Competitions are a great way to get your work seen, so any competition that is aimed at debut picture book writers and is judged by picture book supremo Amy Sparkes and superagent Julia Churchill is a must. It’s also sponsored by Writing Magazine which features regular articles by Amy on how to write for children.
Entries of up to 800 words can be in rhyme or prose, and you have plenty of time to hone your masterpieces before submission as the entry window doesn’t open until 1 September 2018 (and closes on 31 October). Prizes include consultations, critiques and cash, but most importantly being a prize winner can be an valuable step towards publication.
I couldn’t wait to tell you about the exciting picture book competition in this month’s Writing Magazine! It’s open to any unpublished and unagented writer and the prize is a lunch consultation with top children’s agent Julia Churchill (plus a subscription to Writing Magazine – oh, and £200 as well). And who knows where that could lead?
From my critique pile I know loads of you have some fantastic picture books waiting for the right opportunity, and there’s no entry fee so I urge you to give it a go!
Your text should be no longer than 800 words and can be rhyming or prose. You can present it in page spreads or as continuous text. No illustrations, pop-ups etc. Details here.
There’s also some great tips on picture book writing from prolific picture book writer Amy Sparkes in the accompanying article (August edition).
It can be difficult to find places to submit children’s short stories, so I was pleased to see this market in August’s Writing Magazine.
Launched a year ago, The Caterpillar is a quarterly children’s magazine featuring fiction, poetry and artwork for children aged 7-11. Read the poem and story on their site to get an idea of what they like, or better still buy a copy. They accept fiction up to one thousand words and up to six poems as word or pdf attachments (the poems should be in a single document). They prefer email submissions but do provide a postal address, and it can take up to three months for them to respond.
I haven’t been able to find a link to buy a single copy (rather than a subscription) from the site so I’ve emailed them for information. I’ll post more when I can read a copy. From what I’ve seen so far it looks like great fun and a wonderful opportunity for writers if you can fit their gently humorous style.
Hello fellow subbers. This bulletin brings news of some non-fiction successes.
I have a chapter on Social Media for Writers included in the second edition of The Handbook of Creative Writing, just published by Edinburgh University Press. I can honestly say it’s the most comprehensive and thorough guide to creative writing I have ever read! So many different types of writing are covered, including the more unusual types such as flash fiction, song lyrics, memoirs, humorous fiction, literary magazines, writing as therapy, screen writing and many other areas that aren’t covered by the regular manuals. (Great to read a chapter on writing for the theatre.) Also discussed are MAs, writing in the community, how to present yourself as a writer, teaching writing, making a living as a writer and even the theory and history of creative writing as a leisure activity. At over 500 pages it doubles as a useful paperweight!
Also out this month is July’s Writing Magazine which includes my article on grammar checking software: The Proof is Out There! I love punning titles and this one just about slipped through the cheesiness filter. Now there’s an idea for a useful piece of software.
There’s some new opportunities for YA out so I’ll be posting on them soon. In the meantime, keep subbing and good luck!
It’s an exciting month for me, fellow scribes. My short play The Voices is being performed as part of Ghost Dog Productions‘ new writing night at the Horse Bar, London, while previous play Love in the Time of Magicka is currently ‘on tour’ at the Little Black Box Theatre in Bristol and then next month at the King’s Arms in Salford, with a new director and cast for each location. All three venues are fab ’boutique’ theatre spaces that love new writing.
Meanwhile my article on decoding the mystery of blogging stats is in this month’s Writing Magazine (misleadingly labelled April issue, as magazines are from the future).
Exciting times! Meanwhile I’m working on a full length play for a competition, plus some more short pieces. But never fear, I shall still be watching out for opportunities to submit to children’s publishers and for writing tips to share with you. My main tip this month: take every opportunity that comes your way. You never know what might happen!
A couple of interesting indie publishers featured in Writing Magazine this month.
First is Fledgling Press, a Scottish company that focuses on debut authors writing a variety of fiction including YA. If you’re Scottish too that will help! You should send three chapters and a short synopsis by email and they aim to reply within 6 weeks. If accepted your book will be placed on a longlist for possible publication. Note they do not want sci fi. Full submission details at www.fledglingpress.co.uk/submissions.
The other indie that caught my eye this month is Ghostly Publishing which has been founded by a paranormal investigator, no less! The premise gets even more intriguing as the submission process involves peer review on the site, so you need to register then upload your submission – first three chapters and synopsis – rather than emailing or posting it. There is also a free ‘manuscript checker’ which apparently can instantly score your book to test if it is ready for publication – the closer you get to zero, the better! Take a look at these details on the site to familiarise yourself with the process. As you might expect, Ghostly wants fantasy and sci-fi for child to teen readership.
And finally, if you do buy Writing Magazine this month you’ll find my article on how to interpret your blog stats nestling happily on page 28 under the pun-derful title Stat’s Amazing!
Today I’m going to play the parent and nag you. Whatever writing you’re doing, wherever you are, stop now and back it up. Whether it’s on a memory stick, an external hard drive or a paper printout, make sure you have an extra copy of whatever you are doing. (Even if you don’t value it much now, you may do later on. A novel lost always becomes a masterpiece in retrospect!)
My latest article on backing up and storing your work is published this month in Writing Magazine (May 2013 edition). There’s lots of other useful stuff in there as well including a special on writing picture books and an insightful interview with three very different literary agents.
Have you backed up your work yet? No? Shame on you! Yes? Good – I won’t stop your pocket money. At least, not this week.
Probably the most important thing you can do this year to increase your chances of success – apart from writing your brilliant book, of course – is to boost your web profile. If you’re looking for inspiration, why not try:
tweeting or facebooking as your book character
tweeting or facebooking as your villain!
blogging a serial
creating a collaborative blog with other writers
creating a magazine-style publishing blog
creating an interactive story
All these ideas are discussed in detail in my article Get Creative with Social Media in Writing Magazine, February 2013 (available in the UK in WH Smith). Plus ten tips for getting creative, and a step-by-step guide on using WordPress to create an interactive story, just like I did.
My poem The Haunted School is published in this month’s Writer’s News, part of Writing Magazine. I wrote it especially for their children’s poetry competition; the first line just popped into my head and that dictated the theme and the rhyme for the rest. I have decided to plough the second place prize money back into my writing and will be putting it towards a critique at some point in the future. For now I will continue carrying my magazine around and pushing it into people’s faces. “Look! It’s me!”