Thursday, November 16, 2017

What are the most popular fiction genres?

Determining the most popular fiction genres is not as straightforward a task as it may seem. Is popularity judged by how many people say they prefer a certain genre, by books actually read, by revenue, or by books published? Each of these questions will yield a different answer.

Time period is also a consideration. Are we looking at last year's books, last decade's books, or all-time publishing and sales records? The infographic to the left from Ebook Friendly is a compilation of all book sales for which there are figures. Children's books are clearly the winner. But one has to take into account the boost in sales generated by the Harry Potter series, which alone generated $25 billion in revenue, selling more than 400 million books worldwide. And while the Harry Potter books may be classed as children's fiction, they may also be classed as cross-over, fantasy, and magical realism.

Given these complexities, let's break down what is meant by popularity based on what people say they read (which encompasses books people borrow from libraries), which books are sold, which genres generate the greatest revenue, and which books agents and publishers predict will sell, as these will produce the greatest number of contracts.


According to Statistica, the most popular genre in the U.S. is Mystery/Thriller/Crime books. Nearly half of their respondents said they had read books in this genre in 2015. This was followed by Romance, which nearly a third (27%) had read.

However, according to Nielsen BookScan, which compiles data on actual sales, the most popular adult genre in 2015 was general adult fiction followed by romance and suspense/thrillers. Children's books sold more than three times the number of adult books.

The most popular genres according to 2015 Nielson sales data are:

Children's General Fiction (49,325)
Children's Science Fiction/Fantasy/Magic (44,578)
Children's Social Situations/Family/Health (24,932)

Adult General Fiction (35,101)
Adult Romance (28,031)
Adult Suspense/Thrillers (21,783)

What Genres Do Agents Request?

The top fiction genres that agents request don't necessary correspond to the genres with the most sales. The reason for this is that agents work on commission. Their percentage (usually 15%) is based on the amount of money books generate. So while children's books may sell more copies, they usually cost less than adult or YA fiction. In addition, media options for games, film, and TV are more likely to pan out for YA and adult contracts. (Harry Potter breaks all the rules.) According to Query Tracker the top ten most requested genres are:

1 Young Adult
2 Fantasy
3 Literary Fiction
4 Children's
5 Science Fiction
6 Thrillers/Suspense
7 Middle Grade
8 Romance
9 Historical
10 Women's Fiction

Which Genres Make the Most Money?

At $1.44 billion, Romance and Erotica are #1 in sales. That figure includes self-published romance as well. With 30 million dedicated readers, it's hard to miss if you write in this genre. As anyone in advertising knows, sex sells.

According to Bookstr, Crime and Mystery novels come in second at $728.2 million. People have a fascination with murder, whether it's a "cozy" murder in the Cotswolds or "torture porn." The fact that most murders are relatively mundane crimes committed against family members, neighbors, and friends does not lessen the appeal of hunting for "who dunnit."

Inspirational and Religious books generated $720 million in 2012. This number reflects the fact that the Bible is the most published book of all time, but it also reflects the popularity of self-help and other inspirational titles, which have gained a large share of the market.

Fantasy and Science Fiction come in at $590 million. Like Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy have dedicated readers, which means there is a steady market. This is why so many agents include SFF on their wish lists.

You will notice that the books agents are most interested in don't have a one-to-one correspondence with the books that have generated the most sales. For example, many agents put YA at the top of their lists, while Romance actually generates the most sales. The reason for the discrepancy is two-fold; 1) Romance authors can easily publish their work without the help of an agent, either with a Romance publisher or on their own, and 2) YA is a developing market.

According to The Balance, the number of YA titles more than doubled between 2002 and 2012 — over 10,000 YA books came out in 2012 versus about 4,700 in 2002, and this upward trajectory is only increasing. Agents not only choose manuscripts based on what is happening now in the publishing industry, but on projected sales. It takes a year or more after a contract is signed to get a book on the shelves, and that's not counting the time it takes to make a sale. Agents, like publishers, have to keep an eye on trends.

Which Genre Should You Write?

That is an easy question to answer: Write whatever genre that suits you. Don't base your decision on the genres agents want, or on the market. If your heart isn't in what you are writing, you'll only make yourself miserable. Ultimately, the writers who are the most successful have followed their own ideas, their own inspiration, their own muse. My advice is to write what you care about — and keep your day job.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Book Fairs: Are They Worth It for Indie Authors?

Frankfurt Book Fair
Large international book fairs, such as Frankfurt and Bologna, are where industry professionals meet to buy and sell rights, arrange for subsidiary rights, such as film and games, and scope out what's hot in the literary market.

Can self-published authors set up a table at international book fairs? Technically, no. But in 2013, Tina Seskis formed a shell publishing company (hers was the only published book on the list), and exhibited at Frankfurt. She ended up nabbing a $500,000 deal with HarperCollins.

In general, setting up a shell company is frowned upon, and venues are tightening up their restrictions. But you can still exhibit if you have self-published. Combined Book Exhibit offers self-publishers the opportunity to showcase their books (print or ebook) and/or advertise it for a few hundred, rather than a few thousand dollars. There is an annual membership fee of $150.

The question is: Should self-publishers invest even a few hundred dollars? Showing your book at a book fair can be an advantage, provided you (the author) intend to make an appearance and know how to make a sale. Tina Seskis actually attended the Frankfurt Book Fair and set up a booth, so she was able to negotiate a deal. If you aren't there to represent yourself, and your book is merely displayed, it won't attract anyone's attention.

