Wednesday 30 September 2020

Lotta leaving Allas

Lotta Gustavsson ends her role as fiction editor at Allas today. I'm sure some of those who've submitted stories to her would like to join me in wishing her well for the future.

I'm contacting the ladies who are taking over from her, to ask if there are any changes to the submission process or fiction requirements, and will update you if there's any news.

Tuesday 22 September 2020

Six free to enter writing competitions.

As promised, here are some free to enter writing competitions. Half a dozen – to make up for the lack over the last couple of weeks.

Thanks to my talented writing friend Sheila Crosby for providing the links to the following two competitions. This is us looking windswept and interesting, and pretending Lee-on-the-Solent was as warm as Sheila's home in the Canaries. Do visit her blog if you fancy a virtual tour of La Palma. 

This one from Curtis Brown is for unpublished female novelists in the UK or Ireland. The prize is £5,000 plus representation by the agency.

This one from Penguin has all the above restrictions, plus entrants must be under 30. A publishing deal is on offer for the winner, and there's a 'writing camp' for runners up.

Here's a monologue competition, from Soundwork. The prize is to have your work professionally recorded and made available on the site. (Feel free to scroll down the page a little and see who made the shortlist of their last short story competition!)

This competition is for work involving 'new media' which means although you may submit a story, poem, piece of non-fiction etc, you can't just send the text. You need to include stuff which makes the most of digital media. There's £1,000 on offer.

If you're an unpublished (or self published) novelist who has a story with murder or a serious heart at the centre, you could try this competition, which has a $10,000 advance as the prize. Entrants may be of any nationality.

This short story competition, from the Writers' and Artists' yearbook, offers a place on an Arvon course as its prize.

Is that enough competitions for now, or do you want more?

Friday 18 September 2020

Allas, Allers and Hemmets

Womag news

I've been asked about the style of stories accepted by Allas magazine, and as I have a story in the current issue, now seems a good time to write the post.

The magazine is weekly and usually contains three stories, sometimes more. As it's published in Swedish, and I can't read that, I can only tell you about the ones I've written. My story in this issue is a spooky one. I've sold them quite a few not very scary ghost, or sixth sense stories, some revenge ones, a couple of twist ending tales and even one on local politics! Most though have been relationship based (romances and family stories). 

The maximum length I've had accepted is 1,500 words. Some have been a bit shorter. They'll consider previously published stories. I do rewrite these for the Scandinavian market, taking the culture into account as much as I can, changing place and character names and considering the location and climate. Sometimes I write stories just for them. I submit in English.

If your story is accepted, you'll be asked to sign a contract, which allows them to reuse the story in Allers and Hemmets. You'll need to invoice for each story and will be paid, for the first use only, by bank transfer. You won't be notified about reprints, but each time your story is used, you'll be sent a copy of the appropriate magazine.

Submissions should be sent to lotta.gustavsson (at) It's not usual to get a rejection if your story isn't going to be used. If the story is accepted you'll generally hear back within a few weeks, but it can be longer. One of mine was accepted after three months, so I suggest leaving it a little longer before assuming a story won't be used.

If you've subbed to this market, please do share your experiences, to help build up a more complete picture of what's wanted, response times etc.

Wish me luck – I'm going to attempt to recreate the dish on the cover for our tea tonight. I'll have to guess most of the ingredients. I'm not entirely sure whether having a good imagination is going to help with that!

Competition news

I'll be doing a post with links to free to enter writing competitions soon. If you know of any, please let me know (in the comments, by email or on Twitter.)

Monday 14 September 2020

Over To You

Do you have any womag news?

Are you researching, writing, subbing? Had any acceptances or rejections? Any other news?

Feel free to use the as a picture prompt. If you'd like other writing prompts, short exercises and story/scene suggestions then you might find this book useful.

I'd love to hear your competition news.

Have you entered any writing comps? Had any luck? Heard about interesting contests? Got any tips to pass on? (Although I only feature free to enter competitions in my posts it's fine to share news about other competitions too.)

Do you have writing tips to share, questions to ask, or suggestions for this blog?

My news is that I had a story in last week's Hemmets magazine, I'll have one in the 26th September issue ofMy Weekly, and two in the next People's Friend Special.

I also have a story up on Longshot Island. Submissions are open for this market, which offers a small fee. Previously published work will be considered – provided the author has retained copyright.

My short story collection Coffee & Cake won't be released until December 1st, but as an experiment, it's available to 'pre order'.

Friday 4 September 2020

Publishing with Unbound

Today's guest is Theresa Davis, who has kindly agree to share her experience of trying to get published with Unbound.

Unbound is a publisher like no other, they believe in giving the reader a choice in what they publish. The method that they use to achieve this is crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is a method of raising the finances for a project by asking people to pay a donation. In the case of Unbound this is in the form of a pre order for a first edition of the book.

