Tag Archives: writers

Wanted: Your Fiction and Poetry Submissions

I caught the mentoring bug back in 2013. Back then, I was working in Monroe College’s English department. A vacancy had sprung up in the faculty sponsorship of the campus Poetry Club. I thought what the hell, let’s see what these kids have to offer.

Some of the poets, eh, they didn’t do much for me; however, I was blown away by some of talent in the Poetry Club. Most notably, by my friend Shawn Hudson, whose grim poetry detailing life on the streets in the Bronx really appealed to my gritty and edgy sensibilities.

Talent can come from anywhere. Sure, many of the “name brand” authors deserve their reputation. No one is questioning that they’re good. But as both a writer and a businessman, I’ve made a career out of finding diamonds in the rough.

Are you a diamond?

Sending Your Submissions

Here’s the deal. My blog posts can only help writers in the abstract; however, every situation is distinct. That’s one of the reasons why I’m opening The Literary Game to submissions. I want to help writers directly.

Of course, there’s a condition. You have to be brave. I’ve been a publisher and editor at literary magazines for six years. Form rejections are polite. That politeness doesn’t help authors. An author who receives a form rejection often has no idea why their work was rejected.

I’m doing things differently.

Every author who sends me their work agrees to the fact that they will receive an honest critique. If your work is derivative, full of spelling and grammatical errors, and awash with missed opportunities, I’ll tell you just that.

It comes down to a question: Do I want politeness or do I want the truth?

If you want politeness, please go elsewhere. If you want the truth, I would love to check out your writing.

Submissions Guidelines

I’ll try to keep this simple.

Fiction: I’m accepting both short fiction and novel excerpts. Samples exceeding 3,000 words will be deleted unread. All writing should be pasted in the body of an email.

Poetry: Send up to three poems in the body of an email.

Cover Letters: If you truly like this blog, please go ahead and mention it. If you’re just looking for free feedback or a chance at a publishing credit, that’s cool. No need to BS by including a cover letter.

Genre: All genres accepted.

Email: theliterarygame at gmail dot com

The Fun Part

Works of exceptional quality will be published on the blog, but so will works in dire need of improvement.

My goal here isn’t to embarrass anyone, but rather to be honest about what needs major improvement. On that note, for the truly brave among the authors whose works are declined, there’s an option to have your writing featured on the site anyway with my feedback. This is a direct way to educate readers on how to avoid certain traps. Not cool with that? No worries. I’ll only publish rejected submissions with your consent.

What Are You Waiting For?

Email your submission to me today at theliterarygame dot gmail dot com and/or share this post with your literary-minded friends.

In success,
Alfonso

 

 

Is It Possible To Write Anything Worthwhile When You’re Flat Broke?

The short answer? Of course.

Can you write something that speaks to people’s souls when you’re on the dole and living on ramen from the food bank?

Absolutely.

But why in the hell would you want to do that?

There is no glory in poverty. The starving artist isn’t noble, he’s a joke. And his life is in shambles.

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Is that the kind of life that you want for yourself?

Is that the kind of life that you believe you need to live if you want to make high art?

Sorry. I call BS.

J. K. Rowling, Cormac McCarthy, Herman Melville, Charles Dickens. I could go on. They were poor. They wrote novels that were not only compelling works, but which attracted large readerships.

But they didn’t write so well and achieve the success they did because they were poor. They achieved what they achieved because they blended innate talent with tremendous dedication.

Poverty doesn’t make a writer.

For all but the most iron-willed of writers in that condition, poverty breaks them.

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What Should I Do If I’m Struggling Financially?

There are some people who say you should just give up on your writing and get a 9 to 5.

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I have some family members and friends who feel that way.

They feel this way despite the fact that I have published more than 70 poems and short stories.

They feel this way despite the fact that I have a contract with a publisher for one of my coauthored books.

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They feel this way despite the fact that I have a partnership on another coauthored book with someone who has a major platform.

I don’t care how they feel.

You shouldn’t care how the people in your life feel about your literary ambitions.

Although, if your life is falling apart, you do need to address that. Immediately.

For me, as I continue to pursue my writing, I earn money through other pursuits because writing does not pay the bills. Yet.

I write and edit material for Goldleaf, a company that specializes in guided notebooks and elegant print design for cannabis patients, growers, and enthusiasts.

I also provide customized resumes and cover letters for job applicants through my company, MyCareerHacker.com.