The other thing to consider is whether your book already has a track record. Most publishers are reluctant to make a deal with an author who has no fans, and whose books have not garnered significant sales. (Selling over 10,000 books in the first year is considered significant.)

The bottom line for first-time self-publishers is not to waste your money on an international book fair. However, if you happen to live near one of these events, it is worth attending as a member of the public, if only to get a taste of what is available to publishers.

While international book fairs may not be the best option for self-published authors, local and regional book fairs are another matter entirely. These present many opportunities for local authors to read, sell and sign books, and lead workshops. Local fairs are an excellent means of building a fan base, as well as making contact with other authors. If you would like to exhibit, costs are much lower than for international fairs, and the logistics are easier to manage. You can find out if there is a fair in your region by contacting your local chamber of commerce, or by googling "book fair" and your city.

Recommended reading

Read Jane Friedman's article on BEA before investing your time and money: Authors: Think Twice Before Paying to Exhibit at Book Expo (BEA)

Indie Author Fringe advises against international book fairs: Authors, Don’t Waste your Money: Book Fair Bewares: David Gaughran

Debbie Young points out that even if you don't exhibit your book, fairs are a good opportunity for meeting people in the industry, attending talks, and learning about publishing: Publishing Conferences & Book Fairs – What’s In Them for Self-published Authors?

For a complete list of all international fairs (there are over a hundred) see: 2 Seas International Book Fair Calendar


International Book Fairs

New Delhi, India
January 6 - 14, 2018

The New Delhi World Book Fair is India's second oldest book fair after the Kolkata Book Fair. India is the third biggest market for English publications with almost 12,000 publishers that publish around 90,000 titles a year in more than 18 languages. Visitors come from India as well as the USA, Bangladesh, France, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Canada, Malaysia, Mauritius, Nepal, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Germany.

Bologna, Italy
March 26 - 29, 2018

The Bologna Children's Book Fair is the world's leading event for children's book authors and publishers. This is where all industry professionals involved with creating and publishing children's books buy and sell rights for books, translations, and for derived products like movies or animated series. Major awards are also given at the fair, the Bologna Ragazzi Awards, in four categories: Fiction, Non-fiction, New Horizons (for the non-Western world) and Opera Prima (for first works).
Olympia, London, UK
April 10-12, 2018

The London Book Fair is the second largest international book fair, after Frankfurt. Over 1700 exhibitors participate in The London Book Fair, representing a wide range of interests and markets within the publishing industry.

BookExpo America/BookCon
New York, NY
May 30 - June 1, 2018

American Library Association Annual Conference
New Orleans, LA
June 21-26, 2018

The American Library Association (ALA) is the oldest and largest library association in the world with more than 62,000 members. The ALA annual conference is one of the largest professional conferences in existence, typically drawing over 25,000 attendees.

Beijing, China
August 22 - 26, 2018

The Beijing International Book Fair (BIBF) is the most important book fair in Asia. At the 2017 event, 5,262 deals were struck. There were 2,511 exhibitors, and 300,000 visitors. Eighty-nine countries and regions were represented, over half of which were international. A popular event was "First Step into the Chinese Market." Representatives from eleven embassies and cultural institutes were guest speakers.

Frankfurt Book Fair
Frankfurt am Main, Germany
October 10 - 14, 2018

The Frankfurt Book Fair is the world's largest trade fair for books. With 7,000 exhibitors from over 100 countries representing book publishing, multimedia and technology companies, it is considered the most important book fair for international deals and trading.  Publishers, agents, booksellers, librarians, academics, illustrators, service providers, film producers, translators, professional and trade associations, institutions, artists, authors, antiquarians, software and multimedia suppliers all participate in the events.

Tickets for individuals range from 19 Euros for one day to 30 euros for two days. Exhibition space costs 372 - 450 euros per square meter. Custom-designed stands can be over 40 square meters. There are additional charges to set up early. In addition there are lighting fees, furniture rentals, surcharges, which bring costs up to the thousands.

Major Book Fairs in the US

Brooklyn Book Festival

The Brooklyn Book Festival is the largest free literary event in New York City, presenting an array of national and international literary stars and emerging authors. One of America’s premier book festivals, this diverse gathering attracts thousands of book lovers of all ages to enjoy authors and the festival’s lively literary marketplace. If you live in New York, which is the publishing hub of the US, plan on attending this event.

National Book Festival

This yearly festival is held in Washington, DC and is sponsored by the Library of Congress. Tens of thousands of visitors from all over the country attended in 2017, packing the ten stages at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The Library live-streamed the entire Main Stage event on its Facebook page, where it was watched by thousands of viewers.

The Miami Book Fair International

The Miami Book Fair International describes itself as an "eight-day literary party." The highlight of the event is the Festival of Authors, with more than 450 authors reading and discussing their work, including the Latin American and Spanish authors who participate in the IberoAmerican Authors Program. More than 250 publishers and booksellers exhibit and sell books, with special features like the antiquarians, who showcase signed first editions, original manuscripts and other collectibles. There are programs for children, workshops, presentations, and every kind of literary event you can think of.

Baltimore Book Festival

The Baltimore Book Festival is sponsored by the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts (BOPA) is a non-profit organization that serves as Baltimore City’s official arts council, events agency and film office. More than 500 authors appeared at the festival in September 2017.

