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When I started my blog, Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity, nearly four years ago, I had no idea what I was doing. Everyone said "You need a blog," so I blogged. (I always listen to Everyone.)

The purported rewards were enticing: fame, fortune, and followers. And it was free, so I was willing to give it a whirl.

In some respects, my blog venture was a lot like my publishing experience. Nobody read what I'd written. So, I did some research on how to drive more traffic to my blog, and I did ALL THE THINGS.

I got my blog onto various lists, I guest blogged on bigger platforms, I contributed to blog carnivals. I tweeted.

There were only modest returns on ALL THE THINGS. Significant numbers of people still weren't reading my posts.

Then, I had an epiphany. Instead of keeping all my publishing information in separate files on my increasingly chaotic desktop, why not transfer all that information to my blog? The advantages were self-evident. I could organize all the paying markets on handy tables (with links!), so when I wanted to submit a story, all I had to do was look at my blog posts on that topic. Plus, whenever new markets sprang up, I could just add them.

This strategy turned out to be so convenient that I did the same thing for reviewers (I figured I would need them some day), and for agents (I hoped I would get one some day). The blog posts expanded to include calls for submissions, which I like to keep tabs on, and contests, even though I seriously doubted I would ever win one. (But, you never know!)

Then, I branched into publishers accepting unagented manuscripts, because after sending dozens of query letters, I was beginning to get discouraged. Once I started organizing those, I realized there were a surprising number of publishers with open doors, so I had devote a whole section of the blog to them.

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The dramatic increase in monthly page views occurred after I began posting on Google+ in June 2014. The two major dips coincide with the December holidays. Currently, the blog gets over 60,000 views a month. It started at 600.
After that, more pages needed to be added: agents looking for clients, speculative fiction resources (all of which were originally files on my desktop), self-publishing (which I have done, and may do again, so those posts will come in handy). There was a wealth of information in my files, just begging to be organized in blog posts. And, there was even more information on the Internet that I could add to my burgeoning tables and lists!

Call me OCD, but being thorough has its advantages.

Lo, and behold! Not only were those posts and pages convenient for me, they were convenient for other people. I began sharing my posts. I shared them on Amazon, on Goodreads, and on LinkedIn. I re-posted them on Medium, and on Niume. (Even though I really don't understand Niume. What the #&!! is hype?) I posted links on forums (whose administrators promptly kicked me off). And, I discovered Google+. As it turned out, there were lots of writers on Google+ who appreciated my OCDness.

Bloggers and regular websites began to post links to my posts, and as a consequence some of those posts got tens of thousands of hits, which launched them into the top positions on Google searches. And that is currently where most of my traffic comes from - straight off the net.

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Dang! I really wanted to see 999,999 turn into a million, but I was too busy writing this post.
I'd like to say that the million page views is due to my prowess as a writer, but it would be a lie. It is strictly due to the fact that in my own quest to get published - combined with what might be considered an unhealthy tendency to cover all bases - I've managed to address a question that a lot of other people are asking: "How do I get published?"

I have every intention of continuing to answer that question, and of sharing all the information I accumulate along the way. And when my book finally does get published, I will tell all of you how I did it. In detail.

A big "Thank you!" to Everyone.
 
 
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There are many great free writing contests in May. All genres and forms are included, from poetry, to short fiction, to essays, to full length-works, both published and unpublished.

Some of these contests have age and regional restrictions, so be sure to read the full guidelines before submitting.

Good luck!

Note: I post a list of free upcoming contests the last week of every month. But if you want to get a jump on contests, be sure to check "Free Contests"  for future as well as past contests - many are held annually.

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Crucible: Poetry and Fiction Competition is sponsored by the Barton College Department of English. Genres: Fiction (limited to 8,000 words or less) and poetry (limited to five poems). Restrictions: All work must be original and unpublished. Prizes: $150.00 First Prize. $100.00 Second Prize. Publication in the CrucibleDeadline: May 1, 2016. Read guidelines HERE.

Whiting Foundation Creative Nonfiction GrantGenre: Creative nonfiction. Writers must be completing a book of creative nonfiction that is currently under contract with a publisher. Writers who signed a contract before May 1, 2014, are eligible. Prize: $35,000. Deadline: May 1, 2016. Read guidelines HERE.

Split This Rock's Arabic Poetry Translation ContestGenre: English translation of an Arabic poem on the themes of social justice or freedom of expression. Prize: $500. Deadline: May 1, 2016. Read guidelines HERE.

Grant MacEwan Creative Writing Scholarship is sponsored by the Alberta Foundation for the Arts. Genres: Poetry, Short Fiction & Creative Nonfiction, Drama, or Graphic Novel. Restrictions: Authors must be currently enrolled in an undergraduate creative writing program of study or mentorship. (Max age 25) Alberta residents only. Prize: $5000 (CAN). Deadline: May 1, 2016. Read guidelines HERE.

Polari First Book PrizeGenres: The prize is for a first book which explores the LGBT experience and is open to any work of poetry, prose, fiction or non-fiction published in English. Self-published works in both print and digital formats are eligible for submission. Restrictions: Writer must be born in UK or resident in the UK. Prize: £1,000.00. Deadline: May 1, 2016. Read guidelines HERE.

The Society for Humanistic Anthropology Fiction CompetitionGenre: Stories that relate to the four fields of anthropology. Restrictions: Stories should not exceed 20 pages typed double-spaced. There is a limit of one story submission per applicant. Prize: The first place story will be published in the Society’s journal, Anthropology and Humanism. The first place winner(s) will receive a certificate and award of $100. Deadline: May 2, 2016. Read guidelines HERE. (Scroll down the page.)

Norman Mailer High School Creative Non-Fiction Writing Award Competition is open to students currently enrolled in a high school accredited by the US. Students may submit one or more pieces of writing as one file, maximum 10 single-spaced pages, endorsed by a teacher and released by a parent or guardian. One winner will receive a cash award of $2,500 at a special award ceremony. Submission accepted online only through May 2, 2016, Noon CST.

Norman Mailer Community College Creative Non-Fiction Writing Award Competition is open to full-time students enrolled in two-year colleges, junior colleges, and technical colleges. Maximum 15 single-spaced pages. One winner will receive a cash award of $2,500 at a special award ceremony. Submissions accepted online only through May 2, 2016, Noon CST.

Norman Mailer Four-year College Creative Non-Fiction Writing Award Competition is open to current full-time undergraduate students. Maximum 15 single-spaced pages. One winner will receive a cash award of $5,000 at a special award ceremony. Submissions accepted online only through May 2, 2016, Noon CST.

Norman Mailer College Poetry Writing Award is open to full time students enrolled in four-year colleges, two-year colleges, junior colleges, and technical colleges. Students may submit one or more poems, to a maximum of 10 pages. One winner will receive a cash award of $2,500 at a special award ceremony. Submissions accepted online only through May 2, 2016, Noon CST.

Loft Literary Center Minnesota Emerging Writers' Grants. Grants of up to $8,000 each are given annually to poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers who have lived in the state of Minnesota for at least one year. Writers who have published no more than two books in any genre are eligible to apply. Submit 15 to 20 pages of poetry or 20 to 30 pages of prose, an artist proposal, a brief bio, a preliminary budget, and a résumé. Deadline: May 6, 2016.