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Fortunately, between these two responsibilities, I’m able to pay the bills. In my spare time, I write (and move the process forward on these two forthcoming books).

Both of my responsibilities are writing-focused.

Neither job requires creative writing skill, but every day my writing ability continues to improve as a result of this writing-related work.

The best thing is that I can perform my duties from home with both of these positions.

I found an incredible resource for other writers so that they too can write from home and make money. This is a great option for writers who are in dire financial straits and also for writers who may have a job, but either dislike it or would prefer a change to a writing-related role.

The resource is called Writing Jobs Online

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I can’t recommend this website strongly enough. No matter what’s going on in your life, now you have no excuse not to pursue your writing. You can pay your writing-induced bills while developing your writing-related skills. 

Could you be the next J. K. Rowling?

Maybe. Talent matters. Hard work matters.

But there are no guarantees.

Do you really want to suffer for your art?

Do you really think suffering makes your writing better?

Do you really think suffering makes you write more?

I doubt it, but hey, it’s your life.

Now if you want to make a change, start solving your problems, earn some money, and become a better writer, again, give Writing Jobs Online a try.

After all, the only thing you have to lose is your ramen.

Did you find this post useful? Then please consider helping other writers by sharing this post on your Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. Thank you!

How to Sell Copies of Your Book: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Thirty copies sold in the first few months. Add a few more if you have a wider social circle.

A one dollar royalty check from KDP.

Scary, right? You spent months – maybe years – writing your book, but that’s what you know in your heart of hearts you have on the horizon after you self-publish.

Why bother? Am I right?

Why bother indeed, unless you know how to market and sell copies of your book.

The strategy I want to share with you can work for almost any type of book. I can’t guarantee that you’ll sell millions of copies, but I can guarantee that you’ll sell more copies trying this than asking your friends to write five star book reviews.

Without further ado, let’s get down to it!

  1. Determine your niches.

Simply put, who would be interested in your book?

When I begin reaching out to promote The Book of the Magical Mythical Unicorn, I will be targeting three communities in earnest: the New Age spirituality community; the esoteric mysteries community; and the folklore/mythology community. That doesn’t mean other people won’t be interested in the book that my partner and I co-wrote, it just means that we’re focusing our attention on reaching out to the people most likely to be interested in our book.

2. Research online influencers in your niche.

You want to find about two hundred sources (YouTubers, podcasters, bloggers) who are influencers (at least 10k subscribers as measured by YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter followers) within your niche.

With the YouTubers and podcasters, make sure that they do interviews on their channels/podcasts.

Write down their URL and contact information on an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of your sources.

3. Research Their Content

Spend some time watching at least one full video or podcast interview of a guest. Take notes on the format. Are things kept light? What’s the vibe? Are there certain segments?

The point is to make sure that when you pitch the source you cannot be perceived as an opportunist. You will absolutely NOT get booked if you don’t do your homework and make sure that your book would provide genuine value to their fanbase.

 4. Pitch, Pitch, Pitch

Form letters are useless. Write from the heart. Make a clear value proposition as to how interviewing you about your book would benefit the content creator and their audience. No one cares about how this would benefit you. If you come from a place of wanting to help people, influencers will be far more inclined to help you.

Some Statistics

If you are able to land interviews (or guest posts/coverage) from 40 of the 200 sources you pitch and if they have an average of 20k subscribers, your reach will be 800,000 people who are within your book’s target market.

If even 2% of these people buy your book, that’s 16,000 copies sold.

Self-published Amazon bestsellers often sell only around 4,000 copies.

Now, with a viral effect from your hustle, who knows what can happen?

As long as your book falls within a niche, you can execute this plan.

You can absolutely do this by yourself and achieve great results, but just in case you want a little help along the way, shoot me an email. I’m in the process of helping one author on his marketing campaign, but I have enough availability to work with one more author so reach out ASAP before my schedule is booked.

I’m getting after my literary dreams. I hope you do likewise, friends!

-Alfonso

The Top 10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Writing

Introduction

I didn’t start writing until I was twenty.

I don’t mean I didn’t start taking writing seriously until I was twenty, I mean I didn’t write anything that wasn’t for a school assignment until I was twenty.

No short stories.

No poems.

No novels.

No nonfiction.

OK, scratch that last one. I did write about thirty pages of a memoir on my old IBM Aptiva. I have no idea where that partial manuscript is, and that’s probably for the best.