Virginia Festival of the Book

The Virginia Festival of the Book is the largest community-based book event in the Mid-Atlantic region and has attracted audiences of more than 20,000 for each of the past thirteen years. Authors have ranged from international bestsellers to debut authors. Past participants include Rick Atkinson, Edward Ayers, David Baldacci, Maureen Corrigan, Edwidge Danticat, Kate DiCamillo, Rita Dove, Alan Furst, John Grisham, Jan Karon, Jim Lehrer, Frances Mayes, Colum McCann, David McCullough, Alice McDermott, Yewande Omotoso, Katherine Paterson, Jon Scieszka, Lisa Scottoline, Pete Seeger, Karin Slaughter, Alexander McCall Smith, Lee Smith, Bryan Stevenson, Joseph Stiglitz, Elizabeth Strout, Judith Viorst, and Charles Wright. The headliner for the 2018 Festival is Khizr Khan, author of An American Family and This Is Our Constitution.

Texas Book Festival

The Texas Book Festival features 250 nationally and critically recognized authors, more than 20 venues including the State Capitol, 80 exhibitors, live music, local food trucks, family activities, and  opportunities to meet authors. Founded in 1995 by First Lady Laura Bush, the Festival has hosted thousands of notable and award-winning authors over the years, including Margaret Atwood, Robert Caro, Sandra Cisneros, Salman Rushdie, Cheryl Strayed, Walter Mosley, Molly Shannon, Frank McCourt, Ziggy Marley, Liz Carpenter, Doris Kearns Goodwin, and many others.

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

The LA Times Festival is held every year on the University of Southern California campus. Over 150,000 people typically attend the Festival, which features writers, poets, artists, filmmakers and musicians. The line-up for 2018 includes Margaret Atwood, T.C. Boyle, Bryan Cranston, Cory Doctorow, and more writers and performers than I can count. Don't miss this event if you live in LA.

Louisiana Book Festival

This one-day annual festival held in Baton Rouge attracts tens of thousands of visitors. The event is sponsored by the State Library of Louisiana, the Louisiana Center for the Book, the Louisiana Library Foundation and local businesses.The festival features author signings and readings, workshops, exhibits, food, activities for children, and (of course) live music.

Chicago Tribune Printer's Row Lit Fest

The Printers Row Lit Fest was founded in 1985 by the Near South Planning Board to attract visitors to the Printers Row neighborhood (once the city's bookmaking hub). By 2002, it had grown to five city blocks (South Dearborn Street from Harrison to Polk, Harold Washington Library Center and Jones College Prep High School), attracting more than 100 booksellers from across the country displaying new, used and antiquarian books and featuring more than 200 authors participating in panels, discussions and a variety of other programs. It is now the largest literary festival in the Mid-West.

Jewish Book Festivals

There are more Jewish book festivals than I can name. You can find a list of sixteen of them HERE. (If you type "Jewish Book Festivals" into a Google search, you will find dozens more.) Jewish culture places a high value on literacy and on literature. If you are a Jewish author, these are great events to participate in. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

3 New Literary Agents Actively Seeking Scifi, Fantasy, Adult Fiction, YA & More

Here are three agents actively building their client lists. Rachel Horowitz (Bent Agency) specializes in children’s and commercial adult fiction. Jennifer Haskin (The Corvisiero Agency) is seeking young adult literature, fantasy, science fiction, and dystopian fiction. Lexi Wangler (Massie & McQuilkin) is primarily looking for literary fiction, upmarket commercial fiction, crime fiction, cultural criticism, narrative nonfiction, essay collections, memoir and young adult fiction.

Before you query, go to the agency's website, read the agent's bio and check submission requirements. Submission requirements often change, and agents may switch agencies or close their lists.

If these agents do not suit your needs, you can find a comprehensive list of new and established agents here: Agents Seeking Clients.


Lexi Wangler of Massie & McQuilkin

Lexi Wangler is a junior agent and foreign rights associate at Massie & McQuilkin. She holds a dual MFA in Fiction and Writing for Children from The New School. Coming to MMQ from PEN American Center and the Irene Skolnick Literary Agency, she graduated from Loyola University of New Orleans in 2013. Lexi assists Maria on all foreign rights for Massie & McQuilkin, and is looking for books that focus on complex, three-dimensional characters, especially women and non-binary people.

She is passionate about representation across the race, class, gender and sexuality spectrum and uplifting voices that historically have had less of an opportunity to resonate. Subverting genre boundaries and strong, distinct voices are appealing to her, as are books that reflect truth back to the reader. Her MFA background is proof of her strong dedication to exemplary writing, and she prizes a clear narrative above all else.

What she is seeking: She is primarily looking for literary fiction, upmarket commercial fiction, crime fiction, cultural criticism, narrative nonfiction, essay collections, memoir and young adult fiction.

How to submit: To query Lexi, please email your query letter and the first ten pages of your manuscript pasted in the body of the email to with the word “query” in the subject line.

Rachel Horowitz of the Bent Agency

Rachel has spent nearly two decades in publishing, most recently as a children's literary scout at Maria Campbell Associates, and before that, as the Director of Rights & Co-Editions at Scholastic. While at Scholastic she helped build many successful author franchises, including Maggie Steifvater, Blue Balliet, Brian Selznick and Walter Wick. She graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and was a two-time writing fellow at the Breadloaf Writing Conference at Middlebury College in Vermont.

What she is seeking: Rachel is looking for well-crafted middle-grade stories that have heart, humor and adventure, and for YA, romance with an authentic voice, and stories that reflect what teens are grappling with today - girl power, body image, family dynamics, race relations. She is also looking for memoirs and fiction that feature a teen protagonist and can even be read by adults; The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls and The Age of Miracles by Karen Thomas Walker are good examples.

How to submit: Send query to:  Include the title of your project in the subject line of your email. Then paste the first ten pages of your book in the body of your email (not as an attachment, please).