As a writer in a niche market Unbound is an attractive publisher as their funded model can make them open to books that more traditional publishers might not be willing to take on commercial grounds. Unbound's projects can take the range from traditional thrillers to a coffee table book featuring comments and analysis of the rear ends of video game characters.

How does one go about getting published with Unbound? There are a couple of methods to pitch an idea to them.

Firstly they hold regular sessions on social media where they ask people to submit ideas for appraisal. The second is to submit a pitch directly on their website. In both cases these pitches need to be short and precise, under 500 words, great practice in tight and structured pitches.

If your pitch is successful then you will be given a meeting with one of the commissioning editors. Due to the Covid crisis this in my case was handled online. This isn't a formal interview or anything it's an introduction to allow you and the editor to get to know each other. They will be your champion within Unbound and able to help guide you through the process.

Next comes the business end of the process, while your editor is off calculating the print costs, editing requirements, or in my example the need for a legal read through for possibility of libel, you will be given a task to prepare the blurb and one line summary, and your bio ready for the web site. These can be edited by Unbound with your permission to fit with the house style or for improved marketing effectiveness. I'm currently on about the 3rd revision of text on my project.

At the end of this you will receive along with the breakdown of all the costs to produce your book, the publishing agreement.

The production cost which will vary considerably depending on the binding, size and if there are illustrations. This is the amount you will have to raise through funding, all this is set out in the agreement. If you are worried, in the event of the project not reaching its target, all rights to the work revert to you on the ending of the contract.

Once the agreement has been signed, then it's time to move on to the next phase the preparation of the site page ready for the fund-raising campaign. A provisional cover will be designed, I was given a choice of 9 different options to choose from, three of these, including the one I selected, are shown.

To offer a bit of incentive to people pledging for the book there may be other items available like mugs, tote bags, posters in addition to digital, signed and plain copies of the books. There are other perks which are offered , such as 
book club visits and special mentions in the front of the book. All pledges receive their name listed in the back of the book.

In preparation for launch day you will be introduced to the Crowdfunding Campaigns Executive who will be your guide to making the most out of online funding and there to help with any issues and requests you may have. She will give you a pack with a set of useful templates for emails and social media, you will be asked to attend a workshop to help you get the most out of the funding process. 

Then comes the fun part, starting to raise the funds required for your campaign. Ideally you should start a few days before to tease the upcoming campaign, with social media posts. Then on the big launch day shout as loud and as wide as you can. It can be a long process to get funding, but don't be discouraged, you may be given targets to meet but these are not pass of fail points, try to keep up interest in the campaign with regular updates and posts on the site itself. Keep an eye out for campaigns and promotion codes being given out by Unbound and use these to boost sales around holidays and events, you may be given your own personal codes at times to help you boost sales. 

This is as far as I have gotten in the publishing process with Unbound as my own project, a memoir Falling Upwards is currently in the funding process on Unbound. Why not check it out and make a pledge and maybe you can join me one day and become a member of the unbound family. 

To learn more about Theresa, follow her on Twitter, read the 'project synopsis' of her memoir, or pledge to support her project and be one of the first to read Falling Upwards.

Wednesday 2 September 2020

September stuff

Insecure Writer's Support Group

It's the first Wednesday of the month, so time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post. If you're an insecure writer you might like to join up here. I'd be very surprised to learn that anyone reading this blog has never felt insecure over their writing. Please let me know if you haven't – I like to be surprised.

This month's optional IWSG question is – If you could choose one author, living or dead, to be your beta partner, who would it be and why?

I'm opting for Alexander McCall Smith. I love his writing, he's very prolific and successful, and he seems like a lovely man, so why wouldn't I want his advice? Getting to read his books at an early stage and gaining some insight into how he perfects them would be fantastic too.

There's another reason – I've been told that my writing is slightly similar to his. Mostly I think that's because our work is easy to read. Recently, when I mentioned this to writer friend Sheila Crosby, she said there's also 'a certain niceness' in the books of us both. It would be wonderful to be involved in a partnership which added to the niceness in the world.

Who, if anyone, do you think you write like?

For those who've read any of my work, do you think there's any similarity between my writing and that of Alexander McCall Smith – or any other author?

Free entry competition news

If you missed it, do have a look at Jane Bettany's guest post, explaining what happened to her after she entered one of the free competitions I blog about.

The Query Letter are running a book blurb competition, with a $500 prize. They don't want you to write the whole book, just a 100 word blurb.

Here's a limerick competition, with book tokens as the prize. I do like a good limerick, and everyone loves a book token, don't they?

Cash makes a good prize too, and that's what's on offer for the Commonwealth short story prize – £5,000!

My news

The first three chapters of my latest novel, a romance I've called Acting Like A Killer, have been sent off to a couple of publishers – and after months and months at home, I'll soon be away on a trip in the mobile writing retreat!