Archive for category Markets

First Impressions Critique Service & The Writers’ Coffee Shop

Firstly, I’ve had some extremely positive feedback from Dorinda Cass on her short story critique, which I supplied as a prize a week ago on this blog.

She told me, “Your critique was helpful and insightful. I have no qualms in recommending your critique service to others.”

Therefore I am pleased to announce that the First Impressions Critique Service is now open for business.

The cost is £10.00 for a critique of a story or piece of non-fiction up to 2,000 words in length. Full details of what’s included can be found on my First Impressions Critique Service page. Why not pop over and have a look?

Secondly, The Writer’s Coffee Shop is currently open for submissions. This is an independent publisher based in New South Wales in Australia and it is also the publisher that first released Fifty Shades of Grey as e-books and print-on-demand paperbacks. I thought that EL James had initially self-published the e-books but according to her website, this was not the case.

The Writer’s Coffee Shop is currently looking for stories between 20,000 and 30,000 words (a good stepping stone from short story to novel?). The stories must fall into the genres of either romance or erotica. Stories can be emailed and full details are here.

Finally, I’ve had a couple of nice surprises in the past week. I was shortlisted in the Writers’ News ‘Pride and Prejudice’ Short Story Competition – I was pleased about this since I’d gone to the trouble of reading the book (for the first time) especially so that I could enter the competition.

And today I heard that I’d won a £25 Tesco gift card for leaving a comment on Hire Bloggers Facebook page. Hire Bloggers is a new undertaking that aims to match bloggers to businesses for paid work. Wouldn’t it be nice to earn money from blogging?

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Women’s Walking Magazine

I bought Women’s Walking magazine this week, for two reasons:Women's Walking magazine

  • It’s a new magazine (the current issue is only no. 2) and I thought it might contain a market opportunity
  • I like walking but didn’t realise that such a simple exercise could need a whole magazine devoted to it

As far as market opportunities go, I’m not too hopeful:

Flicking through the pages and looking at the credentials of some of the magazine’s contributors tells me that I’m not qualified to pitch anything remotely related to the Health, Nutrition, Workout and Fitness sections of the magazine.

There’s a couple of ‘Real-Life’ features, one about a woman who lost seven stone by walking and another about a woman who walked her way back to health after an accident. Nothing so dramatic has happened to me (thank goodness!) so no openings there.

There’s a ‘My Life’ page, which tells the part that walking plays in the life of one individual woman. This month it is Pippa Kendrick, a published food writer – so I don’t think they’re looking for any Tom, Dick or Sally.

That leaves me to dream up a more general article. The magazine includes one this month on charity fundraising (for sponsored walks) plus a list of the best walking marathons. I’ve done a few 26 mile walks, so I wonder if I could do something along those lines…

But I think the best place to start is with the letters page – there’s a pair of walking shoes worth £90 for the star letter, nothing for the others. Nine letters were published in issue 2, mostly praising the magazine and describing what walking means to the writer. I’m going to think of something different!

And is it possible to devote a whole magazine to women’s walking? It appears so but there’s also lots of stuff in there about general fitness and equipment too. I particularly liked one of their tips for getting a flatter stomach – apparently a good night’s sleep is essential, people getting between five and six hours sleep have bigger waistlines than those sleeping for seven or eight hours – I like the idea of toning up whilst I’m dreaming!

So what do the rest of you do to combat the sedentary life of a writer? I go to the occasional BodyCombat class – lots of kicking and punching at an imaginary partner is great for getting rid of aggression – and I find swimming helps me think.


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E-book Erotica – the way forward?

On Saturday we had a really interesting meeting of the Birmingham Chapter of the Romantic Novelists’ Association. There were 8 of us around the table in the Edwardian Tea Rooms of the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and one of our member’s exploits took up most our discussions.

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery - Edwardian Te...

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery – Edwardian Tea Room (Photo credit: ell brown)

She shall remain nameless, since for obvious reasons she writes under a pseudonym, but she is making around £800 a month selling her erotic e-books, mostly to the US markets. Bear in mind that she fits this around a full-time day job and a family -it makes me wonder why I am slogging away trying to get the odd story accepted by a women’s magazine or shortlisted in a competition!

Our successful author currently has 67 stories for sale, ranging in length from 3,000 to 10,000 words. Apparently the secret of her success is to keep up with the latest trends in erotica – for example monsters are the ‘in thing’ at the moment (the mind boggles!).

She self-publishes the e-books, formatting them and designing the covers herself. As you can imagine, we were all agog to learn her secrets and she has promised us a workshop in January…

Talking about the mind boggling, I caught the tail end of a Radio 4 program – ‘When Harry Potter Met Frodo’ – about Fan Fiction this week. The presenter was talking about Slash Fiction. This is a sub-genre of Fan Fiction and involves choosing 2 of your favourite male characters from existing works of fiction, bringing them together and letting them have an affair (at least that’s my polite way of putting it!).

So, if you want to write what the market wants – now you know!