Jennifer Haskin of The Corvisiero Agency

Jennifer Haskin is an agent, author, and portrait artist who lives in Olathe, Kansas. She began working for The Corvisiero Agency in October of 2017, following her time at Metamorphosis Literary Agency. She assists in a Creative Writing workshop and runs weekly author writing groups. She is a member of Saavy Authors, RWA, Missouri, Kansas City, and Nebraska Writing Guilds. She has a B.S. from Friends University, but took her English coursework through the University of Missouri. Her debut novel, The Key of F, was named a winner in the Ink & Insights literary contest in 2016, and is scheduled for release May 8th 2018.

What she is seeking: Young adult literature, fantasy, science fiction, and dystopian fiction. (She is a sucker for romance, too.) She is drawn to faulty heroines with strong voices, real friendships, and super skills with a weapon. As well as a hunky love interest with a tangled plot of his own. Currently not accepting: screenplays, poetry, picture books, or nonfiction.

How to submit: Query directly at http://QueryMe.Online/jennhaskin.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

20 Great Podcasts for Writers

Podcasts are perfect for people who commute, or who spend a lot of time in a car, subway, or train. (Airplanes! Boats!)

There are a lot of great podcasts for writers. They span the gamut - from entertaining shows about writing, history, and language to informative episodes about publishing, marketing, building a platform, how to get readers, and a lot more.

You can even listen to all the presentations given at the Odyssey Speculative Fiction Workshop. And if you want to get the inside scoop on the publishing industry, there are plenty of interviews with agents, editors, and published authors.


A Way with Words

A public radio program about language examined through history, culture, and family. Episodes include: Decisions by dictionary editors, wacky wordplay, and Walt Whitman’s soaring verse, the epic history behind a familiar vegetable: fans of illustrator Maurice Sendak eagerly await publication of a newly discovered manuscript by the late author, writing advice from Mark Twain and a wonderful bit of prose from Sara Pennypacker’s book Pax. You'll want to listen to these episodes at your leisure.

"Fifteen minutes long, because you're in a hurry, and we're not that smart." Some episodes: Extreme long-form serial stories, and how to keep things interesting without forcing the main characters into an absurdly high number of character-developing moments; Create a “Beat Chart” identifying iconic moments, questions and answers, and new promises to readers, and then break these out into book-sized groups; and “Raising the stakes,” making the outcomes of the events in a story increasingly important to the reader. In this episode they talk about the tools they use to raise the stakes in ways that are more sophisticated than just queuing up larger and larger explosions.

Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing

Grammar Girl provides short, friendly tips to improve your writing. Whether English is your first language or your second language, these grammar, punctuation, style, and business tips will make you a better and more successful writer. To download podcast episodes not shown on the iTunes list, visit

Odyssey SF/F Writing Workshop Podcasts

If you can't afford to attend a writing conference, the next best thing is to listen to one. Odyssey is an intensive six-week workshop for writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror held each summer on the campus of Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. Top authors, editors, and agents serve as guest lecturers. These podcasts are excerpts from guest lectures. For more information, visit

Creative Writing Career

Turn writing into more than a hobby, make it your career. Stephan Bugaj (Pixar's Brave, Wall-E, The Incredibles), Justin Sloan (Telltale's Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, and Minecraft: Story Mode), and Kevin Tumlinson (Citadel, Lucid, The 30-Day Author) give you their advice on writing for books, movies, video games and more, and occasionally try to sound smarter by having on amazing guests.

Write Now with Sarah Werner | For Writers, On Writing

A weekly podcast for aspiring writers looking to find a healthy work/life/writing balance. Get the encouragement, honest advice, and inspiration you need to pursue your passion and write every day. Recurring themes include books, coffee, rainy days, truth, beauty, lasers, dinosaurs, and all of your other favorite things.

I Should Be Writing

Host Mur Lafferty is a science fiction writer who is "still learning." The podcast features writing interviews and how-tos.

Reading And Writing Podcast

Host Jeff Rutherford interviews authors about their books, their writing habits, their favorite novels, and how they got started writing. Authors include Dean Koontz, Susan Crandall, Mike Resnick and many more. The series does not appear to have any new episodes past July 2017, but there are 217 interviews to choose from.

Authority Self-Publishing: Marketing, Writing and Kindle Publishing Tips for Authors

Authority Self-Publishing is a show where you can get detailed advice from three author marketing experts: Steve Scott, Barrie Davenport, and Ron Clendenin. Primarily, they cover Amazon Kindle publishing strategies (through the KDP platform). But they also offers a variety of marketing tactics you can use to grow your book-based business. Each episode contains 30+ minutes of actionable content you can immediately apply to your writing business. Tune in every Monday and Thursday to get the latest news on indie publishing. Finally, each episode comes with detailed show notes where you can get a recap of the content and all the resource links that are mentioned. There appear to be no new episodes past January 2017, but there are 86 highly informative episodes spanning the previous year that are still worth listening to.

The Writer Files

Kelton Reid studies the habits, habitats, and brains of a wide spectrum of renowned writers to learn their secrets of productivity and creativity. Tune in each week to learn how great writers keep the ink flowing, the cursor moving, and avoid writer s block.

The Dead Robots Society

"By aspiring writers, for aspiring writers." Writing tips, interviews, book reviews, the apocalypse and other writing disasters. Or writing other disasters, depending on how you order your syntax. All round good fun

The Creative Penn Podcast

Author Joanna Penn provides one of the most thorough, well organized sources of publishing and writing information out there. Some of her highly informative podcasts include: Top 5 Mistakes of Indie Authors with Ricardo Fayet from Reedsy, Mastering Amazon Ads with Brian D. Meeks, How to Write a Mystery with Rebecca Cantrell, Writing Memoir with Roz Morris, Social media tips for writers with Frances Caballo and Writing fast, building an audience and Facebook advertising for authors with Mark Dawson.

