Posts Tagged Writers’ Toolkit

Literary Short Story Markets

On Saturday I went to the annual Writers’ Toolkit run by Writing West Midlands.

One of the sessions was ‘The World of Short Stories’. On the panel were Louise Palfreyman and Lisa Blower.

Louise and Lisa both write what I would describe as ‘literary’ short stories and they gave a long list of journals worth targeting. Among them was Popshot Magazine, which I mentioned in my last post plus a range of others including:

The Best British Short Stories (annual anthology)
The Paris Review
Under the Radar
Short Story Sunday
Comma Press

Lisa and Louise also mentioned the benefits of entering competitions and, when asked about the mechanics of short story writing, gave this wonderful quote from Raymond Carver, “Get in. Get out. Don’t Linger”.

My writing veers more towards the commercial than literary but a virtual friend of mine, Tracy Fells, blogs with a more literary leaning – worth a look!

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Twitter for Writers

At the weekend I attended the annual Writers’ Toolkit in Birmingham, organised by Writing West Midlands. One of the sessions was Making the Internet Work for You with Sathnam Sanghera and Kate Feld.

Many interesting questions were asked about making social media work as a promotion tool for writers. The outcome of the session was that Twitter is an essential part of a writer’s toolkit.

It shouldn’t be used to post family & friends stuff – Facebook is the place for that – and it shouldn’t be used to continually shout ‘buy my books!’ I get the impression it’s purpose is to engage in sensible conversation and to follow those who may be tweeting useful information such as agents, publishers etc.

I think I’ve mentioned previously that I’ve yet to dip my toe into Twitter and perhaps I’ve dragged my feet so much that by the time I string together my first tweet, everyone else will have disappeared off to the next big social media thing.

So, I’m asking all you Tweeters to give me your advice:

  • What do you tweet about and how often? Is it OK to repeat yourself on Facebook and Twitter (as long as it’s not a cat video or other ‘silly’) or do you attract the same audience on both platforms?
  • How much time do you spend tweeting and/or reading other people’s tweets?
  • How do you get followers?
  • Is it expected that you will follow everyone who follows you? (I believe there is a ‘mute’ button if you want to switch people off).
  • Do you think Twitter is beneficial and if so, in what way?
  • Anything else I need to know?

Please feel free to put your Twitter handle in your comment too.

On a different subject and to show that writers come in a multitude of guises, at the Toolkit I came across someone who used to write labels for museum exhibits and someone else who used to write Ceefax pages for the BBC.

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The Writers’ Toolkit 2011

Stuart Maconie

Image by Lancashire County Council via Flickr

‘Write often, to a deadline and with an audience in mind. Have something of the marketer about you.’

This was the advice of writer and broadcaster, Stuart Maconie (pictured), in his keynote address at The Writers’ Toolkit 2011, held in Birmingham last week. He went on to tell us that the mastery of words is power and we should be proud to say ‘I am a writer’.

It was a full day of panel discussions and chances to chat to other writers. I found the session on ‘Networking as a Writer’ the most interesting and I came away with several scribbled notes about how to do this (both on-line and in real life):

  •  Be generous – help those who can’t possibly help you. It will be remembered and what goes around comes around. Share things that might benefit others – don’t see them as your rivals.
  • If it feels like networking then you’re doing it wrong or trying too hard. It should feel like a conversation, not a sales pitch.
  • Don’t vent your feelings online no matter how badly you feel you’ve been treated – cyberspace is a big place and you never know who might be reading.
  • Become part of the real and virtual community. Join or start reading/writing groups and classes. Do book reviews on your blog & approach other writers to ask if they’d like you to review their book.
  • Don’t limit yourself to writing events – attend other types of conferences and look at different types of blogs.
  • Leave intelligent comments on the blogs of others to make people curious enough to have a look at you. 
  • Listen to what others have to say – don’t just sell yourself all the time.
  • Be genuine and approachable 

The event was organised by Writing West Midlands.

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Diversify, urges Graham Joyce

Novelist, Graham Joyce, gave the closing address at this year’s Birmingham Writers’ Toolkit event.  Graham Joyce - authorHe stressed the need for writers today to have several streams of income, especially as publishing is moving away from traditional books towards e-publishing. He suggested the following areas from which writers could source their income:

  • The traditional advance on a book – however this type of payment is becoming smaller and less common
  • Digital downloads – writers can sell their own work directly via their website thus bypassing publishers
  • Teaching creative and other types of writing
  • Performing their work
  • Giving talks – schools love writers to come into the classroom or try the after dinner/lunch circuit
  • Writing non-fiction
  • Screen development of their work – funding is often available for this (although not for actually producing the film)
  • On-line drama – ‘Kate Modern’, which was linked to BeBo, is an example of this type of drama which can be simply filmed by the author
  • Computer games – these now require more narrative and emotional content. Farmville is an example of this and,surprisingly, the average player is a 47-year-old female.  

By diversifying and marketing themselves and their work independently, writers can continue to work even if the fickle publishing world turns against them.

It is worth taking note of this if you are trying to build up a writing career. It shows that it may be possible to earn a living as a writer without being picked up by a major publisher – if you are willing to think laterally, become digital savvy and go out there and sell yourself.

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