Do you write stories of the strange? This publisher may be for you

RDS Press are publishers on the fringes of society. They have to be fed in special cages so they don’t go for your hand or attack you with grammer. Their website describes them thusly:

“Raw Dog Screaming Press is dedicated to putting into print the highest quality literature from the fringe. If it’s dark, deviant, off-kilter and thought provoking we will sniff it out.”

So if you write weird things they might be the ones for you. Unless it’s just pages and pages of potential murder victims’s names. Well, maybe that too. I don’t know, ask them

Novel, novella, short story? The word count difference in writing

Two posts in one day? Have the clocks been destroyed? Has my face melted into an Escher painting?

Word count is something that worries all writers or, if not, it probably should. Is it a novella? A short story? A microwaveable napkin?

OK, so for some definitive answers I suggest you trundle onto this post here by D. Robert Grixti, and it is definitely recommended – by me anyway, and what higher authority is there?

Simple ways to get independent books out there

This post on the Bizarro Central website offers advice on getting Bizarro more visible, but it works with any small press genre/book.

Have a little read and remember, if you don’t do what it says I have several pixies on standby just waiting to do annoying things to you, such as coughing when you’re about to fall asleep or repeating everything you say in a silly high pitched voice.

Professional tips

I found the first post shared here on Limebird Writer‘s site, and the second on the Creative and Professional Writer’s site.

Some of it’s fairly straight-forward but its easy to lose focus on simple things you need to remember ie. who your story is aimed at.

I’m going to own up to not being thick skinned; I’ve got thinner skin than… uh… a bat’s wing. It’s really thin skin apparently, I just checked. But…I always try to be ragingly polite no matter what and after half an hour of ‘woe is me,’ for some reason I just get on with it like a fool.

So anyway, here is Limebird Writer’s post:

 

I’ve been a professional writer for a fair while now, and in that time I’ve seen a number of people come and go. What most people don’t realise is that professional writing requires a far greater range of skills than merely ‘putting words on a page’. For a start, it requires superb organisation and an ability to produce quality content to a tight deadline. Writers also need to demonstrate a good working knowledge of their market, while proving themselves adaptable enough to write for any number of different audiences.

Think you’ve got what it takes?  Here are my tips for anyone hoping to start a career as a professional writer:

Get organised. Organisation is everything in professional writing. I really can’t overstate this enough. You can be the greatest writer in the world, but if you don’t know what it is you need to write, when you need to write it, and who you need to write it for, then you’re very quickly going to find yourself struggling.

Master your art. If your writing skills are going to earn you money, your grammar needs to be impeccable, and your proof-reading needs to be second to none. Not only should you be able to proof other people’s work, but you should also be able to proof your own!

Know your market. It doesn’t matter who you’re writing for, you need to know your market inside out. The more you know, the more you will be able to “bring to the table” as a writer. If you don’t know your market, it won’t take long before the cracks start to appear.

Prepare to sweat. Writing professionally is not easy. Nor is it well paid. Most of us do it because we love to write, or perhaps because we see it as a route to greater things. I tell you this now – if you want to be a professional writer, do not, I beg you, be under any illusions as to just how tough it is. If you want to earn the big bucks, I suggest you do something else.

Toughen up. Writing is tough. Writing for other people is tougher still. When it comes to writing on behalf of someone else very often you will find that it doesn’t matter how good your writing, or how well your work meets the criteria you were given, if the client doesn’t like it, the client doesn’t like it. As a writer, you work “at the coal face”. This means you take all the abuse, and receive very few of the plaudits. You know how the old saying goes: “If you can’t stand the heat…”

Get educated (or not!) You might be surprised to learn that you don’t need an English degree to be a writer. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that I’d almost recommend you don’t have one, though that’s an issue for another blog!

So… do you still think you have what it takes? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

Until next time,

Mike”

 

And here is the Creative and Professional Writer’s post:

“5 tips for writing short stories

Short stories are a difficult art form to get right. Put too much in, and you’ll overload your reader with redundant information and they’ll get bored. Leave too much out, and you’ll alienate your reader and make them feel like there’s an abstract message they’re too stupid to pick up on. Get it just right however, and you’ll have an emotive, gripping, yet sparse narrative that captures a moment perfectly. Here are 5 things that any short story writer should think about before getting stuck in:

1. Show. Don’t tell.

It is important that you write in a way that allows your reader to experience your character’s actions, feelings, senses, words and thoughts, rather than learn them through description or summary within the narrative. By understanding this, your story will be vivid and relatable throughout.

2. Know your character(s)

People are complex, unpredictable and unique. It is your job as a writer of short stories to make sure that we as readers understand this about your characters without you simply telling us. A helpful task that will make this much easier is to build a web about your characters every detail. Age, personality, appearance, past, job, relationships and more. As much as you can. Fill a page with things that you wouldn’t even consider putting into a story. This is just for you. The better you know your character, the more convincing they’re going to be.

3. Choose your point of view

Who do you want telling your story? What is the narrative voice that you’re looking for? This will have a huge impact on the direction of your story. All perspectives have their pros and cons and it’s up to you to choose which one fits what you want to say.

• First person unites the narrator and reader with secrets and perceptions, but is always an unreliable perspective and can also lead to ‘telling’.
• Second person puts the readers right in to the story. They become the character, and are immediately engaged to confront possibilities. It is, however, vital that your character’s actions are real enough for readers to image themselves doing.
• Third person can be omniscient or limited, and allows you to be as intimate or distant with your character as you like. However, this is the most difficult perspective for maintaining a consistent narrative voice.