The Story Grid

"Helping you become a better writer." Join Shawn Coyne, author of Story Grid and a top editor for 25+ years, and Tim Grahl, struggling writer, as they discuss the ins and outs of what makes a story great.

Beautiful Writers Podcast

"Up-close conversations with your favorite writers." Listen in as author Linda Sivertsen (aka Book Mama) brings together the world’s most beloved bestselling authors for monthly chats on writing, publishing, deal-making, spirituality, activism, and the art of romancing creativity. Join Linda and her celebrity co-hosts for deep, funny, powerful interviews with authors and songwriters who have pulled it off—from breakout success to staying power. Heart-centered encouragement, street smart advice, and insider success (and failure!) stories for every writer and creative type. Details of biggest mistakes, best shortcuts, behind-the-scenes agent, press, and publishing stories help you gain the courage to get your book, blog, ballad, or biz birthed into the world.

The Writers Panel

The Writers Panel series is an informal chat moderated by Ben Blacker (co-creator of the Thrilling Adventure Hour; writer for Supah Ninjas, Supernatural, among others) with professional writers about the process and business of writing. Covering TV, film, comic books, music, novels, and any other kind of writing about which you’d care to hear. Proceeds from the live panels benefit 826LA, the national non-profit tutoring program.

The WRITER 2.0

The WRITER 2.0 Podcast is a show about writing, books, and the publishing industry. Hosted by author and professor A.C. Fuller, the show features interviews with authors, journalists, and publishing experts. About the Host: A.C. Fuller is a former adjunct professor of journalism at NYU. His non-fiction has been featured in the Poughkeepsie Journal and New York Newsday; his fiction in Cracked Eye Magazine. The prologue to his writing book in progress—WRITER 2.0—won the 2014 San Francisco Writers Contest, non-fiction category. His debut novel, THE ANONYMOUS SOURCE, was published in June of 2015. For more information: The most recent podcast is from March 2017, but the list of previous episodes is worth delving into.

Create If Writing Podcast

This is the place for you if you are a writer, blogger, or creative who wants to build an online platform without being smarmy. Episodes include: Mailchimp updates, How to form lasting connections, Bad pitches, How to get more readers and sell more books, Tips for building traffic, and a whole lot more.

Damian Barr's Literary Salon

Writers read from their own works aloud in this podcast. Nothing is more exciting than listening to an author read!

Helping Writers Become Authors

Helping Writers Become Authors provides writers help in summoning inspiration, crafting solid characters, outlining and structuring novels, and polishing prose. Learn how to write a book and edit it into a story agents will buy and readers will love.

Writer's Voice

Writer's Voice features author interviews and readings, as well as news, commentary and tips related to writing and publishing. We also talk with editors, agents, publicists and others about issues of interest to writers. Francesca Rheannon is producer and host of Writer's Voice. She is a writer, an independent radio producer and a broadcast journalist.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

36 Calls for Submissions in November 2017 - Paying markets

Sarolta Bán
There are three dozen calls for submissions in November. All of these are paying markets, and none charge submission fees. As always, every genre, style, and form is wanted, from short stories about mermaids and pirates, to essays on happiness.

I post calls for submissions on the first day of every month. But as I am collecting them, I post them on my page, Calls for Submissions. You can get a jump on next month's calls for submissions by checking that page periodically throughout the month. (I only post paying markets.)


The First LineGenre: Fiction, poetry, CNF. Must begin with the line: "I'm tired of trying to see the good in people." Payment: $25.00 - $50.00 for fiction, $5.00 - $10.00 for poetry, and $25.00 for nonfiction (all U.S. dollars). Deadline: November 1, 2017.

Skirt! Theme: The Jolly issue. Genre: Essay theme: Stories about happiness, joy, what brings you to happy tears or tears of laughter. Payment: $200 per piece. Deadline: November 1, 2017.

THEMATheme: Dancing in the Wind. Genre: Short stories, poems, essays. Payment: Short story, $25; short-short piece (up to 1000 words), $10; poem. Deadline: November 1, 2017. Reprints accepted.

Trouble the Waters: Tales from the Deep BlueGenre: Science fiction, fantasy, horror, interstitial, and unclassifiable works: anthology of water-themed speculative short stories that explore all kinds of water lore and deities, ancient and new as well as unimagined tales. Payment: 6 cents per word. (Reprints 2 cents per word.) Deadline: November 1, 2017. Reprints accepted.

EllipsisGenres: Poetry, fiction, CNF. Payment: $50 for prose; $10 for poetry. Deadline: November 1, 2017.

Fell Beasts and Fair AnthologyGenre: Speculative short stories on theme: Fell Beasts and Fair. Payment: $0.01 / word. Deadline: November 1, 2017.

Sun Magazine: Love and JusticeGenre: Poetry on theme: Love and Justice. Payment: $100. Deadline: November 1, 2017.

ShooterGenre: Poems and stories on theme of New Life. Minimum 2000 words for stories.  Payment: £25 per story and £5 per poem. Deadline: November 5, 2017.

The Pedestal MagazineGenre: Poetry. Payment: $40. Deadline: November 6, 2017.

Ninth LetterGenre: Fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Online Edition on theme of "Community."  Payment: $25 per poem, $75 per story or essay. Deadline: November 5, 2017.