Luminarts Creative Writing Program. The Creative Writing Competition awards five $5,000 grant awards and Luminarts Fellowships across categories of creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. Open to writers between the ages of 18 and 30 years old at the time of application; be enrolled in, or have graduated from, a degree program; and live within 150 miles of the Union League Club of Chicago. Genre: Poetry or prose, fiction and nonfiction. Prize: $5,000 and publication in Luminarts Review, a literary journal. Deadline: May 6, 2015.

The Loneliness ProjectGenre: POEM or a short duologue ABOUT LONELINESS. You might be inspired to write about a character in Steinbeck’s novel. You may want to reflect on your own life or experience you’ve had, you may find inspiration from a friend or something you’ve seen on the news. Prize: Grand prize of £300. Judges will also choose a runner-up who will win £150. A third prize of £150 will be awarded to the poem or duologue that’s most popular with audiences online. Deadline: May 14, 2016. Read guidelines HERE.

The James Laughlin Award is sponsored by the Academy of American Poets. Genre: A second book of poetry forthcoming in the next calendar year. Must be under contract with US publisher.   Restrictions: Open to US citizens and residents only. Prize: $5,000, an all-expenses-paid week long residency in Florida, and the Academy will purchase approximately 1,000 copies of the book for distribution to its members. Deadline: May 15, 2016. Read guidelines HERE.

Brevity ContestRestrictions: Graduate and undergraduate writers. Genre: "We are looking for flash essays  (750 words or fewer) that explore the lived experience of race, racialization, and racism, show the reader a new way to look at the familiar, or give voice to under-represented experiences." Prize: $200 and publication. Deadline: May 15, 2016. Read guidelines HERE.

Expatriate and Work Abroad Writing ContestGenre: Essay. "Professionals, freelancers, and aspiring writers are encouraged to write articles that describe their experience living, moving, and working abroad. Often your experience living abroad may be extended by working or studying in the host country, so living/working/studying/and traveling abroad are often inextricable—and we are interested in exploring these interconnections." Prize: The first-place winner’s entry will receive $500, the second-place winning entry $150, and the third-place winner $100. Deadline: May 16, 2016. Read guidelines HERE.

Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Non-FictionGenre: Literary non-fiction. Restrictions: Titles must be published in Canada and written by Canadians. Prize: $60,000 will be awarded to a literary nonfiction book published between March 23, 2016 and May 24, 2016. Deadline: May 25, 2016.  Read guidelines HERE.

Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction PrizeGenre: Fiction. Restrictions: Titles must be published in Canada and written by Canadians. No self-published works. Prize: $25,000 will be awarded to a novel or short-story collection published between March 23, 2016 and May 24, 2016. Prizes of $2,500 will be awarded to each of the finalists. Deadline: May 25, 2016. Read guidelines HERE.

The Victoria Book PrizeGenres: Published fiction, literary non-fiction, or poetry. (Not open to self-published works.) Book submitted must have been published between April 1, 2015 and March 31, 2016 and must be a new work, not a re-issue or a revision of a previous work. Restrictions: Author must be a resident of the Capital Region and a Canadian citizen or resident. Prize: $5,000. Deadline: May 25, 2016. Read guidelines HERE.

Claudia Ann Seaman Awards For Young Writers.  Restrictions: High school students. Genre: Stories and poems. Prize: $200.00. Deadline: May 30, 2016. Read guidelines HERE.


Nick Darke Writers' AwardGenre: Stage play. Prize:  £6,000. Deadline: May 30, 2016. Read full submission guidelines HERE.

bpNichol Poetry Chapbook AwardGenre: Published poetry chapbook. Restrictions: Canadian publishers only. Prize: The author receives $4,000 and the publisher receives $500. Deadline: May 31, 2016. Read guidelines HERE.

The Wolfe Pack Black Orchid AwardGenre: Mystery novellas in the style of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe novellas. Manuscript length: 15K-20K words. Prize: $1,000, plus recognition and publication in a forthcoming issue of AAMM. Deadline: May 31, 2016. Read guidelines HERE.

Unicorn Press First Book ContestGenre: Unpublished book-length poetry. Individual poems do not have to be unpublished. Prize: The winner will receive $250 and the winning manuscript will be published by Unicorn Press. Deadline: May 31, 2016. Read guidelines HERE.

Cromwell Article PrizeGenre: Articles published in 2015 in the field of American legal history. Restrictions: Open to early career scholars. Prize: $2,500. Deadline: May 31, 2016. Read guidelines HERE.

Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation Writing CompetitionGenre: Play. Only full-length works (dramas, comedies, musicals, screenplays) will be considered. One entry per author. Scripts must be original. Must be in English. All must concern LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender) life and be based on, or directly inspired by, a historical person, culture, work of art, or event. Prize: First Prize, $3,000. Second Prize, $1,500. Honorable Mentions, $500. Deadline: May 31, 2016. Read guidelines HERE.

Jerry Jazz Musician Fiction ContestGenre: Unpublished fiction approximately 1,000 - 5,000 words. Story should pertain to music, social history, literature, politics, art, film and theater, particularly that of the counter-culture of mid-twentieth century America. Prize: $100 and publication in Jerry Jazz MusicianDeadline: May 31, 2016. Read guidelines HERE.

Save the Earth Poetry PrizeGenre: Poem (1). Poems submitted should, in any way possible, evoke humankind’s awareness of the natural world and nature as such. Restrictions: Open to High school students, grades 11 & 12. Prize: $200 awarded to seven winners. Deadline: May 31, 2016. Read guidelines HERE.

The Castle to Cathedral to Cashmere Writing CompetitionGenre: Short story, in English, an original work of fiction, previously unpublished, and not more than 3,000 words. Must adhere to the setting of Elgin and area during the eighteenth and/or nineteenth century. Prize: £350. Deadline: May 31, 2016.

ABA Journal/Ross Writing Contest for Legal Short Fiction. Sponsored by the American Bar Association. Restrictions: Entrants must be U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents.  Genre: Original works of short fiction that illuminate the role of the law and/or lawyers in modern society. 5000 words max. Prize: $3,000 and publication in ABA Journal. Deadline: May 31, 2016.

James Bartleman Aboriginal Youth Creative Writing AwardsRestrictions: Open to aboriginal youth, 18 years or younger, residing in Ontario, Canada. Prize: $2,500. Deadline: May 31, 2016.

 
 
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There are over two dozen calls for submissions in May. Genres include speculative fiction, horror, comedy, personal essays, poetry, general fiction and "everything." Some of these calls are for themed issues, so make sure you read the full guidelines before submitting.

Note: I post calls for submissions during the last week of every month. But if you want to get a jump on upcoming calls, you can find a list of sites that regularly post submission calls (paying and non-paying markets) on Calls for Submissions.

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Subterrain

Genres: Fiction, creative nonfiction, commentary, essay – all welcome!

Length: Maximum of 3,000 words

Payment: $50 per page

Deadline: May 1, 2016

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Ghosts on Drugs: Anthology

Genre: Short stories (mix of comedy + other genres)

Payment: 6-15 cents per word

Deadline: May 1, 2016

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Story Magazine

Genres: Story, essay, poetry submissions wanted for 'Identity' issue

Payment: $20 per page (prose), $30+ per poem

Length: Maximum of 2500 words

Deadline: May 1, 2016

Reprints considered if they fit the theme

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Skirt! Magazine

Genre: Personal essay. All Things Summer.

Length: Between 800 and 1,100 words

Payment: $200

Deadline: May 1, 2016

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Understorey Magazine

Submissions are open to writers and artists who self-identify as women and live in Canada (or are Canadian citizens living abroad).

