Archives For Publishing

Polish Your Prose: An Editorial Cheat Sheet

A guest post by literary agent Nephele Tempest.

No matter your resolutions for the year, regardless where you stand with your current writing project, the time will come when you need to edit. I don’t mean rework your plot, heighten dramatic tension, or beef up your protagonist’s motivations. Rather I’m referring to that nitty gritty editorial process of looking at your work word by word, sentence by sentence, and examining the language you’ve used. Do your descriptions dance on the page? Have any clichés snuck into the mix? If you had to read aloud in front of an audience, would you find yourself running out of breath?

Sentence-level editing involves more than checking for missing words or making sure your Find-and-Replace changed a character’s name all the way through your manuscript. This is your chance to shape up your prose and show your skills, not just as a storyteller but as a wordsmith. But a manuscript can be a fairly long document, and sometimes it’s hard to remember everything you want to check as you work your way through from first page to last.

Here’s a handy cheat sheet of things you might want to keep in mind while editing:

  1. Cut your adverbs and make your verbs stronger.
  2. Rework any clichés.
  3. Eliminate filler words and phrases, such as “currently”, “that”, and “in order to.”
  4. Refer to people as “who” not “that.”
  5. Cut repetitious words and/or phrases.
  6. Divide long, hard-to-read sentences into two or more shorter sentences.
  7. Fix any inadvertent double negatives in long, complex sentences.
  8. Hyphenate modifying words.
  9. Minimize use of “very” and “really.”
  10. Beware of overusing passive voice/passive verb structures (is/was/-ing verbs).
  11. Double check the definitions of any words you’re not 100% sure you know.
  12. Determine and weed out any words, actions, or punctuation that you personally overuse as filler, such as characters smiling or taking deep breaths, ellipses in the middle or end of dialogue, exclamation points, etc.
  13. Replace general words with specific ones, such as “thing(s)” or “stuff.”
  14. Cut unnecessary chit-chat from dialogue; limit conversations to substance that moves your story forward.
  15. Limit distinctive dialogue quirks or movements to a single character; don’t give “signature” details to more than one person unless there’s a reason (child emulating a parent or older sibling, etc.).

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Writers – Have You Considered Sending Your Work Overseas?

In this guest post Tania Hershman, co-author of Writing Short Stories: A Writers’ and Artists’ Companion, explains why writers should look beyond their own backyards when considering where to submit their work.

I set up ShortStops in November 2013 because the short story has a bit of an image problem around here, here being the UK & Ireland. The thing is, there is so much fantastic short story activity – but the other thing is, no-one knows about it. There was no one place where we could all jump up and down and celebrate! I was hoping someone else might do this first (since I should really be focussing on my own writing, sigh) but seemed as though it wasn’t going to happen and so ShortStops was born.

It emerged from a list I’d been keeping for several years on my blog of literary magazines in the UK & Ireland that publish short stories. I started the list just for me and it has grown and grown and generated so much interest, I thought it deserved a site of its own, where each lit mag has its own page and can publish blog posts with calls for submissions, announcements of new issues etc… The second exciting strand is the live lit events, which for me are injecting new life into short stories – writers or actors reading, audiences loving being read to! So we have listings of those events too, each has its own page and organisers put up news on the blog. As well as these two, there is an ever-growing list of UK & Irish short story collection authors, and I hope to be adding info on publishers, writing workshops and more.

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By Zoë Sadokierski
Lecturer, School of Design at University of Technology, Sydney

How publishing works: a book designer's perspective - Image by Zoe Sadokierski

Publishing is the process of getting the author’s story out of her or his head and into the hands of a reader. Zoe Sadokierski

Authors don’t write books, they write manuscripts. Publishing is the process of getting an author’s manuscript into the hands of a reader, by materialising it – giving it form, as a book. This may be printed (a codex) or digital (an ebook).

I produced the illustrations in this post for a Sydney Writers Festival talk in 2012. All publishing houses have different protocols and cultures; this overview is based on my experience as an in-house book designer at Allen&Unwin (2003-2006), and as a freelance designer for a range of Australian publishers over the past decade.

How publishing works a book designers perspective - Image 2 - Zoe Sadokierski

The author enters a publishing house with a manuscript. Zoe Sadokierski

The author’s manuscript is either solicited (the publisher asks them to write it) or unsolicited (the author writes it, then shops for a publisher). Being rejected is awful and publishing contracts are complicated, so many authors employ an agent to negotiate a deal with a publisher.

