Thursday, April 27, 2017

36 Writing Contests in May 2017 - No Entry Fees

May hosts three dozen free contests. They cover the full range of topics, styles and genres, from essays, to poetry, to full-length works.

In addition to the prestige of winning a contest, some of the monetary prizes this month are substantial.

Be sure to check the submission requirements carefully, as some have age and geographical restrictions.

Many contests are offered annually, so if you miss a contest you may be able to catch it next year. For a full month-by-month listing of contests see: Free Contests.
________________________

Crucible: Poetry and Fiction Competition is sponsored by the Barton College Department of English. Genres: Fiction (limited to 8,000 words or less) and poetry (limited to five poems). Restrictions: All work must be original and unpublished. Prizes: $150.00 First Prize. $100.00 Second Prize. Publication in the CrucibleDeadline: May 1, 2017. 

The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay ContestRestrictions: Children aged 18 and under. Entrants must reside within a Commonwealth country or territory, or the Gambia, the Maldives, and Zimbabwe. Max word count is 1500 for entrants aged 14-18, and 750 for entrants younger than 14. Prizes are not stated explicitly but “have included certificates, resources for winner’s school, visits to Cambridge University, a trip to London and a week of activities, work experience at international organisations, and having your entry featured in worldwide media.” Genre: Essay. The theme of the contest is “A Commonwealth For Peace.” Deadline: May 1, 2017.

“My Mother, My Hero.” Genre: Essay. "In the world of addiction, it is often the families who help pull a loved one out of the clutches of substance abuse. It’s through their support that many people find healing, and quite often it is a mom (or a mother figure) who is always there in a time of need. Of course, it’s also likely that a mom has been hurt most in watching her child suffer the pain of addiction, which doesn’t just affect the addict, it touches everyone in their life. In 250 words or less, tell us why your mother is your hero." Prize: $200. Deadline: May 1, 2017. 

Alpine FellowshipGenre: Pieces of any genre up to 2500 words on the theme of “landscape.” Prize: The first place winner receives £3000 and an invitation to enter the symposium in Venice (two runners-up also receive the invitation). Deadline: May 1, 2017. 

Questions Writing PrizeRestrictions: Open to authors aged 18-30. Genre: Short stories of any genre or nonfiction between 1500 and 2000 words. Prize: First place winners (or prize pool for a tie) is $2000. The work will also be published in a book. Deadline: May 1, 2017. 

Grant MacEwan Creative Writing Scholarship is sponsored by the Alberta Foundation for the Arts. Genres: Poetry, Short Fiction & Creative Nonfiction, Drama, or Graphic Novel. Restrictions: Authors must be currently enrolled in an undergraduate creative writing program of study or mentorship. (Max age 25) Alberta residents only. Prize: $5000 (CAN). Deadline: May 1, 2017. 

Whiting Foundation Creative Nonfiction GrantGenre: Creative nonfiction. Whiting welcomes submissions for works of history, cultural or political reportage, biography, memoir, the sciences, philosophy, criticism, food or travel writing, and personal essays, among other categories. Writers must be completing a book of creative nonfiction that is currently under contract with a publisher. Writers who signed a contract before May 1, 2015, are eligible. Prize: $40,000. Deadline: May 1, 2017. 

Polari First Book PrizeGenres: The prize is for a first book which explores the LGBT experience and is open to any work of poetry, prose, fiction or non-fiction published in English. Self-published works in both print and digital formats are eligible for submission. Restrictions: Writer must be born in UK or resident in the UK. Prize: £1,000.00. Deadline: May 1, 2017. 


West Virginia Fiction CompetitionRestrictions: Open to West Virginia residents or students. Genre: Short fiction, 5,000 words max. Prize: $500. Deadline: May 1, 2017. 

Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers ProgramRestrictions: Debuting authors and writers with fewer than three previously published books who have yet to receive a major literary award are eligible for consideration. Exceptions are sometimes made for authors who have published more titles, but have yet to break out to a larger audience. Submissions must be original publications, penned by one author. Self-published works not allowed. Genres: Published or scheduled to be published fiction and literary nonfiction. Prize: $10,000 in each genre and in-store marketing/merchandising from Barnes & Noble. 2nd Place $5,000 in each genre, 3rd Place $2,500 in each genre. Deadline: May 4, 2017.

Maine Arts Commission Individual Artist FellowshipsRestrictions: Open to writers who have lived in the state of Maine for at least one year. Genre: Fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction. Prize: $5,000. Deadline: May 4, 2017.

Daily Mail/Penguin Random House New Crime Novelist CompetitionRestrictions: Open to residents of the UK or Republic of Ireland. Unpublished authors only. Genre: Crime book. Prize: £20,000.00 advance on a publishing contract. Deadline: May 5, 2017.

Creative Comedy ProjectGenre: Comedy. ‘We want you to write a piece of comedy that’s no longer than 500 words. It could be experimental, satire, spoof, wit or wordplay. The choice our friends is up to you! We’re looking for all formats of written comedy. It could be the opening to a sitcom, a scene of a play or just a silly story. All that we ask is that it deals with one or more of the themes from Anita and Me, including family, coming-of-age, migration, racism, love and friendship, cultural and social change. Prize: The winning piece will be crowned Comedy Gold and awarded a prize of £300. Runner-up positions include Silver and Bronze and will receive prizes of £150 and £50 respectively. Deadline: May 7, 2017.

The James Laughlin Award is sponsored by the Academy of American Poets. Genre: A second book of poetry forthcoming in the next calendar year. Must be under contract with US publisher. Restrictions: Open to US citizens and residents only. Prize: $5,000, an all-expenses-paid week long residency in Florida, and the Academy will purchase approximately 1,000 copies of the book for distribution to its members. Deadline: May 15, 2017.

Artist Trust. Restrictions: Open to poets, fiction writers, and nonfiction writers who are residents of Washington State. Students enrolled in a degree-granting program are ineligible. Submit a writing sample of up to 12 pages with a project description, synopsis, budget, and résumé. Grant: $1,500. Deadline: May 15, 2017. 

St. Francis College Literary PrizeGenre: Novel. Third, fourth, or fifth published book of fiction. Self-published books and English translations are eligible. Prize: $50,000 is given biennially. Deadline: May 15, 2017.

Leeway Foundation: Transformation AwardRestrictions: Women and transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, or otherwise gender-nonconforming poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers in the Philadelphia area who have been creating art for social change for five or more years. Writers who have lived for at least two years in Bucks, Camden, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, or Philadelphia counties, who are at least 18 years of age, and who are not full-time students in a degree-granting arts program are eligible. Award: $15,000. Deadline: May 15, 2017.

Expatriate and Work Abroad Writing ContestGenre: Essay. "Professionals, freelancers, and aspiring writers are encouraged to write articles that describe their experience living, moving, and working abroad. Often your experience living abroad may be extended by working or studying in the host country, so living/working/studying/and traveling abroad are often inextricable—and we are interested in exploring these interconnections." Prize: The first-place winner’s entry will receive $500, the second-place winning entry $150, and the third-place winner $100. Deadline: May 15, 2017.

Kindle Storyteller Award (UK)Restrictions: The prize is open to all authors who publish their book through Kindle Direct Publishing on Amazon.co.uk between 20th February and 19th May 2017. Genre: Book. Prize: £20,000. Deadline: May 15, 2017.

Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction PrizeGenre: Fiction. Restrictions: Titles must be published in Canada and written by Canadians. No self-published works. Prize: $25,000 will be awarded to a novel or short-story collection published between March 22, 2016 and May 23, 2017. Prizes of $2,500 will be awarded to each of the finalists. Deadline: May 24, 2017.

Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Non-FictionGenre: Literary non-fiction. Restrictions: Titles must be published in Canada and written by Canadians. Prize: $60,000 will be awarded to a literary nonfiction book published between March 23, 2016 and May 24, 2016. Deadline: May 24, 2016.  Read guidelines HERE.

Stony Brook Short Fiction PrizeRestrictions: Only undergraduates enrolled full time in United States and Canadian universities and colleges for the academic year 2016-17 are eligible. Genre: Fiction of no more than 7,500 words. Prize: $1,000. Deadline: May 25, 2017. 

Sapiens PlurumGenre: Stories that personalize the consequences of climate change so readers feel as well as know them. But stories must offer hope, at least a possibility, for without hope people rarely act. Your job, as author, is to inspire scientists and states-persons around the world to live up to the promise of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. Prize: 1ST PRIZE: $1000; 2ND PRIZE: $500; 3RD PRIZE: $300. Deadline: May 27, 2017. Submission details available after registration.

Be a Hero ContestGenre: Flash fiction up to 50 words about a hero. Title is not included in the word count, and the hero can be from your life, from history, or fictional. Stories will be sent to all senators and members of the House of Representatives, urging them to be heroes in these times of United States political strife. "At this precarious time in the United States, we need people to be heroes. This isn’t a battle between Republicans and Democrats. This is a battle between right and wrong. And we need heroes who are willing to fight for what is right—across this country and around the world." Prize: The winner will receive a Gotham Writer’s Workshop class of their choosing. Limit one entry per person. Deadline: May 29, 2017.

Claudia Ann Seaman Awards For Young Writers. Restrictions: High school students. Genre: Stories and poems. Prize: $200.00. Deadline: May 30, 2016.

Nick Darke Writers' Award. Genre: Stage play. Prize: £6,000. Deadline: May 30, 2017.

Eden Mills Teen Poetry Contest. Restrictions: Open to Canadian teens. Genre: Poetry. This year’s theme: Time and all its gifts. Prize: Two $50 prizes, 2 $25 prizes. Deadline: May 30, 2016.

Bacopa Literary Review. Genres: Fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry. Prizes: First ($200) and Runner-Up ($160) prizes in each genre. All published will receive $20 and a copy of the print journal. After publication, Bacopa 2017 will be promoted online. Deadline: May 31, 2017.

bpNichol Poetry Chapbook AwardGenre: Published poetry chapbook. Restrictions: Canadian publishers only. Prize: The author receives $4,000 and the publisher receives $500. Deadline: May 31, 2017.

The Wolfe Pack Black Orchid AwardGenre: Mystery novellas in the style of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe novellas. Manuscript length: 15K-20K words. Prize: $1,000, plus recognition and publication in a forthcoming issue of AAMM. Deadline: May 31, 2017.

Cromwell Article PrizeGenre: Articles published in 2015 in the field of American legal history. Restrictions: Open to early career scholars. Prize: $2,500. Deadline: May 31, 2017.

Jerry Jazz Musician Fiction ContestGenre: Unpublished fiction approximately 1,000 - 5,000 words. Story should pertain to music, social history, literature, politics, art, film and theater, particularly that of the counter-culture of mid-twentieth century America. Prize: $100 and publication in Jerry Jazz MusicianDeadline: May 31, 2017.

Save the Earth Poetry PrizeGenre: Poem (1). Poems submitted should, in any way possible, evoke humankind’s awareness of the natural world and nature as such. Restrictions: Open to High school students, grades 11 & 12. Prize: $200 awarded to seven winners. Deadline: May 31, 2017.

ABA Journal/Ross Writing Contest for Legal Short Fiction. Sponsored by the American Bar Association. Restrictions: Entrants must be U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents.  Genre: Original works of short fiction that illuminate the role of the law and/or lawyers in modern society. 5000 words max. Prize: $3,000 and publication in ABA Journal. Deadline: May 31, 2017.

James Bartleman Aboriginal Youth Creative Writing AwardsRestrictions: Open to aboriginal youth, 18 years or younger, residing in Ontario, Canada. Prize: $2,500. Deadline: May 31, 2017.

I Must Be Off! Travel Writing ContestGenre: Travel articles, travel anecdotes and travel reflectionsPrize: $200. Deadline: May 31, 2017.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

32 Great Writing Conferences in May 2017

Conferences are not only the best way to meet agents, get tips from other writers, and learn about the publishing industry, they make you feel like a writer. We all need community, and this is how we, as writers, get the necessary incentive to keep writing.

If you miss your perfect conference this year, you may be able to catch it next year. Many conferences are annual occurrences. Planning ahead may also lower the cost, as quite a few conferences offer scholarships and discounts for early bird registrations.

To see a full list of conferences organized by month, as well as links for finding conferences in your area throughout the year see: Writing Conferences.

_______________________________


13th annual PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature. May 1 - May 7, 2017 at various locations in New York City. readings, performances, and panel discussions for poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers. "The thirteenth annual PEN World Voices Festival will take on some of the vital issues of the Trump-era, with a special focus on today’s restive relationship between gender and power. Taking place in New York City, May 1-7, 2017, the weeklong festival will use the lens of literature and the arts to confront new challenges to free expression and human rights—issues that have been core to PEN America’s mission since its founding. At this historic moment of both unprecedented attacks on core freedoms and the emergence of new forms of resistance, the Festival will offer a platform for a global community of writers, artists and thinkers to connect with concerned citizens and the broader public to fight back against bigotry, hatred and isolationism."

Romance Times BookLovers. May 2-7, 2017, Atlanta, GA.

ASJA (American Society of Journalists and Authors) Writers Conference, May 5 - 6, 2017. NYC, NY. Focus on Autobiography/Memoir, Business/Technical, Humor, Journalism, Marketing, Nature, Non-fiction, Publishing, Religion, Screenwriting, Travel. Attending: more than 100 editors, authors, literary agents, and publicists.

Northern Colorado Writers Conference. May 5 - 6, 2017, Fort Collins CO. The 2017 Northern Colorado Writers Conference will bring back some local favorites such as Laura Pritchett, Trai Cartwright, and Kerrie Flanagan, as well as welcome several new-to-NCW presenters such as Bob Mayer, Jessica Strawser, and Whitney Davis, and several new agents.

Idaho Writers Guild Conference. May 5 - 6, 2017, Boise, Idaho. Meet with agents, editors, and authors. Panel discussions, workshops, and a keynote speaker. Your registration - $195 for IWG members, $225 for non-members.

Gold Rush Writers Conference. May 5 - 7, 2017, Mokelumne Hill, CA. "Writing professionals will guide you to a publishing bonanza through a series of panels, specialty talks, workshops and celebrity lectures. Go one-on-one with successful poets, novelists, biographers, memoirists and short story writers." Writing workshops in Autobiography/Memoir, Children's, Fiction, Marketing, Non-fiction, Poetry, Publishing, Romance, Travel, Young Adult.