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Win a Kindle, Kobo or Book Tokens

Following on from my last post – my Kobo e-reader prize has arrived and has turned out to be more of an android tablet rather than a simple e-reader. It is the Vox model and has lots more functionality than I expected, so what choice did I have but to keep both it and the Kindle?

I find the Kindle easier on the eye for sustained periods of reading and it has a longer battery life. But the Kobo will drag me into the world of tablets and Apps – something I’ve had no experience of until now.

The first App I downloaded was A Quick Read (as mentioned in this month’s Writers’ News), which is a collection of short stories for reading on the move. Have a look at the website for how to submit your own stories for inclusion.

I’ve rooted out some prize draws if you’d like to win your own e-reader or some good old-fashioned book tokens:

  • For the chance to win a Kindle Fire, click here 
  • For the chance to win WH Smith vouchers that can be used to buy a Kobo, click here
  • For the chance to win some Book Tokens, click here.

Good Luck!

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Crime Writing with Claire McGowan

I went to listen to Claire McGowan talk about crime writing as part of the 2012 Lichfield Literature Festival.

First of all she gave us 3 good reasons for choosing to write crime fiction:

  • Crime accounts for 1/5 of all adult fiction sales
  • In 2011 crime dominated the top 10 library loans
  • Agents and editors are actively taking on new crime writers

Then she listed the essential elements of a crime novel:

  • A good plot
  • A gripping pace
  • A satisfactory resolution

Suspense also forms an important part of a crime novel and the reader can be kept on tenterhooks in two ways:

  • Wondering what has happened – for example, What dark secrets are the characters hiding? How did the victim meet his death when he was in a locked room?
  • Wondering what is about to happen – for example, What will the killer do next? Will he be caught in time?

As well as the theory behind crime writing, Claire shared her own method of writing – which can be applied to any genre. She said it’s important to start with a one sentence ‘high-concept’ of what the book is about but it’s not necessary to plot every detail in advance nor to write long life histories for each character. Claire says she gets to know her characters as she goes along – a bit like getting to know someone in real life.

By writing 1,000 words a day for 3 months you can finish a first draft – and that first draft doesn’t have to be good! Claire repeated this last point several times. Once the first draft is complete, you can work on it and improve it. And Claire writes her first draft without research, to avoid getting side-tracked. She checks her facts later.

Doesn’t that make it sound easy?! So what are you waiting for…

Claire’s first book ‘The Fall’ is available here and her second book ‘The Lost’ will be published in April 2013.

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Easy Reads – D.C. Thomson

Many moons ago I started writing a My Weekly Pocket Novel. At that time they were 30,000 words and I thought that was an achievable target. When I was part way through, the required word count went up to 50,000 – so I adjusted my plot and carried on. I reached 50,000 words and the end of my story. Then I lost confidence in what I’d written and decided it was so bad that I couldn’t possibly send it out.

So it sat gathering virtual dust on my hard drive.

Then the news came from Maggie Seed that My Weekly Pocket Novels were being replaced by the new Easy Reads imprint and she needed manuscripts. I decided it was now or never. So I wrote a synopsis and polished up my first 3 chapters and, with nothing to lose, emailed Maggie.

A week later, I nearly fell off my chair when she replied and asked to see the rest of the manuscript. Unfortunately the rest of it was still in ‘first draft’ stage. So I’m now busy editing and trying to knock it into a coherent shape.

Of course, there’s still a high probability that the whole thing will be rejected so I’m not sitting here with rosy coloured specs on planning my launch party. But it’s nice to know that the basic idea, outlined in the synopsis, was not total rubbish!

So if you’ve got something languishing in a bottom drawer – why not get it out and search for a market? If you don’t submit then you’ll never get published. But if you do submit…who knows what might happen!

For more information on Easy Reads have a look on womagwriter’s blog.



Appeal for Short Stories

Update 24/4/2014 – Unfortunately ‘A Quick Read’ will be closing soon and therefore no more stories are required.

Original Post:

Sharon Boothroyd has been in touch to tell me about a short story app, A Quick Read, that she and her husband, Keith, are developing – and they need your stories. Here’s what Sharon had to say about it:

Would you like to see your stories published on an Android phone app?
My husband and I are launching a new project soon – a FREE short story app called A Quick Read.
The good news is, we’re not charging any writer to upload the stories on the app.
The bad news is, we cannot pay writers a fee, as we’re starting the project as a hobby. However, if we mange to secure funding, we will be able to pay you.
I’ll be sending out lots of press releases to raise publicity.
The categories for fiction are:
Twist in tale 
The word count we require is 500 -1,000 words.
No swearing, no excessive violence, and no erotica, please.
Also, we require a brief outline (one or two lines) about your story.
Go to to view our website.
‘Terms and conditions for writers’ can be found under ‘Information’ on the drop down menu.
It would be best if you sent us unpublished work. All writers retain copyright. 
You can also see how the app works on the website.
Please e-mail your stories to me, Sharon at:
Many thanks.
PS If you have a website or blog address, we can place this at the bottom of your story on the app.