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12 Literary Magazines for New & Unpublished Writers

Providing news and helpful information for emerging writers was one of the major motivations for starting the Aerogramme Writers’ Studio website. One of the most popular articles we’ve posted to date has been 9 Literary Magazines for New and Unpublished Writers. So, by popular demand, here are 12 more publication opportunities for writers at the start of their careers to consider.

If you haven’t submitted your work for publication before, or if you would just like some tips from the experts, be sure to read How to Submit Your Writing to Literary Magazines, a great article with lots of useful advice from the editors of Neon Literary Magazine.

1. Sixpenny
is a new digital magazine of illustrated short stories. Each issue has six stories that take six minutes to read: three by widely published authors, and three by unpublished authors. Each writer is paid $100 for their work. The editors are seeking literary fiction that ‘keeps a reader engaged and excited from the first word to the last.’

2. The Wrong Quarterly
is a London-based literary magazine showcasing prose from both British and international writers. Its aim is to provide an inclusive platform for emerging writers worldwide. The Wrong Quarterly accepts fiction up to 6000 words and non-fiction up to 5000 words.

3. Quiddit Literary Journal 
is part of a multimedia arts program produced by Benedictine University in partnership with NPR member station WUIS Illinois. The journal, published semi-annually, features prose, poetry and artwork. International submissions from emerging as well as established writers are encouraged.

4. Neon Literary Magazine
is published three times a year in print and online, and welcomes submissions from new and never before published writers. The magazine’s tastes tend towards the dark and the surreal. Writers are asked to include a short biography and cover letter with their submissions and poets should send several poems at once (rather than just one). Neon’s website also has a number of helpful links and resources for both emerging and established writers.
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Granta is Accepting Unsolicited Submissions

After a long hiatus Granta, one of the world’s most prestigious literary magazines, is again accepting unsolicited submissions.

Granta’s history can be traced back to 1889 when a student politics and literature magazine called The Granta was founded at Cambridge University. Since its relaunch 35 years ago, Granta has been a quarterly literary journal, with the aim of publishing the best new writing.

Granta publishes fiction, non-fiction and poetry. There are no strict word limits, though most prose submissions are between 3000 and 6000 words and the editors advise they are unlikely to read more than 10,000 words of any submission.

Alongside the print edition, the online New Writing program publishes stories, poems, essays, interviews, animations and more from established Granta alumni as well as new voices.

All submissions will be considered for both the print and online editions (unless otherwise stipulated in the cover letter). Selection is extremely competitive and only a very small fraction of submissions will be chosen for publication. Reading recent editions of Granta will help you assess whether your work is likely to be a good match.

Writers must submit their work via Submittable and there are no reading fees. For further information visit the Granta website. Submissions are scheduled to remain open until 1 April 2015.

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The Times Childrens Fiction Competition

The Times / Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition is now open for entries. The winning writer will receive a worldwide publishing contract with Chicken House with a royalty advance of £10,000 (US$16,000), plus representation from a top children’s literary agent.

The Times / Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition began in 2007 and has launched the careers of a number of new authors. To enter, you must have written a completed full-length novel suitable for children aged somewhere between 7 and 18 years. By full-length the organisers suggest a minimum of 30,000 words and ask that manuscripts entered do not exceed 80,000 words in length.

The competition is open to writers around the world, regardless of nationality or residency status. To enter, writers are asked to submit the full manuscript in hard copy, accompanied by:

  • a one page synopsis of the story
  • a chapter-by-chapter plot plan
  • a cover letter including a brief biography and an explanation of why you believe the work would appeal to children.

All entries must be accompanied by a £15 fee. If you have entered this competition before, please note that this year the rules have changed so that previously submitted manuscripts can be re-entered.

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The Twin Peaks Project Invites Contributions

“Making the pilot episode, we knew we were doing something different, must-see TV, but I don’t think anyone involved thought it was going to continue past a one-off. David Lynch comes to television? The inmates are going to take over the asylum! The plan was to make a movie of the week and then go home. But then it was screened – and everybody was stunned at how good it was.”
– Kyle MacLachlan who played FBI agent Dale Cooper

Broadcast in the United States between April 1990 and June 1991, Twin Peaks was a television phenomenon. The series created by David Lynch and Mark Foster received 18 Emmy nominations and gained a cult following around the word. Twin Peaks is seen by many as a creative turning point in US television drama and a foundation for the ‘golden age of television‘.

A new project seeks to explore the ways in which the program influenced and inspired a generation of writers. According to the official website ‘The Twin Peaks Project invites these authors to write about their experience with the show, its influence, and its impact. The result—everything from critique to memoir, personal essay to poetry—will be published on participating online journals and blogs.’

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