The Planner Experiment: A New Month Begins

June month plan

So here we are. June is upon us. We’re looking at the midpoint of the year and the days keep flying by. How are your submissions going? Are you finding ways to use the daily planner to stay motivated?

Last week I admitted I was having trouble submitting and hoped that I would find that original energy again and I think writing it here really helped. I finished the month strong, entering two contests and submitting to ten magazines.

I received a wonderful, personal rejection with feedback from the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. You couldn’t ask for a nicer rejection. In other words, keeping with it is paying off.  As a friend of mine recently said, “You keep pounding and pounding at that wall, eventually you’ll break through.” I can see cracks forming in the mortar.

Contests

As I mentioned, I’ve started looking into how contests fit into my submissions goals. I entered three short story contests last month, paying a total of $47 in entry fees. I won’t know if it’s a good investment or not for a while, but I am still focused on learning more about how to select contests, so I did some searching and found 30 contests with deadlines in June. At an average of $20 each, if I entered all of those contests, that would be $600 in entry fees for only one month of contests! So how am I going to choose?

One way to quickly sort through is by type of writing. Many of the contests ask for manuscripts: poetry chapbooks or story collects, novelettes, or full novels. Since I have stories in contests and all of my stories are out looking for work, I thought I might focus on poetry in June. I saw that one of my favorite poets, Ada Limón, is judging a poetry book prize. The deadline is the middle of the month and I have been wanting to create a poetry manuscript of my work, so I plan to use this as a deadline to get that work done. Then I can adjust that manuscript to fit other contests.

Another way to choose contests is by researching the judges, the journals or organizations having the contest and previous winners. Researching all of these aspects of a contest will give you information about which contests will be the best fit for your work.

When I was reading advice from contest winners in the last issue of Poets & Writers, one of the winners said to look at what else your contest entry fee gets you. Will you get feedback and critique? Will you get an issue or a subscription to the magazine? Will all entries be considered for publication?

All things to think about when trying to select which contests to dish out for.

Getting In On The Ground Floor

Submitting to the first issue of a literary magazine can be a bit of a gamble–you can’t read previous issues to see what they publish, and they may not last long–but it can also be rewarding. My first publication was in the first issue of Five on the Fifth and I enjoyed the experience and created relationships with the editors.

This morning, while looking over my wordpress reading feed, I came across a brand new ezine from Writer Shed Press called Writer Shed Stories. This is a brand new paying market ($20). I felt like I had a story that might fit, so I submitted. We’ll see how it goes.

In researching this month’s magazines, I also came across The Blend a paying market out of Australia. Their first issue comes out in July.

The Pages

2019 Planner June opening pages

Today, I’m only posting the June month planner page with deadlines and these first couple days. I will update the deadlines as the month progresses. I noticed plenty of errors in last months deadlines, but some of them may have been changes that happened during the month. As I’ve said before, it’s better to submit as soon as the window opens, or in the case of Submittable submissions, at the beginning of the month.

I’ve planned weekly compounding writing prompts for each week in June which will start on Monday, so check back again tomorrow night, or Monday morning.

I look forward to hearing from you. Are you submitting to the magazines in the planner pages? Tell me about your submission experiences.

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning, and Meeting Your Publishing Goals!

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The Planner Experiment: May Week 2

pink rhodies small.jpg

My new focus on contests brought me to something fun. Literary Taxidermy is having a contest in which participants write a story that starts and ends with lines from a selected work. This year’s selection is Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. The idea of the contest is to start with the first line of Mr. Bradbury’s story and create something completely different that then ends with his last line. I already have a ton of ideas. I think I’ll write drafts for at least three of them, maybe more.

Other interesting contests I found were:

Jerry Jazz Musician’s Short Fiction Contest  This site is looking for fiction that incorporates aspects of jazz music.

Online Writing Tips Story Prize This contest is free and offers a £100 prize. There’s no theme or genre. Enter any story of 1000-4000 words.