The Massachusetts Poetry Festival. May 5 - May 7, 2017, Salem, Massachusetts. The Mass Poetry Festival offers nearly 100 poetry readings and workshops, a small press and literary fair, panels, poetry slams, and open-air readings. More than 150 poets will engage with thousands of New Englanders.

Grub Street Muse and the Marketplace Conference. May 5 - May 7, 2017. Boston, Massachusetts. The Muse and the Marketplace is a three-day literary conference designed to give aspiring writers a better understanding about the craft of writing fiction and non-fiction, to prepare them for the changing world of publishing and promotion, and to create opportunities for meaningful networking. On all three days, prominent and nationally-recognized established and emerging authors lead sessions on the craft of writing—the "muse" side of things—while editors, literary agents, publicists and other industry professionals lead sessions on the business side—the "marketplace."

Hedgebrook VORTEXT Salon. May 5 - 7, 2017: Whidbey Institute on Whidbey Island, about 35 miles northwest of Seattle. Workshops, panel discussions, lectures, open mics, and time to write in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction for women writers.

Columbus State Community College Writers Conference. May 6, 2017, Columbus, Ohio. Workshops in Autobiography/Memoir, Business/Technical, Fiction, Journalism, Marketing, Non-fiction, Playwriting, Poetry, Publishing, Screenwriting. This one-day conference is free of charge.

DFW Writers Conference. May 6 - 7, 2017, Fort Worth TX. Featuring pitch sessions with literary agents, advanced classes, engaging panels, interactive workshops.

Writers Retreat Workshop. May 6 - 13, 2017, San Antonio, TX. Featuring Author and Instructor Lisa Cron (Wired for Story, Story Genuis), Thriller novelist Daniel Palmer (Delirious, Forgive Me, Mercy (with his late father Michael Palmer) ), Mystery and thriller author Reavis Wortham (Red River Mystery Series, and in 2017 Sonny Hawke series), Author and Instructor Les Edgerton (Bomb, Hooked (WD), The Bitch), Author, Instructor and Editor Carol Dougherty, Author, Instructor, Editor, and Program Director Jason Sitzes, and more agents, editors, and authors.

Mokulē‘ia Writers Retreat. May 7 - 12, 2017 in Waialua, Hawaii at Camp Mokulē‘ia, Oahu. Offers workshops in fiction and nonfiction, readings, one-on-one consultations, publishing panels, yoga sessions. The retreat is led by North Shore native Constance Hale, the author of Sin and Syntax, the editor of more than two dozen books, and a journalist whose stories about Hawai‘i appear on CD liner notes, as well as in publications like The Los Angeles Times and Smithsonian magazine. Hale invites a mix of writers, editors, and agents from both the islands and the mainland to lead various workshops and appear on panels.

Novel-In-Progress Bookcamp. May 7- 13, 2017: West Bend WI. 6-day, residential workshop-retreat for writers in all genres working on a novel or creative nonfiction book. Workshops in Autobiography/Memoir, Fiction, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Non-fiction, Publishing, Romance, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Young Adult. Registration is limited to 30 people.

Crafting Successful Author Visits. May 7 - 12, 2017, Honesdale, PA. Peter Jacobi, journalism professor and former newsman for NBC and ABC, will coach you in the fundamentals of public speaking. Peter will teach the seven essential parts of speech writing as well as tips for audience engagement. Carmen Oliver and Jan Cheripko will advise you in the creation or revision of your presentation intended for a school audience. In addition to one-to-one feedback on your presentation, Jan and Carmen will accompany you to an on-site school visit during the workshop.

Writing the Unreal: The Whole Novel Workshop in Fantasy & Speculative Fiction. May 7-14, 2017, Honesdale, PA. This unique workshop is designed for anyone with a complete or near-complete draft of a middle-grade or young adult novel in fantasy or speculative fiction who wants a thorough manuscript critique and help making plans for revision. WAITLISTED.

Lakefly Writers Conference. May 12 - 13, 2017: Premier Waterfront Hotel & Convention Center in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Workshops, talks, and a bookfair for poets, fiction writers, and nonfiction writers. Keynote speaker is Nickolas Butler. Many speakers and presenters.

Atlanta Writers Conference. May 12-13, 2017, Atlanta, GA. Featured Writers Include: Six acquisition editors from top publishing houses and six well-regarded literary agents, plus a workshop presenter from the publishing industry and successful, experienced authors, many of whom received their first publishing and/or representation contracts via the Atlanta Writers Conference.

Seaside Writers Conference. May 14 - 20, 2017: Seaside Assembly Hall in Seaside, Florida. "The Seaside Writers Conference is an annual gathering of creative writers from all over the nation, and features award-winning writers in poetry and fiction and screenwriting who will offer a full week of intensive writing workshops, one day seminars, school outreach programs, and social events." Many authors, agents, editors.

Whole Novel Workshop: Historical Fiction. May 14 - 20, 2017, Honesdale, PA. This workshop provides novelists in middle grade or young adult historical fiction a complete review of their entire manuscript, along with tools for revision and practical tips from experts in the field. WAITLISTED.

Writing By Writers Methow Valley Workshop: May 17 - 21, 2017, Winthrop, WA. Faculty: faculty includes Ron Carlson, Ross Gay, Pam Houston and Lidia Yuknavitch. Tuition: $1,650 (before November 1) $1,750 (after November 1) includes one four-day workshop, admittance to all panels and readings, and all meals (dinner on Wednesday; three meals Thursday through Saturday; breakfast and lunch on Sunday) and lodging for four nights.  Alumni of the first Methow Valley Workshop in May 2016 will receive a $100 discount.

Nebula Conference and Awards Ceremony. May 18-21, 2017, Pittsburgh, PA.

Defining Your Voice. May 18-21, 2017, Honesdale, PA. As a reader, you know “voice” in an instant. It stands out. It rings true. It stays in your head. As a writer, you have a voice that is distinctively your own. It comes from within and without—inner conflicts, outside pressures, personal values, and your own particular views of the world infuse your work. You tell the stories that only you can tell. Join writer and editor Sharyn November to immerse yourself in rich examples of many writers’ voices as you work to develop your own.

Pennwriters Conference, May 19 - 21, 2017, Pittsburgh, PA. Friday evening keynote Jonathan Maberry; Saturday afternoon keynote Chuck Sambuchino; and 20+ authors, literary agents & editors, writing industry pros. Costs: $375 for 3-day registration. One-day registration available $185.

Austin SCBWI 2017 Writers & Illustrators Working Conference. May 20 - 21, 2017, Austin, TX. Conference on children's books with keynotes; general sessions; breakout sessions for writing, professional development and illustration; intensives for novels, picture books and illustration; critiques; pitches and more. Faculty: Editors Kendra Levin (Penguin Random House), Melissa Manlove (Chronicle) Agents Linda Camacho (Prospect), Stefanie Von Borstel (Full Circle) Art Director Giuseppe Castellano (PRH). Authors Kathi Appelt, Coe Booth, more. Author/illustrator.

Boldface Conference for Emerging Writers. May 22 - 26, 2017, Houston, Texas. Featured Writers Include: Fiction: Bill Broun (Night of the Animals); Nonfiction: Lea Lax (Uncovered); Poetry: Hayan Charara (Something Sinister, The Sadness of Others, and The Alchemist's Diary). Application deadline: MAY 1st.