Genre: Fiction, poetry, art

Length: Under 1,500 words

Payment: $40-$65

Deadline: May 1, 2016

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Sirens Call Publications: 'Monster Brawl' Anthology

Genre: Horror

Length: 4,000 - 8,000 words

Payment: $25

Deadline: May 1, 2016
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Lethe Press: Nature of the Phantasms: Queering the Cthulhu Mythos

Genre: Cthulhu Mythos tales told from an LGBT point of view, all genres

Length: Up to 6,000 words

Payment: 3 cents/word and 2 copies of the book

Deadline: May 1, 2016

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Lethe Press: 'Survivor' anthology

"In this SF/F anthology, we’re looking for stories of everyday trauma survival -- from a barmaid on an intergalactic space station who was abandoned by her parents, to a farmer’s son bullied by his peers, who withstands and resists their abuse. We also welcome stories with a war setting, such as stories about veterans and refugees. The key component for all of these stories is how relatively ordinary characters survive and thrive, given the traumatic experiences they’ve had. Note: we aren’t necessarily looking for happily ever after. Trauma survival rarely ends in happily ever after, though it can, and hopefully will, end in closure and a coming to terms."

Genre: Speculative fiction

Length: Up to 10,000 words

Payment: 3 cents/word

Deadline: May 1, 2016

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New Legends Book 2

Genre: Steampunk

Length: 2,500 minimum – 8,000 maximum

Payment: $25

Deadline: May 9, 2016

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Lamplight

Genre: Dark fiction

Length: Up to 7,000 words

Payment: 3 cents per word

Deadline: May 15, 2016

Reprints accepted at 1 cent per word

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Migla Press: Toxic

"The world can be a dangerous place, not just from the obvious, but also from the most seemingly innocent. From despots who silence entire nations with deadly gas, to the tiniest creatures which can kill with a single sting or bite, this anthology is centered around the theme of poisons, toxins, and anything, well...toxic. The goal for this publication will be to collect ten unique stories, each using a different real life substance (they must actually exist)."

Genre: Any

Payment: $25

Deadline: May 15, 2016

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Alaska Quarterly Review

Genre: Fiction, short plays, poetry, photo essays, and literary non-fiction in traditional and experimental styles

Payment: $50-$200 for prose; $10-$50 for poetry

Deadline: May 15, 2016

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Coffee House Conversations

Genre: Poetry or prose excerpt, 50 words max. Submissions must be written by a writer of color currently living in St. Paul.

Payment: $100

Deadline: May 15, 2016

Previously published work accepted

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Kweli Journal

"Kweli is the first online journal of its kind to celebrate community and cultural kinships. In this shared space, you will hear the lived experience of people of color. Our many stories. Our shared histories. Our creative play with language. Here our memories are wrapped inside the music of the Muscogee, the blues songs of the South, the clipped patois of the Caribbean."

Genre: Self-contained novel excerpt, short story, or creative non-fiction piece, poetry

Length: No more than 7,000 words

Payment: "upon publication"

Deadline: May 30, 2016

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Ticonderoga Press: "Welcome" Anthology

"People leave their homes behind, setting off, often risking everything, in search of a new start, a better life. We are looking for stories that emphasise what makes these people the same rather than focussing on where they are going, exploring the idea this is something that could happen to anyone and that seeking refuge in a new land can be a good thing, both for the migrant and for the place that becomes their new home. Stories that look at the inhumanity of indefinite detention of refugees, of allowing them to be stripped of their dignity and sanity. Stories that explore the potential benefits of allowing refugees to establish a new, safer life. Stories of hope."

Genre: Short stories, mainly science fiction and fantasy, but other genres accepted

Length: 1500 to 7500 words

Payment: 8 cents/word (AU)

Deadline: May 30, 2016

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Otter Libris: Amazing Tales from the Circus Anthology

"Circuses are supposed to be places of joy and wonder, but they are also full of clowns and many people find clowns distinctly creepy. Circuses come into town and disappear after a brief stay, leaving behind nothing but a memory of the magic. They are homes for misfits, bearded ladies and contortionists who might be shunned in the outside world. What better environment than a circus for a story of magic and wonder that leaves you wondering if it ever happened. Give us your best wonderful, dark, or fantastic story about the circus."

Genre: Dark Fiction

Length: 3,000 to 10,000 words

Payment: $25

Deadline: May 31, 2016

Reprints accepted if they are a perfect fit

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One Story

Genre: Literary Fiction

Length: Between 3,000 and 8,000 words

Payment: $500

Deadline: May 31, 2016

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Contemporary Verse 2

Genre: Poetry and critical writing about poetry, including interviews, articles, essays, and reviews.

Length: Varies

Payment: Poetry: $30 per poem; Interviews: $50-$100, depending upon length; Articles: $50-$100, depending upon length; Essays: $40-$150, depending upon length; Reviews: $20-$75, depending upon length

Deadline: May 31, 2016

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Arc magazine

Genre: Poetry (modern style), book reviews, and poetry-themed essays

Payment: $40/page and one copy

Deadline: May 31, 2016

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The Gettysburg Review 

Genre: Poetry, fiction, essays

Payment: $2.00 per line for poetry and $15 per printed page for prose. Published authors also receive a copy of the issue containing their work and a one-year subscription.

Deadline: May 31, 2016

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Where the Stars Rise Anthology

Genre: Asian speculative fiction

Payment: 6 cents/word (CAN)

Deadline: May 31, 2016

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Agni

Genre: Poetry, short stories, essays, stand-alone novel excerpts

Payment: $20 per page for prose and $40 per page for poetry, with a $300 maximum

Deadline: May 31, 2016

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Grain Magazine

Genre: Poetry, short stories, literary non-fiction

Payment: $50 per page to a maximum of $250, plus 3 copies of the issue

Deadline: May 31, 2016

Snail mail submissions only
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Haunted Waters PressFrom the Depths: Outsiders

"We welcome both the profound and the quirky. We are open to most styles and genres of fiction including speculative, dark, experimental, and literary. We love flash fiction of any word count as long as it tells a complete story. We enjoy all forms of poetry including experimental, rhyming, free verse, and invented form. While we welcome deep, meaningful poetry, we also enjoy works that are witty, peculiar, or offbeat. As a general rule, we do not accept erotica. Horror only upon request. Profanity and violence, if used, must be integral to the story."

Payment: $.01 - $.04/word

Deadline: May 31, 2016

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ZYZZYVA

Payment: Token to semi-pro

Deadline: May 31, 2016

Snail mail submissions only

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Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Spirit of Canada

"In 2017 Canada will celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation. Our Canadian writers and readers will be focused on what Canada, and being Canadian, means. Send us your stories about what it means to be a Canadian, whether you're talking about hockey or camping, Celtic fiddle music and step dancing or singing “O Canada,” or any of the other things that make you so proud—and grateful—to be Canadian."

Genre: True stories

Payment: $200

Deadline: May 31, 2016

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Nashville Review

"Nashville Review seeks to publish the best work we can get our hands on, period. From expansive to minimalist, narrative to lyric, epiphanic to subtle—if it’s a moving work of art, we want it."

Genre: Short stories and poems

Payment: $100/story, $25/poem

Deadline: May 31, 2016

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Antioch Review

Genre: Nonfiction articles and some fiction geared to an educated audience

Payment: $20/page

Deadline: May 31, 2016

Snail mail submissions only


 
 
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Writing conferences offer so much to writers - master classes, opportunities to talk to authors, pitch sessions with agents, as well as workshops covering every aspect of writing and publishing. In addition, you get to share experiences with other writers - in the flesh! (Nothing beats actual face-to-face contact.)