Alien DimensionsGenreSpeculative fiction. "Alien New Orbit Celebration!” Payment: $10.  Deadline: November 10, 2017.

Fireside. Genre: Short stories, flash fiction. Payment: 12 cents/word. Deadline: November 11, 2017. Opens to submissions on November 5.

One Story. Genre: Short story. Payment: $500. Deadline: November 14, 2017.

World Weaver Press: Glass & Gardens: Solarpunk Summers AnthologyGenre: Fiction. "For this anthology, I want to see solarpunk summers. Show me futuristic stories that take place in summer, whether that involves a summer night in a rooftop garden, or characters adapting to extreme heat and weather, or an annual migration to cooler lands. Keep it planet-based (Earth or other), and optimistic. Solarpunk worlds aren’t necessarily utopias, but they definitely aren’t dystopias." Payment: TBD (Determined by Kickstarter success. $10 minimum.) Deadline: November 15, 2017.

Hinnom Magazine. Genre: Science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Payment: $0.005 cents per word with a minimum payment of $5.00 and a maximum cap of $25.00. Deadline: November 15, 2017.

Fire Poetry. Genre: Poetry. Payment: $5. Deadline: November 15, 2017.

Fighting Monkey Press: Uncommon Evil. Genre: Dark fiction. Payment: Royalties. Deadline: November 15, 2017.

Vallum. Genre: Poetry, essays, interviews, reviews. Payment: Not specified. Deadline: November 15, 2017. Snail mail submissions only for poems.

Manchester Speculative Fiction: Revolutions 2. Genre: Speculative fiction set in Manchester, UK. Payment: £15. Deadline: November 15, 2017.

Human Noise JournalGenre: Short stories, personal essays, poems. Payment: $30. Deadline: November 15, 2017.

Dead Man's Tome. Genre: Horror, Dark fiction, lovecraftian. Theme: Cthulhu Christmas. Payment: Royalties. Deadline: November 15, 2017.

Spark: Sadie Hawkins. "In this issue we want stories where the woman pursues the man. Strong, determined, know-what-they-want women who go after love. Whether it’s an unconventional proposal or someone who thinks they should be more than friends, let the lady take the leading role." Genre: Short fiction. Payment: 2 cents/word. Deadline: November 24, 2017.

Gathering Storm Magazine. Genre: Short stories, poetry, comic. Themed issues: Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts, Money is the Root of all Evil, Everything Comes to Those Who Wait. Payment: $25 for short story, $10 for poetry, $25 for comics. Deadline: November 24, 2017.

Writer's DigestGenre: Nonfiction articles about freelancing and publishing. Pitches only. "Put yourself in the shoes of a freelance writer and think about what would help them find more success." Payment: Competitive rates. Deadline: November 26, 2017.

Every Day Fiction. Genre: Flash fiction. 1000 words max. Payment: $3. Deadline: November 26, 2017.

Astounding Outpost: Ghosts, Ghouls, and Grave Robbers. Genre: Dark fiction. Payment: Royalties. Deadline: November 28, 2017.

Band of Misfits: Adventures on the High Seas AnthologyRestrictions: Only writers between the ages of 13-19 will be considered. Genre: Short story up to 7,500 words on theme of "gangs of pirates, steampunk sailors, mischievous mermaids, hostile Kraken, submerged vortexes, or any other mamapritime adventures you’d care to explore—whether contemporary, historical, science fiction, fantasy, or horror." Payment: $30. Deadline: November 30, 2017.

Chicken Soup for the SoulGenre: True stories and poetry. "We’re looking for stories about how you found love. And how you kept it fresh over the years. New love, old love, please warm our hearts with your stories and poems. PLEASE NOTE THIS BOOK IS FOR ADULTS, NOT FOR TEENS. We’re happy to hear about your high school sweetheart if you ended up together, but we are not looking for stories from current teens about teen relationships." Payment: $200.  DeadlineNovember 30, 2017.

Ninth LetterGenre: Fiction. Payment: $25 per page. Deadline: November 30, 2017.

Third Point Press. Genre: Fiction, poetry. Theme: Skin. Payment: $10. Deadline: November 30, 2017.

Winter TangerineGenre: Poetry, prose, and visual art on theme of fairy tales. Payment: $20. Deadline: November 30, 2017.

Fantasia Divinity. Genre: Short stories on theme of Norse Mythology. Payment: One half-cent per word, with a minimum payment of $5.00 and a maximum of $15.00. Reprints - $10 max. Deadline: November 30, 2017.

Apparition. Genre: Poetry and fiction on theme of Apparition. Payment: $0.01 per word, minimum of 10.00 dollars. Deadline: November 30, 2017.

Behind the Mask Anthology. Genre: Dark fiction. Payment: $50 (AUD). Deadline: November 30, 2017.

Enchanted Conversation. Genre: Fairy tale. Theme: Elves and the Shoemaker. Payment: Story pay: $30, Poem pay: $10. US dollars only. Deadline: November 30, 2017.

Holy Cow. Genre: Speculative fiction located in the Fertile Crescent. Payment: $0.07 - $0.10 per word + contributor copy. Deadline: November 30, 2017.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Boo-tiful Literary Pumpkins

Happy Hallowe'en! Here are my favorite literary pumpkins to celebrate the day in fine fashion!

Quoth the pumpkin, nevermore!

"As a squash is before 'tis a peascod..."

"The pumpkin is the only esculent of the orange family that will thrive in the North, except the gourd and one or two varieties of the squash. But the custom of planting it in the front yard with the shrubbery is fast going out of vogue, for it is now generally conceded that the pumpkin, as a shade tree, is a failure."