Creative Nonfiction Writers' Conference. May 26 - 27, 2017: Wyndham University Center in Pittsburgh. Master classes, craft discussions, publishing talks, pitch sessions, and readings for creative nonfiction writers. In just three days you can meet one-on-one with a literary agent or publishing consultant, get concrete advice from professional writers, hear what different kinds of editors are looking for, and hone your skills in an inspiring small-group session. You’ll also meet and mingle with writers from across the country who share your excitement about the writing process.

Connecting Writers with Hollywood. May 26 - 27, 2017, Spokane, WA. CWWH is a writers conference where writers and screenwriters can pitch their material directly to film agents and producers. It is a weekend of education, panels and pitch sessions. Faculty: Chuck Palahniuk (!), Brian Bird, Mel Eslyn, Mark Steilen, Mike Dill, Megan Griffiths, Kim Hornsby, Nikki Navarre, Heather Morado.

Balticon 51. May 26 - 29, 2017, Baltimore, MD. Balticon is sponsored by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society (BSFS). BSFS presents the Compton Crook Award, the Robert A. Heinlein Award, and the winner of the annual Jack L. Chalker Young Writer's Contest annually at this event. Faculty: Eric Flint as Guest of Honor. Multiple tracks of Programming over the four day weekend, featuring authors, artists, scientists, musicians, podcasters, publishers, editors, costumers and other creative SF luminaries.

The Personal is Always Political with Melissa Febos. May 26 - 30, 2017, Austerlitz NY. What is the role of the personal writer in this new political landscape? It has always been the job of writers to engage in conversation with the world, but in times of national upheaval, this job is more urgent than ever. In this generative workshop, we will explore methods of bringing our personal stories more explicitly into a political context.

Capturing the Unexpected: Beginning Your Novel – Right. May 28 - June 3, 2017, Honesdale, PA. The experiences of National Book Award-winning editor Patricia Lee Gauch will drive this spirited workshop on getting your novel off to a great start. Through dialog and activities, writers will gain vivid strategies with which to build their middle-grade or young adult novels into truly original narratives with rich characterization, surprising depth, and real emotional power. Daily exercises, long and short, will focus on writers’ diction and style, character development, the driving force of attitude, and voice. During the five days, participants will develop a draft of two short stories or chapters with which they can begin a long work of fiction. Class is limited to eight participants. Applications for this workshop should include a two-page sample of writing. WAITLISTED.

North Words Writers Symposium: May 31 - June 3, 2017, Skagway, Alaska. Faculty: Keynote author Paul Theroux. Alaskan authors include: John Straley, Sherry Simpson, Tom Kizzia, Deb Vanesse, Andy Hall, Lenore Bell. Costs: $375 includes most meals. College credit extra for $90.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

12 Agents Representing Short Story Collections

Finding an agent to represent a short story collection is not easy. The reason most agents prefer to avoid short story collections is that they are difficult to sell to publishers - unless the author is already famous.

Before you submit your collection, I strongly recommend that you get as many stories as possible published in literary magazines. Having a track record will help, and prior publication will not harm your chances of getting a collection published. (However, you should avoid publishing in magazines that are online. If people can read your stories for free, why should they buy them?)

For where to publish short stories see:

297 Paying Markets for Short Stories, Poetry, Nonfiction

Speculative Fiction Magazines Accepting Submissions

18 Paying Markets for Humor 

And if you prefer to submit directly to a publisher read:


IMPORTANT: These twelve agents have listed Short Stories on their MSWL (manuscript wish list) profiles, however you should NEVER query an agent without checking the agency website first. Submission requirements change, and agents may close their lists, or switch agencies.
______________________________

Jennifer Kim (Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency)

A graduate from the University of California Irvine, Jennifer holds a B.A. in English Literature and Spanish Literature, and spent a year studying Spanish literature and culture at the University of Barcelona. She also works as a bookseller, having done so since 2012.
______________________

Renée Zuckerbrot founded the agency after working as an editor at Doubleday and Franklin Square Press/Harper’s Magazine. She is a member of the AAR and Authors Guild. She serves on PEN’s Membership Committee, and is a Board member of the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP) and Slice Magazine. You can read an interview with Renée and her colleagues at Poets & Writers. See her top ten list of short stories at Storyville. 
______________________

Waverly Place Literary Agency 

Seeking short story and poetry collections with popular appeal.
______________________

Helen Boyle (Pickled Ink) (UK)

Helen Boyle has over fifteen years experience in the children’s publishing industry. She began her career at Hodder Children’s Books in the marketing and publicity department but quickly felt the draw of editorial and design. She has worked as a consultant, editor and reviewer for UK book and magazine publishers and has an extensive knowledge of the global children’s book market. She is seeking YA connected short stories. (A novel told as a series of short stories.)
______________________

Chad Luibl (Janklow and Nesbit

I tend to lean more toward darker tales and gritty settings, culture-crossing perspectives, structures that are a bit experimental (see David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas), and always narratives with a strong emotional core. Having lived in Poland and Hungary, I have a niche-interest in books that feel Eastern European in voice/perspective (or explore post-Soviet and Cold War themes), and I find anything that deals with exile and expatriation immediately arresting.
______________________


I’m officially open to all genres. Whatever the age group, I tend to love contrast–highbrow sentences and lowbrow content, beautiful settings and ugly motives–the books that are beautiful and scary, heartbreaking and hilarious. I love secrets, scheming, revenge, plotting–and stories that have to be written forward and backward to make sense (I LOVE discovering a very cleverly planted clue that makes sense in retrospect).
______________________


Most generally, I focus on adult literary fiction, narrative non-fiction, middle grade, and young adult fiction.  Across all genres and ages, I’ll always be interested in the darker and weirder side of the human condition as well as previously under- or misrepresented experiences and voices.
______________________


I’ve enjoyed being an agent for 26 years, and love to find new voices. I love to lose myself in a story and to be transported to another reality, whether it be in the future, contemporary, or in the past. I am a complete francophile and have spent lots of time living in Paris and the South of France, and yes, I have sold lots of books from abroad, as I’m always working! I love to read.
______________________

Laura Biagi (No longer an agent)

Some things I’m especially interested in at the moment: Magical realism in the vein of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a literary fiction journey story where the characters change as much as the landscape around them, absurdism a la George Saunders, anything reminiscent of Karen Russell, strong female edgy voices like Miranda July, a story with a gothic or magical realist twist set in Kentucky or the South, literary YA with Romani characters, and contemporary YA with characters following their passions and trying to figure out life as in Rainbow Rowell’s novels.
______________________

Monica Odom (Bradford Literary)

Monica is most actively seeking adult projects, but is open to some YA and MG (especially if it is NF or illustrated). She holds the same criteria no matter the age group: original storytelling, incredible voice, compelling characters, and vivid, detailed setting. She also likes to see a strong sense of narrative tension. Monica is serious about the fact that We Need Diverse Books and is looking for authentic representation of all characters, diverse or otherwise
______________________

Rachel Crawford (Wolf Literary)

I’m on the look out for literary and commercial fiction and YA. I’m drawn to stories that defy genre conventions and play with reader expectations, and I particularly enjoy dystopian fiction, eco-fiction, and apocalyptic narratives, as well as anything with a scientist protagonist. I love books that explore big ideas through compelling narrative.
______________________

Sarah Yake (Frances Collin Literary Agency)

A quirky, interesting voice is my number one consideration. I love a touch of humor, whether overt or sly. My reading tastes are wide-ranging and my goal is to keep building a similarly diverse, multi-genre list.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

10 Things We Hate About Agents (And 10 Things They Hate About Us)

Authors and agents have what I would call an ambiguous relationship. It's not precisely love/hate, but it does involve a clash of expectations.

