Feeling Stuck? Launch a New Story With These Three Prompts

Perhaps you’re feeling a bit stuck this week, and the blank page is threatening to overwhelm you with its possibilities and its difficulties. Or perhaps you’re simply in between writing projects right now, and looking for inspiration. Whatever your reasons, you may be in need of a prompt … or three! And you’re not alone: in all of our years working alongside self-publishing authors, one of the most common questions we hear is simply: “What else can I try?” We’re here today in the hope that we can help spark your creativity, improve your writing, and perhaps even help you finish writing your next manuscript this summer!

To that end, we have come up with three writing prompts we think are particularly useful.

ONE: Invent a character.

Each story is anchored by its characters. Start with mentally picturing just one, one person or entity (depending on your taste in genre) who leaps easily into the canvas of your imagination–and describe what you see. Maybe this character has a memorable face, or peculiar taste in clothes, or an old injury. Not every detail may be important later, but you never know, so get it all down. Think of this character like a pin on a map, and that map is your guide forward into a larger work (if you want it to be). Now invent a second character. Then, consider the following questions: Who matters to these characters? What do they mean to each other? What are their dreams? What motivates them? What do they regret, or fear? How do they see themselves? What foods might they like? What kind of a home might they live in? What locations on that map might be important to them? What do they spend money on … or not? Do they adhere to a faith, or an artistic practice, or an academic discipline? Who else might have claims upon their time, or their hearts?

Not every question is going to have an answer, or an answer that will prove fruitful for further writing. But consider them all, and write down whichever answers help you understand these characters you’ve created. Now you have the first necessary ingredient of a story!

TWO: Place a scene.

Shakespeare is famous for writing scenic shorthand. Remember the beginning of Romeo and Juliet? “Two households, both alike in dignity, / In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, / From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, / Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.” We may not all aspire to Shakespearean style and affectations, but we can learn a lot from a master like him, and the first thing to learn is that every good story begins with a scene, and it doesn’t take much to set a powerful scene. Romeo and Juliet, for example, opens with only three full sentences made up of fourteen lines of prose, all of which takes less than a minute to read aloud.

You might think of scene-setting as some monolithic venture which requires you to picture and describe every detail before the plot can move forward, but this isn’t how scenes work at all! There’s always room for a touch of lyrical description if your setting is particularly scenic, but that’s just window-dressing. Scenes are functions of plot, and microcosms in which your characters interact. The only necessary details are the ones which matter to your characters, and you’ve already mapped out what those details might be in the previous prompt.

Give yourself three to five sentences, right now, to frame your characters’ first interaction. Where are they? What time of day is it? Is it cold, or hot? What other elements of the setting will affect how these characters interact? Don’t try to envision the whole thing, not yet, not unless you fall in love with the place and want to file away a full description for later. It doesn’t need to be fancy, as Shakespeare proves, it just needs to provide a canvas upon which your characters move.

THREE: Kill your darlings.

Okay, so maybe you don’t need to literally kill any of your darlings. The expression is an old one, and it has its source in an old piece of advice sometimes given to aspiring writers. Faulkner said it, and so did Oscar Wilde, Eudora Welty, G.K. Chesterton, Chekov, and Stephen King … and surely at least one of these people is on to something. The idea is this: if some element of your book, a character or a passage or a place, is just unkillably perfect to you, a writer, it’s probably holding you back from writing an entire book of equal quality because you’re so hung up on its perfection. But in the interest of giving you a writing prompt which you can tackle in an afternoon, we advocate for killing your darlings for a purely mercenary, functional purpose: it will provide you with plot, and stakes. No story can work without stakes, and so often we forget to develop those stakes until we’re already halfway through a book. But in an ideal world, and in an afternoon’s writing session, those stakes have to be there from the beginning. So take your characters, or take your scene, and figure out who or what is at risk. Now, pick up your pen … or sit down at your keyboard … and kill your darling. Kill your darling with flair and rich description. Kill your darling with perfunctory simplicity. And then let whoever or whatever is left deal with the aftermath, on the page, in full sentences.

Now you have your first chapter, and it only took you three short writing prompts to get there! And if you don’t like it? Well, there’s plenty of time tomorrow to start over, and to start small, with a new character.

Will you try or have you already tried one of these prompts? We’d love to hear about your successes and to cheer you on. Look us up on social media and let us know how you do! You can find us on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook, or you can visit us online at www.outskirtspress.com to chat with a Publishing Consultant as well as call us at 1-888-672-6657 to find out how to finish that manuscript you’re working on and get it ready for publication!