If you can find the time to attend a conference, you won't regret it.

Note: For a month-by-month listing of conferences, as well as how to find upcoming conferences in your area, see Writing Conferences.
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Mokulē‘ia Writers Retreat. May 1 - 6, 2016 in Waialua, Hawaii at Camp Mokulē‘ia, Oahu. Offers workshops in fiction and nonfiction, readings, one-on-one consultations, publishing panels, yoga sessions. The retreat is led by North Shore native Constance Hale, the author of Sin and Syntax, the editor of more than two dozen books, and a journalist whose stories about Hawai‘i appear on CD liner notes, as well as in publications like The Los Angeles Times and Smithsonian magazine. Hale invites a mix of writers, editors, and agents from both the islands and the mainland to lead various workshops and appear on panels.

Writing By Writers Methow Valley Workshop: May 4 - 8, 2016, Winthrop, WA. Faculty: Andre Dubus III, Ron Carlson, Pam Houston, Lidia Yuknavitch. Tuition:  $1,450 (before November 1) $1,550 (after November 1) includes one four-day workshop, admittance to all panels and readings, and all meals (dinner on Wednesday; three meals Thursday through Saturday; breakfast and lunch on Sunday) and lodging for four nights.

Windsor International Writers Conference, Canada: May 5 - 8, 2016, Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Faculty: Sheryl WuDunn, Tara Beagan, Lev Raphel, Yale Strom, Tracy Beckerman, Marcia Fine, Carol McAdoo Rehme, Suzette Martinez Standring, Nick Cutter, Brian Henry, Andrew Pyper, Rick Sykes and over a dozen agents and publishing firms. Registration includes most meals, Meet and Greet reception: $400.00; At door: $600.00; Pre-conference intensive round-tables: $125.00; Post-conference Screenplay master class with Elliot Grove: $125.00.

Idaho Writers Guild Pitchfest: May 7th, 2016, Boise, Idaho. "Four outstanding literary agents will be in Boise taking your pitches. Your registration - $150 for IWG members, $195 for non-members - provides you two, 10-minute, 1-on-1 pitches. You'll also enjoy insider panel discussions and an exciting keynote speaker at our IWG Writing Contest Awards Luncheon. You may meet all the presenters in person at an exclusive cocktail reception on Friday evening, May 6th."

Life in the Spotlight: Author Opportunities After Publication: May 10 - 13, 2016, Honesdale, Pennsylvania. "It’s for the published author to determine how much time and energy should be invested in selling self and product, but if the most is to be made of a book and author in the marketplace, then personal efforts must follow that publication date. This workshop not only introduces the participants to publicity techniques and the fine points needed to create fruitful relationships with the media, but it offers instruction, practice, and a real-life school experience for each enrollee in the development of public speaking and presentation skills."

Writers Retreat Workshop 2016: May 12 - 19, 2016, San Antonio, TX. Featuring Joe Lansdale (Edgar Award, 8 Bram Stoker Awards); author/instructor Les Edgerton, author/instructor Arianne "Tex" Thompson, author/instructor Jason Sitzes, editor-in-residence/instructor Carol Dougherty and agents/editors.

Lakefly Writers Conference. May 13 - 14, 2016: Premier Waterfront Hotel & Convention Center in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Workshops, talks, and a bookfair for poets, fiction writers, and nonfiction writers. Keynote speaker is Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff, author of "The Missing Kennedy Rosemary Kennedy and the Secret Bonds of Four Women." Many speakers and presenters.

Big Sur on Cape Cod: May 13 - 15, 2016, North Falmouth MA. Faculty: Andrea Brown and four of her agents, four editors and four authors.

Chicago Writing Workshop, May 14, 2016, Chicago, IL. "This is a special one-day “How to Get Published” writing workshop on Saturday, May 14, 2016, at the historic Congress Plaza Hotel, just south of the downtown area. In other words, it’s one day full of classes and advice designed to give you the best instruction concerning how to get your writing & books published. We’ll discuss your publishing opportunities today, how to write queries & pitches, how to market yourself and your books, what makes an agent/editor stop reading your manuscript, and more. No matter what you’re writing — fiction or nonfiction — the day’s classes will help point you in the right direction. Writers of all genres are welcome." Features over two dozen attending agents.

Seaside Writers Conference. May 14 - 21, 2016: Seaside Assembly Hall in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. "The Seaside Writers Conference is an annual gathering of creative writers from all over the nation, and features award-winning writers in poetry and fiction and screenwriting who will offer a full week of intensive writing workshops, one day seminars, school outreach programs, and social events." Many authors, agents, editors.

Writing Jewish-Themed Children’s Books: May 15-18, 2016, Honesdale, Pennsylvania. "A hands-on workshop specifically designed for writers of Jewish-themed content. Whether your manuscript has slight or overwhelming Jewish content, this is the workshop for you. Unlike a one-day conference, this workshop includes one-on-one manuscript critiques with a literary agent or editor and time to revise. There’ll also be two group critiques."

Novel-In-Progress Bookcamp. May 15-21, 2016: West Bend WI. 6-day, residential workshop-retreat for writers in all genres working on a novel or creative nonfiction book. Workshops in Autobiography/Memoir, Fiction, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Non-fiction, Publishing, Romance, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Young Adult. Registration is limited to 30 people.

Novels in Verse — More than a Novel, More than Poetry: May 21 - 25, 2016, Honesdale, Pennsylvania. "The Novel in Verse Workshop offers writers the rare opportunity to have the entire draft of a novel read and critiqued. At the workshop, you’ll get a letter with overall comments as well as a marked-up manuscript. (Depending how far in advance you submit your novel, you may receive the letter and manuscript beforehand.) We’ll discuss the letter and manuscript in person at the workshop where we can get your feedback and we can explain our suggestions to help you make your novel what it wants to be." Please note: application deadline is April 25, 2016.

ASJA (American Society of Journalists and Authors) Writers Conference, May 20 - May 21, 2016. NYC, NY. Focus on Autobiography/Memoir, Business/Technical, Humor, Journalism, Marketing, Nature, Non-fiction, Publishing, Religion, Screenwriting, Travel. Attending: more than 100 editors, authors, literary agents, and publicists.

Pennwriters Conference, May 20 - 22, 2016, Pittsburgh, PA. Friday evening keynote Jonathan Maberry; Saturday afternoon keynote Kathryn Craft; and 20+ authors, literary agents & editors, writing industry pros. Costs: $300 for 3-day registration. One-day registration available (price TBD)

Hedgebrook VORTEXT Salon. May 20 - 22, 2016: Whidbey Institute on Whidbey Island, about 35 miles northwest of Seattle. Workshops, panel discussions, lectures, open mics, and time to write in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction for women writers.

Spring Writing Intensive: May 21, 2016, Annapolis MD. "In this one-day writing intensive, participants will have the opportunity to join other writers for a day devoted to writing instruction, discovery, and inspiration. Working under the guidance of award-winning authors, attendees may select four workshops from seven choices. By choosing from a menu of craft options that will include memoir, fiction, nonfiction, and publishing advice, participants will select the subjects that address their most challenging writing issues and will leave armed with new skills, understanding, and motivation. All levels are welcome." Tuition: $175.

North Words Writers Symposium: May 25 - 28, 2016, Skagway, Alaska. Faculty: Keynote author Brian Doyle - Portland, Oregon novelist/essayist/editor. Alaskan authors include: Kim Heacox, Eowyn Ivey, Heather Lende, Lynn Schooler, John Straley, and Emily Wall. Costs: $375 includes most meals. College credit extra for $90.