This Week’s Pages

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2019 Planner May Week Two

I think part of my frustration last month and why I kept getting behind on the pages was I wasn’t making the time to use them. This week, I’m renewing my efforts to completely fill in the pages each day with the goal of three submissions every day. I hope you’ll join me. I look forward to hearing about your journey to publication. I hope the daily planner helps motivate you to submit your stories and poems.

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning and Submitting!

The Planner Project Continues into May

May planner

2019 Planner May Week One

The Experiment

For readers who are new to Experience Writing, thank you for being here. These free daily planner pages are part of an experiment I started at the beginning of the year. I wanted to get ahead of the submissions game and know about deadlines in advance, so I didn’t feel like I had always just missed something. To accomplish this goal, I have been researching and reading literary magazines, and other writing markets, and incorporating information about deadlines and expectations into a daily planner design.

My hope is that you will download the pages and either print them out or use them in your word processing software, to motivate you to submit your stories and poetry to literary and genre markets, get your pile of rejections, and eventually get published. I also hope, that in return you will give me specific feedback on how the pages can be improved.

Another Great Resource

I’ve made many interesting journal finds on Submittable lately, but when I expanded my search to look for anthologies and other deadlines, I happened across a site I hadn’t visited in a while. Publishing . . . and Other Forms of Insanity has a listing of deadlines by month along with a treasure trove of useful information for writers.

April Review

As I expected, I tried to do too much in April. Writing a story each weekend for the Writer’s Games and a poem and blog post every day for NaPoWriMo and A to Z Challenge was a lot. I managed to do it all, but the Planner Experiment didn’t get the time and attention it needed and I’m feeling pretty burned out. Of course, getting the flu at the end didn’t help. In other words, I only accomplished 2 submissions in the whole month of April. However, I have many new things to submit, so I look forward to making up for it in May.

Let’s look at the numbers:

Journal Submissions: 0

Other Submissions: 1 anthology, 1 poem to Master Class collection

Rejections: 8  (3 of these letters sounded like I made it past the first round and was given serious consideration. I’ll take them seriously and make sure to submit new work to them during their next reading periods).

Stories Written: 6 short stories, 2 flash

Poems Written: 28 published to Experience Writing, 10 not (saved to submit to journals)

Books read

  • novels 2
  • short story collections 2
  • poetry collections: part or all of 30+
  • craft books 3
  • short stories in literary magazines: did not keep track

Master Classes: 3 – Neil Gaiman, Billy Collins, and Margaret Atwood (all amazing)

Lessons Learned: I often think I can accomplish more in a day than I actually can. A good way to use the planner pages is to be honest with myself and track how long it really takes to do things. The biggest lesson is to not let myself burn out and find fun and excitement in my work. This round of rejections made me feel like I’m getting my stories to the right people. I now need to get them to the right people at the right time (with a little persistence and luck sprinkled in).

What’s Next?

I’ve decided to go back to focusing on deadlines for the monthly planner pages. It makes more sense to me. When I put everything together for next year, I’ll re-evaluate. It’ll be easier when I can see the whole picture with more experience and personal knowledge.

This month, I’ll be exploring contests. I need to figure out how to evaluate which contests to enter. There are so many and they all have entry fees, usually around $20 each, so picking the right ones for my work is important to me. If anyone has advice, please share it in the comments.

I’m also thinking about compiling a chapbook of my poetry and a short story collection manuscript to submit to contests. I had been thinking about self-publishing a collection of my work and the Kindle Storyteller Writing Competition has me thinking about it again.

The Pages

I apologize that the pages are late again, but I’m just glad I haven’t given up on the project and was able to motivate myself. I like the look of the pages this week. What do you think? I will update the deadlines page as I find more interesting markets. Good luck with your submissions and I look forward to your comments.

2019 Planner May Week One

Happy reading, writing, planning and submitting!