Go Wild, Then Write About It — Then Publish That Travel Book

Not every traveler is a storyteller, but every storyteller takes readers on a trip, whether it’s down memory lane or far afield, in far-flung places which may or may not be on their respective bucket lists. Writes J.E. Leigh, we all of us crave the feeling of being special, of reaching beyond our boundaries to seize on something grand and greater than ourselves, whether for a fleeting moment or the length of a book. Says Leigh, “This simple yearning is in us all, hardly recognizable, often only the merest hint that there is something more to us. This is why we seek out new places … we want to remember a somewhere that gave us the space to expand ourselves, to become a little more of who we truly are.” And rather than revealing the smallness of our stay-at-home lives, reading a travel book is often where we are most ourselves, our boundaries most vulnerable to being smashed. We remake our lives in reliving the travels of others, and we do so without breaking the bank.

But how does one write a good travel book? And how does one write a good travel book in the digital age, when one not only has other writers but bloggers, Instagrammers, and vloggers as competition? We propose that there are three simple keys to a successful travel book which will set you apart.

ONE: Figure out what holds your experiences together. When you’re traveling, often it’s enough simply to be on the move; everything feels like it holds together and makes sense together simply because it’s happening in sequence and to you. But when you sit down to write your book, whether you’re drawing on memory or your travel journals or your Instagram account, you’ll quickly realize that the story doesn’t fit perfectly together afterward … unless of course there’s some singular and deeply traumatic or life-changing event which takes place while abroad. The recent spate of tsunami and natural disaster memoirs falls into this category, but most people don’t live through tsunamis, and people want to read all sorts of travel narratives, including ones without that sort of defining event. So how do you keep all the various fiddly bits from flying to pieces? You figure out a narrative architecture, just as you would with fiction! Who are your characters, and what are we meant to learn about them? Will you keep your book linear in time and place or will you let themes and life lessons be your chapter anchors? Diagram your various ideas and pick the one that feels right to you … and the most together. The architecture matters, and travel books which adhere to a linear timeline aren’t the only ones worth reading.

TWO: Craft the perfect name. After all, you’re self-publishing, and no one else gets to tell you what to name your book! And consider all the great titles to all of the equally great travel-related books you’ve read recently. Cheryl Strayed’s Wild comes to mind–short and sweet–but so too does Bill Bryson’s In a Sunburned Country, less short but no less evocative. There’s Stephan Braxton’s An American Nomad, which tells you everything you need to know, and Kay Peterson’s Chasing Rainbows, which raises images of light-drenched asphalt and lush hillsides rushing by, doesn’t it? A good title is more than just a sales point later on; it’s the anchor for your book, and central to how you conceive of your experience. Don’t wait to come up with a title. The moment you find your title is the moment you find the heart of your travel narrative.

THREE: Be authentic. You’ve heard it before, elsewhere, and often. But it can never be said too often that the most reliable key to success as a travel writer is to be true to yourself, and to your experience, and to your own voice. What do you have that an Instagram picture doesn’t? You have nuance. And what about the blogger? You have time and many, many more blank pages to unfold the nuances of your experience without the forced completion of the short post. Vloggers, too, rely on brief and to-the-point videos to highlight the visual impact of a place, but you get all of the beautiful intricacies of narrative, and characterization, and atmosphere … all without the pixilation of a cell phone camera getting in the way. These other forms of travel records are wonderful in and of themselves, and once you’re published they make for fantastic marketing tools, but whoever said a picture was worth a thousand words was not living in the digital age, saturated with millions of pictures of Pisa and millions more of the Great Barrier Reef, The Hague, the National Mall, and the Ozark Mountains. Now, the weight of proof has become a burden, and no picture can make you feel what a powerfully atmospheric sentence can. Be authentic and bring your readers into your experience with all the power that words can muster!

Travel often brings out the best, or the worst, or at the very least the most interesting parts of us. We hope you’ll take this opportunity to further hone your craft and bring the world to your readers in new and fresh ways! Still not sure what you need to get started publishing your next travel book? Visit us online at www.outskirtspress.com to chat with a Publishing Consultant or call us at 1-888-672-6657 to find out how to finish your manuscript and get it ready for publication.

To see our staff picks of amazing travel-themed books from many of our published authors, visit our Pinterest page by clicking here.

Time for a Spring Reset? Here’s How.