Creative Nonfiction Writers' Conference. May 27 - 29, 2016: Wyndham University Center in Pittsburgh, PA. Master classes, craft discussions, publishing talks, pitch sessions, and readings for creative nonfiction writers. In just three days you can meet one-on-one with a literary agent or publishing consultant, get concrete advice from professional writers, hear what different kinds of editors are looking for, and hone your skills in an inspiring small-group session. You’ll also meet and mingle with writers from across the country who share your excitement about the writing process.

 
 
Here are two new agents looking for clients. New agents are a boon to writers. They are enthusiastic and hard-working, and eager to make sales. Often, they are former editors and/or published authors, which means they have contacts in the industry. 

Elise Erickson (Harold Ober Associates) is seeking romance and all of its subgenres, women’s fiction, paranormal, mystery including clever cozy mysteries, thrillers, historical fiction, commercial literary fiction, and some YA. Lori Galvin (Zachary Shuster Harmsworth) is seeking cookbooks.

You can find many more new and established agents seeking clients here: Agents Seeking Clients
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Elise Erickson of Harold Ober Associates

About Elise: Elise of Harold Ober Associates graduated from St. Olaf College and the NYU Summer Publishing Institute in 2014, and spent several months interning at Penguin’s New American Library imprint, Folio Literary Management, and Susanna Lea Associates before taking on her current position at Harold Ober Associates. She grew up in both Florida and Minnesota, but is quickly learning to love city life in NYC. Elise is passionate about the role and responsibility of the literary agent, especially being an advocate for authors. In addition to working with books, she currently assists in selling Harold Ober’s TV, film, and subsidiary rights, and is actively building a client list of her own.

What she is looking for: Romance and all of its subgenres, women’s fiction, paranormal, mystery including clever cozy mysteries, thrillers, historical fiction, commercial literary fiction, and some YA. She is particularly drawn to stories that contain a strong sense of place, and female protagonists with unique, compelling voices.

Not Looking For: Poetry, Screenplays, Picture Books, Horror, Self-help.

How to submit: Please email the first 15-20 pages of your manuscript, a concise query letter, and a detailed synopsis to elise [at] haroldober.com.
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Lori Galvin of Zachary Shuster Harmsworth

About Lori: Lori Galvin knows cookbooks. For over a decade, she helped lead a team that produced dozens of landmark cookbooks (70+) for the multimedia publisher America’s Test Kitchen. Just a few of her titles include the companions to the most-watched cooking shows on public television, America’s Test Kitchen andCook’s Country from America’s Test Kitchen, as well as the New York Times bestseller The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook, The Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook, Cook’s Country Eats Local, and Kitchen Hacks. With her in-depth experience working for a powerful multi-platform brand (books, magazines, web, TV, and radio), she knows what it takes to make a book and its author a success from conception to publication and beyond. Before working at ATK, Lori edited cookbooks for Houghton Mifflin, cooked in restaurant kitchens, and ran a bed-and-breakfast in Maine. Find her on Twitter and LinkedIn. She joined Zachary Schuster Harmsworth in 2015.

Lori is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) and Women Chefs and Restaurateurs (WCR). She earned her B.A. in English Literature from Northeastern University and is a graduate of the culinary certificate program at Boston University.

What she is seeking: Lori seeks cookbook authors with a strong point of view, a solid grounding in their field, and a talent for motivating cooks of all stripes to get into the kitchen. She is also on the lookout for compelling narratives about food and drink, whether memoir or cultural commentary, serious or steeped in humor. Lifestyle topics, including motivational self-help, are also of interest.

How to submit: “Please use this form to send e-mail to anyone on our staff.”

 
 
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If you have spent some time looking at successful queries, or browsing agent bios, you will notice that comparative titles figure prominently.

There are several very important reasons to come up with some comparative titles (aka "comps") for your book, all of which have to do with marketing. The marketing department - and this is true of any publisher - is not going to sit down and read your book, so it is up to you to get them the information they need to help generate publicity and sales. Your agent will also need comps to pitch your book to a publisher.

Random House has put together an excellent article on why comparative titles are important, and how they are used by marketing departments. There is a useful section at the end that describes how to find comp titles, in case you are at a loss.

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What Are Comp Titles and Why Are They Useful?

By Andrea Bachofen - Random House News for Authors

Comparison (“comp”) titles are books that are similar to yours in one of two ways: Either the content is comparable or the sales trends are expected to be similar. For your publishing team, comp titles are extremely important. The comps help editors making acquisition decisions to figure out who and how big the audience might be for a specific title. Editors also look at the sales trajectories of comp titles: Will Book X be the type of book to backlist forever, like Book Y, or go strong out of the gate and then fade fast when the publicity dies down, like Book Z? Marketing teams also find comps useful when putting together marketing plans for individual titles.

Additionally, comp titles are essential for the sales group: They give the sales reps a good shorthand when selling in to retailers. Reps have only thirty seconds to pitch each book with some accounts. Being able to say “It’s like x and y” can be one of the most effective ways to get attention from the buyer and to set expectations about audience and ballpark sales potential.

While our publishing teams often add additional comp titles during the publishing process, it is immensely valuable for them to understand what comp titles you suggest, so you can align your expectations about framing and positioning early in the process.

What Makes a Good Comp Title?

Here are a few things to ask yourself when determining if your selection is a good one:

1. Is the title recent? (Within the last two or three years is ideal.)

2. Is the title the same format? (If your forthcoming book is hardcover, don’t use a trade paperback original as a comp.)

3. Will your book have the same target audience in terms of genre? (This is relatively easy to do if the book fits neatly into a category: literary fiction, commercial women’s fiction, mystery, thriller, or science fiction. It can be more complicated if a book does not fit neatly into one category: for example, if the book is both very literary and science fiction. In that case, it is ideal to find previous books that have straddled both audiences.)

4. Does your book have the same target audience in terms of demographics? (Don’t include a young adult title if the audience for your book is clearly on the adult side, for example.)

5. Is your comp realistic and believable? (Although it’s tempting to compare your work to a breakout bestseller, it’s more credible to choose a title with a typical sales path.)

6. Has your comp been successful . . . to a certain degree? (The book doesn’t have to—and usually shouldn’t—be a phenomenon, but it should at least be on the radar of accounts or on category bestseller lists. If a comp title is a perfect editorial match but a sales failure, it may set the expectations for your book too low.)

You can read the rest of this informative article HERE.

 
 
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Your manuscript is complete and polished, and now you are ready to embark on the task of sending query letters. 

(Or alternatively, you can go to a conference and pitch an agent in the flesh. Go here for a list of conferences: Writing Conferences )

Before you send your query, you need to do a little research. Does the agent accept your genre? Does the agent have a track record? Does the agent clearly describe his or her submission requirements? And when the agent starts describing what it is he or she wants, what on earth are they talking about?

Agents, like publishers, use jargon - it's one of the hazards of the trade. But as an author, you may have no idea what they mean by "high concept," "upmarket," "literary." Speaking reasonably, your job is to write your book; theirs is to find a niche for it. Unf, writers are also expected to define not only their genre, and their audience, but also their market niche, which is something they may know nothing about.

It's never too late to learn!

Here are some terms you may run across on agent bios when they describe what it is they are looking for.

High Concept means the book can be made into a movie. In general books that fall into this category have a single premise ("what if..."), clear story lines, are highly visual, appeal to a mass audience, and have a well-defined emotional focus that fits into a movie category (Family comedy? Drama? Romcom?). If you can sum up your book in one sentence, you may have written a high-concept novel.

