About once a week I post an opportunities list on our Virtual Learning Environment, Blackboard. This gives news of many opportunities for publication, performance or work. I vet what is offered very carefully, even though most of the opportunities come from two very reliable sources.
Audience for the list
This is aimed mainly at undergraduates, though it is offered also to our Masters students. As well as posting it on Blackboard, I email it out to subscribers on a list. These are former students and also other people I’ve met when I’ve offered workshops outside the university. I even use the list myself.
How the list is vetted
Each opportunity must give the possibility of:
· Leading to some sort of payment for the writer e.g. competition prize or traditional royalty or fee.
· Exposure of the writer
· A really good line on the CV
· Just good fun
· A fair chance of success
In addition, any fee that is paid must be fair and likely to represent the cost of running the competition. It must never be a reading fee.
I use the list that is published every week by NAWE (National Association of Writers in Education) and the lists that Mslexia publish both in her hard copy magazine and on her web site. Note, not everything that these two organisations flag up gets on to my list.
In addition, I’m often approached directly by publishers and competition organisers.
How the list is updated
I usually update on a Wednesday or Thursday. I do add new things in as they come into my mailbox but do the main update after I’ve received the NAWE bulletin. Everything is listed in date order if there are cut-off dates. Then other publishers are listed alphabetically.
I delete any that are no longer current.
I supply the list as a set of clickable lists with some little extra pieces for information e.g. is the opportunity themed? Why it’s good even though there is no payment. Or I might add some personal knowledge I have. From time to time I check that the links still work and the publisher is still operating.
How I use the list myself
I use this mainly to try and place my short stories and flash fiction though people who have published my novels are also listed there.
First, I’ll enter my piece for a competition. Once that’s closed I’ll send it to publishers, perhaps starting with those who have a limited submission period. Here, I’m looking for placements for work I’ve already completed.
There are also some challenges. Sometimes it’s a matter of a certain themed opportunity appealing. Then I’ll just have a go.
Most of what is on the list is small press though the big houses do push some things through occasionally. As soon as a text is rejected, I look for something else from the list. It can be surprising. What one publisher hates another loves.
I keep track of all submissions on a spread sheet. I avoid sending to the same publisher too often. I am beginning to find that certain publishers like certain types of my story e.g. my near future stories go to one, my quirky ones to another and a third takes the more literary ones.
My spread sheet cells are colour-coded. Red means I can’t send this anywhere else at the moment. Amber means it’s good to go to the next. Green means it’s accepted. It’s nice looking at the green
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