While spring often signifies new beginnings in literature and poetry (a rebirth, if you will), it’s often difficult to translate those slow and sudden changes which signify spring in the natural world into internal transformation, especially transformation of our work as writers. Here at Outskirts Press, we believe the charm and warmth of spring should not only put a pep in your step in your day-to-day life, but it should also be a time to pep up your writing and marketing efforts! Here are ten tips to get you started on resetting your writing during this season of rebirth:

  1. Let spring be a new beginning for you. Make a list of things you’d like to begin with a fresh start. Do you need to begin editing, creating a marketing plan, blogging, etc? Now’s the time to stop waiting for life to begin and just go ahead and get started.
  2. Use some springtime writing prompts to get the creative juices flowing and to help you “reset” after winter. Write about how the sunshine affects your mood and creativity, write about spring as a symbol of birth/life, write about your sensuous experience wandering around in the natural world in springtime, and so forth.
  3. Host an outdoor reading event in your community. Pick a nice sunny afternoon to encourage members of your community to get outside and share their love of the spoken and written word. This is a great way to network, to connect with other writers in your area and to have some fun in the sun. You might even make it a potluck and really break out the spring spirit!
  4. Start being more active on social media. Take pictures of the beauty around you, toss in a quote from a work of yours or from your recent read and share with your audience! Blog, post about new developments in your publishing process, connect with readers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
  5. Spruce up your website. Who knows more about you than … well, you? And when has there ever been a better moment to give your digital image a refresh? Write up a fresh author bio that includes your recent accomplishments, publications, life developments, and so forth. Your latest hiking adventure counts, as does your recent reading list. Your readers want to get to know you, and your website is the best possible avenue for that!
  6. Join some forums, and join Goodreads! These are both terrific venues for marketing your book and they will help you connect more intimately with your audience. Goodreads, especially, offers some unique marketing opportunities.
  7. Host a drawing contest for the cover of your next book! The winner gets a free copy of your book and gets featured on your website and social media pages. What better way to drive traffic to your refreshed and revamped website than by seizing on the friendly competitive atmosphere of those recently freed from their winter doldrums?
  8. Add a “Store” page to your website. This is a great way to increase sales and to have your readers buy directly from you rather than some third party website. Monetization takes a small amount of effort, but a built-in shop or cross-linking to your Outskirts Press sales pages can do wonders for boosting access.
  9. Do some spring cleaning of your writing space and bookshelves. Decluttering your physical space is just as important as decluttering your emotional and digital spaces! Don’t forget to do the normal spring-cleaning to go along with your writing-specific spring-cleaning … after all, an uncluttered house is an uncluttered mind, and an uncluttered mind is able to focus on those details which really make a work come to life.
  10. Take advantage of this nice weather! Try writing outside, even if it’s just brainstorming. A little vitamin D and time in nature can go a long way. There’s science to prove this, but what more proof do you need than that rush of good feeling which comes from bringing your body back into the light and into balance with a world full of life?

Sometimes, all it takes is a quick reset for you to get your feet back beneath you and to push your manuscript from the “incomplete” stack to a polished work ready to send off to publish. Not sure what else you need to get started publishing your own book? Visit us online at www.outskirtspress.com to chat with a Publishing Consultant or call us at 1-888-672-6657 to find out how to finish your manuscript and get it ready for publication.

Feel the Spirit Move You With These 6 Writing Tips For Your Next Christian or Spiritual Book!

Once upon a time, an American schoolgirl wrote to eminent Christian scholar C.S. Lewis. The year was 1959, and she wanted to know if he had any suggestions for her on the art of writing. He sent her a list of eight rules, including admonitions to turn off the radio and dial out the white noise of daily life, write with the ear and not the eye, write about the things which interest you, and know the meaning of every word you use. His most revealing point of advice, however, was to be clear, and to remember that readers can’t know your mind. “Don’t forget to tell them exactly what they need to know to understand you,” he wrote. And if you’re the author of a Christian or Spiritual book, this advice resonates with a special power. After all, there’s a lot at stake when it comes to misunderstanding our place in the world and in relationship to the divine.