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good pumpkin, must be intolerably stupid.

Where the Wild Pumpkins Are

Gone with the Gourd

Harry Potter and the Cursed Pumpkin

Write drunk, edit squashed

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Gourd

Thursday, October 26, 2017

37 Writing Contests in November 2017 - No entry fees

Jimmy Lawlor
November is a great month for free writing contests. There are more than three dozen this month. As always, every form of writing, from short stories and poems to full-length works, is represented.

Most writing contests have geographical and other restrictions. So, make sure to check submission guidelines carefully before entering.

If you want to stay ahead of next month's, or even next year's, contests check Free Contests. Many writing competitions are offered annually, so it's worth it to look at contests even if they have passed.


Commonwealth Short Story PrizeRestrictions: Open to citizens of the British Commonwealth.  Genre: Unpublished short fiction (2,000-5,000 words) in English. Short stories translated into English from other languages are also eligible. Prize: Regional winners receive £2,500 (US$3,835) and the overall winner will receive £5,000 (US$7,670). Deadline: November 1, 2017. 

Into the Black. Genre: Speculative fiction, 5000 words max, about the impacts of a basic income on individual lives and on society at large. Prize: $12,000. Deadline: November 1, 2017.

Patrick Henry Writing FellowshipGenre: Nonfiction book in progress. The project should address the history and/or legacy – broadly defined – of the American Revolution and the nation’s founding ideas. It might focus on the founding era itself, or on the myriad ways the questions that preoccupied the nation’s founders have shaped America’s later history. Fellowship amount: $45,000 stipend, health benefits, faculty privileges, a book allowance, and a nine-month residency (during the academic year 2018-2019) in historic Chestertown, Md. Deadline: November 1, 2017. 

Lindenwood Chapter One ContestGenre: First chapter of unpublished novel. Maximum submission length is 25 pages. Double-space and use a standard font size and style. Prize: $50, publication in issue 8 of The Lindenwood Review, and three contributor copies. Honorable mentions receive publication in issue 8 of The Lindenwood Review and three contributor copies. Deadline: November 1, 2017. 

Boston Accent LitRestrictions: Open to self-identifying women of color writer from the US (including overseas territories). Entrants must not yet have published a short story collection or a novel.  Genre: Short story. Prize: Publication in Boston Accent Lit Magazine. Deadline: November 1, 2017. 

William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic Grants Program for Unpublished Writers.  Restrictions: Writers must not have published a book, short story, or dramatic work in the mystery field, either in print, electronic, or audio form. Genre: Mystery stories of the Agatha Christie type—i.e., “traditional mysteries.” These works usually feature no excessive gore, gratuitous violence, or explicit sex. Prize: Each grant may be used to offset registration, travel, or other expenses related to attendance at a writers' conference or workshop within a year of the date of the award (no later than May 2016). In the case of nonfiction, the grant may be used to offset research expenses. Each grant currently includes a $1,500 award plus a comprehensive registration for the following year's convention and two nights' lodging at the convention hotel, but does not include travel to the convention or meals. Deadline: November 1, 2017. Read details here.

Hajja Razia Sharif Sheikh Prizes in Nonfiction and PoetryRestrictions: Undergraduates. Genre: Awards will be given to the best piece in each genre that addresses the experience of being Muslim in America. Winning pieces will speak to the experience — joys and challenges — of being Muslim in America today in ways that educate and inform our readers. Winning pieces may also demonstrate an understanding of Islamic history, culture, contributions, and / or its influence on society. Prize: $500 and publication in Oakland Arts Review.  Deadline: November 1, 2017.

Vermont Writers' PrizeRestrictions: Open to residents of Vermont. Genres: Short story, poem, play or essay on the theme of Vermont - its people, places, history or values. Entries must be unpublished and fewer than 1,500 words long. Writers may submit only one entry per year. Prize: $1,500 and publication in Vermont MagazineDeadline: November 1, 2017.

RBC Taylor Prize for Literary Non-FictionRestrictions: Canadian citizens only. Genre: Nonfiction book. Prize: C$25,000. Shortlisted authors receive $2,000. Prize: Deadline: November 3, 2017 for books published between October 1 and October 30, 2017. Read details here.

Dylan Thomas PrizeRestrictions: Authors must be aged 39 or under. Eligible books must have been commercially published for the first time in the English language between January 1 and December 31 of the year in which the deadline falls. Genre: Published books of poetry, fiction (novel, novella, or short story collection), radio scripts, or screenplays. Eligible books must have been commercially published for the first time in the English language between January 1 and December 31, 2016. Prize: 30,000 pounds, plus 1,000 pounds for shortlisted authors. Deadline: November 6, 2017. 

New York Encounter Poetry ContestGenre: Poetry on the theme "An 'Impossible' Unity." Prize:  Cash prizes of $300, $200 and $100 will be awarded to first, second and third place poems.  Deadline: November 7, 2017.

Women's Prize for FictionGenre: Published book by a woman. Entrants must be writing in English and must be published in the UK. Novels must be published in the United Kingdom between 1 April 2017, and 31 March 2018. All subject matters and women of any age, from any nationality or country of residence are eligible. Prize: £30,000.00. Deadline: November 8, 2017.

The PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging WritersGenre: First published short story. Authors may not submit their own work. Prize: $2000 and publication in The PEN America Best Debut Short StoriesDeadline: November 10, 2017.

New Roscommon Writing AwardRestrictions: All entrants must have a connection with the county of Roscommon (born in, living in, currently working in, went to school in, etc). Genres: All.  Prize: €500.00. Deadline: November 10, 2017.