This clash is the inevitable result of a business mentality coming in close contact with artistic sensibilities. That is, when writers who are devoted to the craft or, more specifically, to their own writing, are abruptly thrown into the cold water of capitalism.

(I've previously written about that conflict at some length. See my astonishingly perceptive post: Literary Agents: The Writer's Ultimate Ambiguous Relationship.)

Launching into the publishing world can be a painfully enlightening experience for a writer. Not surprisingly, it can be equally as vexing for agents who may not realize that their clients are not only unprepared, but are quite confused as to what is expected of them. But in some cases, it is not merely confusion that causes problems. With increasing numbers of writers submitting their work, exacerbated by fierce competition for publishing slots, frustrations can arise, leading to complaints on both sides.

Here are some of them.

Ten things writers hate about agents

1) Agents who charge a fee, or who are really book doctors, but don't let you know until you have submitted your work. This is the most egregious of sins in the agent community. Fortunately, it is becoming relatively rare - but it still exists. If an agent charges a fee, especially after they have requested pages (and given you glowing compliments), do not pay them a cent, and run for the hills. NO LEGITIMATE AGENT CHARGES A READING FEE.

2) "No reply means no." The majority of agents no longer send rejections. They simply do not respond at all. In this age of automatic email replies there is no excuse for that kind of behavior. We all understand that agents are busy people, but we also expect them to be professionals. It is highly unprofessional to leave writers hanging.

3) Agents who ask for partials or fulls, and then either don't reply or send a canned response. This is something I personally really dislike. If an agent asks to see a manuscript, the writer will assume, rightly, that the agent has taken an interest. At this point, a lack of reply is somewhat like inviting a girl (or boy) to the prom and not showing up. It's not only rude, it's unconscionable.

4) Agents who say they want "great writing" but don't request sample pages along with your query. C'mon agents! Put your money where your mouth is! If you want great writing, then take a look at the first chapter! Every agent worth his or her salt knows that writers are piss poor at writing queries, so skip the query and spend  a few minutes on the first ten pages.

5) Agents who expect writers to compose copy. There is a huge difference between writing a novel and writing copy. A book is self-expression. Copy is what your boss hires you to churn out in order to sell his (or her) products. Agents cannot reasonably expect writers, especially fiction writers, to suddenly know the rules of advertising. That is a skill unto itself, and one in which writers are not trained.

6) Agents who promise the moon. Most agents won't take on your project unless they are "in love" with it. (To translate, "in love" means "I can sell this to a publisher and make money.") It is perfectly reasonable to expect enthusiasm from agents. What isn't reasonable is when agents tell you that your book is going to be a bestseller, that it will be a "breakout" novel, or that they are sure you will get a movie deal.

7) Agents who promise nothing. At the bare minimum an agent should be able to tell you what he or she can do for you. Agents should let you know what their contacts in the publishing industry are, what kind of track record they have, whether they have sold books like yours. They should have a game plan for selling your book. It goes without saying that they should be well acquainted with the terms of a contract, and should be willing to explain those terms to you.

8) Long, convoluted contracts that are filled with legalese. Back in the day, when there were no contracts between agents and authors, a simple handshake (verbal or physical) was enough. Now, there are lawyers. Contracts that are written by lawyers will always favor the agent for the simple reason that lawyers represent the people who pay them. Contracts written by lawyers can contain anything, including a promise on the part of the author to produce additional books (that happens), a promise to maintain a certain physical appearance (that also happens), and no termination clause. A fair contract should be no longer than a page or two, should state which book the agent is representing, and include a termination clause applying to both parties. It should specify how much the agent will take in commission, and how funds will be disbursed to the writer, as well as which services the agent will provide in clear language. (I highly recommend that writers join the Authors Guild. The Guild provides legal reviews of contracts to its members.)

9) Agents who, once they have decided to represent your work, do not maintain contact. It is the agent's job to market your book to publishers. Any decent agent will keep you apprised of how that quest is going. They will tell you which publishers they have approached and give you feedback. If they don't touch base with you on a regular basis, they are not doing their job.

10) Agents who drop their clients after a few attempts at selling a manuscript to a publisher. When the going gets tough, some agents are all too willing to simply drop their "difficult" client in favor of a manuscript that is easier to market, or which they perceive is easier to market. Shame on them.

Ten things agents hate about authors

1) Writers who do not research who they are querying. Nothing will turn an agent off faster than a query addressed to "Dear Agent." (Seriously, don't do that.) Make sure you are addressing your query to an individual agent, and that you have spelled the agent's name correctly. Also, make absolutely sure that you have gone to the agency's site and have read the bio of the agent you are querying.

2) Writers who do not follow instructions. This is such an easy thing to do; there is no excuse for not submitting your query exactly the way the agent has specified.

3) Bad spelling and grammar. Agents are not forgiving about error-ridden query letters. If you can't spell, or don't know the difference between "lay" and "lie" (my pet peeve), they will become irritated. It is not a good idea to irritate someone you are wooing.

4) Writers who do not know how to write a query letter. Writing a basic query is not rocket science. You need a short opening with your book's title, genre, and word count, a paragraph that summarizes your book, and a brief paragraph about your qualifications as a writer. Make it short and to the point. Don't waste the agent's time.

5) Authors who pester agents. Nothing ticks agents off more than clients who make repeated phone calls, text constantly, or email incessantly. An agent's job is to sell your book, not hold your hand.

6) Authors who do not disclose that they have submitted to publishers, or who have already self-published their work. Very few agents are willing to take on manuscripts that have been "shopped around." How can they be expected to pitch your work to editors who have already rejected your manuscript? And while some agents are willing accept work that has been self-published, read their submission requirements carefully to make sure that's allowed.

7) Writers who submit to more than one agent at the same agency. Do writers really expect agents who work together to compete with one another? Only submit to one agent at an agency. And if you get a rejection, make sure that agency allows subsequent submissions to other agents. (Some agencies share; a submission to one agent is a submission to them all.)

8) Writers who submit queries for fiction that is not completed. Novels have to be finished and fully edited before a query can be sent. It's disappointing for an agent to request a partial or a full, only to be told that the book is not finished. It is equally distressing for them to receive a rough draft. (Make sure your manuscript is as error-free as possible before you send it!)

9) Lack of professionalism. Writers who don't seem to be aware that the agent-client relationship is a business arrangement can be very annoying. What does being professional mean? First, a manuscript that follows standard manuscript guidelines (double spaced, Times New Roman or another standard font, etc.) is professional. Submitting your work promptly is also professional. Keeping appointments is professional. Remembering that the agent has a job, and is not available at all hours, is professional.