How can you go about writing in a way that helps readers understand you? Here are six recommendations for getting started:

  1. Do your due diligence. Research, research, research. Knowing your readers, what they’re reading, and how they find their books is key to engaging your ideal readers, in Christian and Spiritual subjects more than most. Reader behavior in these groups is radically different from reader behavior in other genres, such as mainstream science fiction or romance.
  2. Know thy reader. Building upon the previous point, it’s really important to not just know your reader but be able to articulate the anticipated audience for your book. Who might actually pluck your book off of a bookstore shelf and spend money with your writing persona in order to truly understand what you have to say? The more specific you can be, the better, because this will help you refine your text before publication and market your book after publication.
  3. Polish those rough edges. Writing well and ensuring that your manuscript reads well before submitting it for publication are vital processes, as there’s nothing which will turn off readers so quickly as a poorly edited text. Don’t just depend on your own eyes, either, and expand your beta readers to include a professional who edits for a living. An expert will know exactly what works and what doesn’t, and will save you time (which is, ultimately, money).
  4. Know and love your material. If you don’t already believe that you are the best person to write this particular book, and that the world needs this book, then take some more time to spend with the material. Full immersion is often the only way to truly feel like an expert, and your book will most definitely benefit if you have the conviction that you and it are a match made in the stars, or Heaven.
  5. Write what’s next. It doesn’t take long to notice that there are a lot of books out there in the world; all it takes is a five-minute visit to your local public library or indie bookstore. There are practical as well as personal reasons to write something new rather than something which has already been written in twenty or a hundred other books: a book which dares to do what hasn’t been done will sell. Readers want the next new thing in their hands, not a threadbare trope or ten. And you, as an author, know when you’re departing from the “has-been-dones,” and it’s a rewarding feeling, isn’t it?
  6. Think big, and think ahead. You’re an author, which makes you a visionary. You’re able to imagine not just the outline for a book, but a world in which the book already exists, and you’re willing to make it happen. Some writers get hung up on the fact that one writing prompt or strategy which used to work for them doesn’t anymore, and fall into the black hole of the dreaded Writer’s Block as a result. Don’t linger on the past; think of what will work for you in the here and now, and don’t hesitate to experiment with form, style, and voice as you forge ahead in writing your manuscript. If you find yourself struggling, try something new … or try taking a moment to breathe. The most stifling of pressures are the ones we impose on ourselves!

And there you have it: six fresh ways to hone your craft as you draft your next book! Still not sure what you need to get started publishing your next Spiritual or Christian manuscript? Visit us online at www.outskirtspress.com to chat with a Publishing Consultant or call us at 1-888-672-6657 to find out how to finish your manuscript and get it ready for publication.

To see our staff picks of amazing Christian books from many of our published authors, visit our Pinterest page by clicking here. We keep a separate Pinterest page for Spiritual books, which you can find here.

6 Ways to Make Your Library an Ally During National Library Month!

April is National Library Month! And let’s face it, if there’s one place we go to find out information about books, it’s our local public library. At a library, the act of browsing is elevated to an art form, and you have access to unlimited books and unlimited resources for free. One of the best resources is, of course, the librarians themselves! Libraries and librarians are among some of the most powerful advocates an aspiring self-publishing author could hope for. Once you publish your book, your local librarian can provide help with, yes, possibly setting up a book reading event to help you market your book, as well as finding answers to questions on how to have your book stocked in that library and much more.

But what about before you publish? What do libraries offer for you before your book is out in the world? Here are six specific ways a library can prove itself a vital component of your writing process!

  1. Enrich your style. Run a hand across those library shelves with material in the same vein as your writing, and almost any book you pluck out will have something to say to your benefit, stylistically speaking. Even if your response is a powerful negative (e.g. “This is nothing like what I want to do!”) but especially if your response is positive (e.g. “This author does something I admire.”) you may find that placing your style in conversation with the styles of others will give you some ideas for what you want to do, moving forward. Do you love gorgeous, lyrical sentences? Do you like a style that’s brisk and tidy? As studies point out, the more you read, the better you write, and the more you know is possible, the more wisely you can choose your own way forward.
  2. Inform your structure. Just as your style can benefit from a trip to the library, so too can your book’s structure. Are you at a loss for how to order events, or divide chapters? Visiting library bookshelves may be the best way to expose yourself to any number of possible book architectures to inspire your own work. Are you putting together a collection of interviews, fictional or otherwise? Consider stealing a glance at World War Z. Are you hoping to push the boundaries of science fiction? Consider the unique structures of Cloud Atlas and The Martian. As with your style, both a positive or a negative response to the structures other authors have used will provide you direction.
  3. Gather information. Libraries have long been favorite places to look up information, and find out facts, and in that sense they have not changed. Even in the age of the internet, the best information is not always easily apparent, and a librarian’s insight may just be the magic factor in sifting through all of the possibilities and finding just the right bit of information, or just the right information resource, for you.
  4. Spark your creativity. Are you facing the dreaded Writer’s Block? Libraries are more than just information repositories! In order to adapt to a changing information landscape, libraries have expanded their offerings. It’s not at all uncommon, these days, for libraries to offer creativity-sparking programming, from author readings and resume workshops to writing clubs to book clubs to adult coloring programs! Drop on by your local public library and inquire after what programming is on offer, and try something new. You never know … maybe trying your hand at an origami class or attending a lecture series will be just the thing to get you past the Writer’s Block!
  5. Expand your literary community. One of the most amazing things a library can do is introduce you to your people. And by “your people,” we mean those people who will be your companions on the journey to publication: your early or beta readers, your friends and emotional support network, and those people who will provide you with the inspiration and encouragement to bring your book all the way from a clever idea in your head to a beautifully published, finished book!
  6. Find your audience. Whether we’re talking about the books on the shelves or the people who visit the library for books and programming, the library is where you can connect with your ideal audience. The books on the shelves may give you clues as to how to shape your writing to suit the age group or interests of your readers, and the people … well, the people you meet there will have their own ideas to share. Either way, the library is a laboratory in which you get to shape and reshape and fine-tune your craft to meet your readers where they need to be met.