Up-market fiction is any novel that has mass appeal and is also well-written. Memoirs of a Geisha falls into that category. These are books you want to keep. Frequently, non-genre fiction may be used to mean up-market.

Commercial fiction is entertaining, has a plot that moves right along, and may or may not feature writing that makes you cringe. The Stephanie Plum mysteries would fall into that category, as well as most popular mass market paperbacks. (Romances, in particular.) These are books you read in a dentist's office, because you found them there, and which you will probably leave in the waiting room after your teeth have been nicely polished. Most genre fiction is commercial.

Literary fiction is art. Almost every writer who has won a Nobel Prize fits into this category, as well as a few who should have but didn't. (Pretentious wannabes also fall into the category of literary fiction, but people often can't tell the difference.) In literary fiction, the way you tell a story is more important than what actually happens. (What exactly happened in White Noise?) The exploration of character, style, and theme is what moves these books along. If you are reading a book, and you have to stop because the prose is stunning, revelatory, or just plain deep (and you are not stoned) you are reading literary fiction. If you need a half hour to explain what's in your book, you may have written something literary.

Narrative non-fiction is any non-fiction book that reads like a novel. The Poet and the Murderer is a great narrative non-fiction book that tells the story of how ... no, I won't spoil it for you. You'll just have to read it.

Strong platforms are what agents representing general non-fiction like to see (though not necessarily narrative non-fiction). Are you the CEO of a Fortune 500 corporation? Have you been a quarterback in the NFL? Are you a surgeon doing experimental brain transplants at a famous hospital? Does everyone on the planet know who you are? Those are people who have strong platforms. If you have a few thousand followers on Twitter, or a blog with a couple thousand followers, or lots of "friends" on Facebook, you do not have a strong platform - although all those things are important to mention if you write any kind of fiction.

These articles will help you find an agent who is right for you

How to Research an Agent

Beggars Can Be Choosers - How to Pick an Agent

Valuable Tips for Pitching to an Agent or Editor

Finding an Agent – Look before you leap

Are You Ready to Contact an Agent? Take This Short Quiz and Find Out

What Not to Do When Contacting an Agent

 
 
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If you have a sense of humor, why not use it to make some money instead of wasting your talent on graffiti? There are ample economic opportunities for people who can see the lighter side of life, or skewer the darker side with a well-aimed quip.

The publications below want to make their readers grin, chortle, guffaw, smile knowingly, and sometimes take you seriously until the last possible moment. Satire, sarcasm, revolting college humor, one-liners, witty bon mots, sentimental slop, whatever you're good at, some magazine on this list will pay you for it.

Happy submitting!

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McSweeney’s 

This is one of the most popular, and, in my opinion, funniest sites on the web. (Feel free to disagree.) (But you'll be wrong.) Chances of acceptance are remote, but it doesn't hurt to try. They pay on acceptance, but in keeping with their "no rules" policy, they don't say how much.

The Morning News

"The Morning News (TMN) is an online magazine of essays, art, humor, and culture published weekdays since 1999. In addition to our features, each day includes our headlines, with links to the most interesting news items, articles, and oddities around the web. At TMN, we believe in good writing, tight editing, wit, curiosity, making mistakes, and solving them with tequila. We speak through what we publish."

The Toast

"The Toast is a daily blog that publishes features on everything from literary characters that never were to female pickpockets of Gold Rush-era San Francisco. The Toast is one of those mass-market science fiction paperbacks some used bookstores put out on the street in big press-board rolling carts, the kind with drawings of women in long white robes standing in front of a horizon with two or three moons on the cover. The Toast is a long email chain about force-ranking the Mitford sisters. The Toast prefers free weights to circuit machines but also enjoys a good sit. The Toast doesn’t care how much you or Marilyn Monroe weigh. The Toast is happy, then dignified. The Toast is not haunted, but would welcome a visit from ghosts."

MAD Magazine

"We welcome all humor submissions and the best way to know what we’re looking for is to take a look at what we’re doing now! Originality and visual humor are especially prized! We’re interested in material focusing on evergreen topics, such as dating, family, school and work, plus topical material about celebrities, sports, politics, news and social trends. In addition, we will consider submissions for our Fundalini Pages and annual MAD 20 (The Dumbest People, Events and Things of the Year). We also welcome submissions for our Strip Club (artist-writers or artist-writer teams preferred)."

The Funny Times

"Our print publication pokes fun at politics, news, relationships, food, technology, pets, work, death, environmental issues, business, religion (yes, even religion) and the human condition in general. Not much is off limits, so do your best to make us laugh. Plus we’re advertising free, so whatever we like, we use. We pay upon publication, not acceptance, and the rates are $25-$40 per cartoon based on reproduction size and $60 each for story."

Happy Woman Magazine

"Happy Woman is a parody publication. We are looking for articles that spoof items one might read in magazines like Cosmopolitan, Glamour or Good Housekeeping, O or any publication of that sort."

Skirt!

"Part feminista part fashionista our mission is to publish a monthly magazine that speaks to all sides of a women’s personality - their work, their play, their families and their creativity, through one of kind content and effective advertising." Themed issues.

Cracked

"If you are a funny/smart/creative person, Cracked.com is the single best opportunity you will ever come across in your life. No experience necessary. We will pay you if it's good. You talk directly to the editors — no form letter rejections. Your work could be seen by millions of people. We need articles, photoshops, infographics and videos. Take your pick." Pays $50 per article for your first four articles, then $150 afterwards

Salon

"Salon welcomes article queries and submissions. The best way to submit articles and story pitches is via email with the words “Editorial Submission” in the subject line. Send your query or submission in plain text in the body of your email, rather than as an attached file." Topical and political humor. No fiction.

Free Wood Post

"We are looking for outrageous political humor that is indirect and satirical; Spoofing individuals as long as vitriolic language is not present (passive aggressive); Nonsensical humor that is purely made up just for the sake of being fun and doesn’t really serve any purpose. This can include faulty logic, non-sequiturs, and silly conclusions. (fun, sarcastic, and for the most part clean)."

Glossy News

"If you write satire, or you’ve just always wanted to, consider submitting your story to Glossy News. Our stories are regularly picked up by HumorFeed and Google News as well as many other leading news aggregators, so if you think you’ve got the chops there’s no better time. No more must you limit yourself to enraged letters to editors or mere blog posts, now you can put your brain where your mouth is… and that’s as sexy as it sounds." Offers prizes.

College Humor

"Wanna write articles for CollegeHumor? One of the biggest comedy sites on the internet? A site that generates millions of pageviews per day and once bought a stuffed banana for like $4 grand? Well guess what - YOU CAN! All you have to do is send an email to Articles@collegehumor.com with your pitch, and our editors will work with you to craft the perfect article. Even better? If your article submission gets accepted, WE’LL PAY YOU MONEY. For a single page article, we’ll pay you $35. For a larger multi-page article, we’ll pay you $50."

Dorkly (Obviously related to College Humor)

"Wanna write articles for Dorkly? One of the top sites for drawings of unusually-jacked Pokemon? A site that generates millions of pageviews per day and pays its freelancers a reasonable sum? Well guess what - YOU CAN! All you have to do is send an email to Articles@dorkly.com with your pitch, and our editors will work with you to craft the perfect article. Even better? If your article submission gets accepted, WE’LL PAY YOU MONEY. For a single page article, we’ll pay you $35. For a larger multi-page article, we’ll pay you $75."