10) Writers who get angry when they receive a rejection, or get upset at an agent's suggestions for improvement. Not many agents offer a critique of work they've received. They simply don't have the time. But those who are willing to go the extra mile by offering feedback are performing a service. The proper response should be "Thank you," not a snarky reply, or a pissed-off blog post. The same holds true for rejections. If writers are upset by a rejection, they should keep it to themselves.

____________________

To writers: For God's sake, learn to write a proper query letter! Query Shark is your best resource. There are also successful queries on Writer's Digest. And read my Best Method for Handling Rejections (and getting published). It will keep you sane.

To agents: For God's sake, learn to write a proper rejection letter! Please, oh please send us rejections. Don't leave us in limbo. We are human, and your silence makes us suffer. Also, if we are expected to know your name, do us the courtesy of not addressing rejections to "Dear Author."

Thursday, April 13, 2017

3 New Agents Actively Seeking Writers

These three agents are actively expanding their client lists. Damian McNicholl (Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency) is seeking fiction and nonfiction, including memoirs. Kortney Price (Holloway Literary) is looking for middle grade, young adult, and new adult fiction. Kaitlyn Johnson (Corvisiero Literary Agency) is interested in young adult, new adult, and adult fiction, especially fantasy.

IMPORTANT: You should NEVER query an agent without checking the agency website first. Submission requirements change, and agents may close their lists, or switch agencies.

Note: You can find a comprehensive list of new and established agents seeking clients here: Agents Seeking Clients

Happy submitting!

___________________



Damian McNicholl of the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency

About Damian: Damian McNicholl grew up in Northern Ireland and moved to the US in the early nineties. A former attorney, he is also an author whose latest novel, THE MOMENT OF TRUTH, will be published by Pegasus Books in June 2017. His critically acclaimed novel A SON CALLED GABRIEL will be republished by Pegasus in Fall 2017. Damian regards himself as an agent who likes to edit and help polish a client’s work before submission.

He is Seeking: Great nonfiction and fiction that appeals to a wide audience and makes people think, laugh and sob. In fiction, his interests are compelling novels that hit the sweet spot between literary and commercial, historical and select offbeat/quirky. Nonfiction interests include memoir, biography, investigative journalism and current events, especially cultural, legal and LGBT issues that can help lead to meaningful change in society. To see the types of books he likes, please visit Damian’s agent page.

How to Submit: For fiction and memoir, please email a succinct query to damianmcnichollvarney@gmail.com with a subject line of QUERY. Include a short synopsis of the plot (think dust jacket copy), concise bio setting forth any publishing credits and the first 15 pages in the body of the email. For all other nonfiction, please attach a proposal as a Word document that includes the first chapter and your author platform.

__________________________

Kortney Price of Holloway Literary

About Kortney: Prior to joining Holloway Literary as a Literary Assistant, Kortney completed internships with Andrea Hurst & Associates, Amphorae Publishing Group, and Inklings Literary Agency. In 2014 she graduated with a B.A. in English from Greenville College. Kortney manages the agency website and is the editor of the Holloway Literary blog.

She is Seeking: Middle-grade fiction written in the vein of Gordon Korman, young adult thrillers similar to Lois Duncan, and contemporary new adult fiction.

How to Submit: Send a query and the first 15 pages pasted in the body of the e-mail to submissions [at] hollowayliterary.com. Your subject line should read “Kortney/[Title]/[Genre].”
_______________________

Kaitlyn Johnson of Corvisiero Literary Agency

About Kaitlyn: After receiving a BA in Writing, Publishing, and Literature from Emerson College, Kaitlyn refused to leave the concept of nightly homework behind. Centering her life around everything literary, she started her own freelance editing company, K. Johnson Editorial, as soon as her diploma came in the mail. Holding two years of literary magazine editing experience, Kaitlyn is proud to be on staff for the increasingly popular Muse and the Marketplace Conference held in Boston every April/May through GrubStreet. She currently works as both the Muse Conference Assistant and the Donor Communications Assistant at GrubStreet.

She is Seeking: Young Adult, New Adult, and Adult. Lots of fantasy (yes, that very much includes urban!), time travel, select dystopian, romance (erotic elements OK), and historical fiction if it is anything other than Henry VIII.
  • Contemporary with unique concept and good execution. No overplayed tropes/characters. Same goes for upper MG.
  • LGBT (as well as characters questioning their sexuality) welcome in all genres accepted above.
  • Fairytale retellings but ONLY if it’s from an unexpected POV
How to Submit: Please follow the submission guidelines on the “Submissions” page of Corvisiero Literary Agency and send to query@corvisieroagency.com with the subject title: “Query: Kaitlyn Johnson, [name of manuscript]”
  • Strong query
  • Five page sample
  • 1-2 page synopsis
Please do not e-mail unsolicited queries to her personal work e-mail. They will not be accepted. Thank you for your understanding.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

2 New Agents Actively Seeking Fiction

Here are two new agents seeking clients. Laura Crockett (TriadaUS) is interested in YA and adult fiction. Claire Roberts (Trident Media Group) is looking for all types of fiction as well as narrative nonfiction.

IMPORTANT: You should NEVER query an agent without checking the agency website first. Submission requirements change, and agents may close their lists, or switch agencies.

Note: You can find a comprehensive list of new and established agents seeking clients here: Agents Seeking Clients

Good luck!
______________________

Laura Crockett of Triada US

What she is seeking: ​In YA, she is interested in contemporary realistic fiction (such as study abroad experiences, strong female friendships, falling in love, mental health, diversity, LGBTQ) and fantasy (particularly with excellent world-building, authentic characterization, fantasy inspired by fairytales and other cultures' mythology, and historical fantasy). Some favorite titles include Fangirl, The Lie Tree, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, All the Bright Places, Shadowfell, When We Collided, Anna and the French Kiss, A Shadow Bright and Burning,The Star-Touched Queen, and The Winner's Curse.

In adult fiction, she is interested in contemporary women's fiction (heartfelt, juicy moral dilemmas, historical bends with parallel narratives), humorous chick-lit (especially if it's millennial-driven), and fantasy (excellent world-building, authentic characterization, fantasy inspired by fairytales and other cultures' mythology, and historical fantasy). Some favorite titles include The Night Circus, Outlander, The Queen of Blood, Daughter of the Forest, The Winter Witch, The Hating Game, and authors like Jodi Picoult, Kate Morton, Gayle Forman, and Sophie Kinsella.

How to submit: When querying Laura, please include the first ten pages in the body of your email. She can be contacted at laura@triadaus.com.

____________________


Claire Roberts of Trident Media Group

About Claire: Claire Roberts had a very successful career in publishing already, focusing on selling rights internationally for authors both at publishing houses and most recently at Trident Media Group, where she was the head of the Foreign Rights department and had worked on the global careers of such authors as Marilynne Robinson, Marlon James, Justin Cronin and Paul Harding. She is now developing her own clients whose work she will handle in the US as well as internationally. Claire has an MFA from the University of Michigan. She is looking for writing that’s fresh, immediate, and character-driven, and above all, writing that stays with you.

She is seeking: She loves many types of fiction, and of course, in view of her MFA in literary fiction, she finds that genre very appealing. “In fiction I am most interested in upmarket/mainstream to literary fiction and upmarket to literary crime fiction.” She also seeks narrative nonfiction. Claire says that “the books that do best in the international markets are those that tell great stories, with the kind of writing that stays with you after the book has been put down. And the authors of those kind of books, are exactly who I am looking to work with and represent in the United States.”