Libraries are a powerful tool in your toolkit as a writer. Not sure where to find your local library? Hop on www.publiclibraries.com and search by city, state, or zip code. You can also visit the American Library Association (ALA) website at www.ala.org, where you’ll find information on the current state of libraries and how you can get involved, both as a self-publishing author and a lover of books!

The best news is this: libraries are taking note of your interest. It’s not just a one-sided relationship! Libraries routinely demonstrate that they’re ready, eager, and waiting in the wings with a lot of innovative strategies to be your partners in writing, publishing, and promoting your book, and you can return the favor by celebrating your local public library during National Library Month! For more information on the event, click here.

Interested in pursuing self-publication? Talk with one of our expert Publishing Consultants to get exactly what you need … and get the most out of it! There are three convenient ways to connect:

  1. Call us at 1-888-672-6657 (OP-BOOKS)
  2. Live-chat with us via our website
  3. Go online to schedule an appointment

Prepare for National Poetry Month this April

Did you know that the month of April is, among other things, National Poetry Month? This makes April the perfect month to publish that book of poems you’ve been thinking about for a while, and not just because this month provides some great marketing opportunities; it’s also the perfect month to think about the reasons why we write, and the ways in which we put words together on the page. It’s a month to re-envision our craft as wordsmiths!

First, I might point you to the experience of Mirtha Michelle Castro Marmol, whose first book of poems, Letters, to the Men I Have Loved, did more than moderately well … it did so exceptionally well as to remain on Amazon’s bestseller lists for months! Mirtha Michelle Castro Marmol published through Outskirts Press, and in our interview with her on our blog, she said that the most rewarding part of being published “is and will always be” the ability her book had “to touch people.” Said Ms. Castro Marmol, “It’s crazy because I didn’t think people really read books anymore. But for me, having these girls go and buy my book, and spend their twenty dollars or so on Letters … it’s amazing, that someone believes in things still.” Readers have been snapping up copies of her books, both in physical and digital forms, at such a rate as to firmly prove that people still “really read books” … including poetry!

So how do successful poets do it?

Success as a self-publishing poet is all about consistency, commitment, and personal development. To help you become the best poet you can be, here are three ways to improve your writing as well as self-publishing your work.

  1. Read, Read, Read! Any time you want to improve your skills and become more successful, reading can help. Read poetry! Read books and articles about writing and publishing poetry! Read information about self-publishing! Read anything that inspires you to write and become the best poet you can be, but don’t limit yourself to poetry and industry-related books. Read fiction, non-fiction, magazines, newspapers, blogs, and advertisements. Read everything and anything you can get a hold of. You never know what will inspire you!
  2. Stay Committed: If you want to be successful, you need to commit yourself to your craft. Make time to write every day. Look for ways to continue to learn and grow. Figure out what motivates you and include those motivations in your daily life. Share your goals with others so they can help you accountable. Never give up on dreams.
  3. Be Consistent: Whether you are writing, editing, or marketing, be consistent. Work on your poetry every day. Set a schedule for when you will write, edit, or market your work. Set goals for yourself, and make a plan to achieve them. Successful writers don’t write sporadically; they work on their craft in some way every single day.

Supposing that these three suggestions have provided you with the motivation you need, what next? Well, turn this list on its head and consider it a starting point … and a list of tips for starting your next book! The path to publication may not always be smooth, but there are ways to make sure it is well-lit and passable. And that’s why we’re here to provide you with the services and resources you need to move from a grand idea for your next book to a finished, published book of poems for the next generation.