Flo Gault Student Poetry PrizeRestrictions: Full-time undergraduate college students in Kentucky. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $500. Deadline: November 15th, 2017.

Polar Expressions Publications Short Story CompetitionRestrictions: Open to Canadian students in kindergarten through grade twelve. Genre: Short story. Prize: $300, $200, $100. Deadline: November 15th, 2017.

Best $20 Travel Blog AwardGenre: Nonfiction blog post. Write a 350-750 word post on your blog about the best $20 (or less) you’ve ever spent while on your global travels. Tell us how you spent it, and why it was totally worth it. Prize: First prize - $1,000 gift card, Runner-up - $500 gift card, People's choice - $250 gift card. Deadline: November 15th, 2017.

Travel Misadventure ContestGenre: True story about a travel misadventure, up to 500 words.  Prize: $100 e-gift card. Deadline: November 15th, 2017.

Shaughnessy Cohen Award for Political WritingRestrictions: Titles must be published in Canada. Self-published books are not eligible. Genre: A book of literary nonfiction that captures a political subject of relevance to Canadian readers and has the potential to shape or influence thinking on contemporary Canadian political life. Prize: Winner: $25,000; Finalists: $2,500. Deadline: November 22, 2017 for books published between September 13, 2017 and December 31, 2017. 

The Cesar Egido Serrano Foundation International Flash Fiction CompetitionGenre: Flash fiction, 100 words max in any of these languages:Spanish, English, Arabic or Hebrew. Prize: 20,000 dollars is awarded for the best story in any of the languages authorized in the contest. Deadline: November 23, 2017.

Brooklyn Non-Fiction Prize is sponsored by the Brooklyn Film & Arts Festival. Genre: Non-fiction essay between 4 to 10 pages, set in Brooklyn about Brooklyn and/or Brooklyn people/characters. (Up to 2500 words). Prize: $500. Deadline: November 23, 2017.

Best New Writing's Gover Story PrizeGenre: Unpublished fiction and creative nonfiction under 10,000 words. Prize: $250 top prize. Deadline: November 25, 2017.

Princeton University Poetry Contest for High School StudentsRestrictions: Student writers in the 11th grade. Prizes: First Prize – $500, Second Prize – $250, Third Prize – $100. Deadline: November 27, 2017.

Future First Line ContestGenre: The first line of a novel set in 2071 - 27 words max. Prize: Free Gotham class. Deadline: November 28, 2017.

Encore Award. Restrictions: Open to British or Commonwealth citizens. Genre: Second published novel. Book must have been first published in the UK. Prize: 10,000 pounds. Deadline: November 30, 2017.

Cha International Poetry PrizeGenre: Poetry. Each poem must be a translation (loosely defined) of a text (loosely defined) from/about Hong Kong or China, written originally in English or Chinese, into a poem that is about contemporary Hong Kong. Prize: First Prize US$1501; Second Prize US$800; Third Prize US$400 and five Commended Prizes, each US$100. DeadlineNovember 30, 2017.

Betty Trask PrizeRestrictions: Author must be a Commonwealth citizen. Genre: First novels, published or unpublished, written by authors under the age of 35 in a "traditional or romantic, but not experimental, style." Prize: Awards totaling 20,000 pounds. Top prize 10,000 pounds. The prize money must be used for foreign travel. Deadline: November 30, 2017. 

Somerset Maugham AwardsRestrictions: Open to writers under the age of 35. Genre: Published work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry. Prize: 2,500 pounds apiece to four winners. Prize money must be used for travel. Deadline: November 30, 2017. 

Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young WritersRestrictions: Open to writers aged 16-18. Genre: Poem (1). Prize: Full scholarship to The Kenyon Review Young Writers workshop, an intensive two-week summer seminar for writers aged 16-18. Deadline: November 30, 2017.

UNT Rilke PrizeRestrictions: US citizens or residents. Open to authors with at least two prior published books of poetry. Genre: Book of poetry published between November 1, 2016 and October 31, 2017. Prize: $10,000.00. Deadline: November 30, 2017. 

Backbone Press: Shared Dreams Chapbook ContestRestrictions: All entries must be from authors who are first-generation immigrants born outside the United States or children of (two) parents born outside of the United States. Genre: Poetry chapbook. They are seeking work that underscores the immigrant experience. Prize: $250 and publication. Deadline: November 30, 2017.

Polar Expressions Publications Poetry CompetitionRestrictions: Open to Canadian students in kindergarten through grade twelve. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $300, $200, $100. Deadline: November 30, 2017.

Sweekstars CompetitionGenre: Poetry and prose. Prize: $1,000. Deadline: November 30, 2017.

AVBOB Poetry CompetitionRestrictions: Open to any citizen of South Africa. Genre: Poetry. Prize: R10,000. Deadline: November 30, 2017.

Foreign Voices Poetry CompetitionGenre: poem that deals with the subject of migration. Prize:  £200. Deadline: November 30, 2017.

Frank O’Connor International Short Story FellowshipRestrictions: Writers working in English from outside Ireland. Must have at least two full-length works of fiction published of which at least one must be a short story collection. Genre: Short fiction. Fellowship: €2,500, totaling €7,500 and self-catering accommodation. The costs of travel to and from Cork would also be covered. Writer must reside in Cork for 12 weeks.  Deadline: November 30, 2017.

West Coast Eisteddfod Online Poetry and Short Story CompetitionsGenre: Poetry, short story. (No limericks.) Prize: Poetry: $200 in each language category (Welsh and English). Short Story: $200.00 (one English-language entry) Deadline: November 30, 2017.

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