I’ve sent in a couple of my own stories that weren’t quite right for the womags and not long enough for most competitions.

So if you’ve got something short and sweet that you don’t want to leave gathering dust, why not give it a try?

Sharon also runs Fiction Addiction, an online writers’ circle for those interested in writing for women’s magazines. She writes under the name S. Bee and one of her stories is critiqued in Sue Moorcroft’s Fiction Workshop in this month’s Writers’ Forum magazine.

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Snapshots of History – Stories from the Past

Do you enjoy reading or writing historical short stories?

If so, it might be worth having a look at Snapshots of History. It’s a small magazine that appears twice a year and each issue offers the chance to win £25 (first prize) or £15 (second prize). I won second prize in the latest edition and have been asking the editor, Sally Bland, all about the magazine.

Here’s what she had to say in answer to my questions:

What made you start the magazine?
I have always enjoyed history and also creative writing.  I particularly like the idea of capturing a moment or event from a previous period and bringing it back to life.  There are quite a few short story publications around, but hardly any which are dedicated to historical writing.  Those that are, are often either military history or specifically historical romance.  My aim has always been to take a wider range of stories with different themes.
How did you build a following?
I put some adverts in writing magazines, offering free copies of the introductory issue.  We got a good response, better than expected, and ran out quite quickly!
Are you a writer?
I wrote the serial in Snapshots (Secrets & Scandals: The Life and Times of Annabella Beaumont) which concluded in the summer issue.  I am an aspiring writer so understand the difficulties which other writers face in such a tough industry.  I recently finished a part-time undergraduate degree in English and American Literature with the University of Kent, which has been quite a time commitment over six years.  I hope now to have more time to dedicate to creative writing.
Is there one particular period in history that receives most submissions?
WWII – I think because it’s such a huge subject and also because it is in living memory (either directly or through stories passed down from parents and grandparents).
Is there a period that isn’t covered that you’d like to receive stories for?
Generally we get quite a good range of stories, though we only occasionally get anything Medieval or from the English Civil War.  I don’t know why that is, they are just not popular periods.


So if you fancy dabbling in the past and creating a fictional view of a particular character, event or time period (my story was based around the marriage of Wallis Simpson to Edward VIII) – here is your chance.

Details of how to get hold of the magazine and/or enter the twice yearly competitions are available on the Snapshots of History website.

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No, not the spongy, creamy, totally bad for you kind – CAKE is a project to help unpublished writers get their work in front of

Chiffon cake kanko

the public. It’s based in Manchester and distributes short stories free of charge via a network of cafes and bars. Each issue of CAKE is also available to download from the website.

There’s no payment for the stories printed (as you would expect since no-one appears to be making any money out of this) but CAKE will do their best to give feedback on any stories submitted plus, if your story is selected for publication, you will also get a plug for your website/blog.

Stories up to 2200 words will be considered and there are no rules about having to live in Manchester to submit. Full details of the submission process are here.

Sadly, those of us who have been published in magazines are not eligible to submit stories but there is still something useful for us to take away from the FAQs on the website. Apparently over half the submissions they receive are about death in one form or another, so if this is the subject of your story then you need to find a unique way of making your tale stand out from the crowd or write about something completely different. I’m sure this advice will apply equally well to any short story competition that you choose to enter.

By the way – did you know that this is Love Your Local Bookshop Week? It runs from 30th June to 7th July. Reading about it made my conscience prick about the purchases of both traditional and e-books that I make at Amazon. So I used my postcode here and was amazed to find that I would have to travel 15.66 miles to get to my nearest independent book seller, even though I live close to a large city. These shops have suffered badly from the growth of internet and supermarket purchasing and, sadly, there doesn’t seem to be any way back for them now.



Ireland’s Own

I’ve never submitted a story to Ireland’s Own. It’s a magazine I’ve seen mentioned in womag circles but until  I spotted it in my local WH Smith’s a couple of weeks ago, I’d never actually seen a copy.

20070216-211118 Ireland's Own

The magazine has a very traditional feel, appealing mainly to the older generation. It contains lots of features, some of which are Ireland specific and a much smaller number that don’t have an Irish connection. In the edition I have in front of me, there are four 1-page articles in the ‘Just a Memory’ section – so if you grew up in Ireland there may be an opening here for your work.

There is one short story published each week. I’ve read two of these and they strike me as being quite gentle. One was about an old married couple where the husband had retreated into a silent world. His wife (from whose point of view the story was written) adopts a stray dog and this animal finds his way into the man’s heart and gives him a reason for living again. The second story was written from a child’s point of view and tells how she finds a new friend for her grandfather. Neither story featured anything particularly Irish other than the character names.

I’ve done a quick trawl of the internet and the only submission guidelines I can find for the magazine are those on the trusty Womag’s blog. Take a look here – the guidelines for articles and fillers are also included.

If any of you have recent experience of being published by Ireland’s Own, do let me know.

Meanwhile, I’m going to try emailing the magazine for Writers’ Guidelines and tweak a story previously rejected by People’s Friend – maybe by changing a few names to Patrick and Bridget!