Not sure what you need to get started publishing your poetry? Visit us online at www.outskirtspress.com to chat with a Publishing Consultant or call us at 1-888-672-6657 to find out how to finish your manuscript and get it ready for publication. To see our staff picks of amazing poetry books from many of our authors, visit our Pinterest page by clicking here.

Write, Submit, Win!

Writing contests have long been a staple of the publishing community, but what about for self-publishing authors? Do they have a place in writing contests? The short answer is absolutely, yes they do! In fact, the average writing contest is the perfect place to showcase your talents and maybe even receive a small cash reward or a boatload of free publicity if you win. This is because writing contests are the province of the up-and-comers, a discoverability vehicle for readers, reviewers, and other experts in an industry which rewards grit and persistence.

The possible financial incentives to a writing award are self-explanatory, but what about the intangible benefits? Only one person can place first in any given awards category, so what other reasons might there be to submit, especially if you’re new to the scene? In many ways, the benefits boil down to credit, mental space, and deadlines. Which is to say, many of the most well-known awards contests publish both their longlists and their shortlists online or in print, and this is a great way to grab some free publicity. They also force you to take some time away from your work, as many contests forbid simultaneous submissions to more than one contest at once. If your work doesn’t win, you’re guaranteed to come back to it with fresh eyes and a fresh mind, with a better sense for what you’d like to improve. And lastly, submitting to awards contests requires you to meet deadlines, and for many of us that little bit of extra external structure provides the necessary encouragement to finish one project and move on to another.

Whatever your reasons for entering, whether it’s self-encouragement or the desire for a cash bonus, there’s little to lose apart from an entry fee (and then only for certain contests), and a lot to gain!

So, where are the best places to submit? All you have to do is run a search through Google to discover there are hundreds if not thousands of possibilities when it comes to writing contests. We recommend you do a bit of research and find the ones which will suit you best, but in the meantime, here are five of our favorites, each of which caters to a different genre or publishing category!

    1. Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition: This contest is for writers 18 and older who have never had a novel published (in any genre). It is awarded to an original book-length manuscript featuring “murder or another serious crime or crimes […] at the heart of the story.” Winners receive a publication contract with Minotaur Books and a $10,000 advance against future royalties. Deadlines fall in the last quarter of the year.
    2. New Voices Award: Facilitated by the award-winning children’s book publisher Lee & Low Books, this is awarded to a previously unpublished children’s picture book manuscript of 1,500 words or fewer. The manuscript must be written by an author of color as the award is designed to celebrate and further diversity in children’s literature. Winners receive $1,000 in cash and a standard publication contract. Submissions are due by the end of September.
    3. Prose: Looking for a fun and fresh way to combat writer’s block? Prose’s unique format centers on weekly challenges designed to smash ruts and cultivate curiosity. Some come with prizes attached, usually between $100 and $200, but the prompts are brief and the submissions equally so: most of Prose’s contests are looking for submissions between 150 and 500 words. Quality over quantity, right? But the best news of all is that there are plenty of opportunities to win, and the prompts are designed to hone your skills.
    4. Words & Brushes: Here’s a contest for the visually-minded among you! The Words & Brushes short story contest is designed to foster collaborations between artists and writers. Authors select a piece of artwork from their gallery and submit short stories inspired by them. Prize monies are as high as $350, but the publicity is equally if not more valuable: winners gain spots in a future art book showcasing their collaborations. The deadline for this contest is usually in February.
    5. Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition: While this contest does charge an entry fee, it is also one of the highest-rated competitions by self-publishing authors who have participated in the past. It is also among the longest-running writing competitions out there. With a number of submission categories, including Memoirs and Genre Short Story, this is a friendly contest to many self-publishing authors! The Grand Prize winner receives $5,000, a feature in Writer’s Digest magazine, a paid trip to a writing conference, and lots of free promotion. Runners-up also have a chance at prizes. earn prizes in first through tenth places. This annual contest closes in May each year.

We hope you’ve found at least one contest here to keep your eye on as you continue to follow the path to publication! And if you find yourself needing a little help navigating your options and choosing the best ones for you, speak with one of our Publishing Consultants to get exactly what you need – and get the most out of it! There are three convenient ways to connect:

      1. Call us at 1-888-672-6657 (OP-BOOKS)
      2. Live-chat with us via our website
      3. Go online to schedule an appointment