How to submit: Use Trident’s online submissions form here.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Self-Publishing: The Perils of Instant Gratification

One of the appeals of self-publishing is that there is no waiting time. In traditional publishing, there is a lag, sometimes of a year or more, between the publisher's receipt of a manuscript and its publication.

Historically, authors have railed against this lag for two reasons: 1) They are impatient to see their books on the shelf, and 2) They are worried that in some cases, the book may never be published at all.

The second of these reasons for objecting to a delay in publication is legitimate. If the publication date is not specified in the contract (e.g. manuscript will be published within one year of acceptance), there is always the chance that due to various unforeseen events affecting the publishing house, your book may never make it into print.

The first reason, impatience, is not a good reason to object to a delay, but it is the main reason many writers opt to self-publish. Once they finish a novel, they want to see it in print as soon as possible.

Why immediate publication is a bad idea

One of the reasons traditional publishers delay publication is that in addition to the months required to edit a book, it takes between four and six months to market a book. ARCs must be sent to reviewers, pre-orders must be set up, outlets must be notified. If these steps are not taken in advance, there will be no pre-release buzz. And without pre-release buzz, the proverbial tree will fall in the forest, and it will not make a sound.

This is not to say you can't promote a book after it has been released. You can, and you should. But if you don't create a demand for your book ahead of its release, chances are very few people will buy it. Demand is the fundamental basis of selling anything - be it a new car, a new shoe style, a new book, or a new president. Create a demand, and there will be a market for your product.

If you publish immediately after you finish editing, you will have no demand and no market, which means you are virtually guaranteed a lack of sales.

What to do before publication

1) First, make a list of book reviewers for your genre. Also make a list of bloggers who do interviews, and make a list of those who do cover reveals. (Many book bloggers do all three.) You should have several hundred reviewers when you are finished. This will take some time, so start now.

2) While you are making those lists, research popular publications - online magazines and general interest sites - relating to your genre or to the subject of your book. Make a list of those that accept advertising, or which will post your book as a new release. Start making the list now. (You can use Alexa to measure the traffic to a publication's website.)

3) Build your twitter following. Do not use a service. You need real followers, not a bunch of people who don't care about what you are tweeting. Do this at least a year before the launch of your book.

4) Make sure you have a Facebook page, a blog, and a website up and running at least a year before you launch your book.

5) As soon as you have a cover, make a banner. Write your back page blurb, and ask for endorsements.

6) Six months before your launch send review requests to every reviewer on your list. At the same time, send review requests to your list of popular publications and websites, especially those which charge a fee, (Those tend to get booked up quickly.)

7) Three months before your release upload your book for pre-ordering on Amazon. (If you are using Smashwords, they also provide a pre-order service.) Sign up for blog tours.

8) As soon as you have an ARC, submit your book to every self-publishing book contest.

9) Schedule talks, book signings, and author events to coincide with your release date.

10) Plan a book release party, and advertise it. Have fun! (And make sure everyone at the party gets on your mailing list.)

Do all of the above - patiently, methodically -  and your book will be a success.


Useful articles:

List of Online Reviewers Who Accept Self-Published Books

Everything I did wrong: Self-Publishing

Arranging Your Own Book Tour

10 Tips for How to Throw a Successful Book Launch Party

10 Ways to Find Your Ideal Audience on Twitter (For Writers)

The Skinny on Virtual Book Tours

You can find many more useful articles on self-publishing and book marketing here.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

5 Tips for Promoting Your Author Event on Social Media

Me, signing books at my local library
If you are self-publishing, or even if you are being published traditionally, public events such as talks, book signings, and readings are a must. Nothing creates more fans than your physical presence. People want to sit in an audience and hear you speak. They want to crowd around you afterwards, asking you to sign copies of your book. They want to shake your hand, ask you questions, give you their first born child. (Okay, maybe that's taking it a bit too far. But you get the picture.)

Simply scheduling a talk or a signing is not enough. Like everything else you do to promote your book, your author event will have to be advertised. You will, of course, send out a press release to the local papers.

But what about all the people who only know you virtually? That group is important as well.

1) Twitter. Before you do anything else, create a hashtag and use it on every tweet that concerns your book - including author events. Keep your hashtag short and memorable. Make sure you look up your hashtag to make sure it hasn’t already been used.

2) Facebook event page. Event pages are easy to set up on Facebook. (Read how to do it HERE.) Your event page should include information about the event (when and where). You can post photos, invite guests, and (best of all) keep track of who is interested. Make sure people can leave comments and post on your page. Remember to put links to your home page on Facebook, as well as sales links, in the details section.

Here is a helpful article13 Ways to Use Facebook Events for Your Brand

3) Live coverage. Live coverage of events is exciting! If your friends are attending the event, ask them tweet during the event using your event hashtag. Enlist a friend to photograph the event and post images. Let Facebook friends and twitter followers know in advance when live coverage is taking place.

4) Join groups. There are all kinds of groups for writers: Facebook groups, Google Plus communities, even LinkedIn. Promotions are allowed in many of these groups, not just for book releases but for events. The advantage to promoting your events on groups is reach (especially Facebook).

Helpful article47 Facebook Groups for Authors

5) Make a video. If you have a smartphone you can make a short clip (a teaser) to promote your event. For example, you can do some "man on the street" interviews with people who are going (friends, family). Have them answer the question, "Why are you going to ___?" Make it fun, or better yet, funny. (You can even use a free animation maker like PowToon to make a cartoon!) Post these videos on Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else you have an account.

Here is the Video for Phillip Pullman's book event 

Remember:

Bring a sign-up sheet to your event. Everyone who shows up is a potential fan!

Bring extra books. Even if the event is hosted by a bookstore, they may run out. If the event is hosted by a restaurant (I've had restaurant venues), a sporting goods store, a library, or anyplace else not likely to have a stack of your books on hand - bring lots!

Have a good time. I love talking to people who've read my books. The best part is that they love talking to me, too!

For more info on book tours see: Arranging Your Own Book Tour

Terrible Early Reviews of Ten 20th-Century Classics

I enjoy reading bad reviews of great novels — almost as much as I enjoy getting them. (See what I did there?)

It comforts me to know that if a book of mine is called “lugubrious,” I will be keeping company with Aldous Huxley. (Unlike Brave New World, not one of my books has been called “lugubrious,” or even “nauseating,” but this is probably due to an avoidance of polysyllabic adjectives on the part of contemporary reviewers.)

These books were panned primarily because they broke new ground. Innovative writing and unconventional concepts are rarely well received in the short run. (Also honest portrayals of sex, war, racism and other social ills are generally shunned, at least initially.) However, in the long run, these books have stood the test of time, and are now considered classics.

All of these books are on the 100 Best Novels Written in English list.

____________________

The Great Gatsby

Although The Great Gatsby earned F. Scott Fitzgerald a mere $13 in royalties, The Great Gatsby has been widely hailed as “The Great American Novel.” It was panned by H. L. Mencken in the Chicago Tribune as “no more than a glorified anecdote, and not too probable at that.” Mencken went on to say that the story was “unimportant” and that aside from Gatsby, the characters were “marionettes.”

