish traditions and how important they are to the expatriate Irish.

• Editorial calendars will tell you which magazines to approach with the ideas and which month’s (or week’s) issues to target

• Other information in the media pack will assist you in deciding how to deal with the topic

Finding New Markets
Searching for editorial calendars online can lead to many new markets. If you type ‘Editorial Calendars’ into a search engine, literally thousands of pages come up. Of course, most of these will not be of any use to the average freelance writer, but if you refine your search to include your particular areas of expertise and/or interests, then the search becomes much more interesting.

I write, amongst other things, travel features. Using Yahoo’s search engine and putting in ‘Editorial Calendar’ returned a total of 1,470,000 pages. When I refined the search by using quote marks “Editorial Calendar” and adding ‘travel’ (outside the quote marks) this brought the number down to 2,510 –much more accessible.

But I decided to refine the search still more by adding countries that I feel confident I can write about. ‘“Editorial Calendar” travel France’ produced 341 pages, substituting ‘Spain’ 248, ‘South Africa’ 91 and ‘Canada’ 491. From this list I may only find four or five calendars I can use, but the initial research took less than fifteen minutes and I found magazines I hadn’t known existed.

More advice on how to make the most of editorial calendars will appear tomorrow.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Editorial Calendars - a writer's aid

Do you know how to find out what editors from hundreds of publications will want throughout the year? Think of the forward planning you could do. Just imagine targeting several magazines, knowing the subject matter is exactly what each editor has in mind for a particular month. That information is available in an editorial calendar.

What is an editorial calendar?
It is a schedule of the topics a magazine plans to feature during the year. Its primary function is to alert advertisers of product placement opportunities. For example, if a magazine’s theme in June is swimwear, you can guess how interesting that knowledge would be to swimwear manufacturers. It should also be of interest to freelance writers because of the opportunity to pitch ideas on similar topics, such as:

• Changes in swimwear styles since the war

• The history and use of bathing boxes for reasons of modesty

• Styles for lifestyles – modern swimwear for: pregnancy, post-mastectomy, beauty pageant wear, suits for serious swimmers

The possibilities are endless and, the best of it is, you’ll know the editor will be looking for swimwear-related features for June’s issue.

Other valuable information you can garner from the calendar is which countries will feature and when. If, for example, you find out in January that the August issue of a general interest magazine will focus on Spain as their travel destination, this gives you plenty of thinking time.

You may never have been to Spain, and so cannot supply a travel feature in the conventional sense, but there is nothing to stop you from researching and suggesting a piece on ‘20 little-known facts about Spain’, or ‘Essential Spanish Phrases for the Travelling Family’.

The public library and the Internet will supply the information, all you need to do is study the editorial calendar and come up with something which fits both the magazine’s style and the theme for the month in question.

Where and how can you get the calendar?
Many magazines have their editorial calendar accessible on their websites, often in the media kit available to advertisers. If this isn’t the case, write to (or email) the advertising department and ask for a copy.

If possible, download the full media pack as this contains lots of other information of value to the freelance writer, such as: Circulation, gender split, readership age group, lifestyle trends, economic situation of average reader, the magazine’s ethos and many other facts which will enable you to target your feature to the magazine’s core readership, thus giving you a better chance of success with the editor.

One final, but vital, aspect of the media pack and editorial calendar is that they often give the lead time required. Some give editorial and advertising deadlines, but others only have the advertising dates.

In the case of the latter, work on the assumption that the editorial deadline will be at least two weeks, and possibly a month, ahead of the advertising deadline. This is the date by which the finished article must be with the editor; obviously you will need to allocate sufficient time for the query to be accepted, the commission given, and the piece written, when you plan ahead in this way.

Tomorrow I'll give some ideas on how to use the editorial calendars - and also how to find new markets.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Flash 500 Competition

Flash 500 Competition is a new quarterly open-themed flash fiction competition. Judged by Simon Whaley, it has a closing date of 31st March 2010. Entries of up to 500 words.

Entry fee: £5 for one story, £8 for two stories

Prizes will be awarded as follows:
First: £250 plus publication in Words with JAM
Second: £100
Third: £50
Highly commended: A copy of The Writers ABC Checklist

The three winning entries will be published on the competition website -- for more details: Flash 500 Competition