4. Create conflict/tension

With a short story you don’t have the luxury of acres of space to build a setting or context. This makes it more difficult to create conflict/tension within a certain scenario. You need some sort of opposition to your character. This can be against another individual, nature, society, God or even the character themselves. Make it clear exactly what the opposition is within your story, and understand exactly what your character hopes to achieve. Your prose style can also help create tension. Short, sharp sentences alongside longer sentences can really help dictate the pace and overall tone of your work.

5. Don’t ‘spoon-feed’ your reader

Subtlety is a key feature in short story writing. A reader wants to interpret your work in their own way and don’t mind a bit of ambiguity within the plot or character. Ernest Hemingway developed his ‘Iceberg theory’ as a way of helping writers understand that hinting to something within a narrative, rather than clarifying it completely can allow someone to read between the lines. He said:

If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them.

Subtext encourages a reader to take a more active role in a story and it is important not to ‘spoon feed’ the reader detail that, if written well, they can work out for themselves. It is important, however, not to be too abstract. There is a fine line between ambiguity and obscurity. Make sure that your hints are tangible to connect with reader.”

Et voila. Please do some writing now, otherwise you will upset me.

Submit Yourself: A Submissions Calendar is a Smart Idea

Stumbled across this calendar of endless possibilities on the Litreactor site just now (original article here). It’s a handy little monthly submissions guide to time-restricted publications. Before you read may I just make the personal assertion that I don’t believe in submission fees:

 

Whether you’re looking to make it big with a book you’re sure is a best-seller, or you’re just interested in breaking through with a few bylines in lit journals that your mother can frame and put on the ‘fridge, one of the biggest hurdles is to know where to even send your work–and when.

Sure, going through a literary agent is obviously the easiest way to get your pieces in front of important eyes–but even getting an agent to represent you can be a huge challenge, particularly if you haven’t had a lot published. Which means it’s smart to also have, on hand, a list of places where you can submit unsolicited work throughout the year, in hopes of beefing up your portfolio.

But because accepting unsolicited work is, well, a lot of work, many journals, publishers, and magazines have limited time-frames during which they do all of their reading and deciding. So it’s smart to keep a Google Calendar or some other sort of digital log of who you’re aiming to submit to, what the due-dates are for submissions, and also a link to the requirements.

Here are a few places that accept unsolicited novels, stories, collections, and poems to get your submissions calendar rolling.

January

Get a running start with a few places that take submissions all year long.

Boyd Mills Press, out of Pennsylvania, is a small-ish press that accepts submissions of children’s and young adult books all the time, so you can send them your work as soon as it’s been proofread.

Electric Literature is an awesome short-story producing new-media magazine that gives print space to some of America’s freshest young talent. Submit your boldest and brightest, whenever you like.

Another most excellent (and highly selective) publication that will take your work all year is PANK Magazine, which publishes exciting, quirky, awesome poetry; short stories; and other forms of text. Check their website to see what they’re cooking up.

February

The Portland Review is a fun collective of writers and editors who publish (usually) around 3 times per year. They almost always have a beginning-of-the-year submission period, but will take what you send them most all the time. They also have a very cute and inspiring blog that I like very, very much. And, they use Submishmash, which makes it easy to track all of your entries.

March

Need a little seed money to start the year? The Oberon Poetry Magazine accepts contest submissions in the Spring (usually March or April) and awards $1,000 for the judge’s favorite.

April

Vagabondage Press’ literary quarterly, The Battered Suitcase, accepts fiction, non-fiction and poetry, but not criticisms or book reviews. They’re looking for previously unpublished authors who are interested in getting their name out there, so all levels of experience are encouraged to submit.

May

Founded by poetic dreamboat Derrick Brown, Write Bloody Publishing is rapidly establishing something of a cult following. Each year, they invite writers to send samples for short story or poetry collections, and select 7 to receive a book deal. A book deal! Their submission window is almost always in May, and almost always gets pushed back.

June

It’s pretty rare that you get personal feedback on your submissions– but Our Stories takes the time. They also offer prize money. There is a submission fee, but for many, that’s a much better trade off than receiving a stock letter of acceptance. Their submission period usually begins in Spring, but Summer is a slow literary season, so this one can get bumped down to less busy times.

July

Summer is really, really boring in publishing. Use July as your catch-up month for all of those year-round places.

August

No, really. Take the summer to write whatever you like. Relax and write. Put it on your calendar.

September

Tin House Magazine is a respected literary publication that accepts short stories and essays between Sept. 1 and May 31, which is a nice wide window. They have some themed publications, so check their website to see if you’re on-topic.

October

The Avatar Review accepts poetry, prose, and pretty much anything, beginning in October. They publish just once per year, and their main goal is to get unpublished authors their first exposure. Think of it a bit like really nice training wheels.

November

Some places have two submission periods per year, which offers a nice bit of flexibility. Memoir (and) is one of those places, and is also a really great publication. The November submission period runs through February, and they’ll consider just about everything you send them, so go ahead and write your heart out.

December

December is actually just the best time to wrap up any and all submissions that you’ve had sitting around. Instead of adding December-specific ones, I’ll redirect you back up to January.


Of course, there are hundreds of journals, magazines, quarterlies and publishers who take submissions throughout the year, and depending on your genre of choice, some will be a better fit than others. But whomever you decide to grace with your work, having firm-ish deadlines inked out ahead of time is a smart way to hit the ground writing.”

I think that says it all! Hop to it or the beating hand gets angry.