The New York Evening World called the book “a valiant effort to be ironical,” but “his style is painfully forced.” The daytime version of the paper ran a headline that called Gatsby “a dud.”

Ralph Coghlan, of the St. Louis Dispatch, wrote: "Altogether is seems to us this book is a minor performance. At the moment, its author seems a bit bored and tired and cynical. There is no ebullience here, nor is there any mellowness or profundity. For our part, The Great Gatsby might just as well be called Ten Nights on Long Island."

In 2013, The Great Gatsby was made into a movie featuring Leonardo DiCaprio. (The book was better.)

Brave New World


Aldous Huxley’s biting vision of the future (now officially the present) has become an iconic dystopian novel. Huxley brought us Fordism, The World State, and Soma. When it was published in 1932, the book was not well received.

H.G. Wells, regarded as the father of science fiction, wrote that “A writer of the standing of Aldous Huxley has no right to betray the future as he did in that book.”

Wyndham Lewis called it “an unforgivable offence to Progress.” Equally disgusted by Huxley’s portrayal of a world controlled by a global capitalist economy, Gerald Bullett concluded that “As prophecy it is merely fantastic.” (If Gerald Bullett were still alive, he would be eating those words.) And not to be bested by other critics, the New York Herald Tribune called Brave New World “A lugubrious and heavy-handed piece of propaganda.”

Brave New World sold only a few thousand copies upon its release in the U.S. It was banned in Ireland when it first appeared, and it still appears on the The American Library Association's most banned list.


Invisible Man

Ralph Ellison’s powerful novel about the experience of Black Americans won the National Book Award in 1953, and has since been eulogized as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. Nevertheless, Atlantic Monthly thought it suffered from “occasional overwriting, stretches of fuzzy thinking, and a tendency to waver, confusingly, between realism and surrealism.”

Irving Howe, of The Nation, wrote in 1952 that "The tempo of his book is too feverish, and at times almost hysterical. Too often he tries to overwhelm the reader; but when he should be doing something other then overwhelm, when he should be persuading or suggesting or simply telling, he forces and tears."

"Equally disturbing," Howe writes, "is Ellison's apparent wish to be intellectually up-to-date. As his hero quits the Communist Party, he wonders: "Could politics ever be an expression of love?" Howe called this question meaningless, and yet fifty-five years later, during the historic Women's March on January 21, we saw Ellison's question being taken quite seriously by several million people.


Catch-22


War is pointless, and nobody portrayed that better than Joseph Heller, whose satire, Catch-22, has become so much a part of our national culture that it appears as a lexical item in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. The book was rejected by publishers as “really not funny on any intellectual level.”

When it was finally released, The New Yorker had nothing good to say about it. It “doesn’t even seem to be written; instead, it gives the impression of having been shouted onto paper … what remains is a debris of sour jokes.” The New York Times called it “repetitive and monotonous … none of its many interesting characters and actions is given enough play to become a controlling interest.”

Since its release, Catch 22 has sold over 10 million copies.






Lolita

No list of chilly receptions would be complete without Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita.

Publishers, who found Lolita “overwhelmingly nauseating,” recommended that it be “buried under a stone for a thousand years.” Its reception upon publication was not much better.

The New York Times pronounced it “not worth any adult reader’s attention … dull, dull, dull … repulsive” and nothing more than “highbrow pornography.”


Lolita is among the top ten most banned books. French officials banned it for being “obscene,” as did England, Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa. It is quite possible that the book's early success in the United States owes something to the global publicity generated by those ill-considered acts of censorship.




Lord of the Flies

We’ve all read Lord of the Flies because it has been included in High School English curricula for more than 40 years. (I read it in High School, and I taught it when I became a High School teacher.)

William Golding’s indictment of war (that’s what this book is about) has certainly stood the test of time.

Lord of the Flies, rejected by publishers as “an absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull,” received a less-than-glowing reception from The New Yorker, which found it “completely unpleasant.”

The American Library Association lists Lord of the Flies as eighth on its most challenged list. Interestingly, Lolita fares better at eleventh.



Tropic of Cancer

Arthur Miller’s candid look at sexuality had to be published in France, because it was too risque for the American market. The United States Customs Service even banned the book from being imported into the U.S.

When Grove Press finally published the book nearly 30 years later, over 60 obscenity lawsuits in over 21 states were brought against booksellers that sold it. Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Michael Musmanno wrote that it was “not a book. It is a cesspool, an open sewer, a pit of putrefaction, a slimy gathering of all that is rotten in the debris of human depravity.” In kinder and gentler terms, Time magazine described Miller as “a gadfly with delusions of grandeur.”

The New Republic was equally dismissive: "This book belongs, modestly but securely, in the American tradition of profundity-through-deliberate-simplicities ... Miller stands under his Paris street-lamp, defiantly but genially drunk, trolling his catch mixed of beauty and banality and recurrent bawdry-a little pathetic because he thinks he is a discoverer and doesn't realize that he is only a tourist on a well-marked tour."

The Sun Also Rises


Ernest Hemingway’s novel about the Lost Generation was initially rejected by publishers as “tedious and offensive.” But the harshest criticism came from his mother, who wrote: “What is the matter? Have you ceased to be interested in loyalty, nobility, honor and fineness in life … surely you have other words in your vocabulary besides ‘damn’ and ‘bitch’ — Every page fills me with a sick loathing — if I should pick up a book by any other writer with such words in it, I should read no more — but pitch it in the fire.”

Time found the book less than impressive. "[Hemingway’s] interests," it wrote, "appear to have grown soggy from too much sitting in cafes in the Latin quarter of Paris." The Chicago Daily Tribune described the novel as a "bushel of sensationalism and triviality." The Springfield Republican said that the novel’s "extreme moral sordidness at such length defeats artistic purpose."







Native Son

Richard Wright’s book about a young African-American man living in utter poverty on Chicago’s South Side in the 1930s was an instant bestseller. In keeping with other books that realistically treat uncomfortable social themes, it has been banned numerous times from schools and libraries.

Despite its popularity, Native Son was not universally well received. New Statesman found the book to be “unimpressive and silly, not even as much fun as a thriller.”

Baldwin called Native Son a “pamphlet in literary disguise,” exaggerating characters with the sole purpose of carrying his message. Wright failed, according to Baldwin, because of his “insistence that it is … categorization alone which is real and which cannot be transcended.”

Ayana Mathis of The New York Times wrote, “I don’t imagine many black people would have embraced such a grotesque portrait of themselves. … What future, what vision is reflected in such a miserable and incompletely realized creature?”



An American Tragedy


Theodore Dreiser’s fictionalized account of a notorious 1906 murder has been adapted for theater, screen, radio, opera, and has even been transformed into a musical.

When the novel was first published in 1925, it met with the disapproval of the Boston Evening Telegraph, which called its main character, Clyde Griffiths, “one of the most despicable creations of humanity that ever emerged from a novelist’s brain.” Dreiser came under attack as an author whose style was “offensively colloquial, commonplace and vulgar.”

H. L, Mencken, never one to mince words, called An American Tragedy, "a shapeless and forbidding monster . . . a vast, sloppy, chaotic thing of 385,000 words -- at least 250,000 of them unnecessary!"

Ouch.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...