Saturday Evening Post

"We accept humor submissions for the Lighter Side. Submissions must be between 1,000 and 3,000 words in length and previously unpublished. Please send articles as Microsoft Word or PDF attachments to editors@saturdayeveningpost.com with Attn: Lighter Side in the subject line. If sending a pitch or query, writers should include one or two writing samples of their work as Microsoft Word or PDF attachments. Please include contact information: name, address, phone number, email address, and Twitter handle (if applicable). In lieu of email, see hard-copy guidelines above." Pays $25-$400 per article.

Suddenly Senior

"We are seeking excellent guest columnists -- you must write well, with humor and wit, and wisdom -- to be published for Suddenly Senior's large and attentive audience. Got a humorous column or two in you that would entertain, educate, even titillate Suddenly Senior readers? In a literate way, of course." Pays $25 per article.

Imperfect Parent

"Anything that deals with any aspect of the lighter side of parenting — parody, humorous takes on parenting, satire, an “open letter”, take your pick. And if you are questioning if your humor crosses the line, then definitely send it in — we don’t want “safe.” We are a gloriously independent site that doesn’t answer to a board of directors or a huge corporate sponsorship. Use that to your advantage. We certainly aren’t afraid of offending some people, and you shouldn’t be, either." Pays $25 per article.

Reader's Digest

"Everybody’s got a funny story. What’s yours? Send us your joke, quote, or a funny true story—if it’s selected for the magazine, you’ll be paid $100!"

Listverse

This is an interesting site that capitalizes on the Internet craze for lists. You will find lists for just about everything on Listverse. They are looking for offbeat, unexpected, little-known facts, all written with a sense of humor. Check out some of their lists to see what they prefer. 1500 words minimum. Payment is $100 via Paypal only.

 
 
Here are three new agents seeking clients. Ryann Wahl (Holloway Literary) is interested in representing literary fiction, upmarket fiction, and young adult novels. Michael Hoogland (Dystel & Goderich) is looking for sci-fi, fantasy, thrillers, upmarket women’s fiction, and some children’s books (picture books, MG, and YA), as well as a wide variety of narrative nonfiction, including science, history, and politics. Erik Hane (Red Sofa Literary) is seeking literary fiction, and for nonfiction, he seeks popular science, sports writing, popular culture/modern life, essays, and history.
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Ryann Wahl of Holloway Literary

About Ryann: Ryann Wahl holds an MFA in Poetry from Columbia College Chicago and a BA in English from Allegheny College. Between literary journal editing and working in the trade publishing industry, she has six years of publishing experience. She grew to love working with foreign publishers through her three years in literary scouting with Jane Starr Literary Scouts and looks forward to continuing to do so as the Foreign Rights Manager at Holloway Literary, in addition to taking on her own clients as a literary agent. As a writer herself, she is dedicated to the rights and needs of authors, and takes a hands-on, editorial approach. Follow Ryann on Twitter @ryann_wahl.

What she is seeking: Ryann is interested in representing literary fiction, upmarket fiction, and young adult novels. For literary fiction, Ryann is looking for sharp, clean, language-driven writing with stunning turns of phrase. Ryann is interested in narratives that explore the strange within the mundane, dig into the human experience, and lift the corners of our daily lives to reveal what’s beneath. Introspective, meditative, lyrical, atmospheric, diverse, subversive, and politically relevant are all qualities to which she’s drawn. Nicole Krauss and Zadie Smith are two contemporary literary writers she loves.

For upmarket fiction, Ryann is looking for strong writing with a compelling hook. She likes psychological thrillers that approach the genre in a fresh way, such as Mark Dunn’s UNDER THE HARROW, and also smart coming-of-age stories with a mature voice, such as the work of Curtis Sittenfeld. Other examples of a compelling hook carried by well-observed writing would be M.O. Walsh’s MY SUNSHINE AWAY and Jessica Knoll’s LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE.

For young adult, she would like well-written stories that tackle challenging subjects in imaginative ways, like Gavriel Savit’s ANNA AND THE SWALLOW MAN, although her interest is definitely not limited to historical YA. Ryann is drawn to special YA novels that are timely yet have a timeless feel. Three-dimensional characters and world-building are essential. To this day, her favorite YA book is still THE GIVER.

How to submit: Send your query and the first fifteen pages of your manuscript pasted into the body of your email to submissions a[t] hollowayliteraryagency.com. In the subject header write: “Ryann/Title/Genre.” You can expect a response in 4 to 6 weeks. If Ryann is interested, she’ll respond with a request for more material. If she’s not interested in your query but thinks it will be a good fit for others at the agency, she’ll share your submission. Due to the number of emails the agency receives, Ryann can only respond if she’s interested.
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Michael Hoogland of Dystel & Goderich

About Mike: Michael Hoogland joined Dystel & Goderich after completing a foreign rights internship at Sterling Lord Literistic. Before pursuing a career in publishing, Mike studied at Colgate University and graduated with a degree in political science and the intention to work in government. He interned with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, but soon realized his interests and passions were better suited to a career in the publishing industry. After Colgate, Mike went on to gain a valuable education at the Columbia Publishing Course and discovered his passion for the agenting side of the business.

What he is seeking: sci-fi, fantasy, thrillers, upmarket women’s fiction, and some children’s books (picture books, MG, and YA), as well as a wide variety of narrative nonfiction, including science, history, and politics. He is particularly interested in seeing thought-provoking, realistic speculative fiction.

How to submit: E-query mhoogland [at] dystel.com. “Synopses, outlines or sample chapters (say, one chapter or the first 25 pages of your manuscript) should either be included below the cover letter or attached as a separate document. We won’t open attachments if they come with a blank email, by the way. We will respond to most query letters within a six to eight week period. If you don’t hear from us within that time frame, chances are we did not receive yours. Feel free to resend it.”
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There are loads of free literary contests in April, some with substantial prizes. All genres and forms are included, from humorous poetry, to short fiction, to full length-works, both published and unpublished.

Some of these contests have age and regional restrictions, so be sure to read the full guidelines before submitting.

Good luck!

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Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest. Now in its 15th year, this contest seeks today's best humor poems, published and unpublished. Please enter one poem only, 250 lines max. Prize: $2,250 in prizes, including a top prize of $1,000, and publication on Winning Writers. Deadline: April 1, 2016. Submission form HERE.

Harold U. Ribalow PrizeGenre: Fiction on a Jewish theme, published books only. Prize: $3,000.  Deadline: April 1, 2016. More details are HERE.

Bop Dead CityGenres: Prose, poetry. Prize: $20. Deadline: April 1, 2016. More details are HERE.

Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-FictionRestrictions: The writer must be Canadian, and an entry must be the writer's first or second published book of any type or genre and must have a Canadian locale and/or significance. Genre: Print books and ebooks of creative non-fiction published in the previous calendar year. Prize: C$10,000.00. Deadline: April 1, 2016. More details are HERE.

The Marguerite and Lamar Smith Fellowship for Writers. Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians awards fellowships for writers to spend time in McCullers' childhood home in Columbus, Georgia. The fellowships are intended to afford the writers in residence uninterrupted time to dedicate to their work, free from the distractions of daily life and other professional responsibilities. Award: Stipend of $5000 to cover costs of transportation, food and other incidentals. Fellowship recipients will be required to introduce or advance their work through reading or workshop/forum presentations. The Fellow will work with the McCullers Center Director to plan a presentation near the end of the residency. Deadline: April 1, 2016. More details are HERE.

