Where do I put my shorts?
If you’re anything like me, the first time you finished up a piece of short fiction, you asked yourself, ‘Where can I send this stuff?’
The answer to that question is: plenty of places. The internet will throw up a slew of markets where you can submit your fiction, but how do you dig up the places best suited to your story? Here are a few of the resources you should use to locate the best home for your piece:
Duotrope.com: This is the one-stop shop for all things fiction. It serves as the ultimate resource for writers who want to search a market for their fiction. You can specify the genre, sub-genre, literary style, word count, and even whether you are looking for high-paying or low-paying markets.
One of the highlights of Duotrope is that response times are detailed out for each magazine, as also their acceptance and rejection rates. Duotrope has risen to such high levels of popularity as a referral source that most magazines encourage their contributors to refer their response times to Duotrope.
Ralan.com: Targeted specifically towards humorous and speculative fiction, Ralan.com has proved an invaluable resource over the years. This site too lists response times for each magazine.
NewPages.com: In addition to market listings it also provides reviews of literary magazines.
When you finally do zero in on a list of markets that suit your work, do take a moment to read the current and past issues which are almost always available online. Reading a few pieces might give you an idea of where best your work will fit.
Gargi Mehra is a software engineer by profession, but a writer at heart. Despite the best efforts of her family and friends, she writes humor pieces in a determined effort to unite the two sides of the brain in cerebral harmony. Her fiction has appeared in Everyday Fiction and Six Sentences. She blogs at http://gargimehra.wordpress.com/
Click here to read a terrific interview with Vikram Chandra, author of Sacred Games.
The contest is open to works of fiction over 50,000 words in length, from any genre. Unlike the majority of writing contests, all AuthorStand contests are free to enter and judged, in part, by real people, giving new authors a chance for free exposure and public feedback.
Click here for more information.
Each year Black Lawrence Press will award The Big Moose Prize for an unpublished novel. The prize is open to new, emerging, and established writers. The winner of this contest will receive book publication, and a $1,000 cash award. The deadline for this prize is January 31. That’s less than two weeks away!
For more information about The Big Moose Prize and submissions instructions, follow this link: http://www.blacklawrencepress.com/
Guest blog: Terry Hayman
Avoid or fix the most common e-book formatting problems
If you’re just getting into the e-book game, there’s a good chance you’ve encountered some problems with getting your work to appear the way you want it to in e-book form. And while there are a bunch of “How to” guides out there that go into great detail, unless you’re doing something really tricky like forcing a particular font, or inserting columns, pictures, etc. into your text, getting a cleanly-formatted e-book is easier than you think.
Biggest rule is keep it simple. Use Microsoft Word as your creation/preparation tool. If you’re a Microsoft hater (I personally prefer WordPerfect to Word), use it anyway. The e-publishing tools of Smashwords, Amazon, and Pubit! (Barnes & Noble) are all designed to work with Word documents. Yes, they’ll take other stuff too, but unless you’re a tech-head who’s into HTML and such, stick with Word.
Now, take that manuscript that has been created or ported into Word and strip out anything but the basic text done in Times New Roman 12-point. (You could instead choose another standard font like Arial. Doesn’t matter. When you put it through the Amazon or other uploaders, they’ll switch it to their own preferred font.) You can include italics, forced page breaks, and paragraph first line indenting and 1.5 line spacing selected via the Paragraph’s Indents and Spacing setup.
Take out all tabs, headers or footers, page numbers, underlines, section breaks. Oh, and don’t use more than four paragraph returns at one time because it can end up giving you an entire blank screen on an e-reader.
All these rules and a few less common ones (like how to insert pictures, chapter points, hyperlinks, etc.) can be found in the free Smashwords style guide if you want to pick your way through the process point by point, but if you’ve done the basics listed above, when you upload your book the formatting should be fine 90% of the time.
But wait! You’re not done yet. You need to check your work.
With Smashwords and Pubit!, you can download an epub file into your e-reader or a program on your computer which can read epub and check for errors. For Amazon, before you go to the second screen on Amazon’s publish site, click on Preview Your Work. Go through at least five or six pages and you’ll catch the most common errors that show up, namely weird symbols for smartquotes and weird indents when you have multiple short paragraphs for things like dialogue.
When I get weird symbols, I usually fix them in Word itself by copying and pasting the offending quotation mark or whatever into the “find” of Find and Replace, where it will show its true form. Then I put the proper symbol into “replace” and do the switches. (But be careful about doing an indiscriminate “replace all” if the symbol is something common like a capital A!)
For weird indents I’ve found I have to, from Amazon’s “preview” screen, download the HTML. Take note of what the to-be-downloaded file is called so you can find it later. It downloads as a zip file, though it may not be identified as such. You need to unzip it, then put it into an HTML editor that lets you see the actual HTML (there are some free ones available online, but I use Microsoft’s ExpressionWeb), find the offending code that shows up just before the bad indents, and do a search and replace, changing that bad indent code to one of the good indents code strings you’ll find before a properly indented paragraph. Then save your corrected file, re-zip it, and re-upload it to Amazon. Again check the preview and everything should be fine.
(Note: Some friends of mine have recommended instead that you convert the file to .mobi format via a plugin Amazon offers for InDesign if you happen to have that program. Others say run your work through Smashwords, which tends to fix some of the problems and then download the .mobi version of your work and upload it to Amazon. The latter technique, Smashwords notes on its site, may bring about bad karma since you’re essentially using their formatting work to upload to a competing distributor.)
If all the HTML and .mobi stuff sounds too difficult to deal with, remember that the formatting problems should only happen on a few of your e-books and, as long as you tell a great story, most e-readers will forgive a few formatting errors.
Don’t let fear of formatting stop you from getting into this game.
You can learn as you go. You can go back and fix errors if you discover them later. Remember that, unlike traditional print publishing, this is a long-term play you’re making. Your books will not go out onto shelves for only one month to a year and sink or swim. You have decades for your book to find its audience. Decades for it to earn its keep and communicate your great story to the world.
So do the best you can. Get help if you need it. Keep learning and growing. But get your stuff up there!
About the Author
Terry Hayman is a former lawyer, actor, and professional speaker who now writes full time in North Vancouver, BC. He’s actively working with Fiero Publishing to make his novel Chasing the Minotaur, his backlist of published stories, and some exciting new fiction available as e-books. You can visit his blog for some regular story ideas as well as other thoughts on the writing life.
HYPERLINKS (in case you need to add them in manually)
Terry Hayman http://www.terryhayman.com
Fiero Publishing http://www.fieropublishing.com
No agents, no fees. You can’t beat this. Check out the details below:
Amazon.com, along with Penguin Group (USA) and CreateSpace, is pleased to announce the fourth annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest, the international competition seeking the next popular novel. The competition will once again award two grand prizes: one for General Fiction and one for Young Adult Fiction. Each winner will receive a publishing contract with Penguin, which includes a $15,000 advance.
The Breakthrough Novel Award Contest brings together talented writers, reviewers, and publishing experts to find and develop new voices in fiction. If you’re an author with an unpublished or previously self-published novel waiting to be discovered, visit CreateSpace to sign up for regular contest updates. Open submissions for manuscripts will begin on January 24, 2011 and run through February 6, 2011.