Carbon Culture Review's Poetry Film PrizeGenre: Film: make a film of your poem. Prize: $1000.  Deadline: April 1, 2016. More details are HERE.

The Great American Think-OffGenre: Essay on the theme: “Income Inequality Threatens Democracy.” Entrants should take a strong stand agreeing or disagreeing with this topic, basing their arguments on personal experience and observations rather than philosophical abstraction. Essay should be no more than 750 words. Prize: One of four $500 cash prizes. Deadline: April 1, 2016. Submission details are HERE.

Paterson Fiction PrizeGenre: Published novel or collection of short fiction.  Prize: $1,000. Deadline: April 1, 2016. More details are HERE.

Allen Ginsberg Poetry AwardsGenre: Poetry, up to five poems per person. Prize: $1,000. Deadline: April 1, 2016. More details are HERE.

Washington State Book AwardsRestrictions: Open to Washington State writers. Genre: Published book, all genres. Prize: $500. Deadline: April 1, 2016. More details are HERE.

The Waterston Desert Writing PrizeGenre: Literary nonfiction, desert theme. Prize: $1,500. Deadline: April 1, 2016. More details are HERE.

Fall Lines: Saluda River Prize for Poetry / Broad River Prize for ProseGenres: Poetry, flash fiction, essays, short fiction. Prizes: Two $250 cash prizes, and publication. Deadline: April 1, 2016. More details are HERE.

Graybeal-Gowen Prize for Virginia PoetsRestrictions: Open to Virginia poets. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $500. Deadline: April 1, 2016. More details are HERE.

The Lucien Stryk Asian Translation PrizeGenre: Book-length translation of Asian poetry into English. Both translators and publishers are invited to submit titles. Book must have been published in previous year. Prize: $5,000. Deadline: April 8, 2016. See details HERE.

American Literary Translators Association Italian Prose in Translation AwardGenre: Translation of a recent work of Italian prose (fiction or literary non-fiction). Both translators and publishers are invited to submit titles. Book must have been published in previous year. Prize: $5,000. Deadline: April 8, 2016. See details HERE.

William Saroyan Writing ContestRestrictions: Open to students in 1st grade through college. Genre: Short story, 2 pages. Prize: $50 - $100. Deadline: April 11, 2016. More details are HERE.

Stony Brook Short Fiction PrizeRestrictions: Only undergraduates enrolled full time in United States and Canadian universities and colleges for the academic year 2015-16 are eligible. Genre: Fiction of no more than 7,500 words. Prize: $1,000. Deadline: April 15, 2016. See submission details HERE.

Common Good Books Poetry Contest is sponsored by Common Good Books, proprietor Garrison Keillor. Genre: Poetry. The poem must be a declaration of gratitude. Prize: Grand prizes of $1000 each, and four poets will receive $500 for poems of particular merit. Deadline: April 15, 2016. See submission details HERE.

Scotiabank Giller PrizeRestrictions: Open to books published in Canada in English. Books must be published in Canada in English between October 1, 2015 and September 30, 2016 to be eligible for the 2016 Prize. Must  be nominated by publisher. Genre: Fiction. Full-length novel or collection of short stories published in English, either originally, or in translation. Prize: $100,000 to the winner and $10,000 to each of the finalists. Deadline: April 15, 2016. See details HERE.

Rhyme On! Genre: Poetry, one poem only. Prize: 1st prize -  $200, 2nd prize - $100, 3rd prize - $50. Deadline: April 15, 2016. See submission details HERE.

Chautauqua Editors Prize. Awards will recognize the writing that best captures both the issue’s theme and the spirit of Chautauqua Institution. Prizes: $500, $250, and $100 for each issue. Deadline: April 15, 2016. Submission form is HERE.

The Waterman Fund Essay ContestGenre: Essay. "The dual mission of the NPS is to conserve the resources and provide visitor enjoyment of uniquely wild and beautiful places around the country. However, with these high and growing levels of use, how can the NPS achieve these ideals? Is the spirit of wilderness alive and well in our National Parks? What do we gain or lose by protecting these areas over others? What relationships between stewardship and National Parks stand out as significant in preserving both our landscapes and our ideals of wilderness? Emerging writers are encouraged to address these questions and their own in well-crafted essays, drawing on personal wilderness experiences—in or out of Parks—as concrete examples for their arguments." Prizes: The winning essayist will be awarded $1500 and publication in Appalachia Journal. The Honorable Mention essay will receive $500. Deadline: April 15, 2016.  Submission details are HERE.

Monash Undergraduate Prize for Creative Writing. "Now in its fifth year, the Prize is a significant literary award for new and emerging writers. The prize is open to both Australian and New Zealand university students, enrolled in either an undergraduate or honours degree. All types of creative writing will be accepted, including short stories, non-fiction narrative and narrative verse." Prize: $4000.  Deadline: April 18, 2016.  Submission details are HERE.

Sapiens PlurumGenre: Stories that personalize the consequences of climate change so readers feel as well as know them. But stories must offer hope, at least a possibility, for without hope people rarely act. Your job, as author, is to inspire scientists and states-persons around the world to live up to the promise of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. Prize: 1ST PRIZE: $1000; 2ND PRIZE: $500; 3RD PRIZE: $300. Deadline: April 22, 2016. Submission details are HERE.

Toronto Book AwardsGenres: All genres accepted. Restrictions: Submission "must evoke the city itself, that is, contain some clear Toronto content (this may be reflected in the themes, settings, subjects, etc.). Authors do not necessarily have to reside in Toronto. Ebooks, textbooks and self-published works are not eligible. Prize: A total of $15,000 CD will be awarded. Each shortlisted author (usually 4-6) receives C$1,000 and the winning author is awarded the remainder. Deadline: April 30, 2016. Submission guidelines are HERE.

Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry FellowshipsRestrictions: Applicants must reside in the U.S. or be U.S. citizens. Applicants must be at least 21 years of age and no older than 31 years of age as of April 30, 2016. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $25,800.  Deadline: April 30, 2016. Submission guidelines are HERE.

Lake Superior State University High School Short Story PrizeRestrictions: Open to high school students students residing in the Midwestern United States (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin) or Ontario, Canada. Genre: Alternate history short stories. Prize: $500 and publication. Deadline: April 30, 2016. Submission guidelines are HERE.

Anna Boswell Memorial Prize for Young WritersRestrictions: Open to writers 13-19 years of age. Genres: Poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction. Prize: $100. Deadline: April 30, 2016. Submission guidelines are HERE.

Artemis vs ApolloGenre: Mythology, 5000 words max. Prize: $100 Visa e-card. Deadline: April 30, 2016. Submission guidelines are HERE.

The Jan Garton Prairie Heritage Book Award will be given to the best book of the year that illuminates the heritage of America’s mid-continental prairies, whether of the tall-grass, mid-grass, or short-grass regions. Authors’ first books receive extra consideration. Books published in 2014 may be nominated by publishers, authors, or readers. Genre: Books may be in any genre, and topics may include but are not limited to social or natural history; prairie culture of the past or in-the-making; and interactions between society and ecology. Prize: $1000 and a sponsored book-signing. Deadline: April 30, 2016. Submission guidelines are HERE.

The Scythe PrizeRestrictions: Open to college students. Genre: Short stories, creative nonfiction. Prize: $250. Deadline: April 30, 2016. Submission guidelines are HERE.

Wax Poetry and Art Poetry ContestPrize: $120. Deadline: April 30, 2016. Submission guidelines are HERE.

 

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