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When I transferred to Beloit College, I decided to become a Creative Writing major because it seemed like fun, and it was, but back then I had many, many, MANY misconceptions about what being a writer meant.

Top Ten Things I Wish I Knew About Writing As A Twenty-Year-Old Absolute Beginner

1. Writing is rewriting.

You just finished your novel. Great. Now the fun really begins.

2. Rewriting is not a quick process.

God may have created the Earth in six days; however, you will not complete your manuscript in anywhere near that time frame.

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3. Working with an editor isn’t optional, but necessary.

My short stories wouldn’t have been published without the assistance of Rairigh Drum, who was my developmental editor. My screenplays wouldn’t have attracted the attention of a New York Times best-selling author and a screenwriter who has worked with Spielberg without the assistance of a developmental editor. My non-fiction book wouldn’t have…you get the point.

4. Writing well isn’t enough, you need to think like an entrepreneur to get noticed.

Is it ugly? Yeah, maybe, but the days of the pure writer who refuses to attend to the business end of things is over. Those writers are doomed to obscurity.

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5. Success doesn’t come overnight.

Trust the process. If you know that you’re good, go out and prove it. Stay the course, and don’t lose your confidence if you don’t rapidly advance.

6. Networking with other writers (and, if possible, with editors, publishers, and agents) can open up many doors.

Remember that saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Well, it’s both. Don’t be isolated.

7. Most publishers will have zero interest in your writing and will reject it, but this doesn’t mean that you don’t have talent.

Publishers and agents receive an incredibly large amount of submissions. They also usually have very strict criteria about what types of work they publish/represent. Receiving rejections is inevitable. I’ve had over 60 short stories and poems published and scout publications carefully, and still only have an acceptance rate of about 25-30%.

8. You can’t half ass your way to quality writing; you have to whole ass it.

If you’re planning on going through the motions, just put down your pen and give it up.

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9. Not all writers are miserable people, and you don’t have to be miserable to write.

Although I won’t lie, sometimes it helps. 😉

10. You don’t have to drink to excess to write well, but sometimes it can be fun.

Nostrovia!

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Conclusion

“He wins his battles by making no mistakes. Making no mistakes is what establishes the certainty of victory.” – Lao Tzu

Don’t make mistakes based on incorrect perspectives about being a writer.

Make writing a consistent habit, work with an editor that you can trust, network, realize this is a process, and try to keep a sense of humor. If you do all that, and you have some talent, you’ll be more than fine.

What Do You Wish You Knew When You Started Writing?

Leave a comment below!

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In Need Of An Editor?

Check out my editing services page.

Fighting the good fight with you,
Alfonso

It’s Not You, It’s Me: A Truth About Rejection Letters

Introduction

If you’ve ever received a rejection letter from a publisher or literary agent, then you know just how much it sucks.

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But there is some good news.

Really, it’s them, it’s not you.

The Biggest Reason Why Your Writing Gets Rejected

I have a close friend who has an almost ungodly amount of perseverance. Usually, that’s an amazing thing to behold. Usually.

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A friend of hers is a poet. I’m the editor-in-chief of a literary magazine. Hey, wouldn’t it be great to feature her poetry in your magazine, Alfonso?

Nope.

While my friend’s friend’s poetry is strong, and she’s quite accomplished, this woman’s work was completely outside of the parameters of the writing we publish at Beautiful Losers Magazine.

Does the fact that this woman’s writing was rejected for our magazine mean she was a bad poet? Absolutely not.

The truth is that every agent, publisher, and literary magazine has VERY specific requirements of what they’re looking for. If you aren’t an exact match for those parameters, your writing will probably be rejected.

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And it doesn’t mean you suck as a writer.

And it doesn’t mean that particular piece sucked.

It just means that you need to find a better home for your writing.

If you’ve received tons of rejections, you’d better spend a little bit more time finding an appropriate place for your writing.

Now if you’ve been doing this legwork and still are receiving tons of rejections, you may want to consider having your work edited by a professional editor. I’m available, kids!

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Conclusion

Treat agents and publishers like members of your preferred sex. You wouldn’t marry just anyone, would you?

Don’t send your writing to agents and publishers without screening.

Unless you like being left at the altar, you fucking masochist.

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Like What You Read? Like What You Read!

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If you found this post helpful, please do me a solid and like and subscribe. If you’re really looking for a way to get on my good side, then share this post on social media.

Any questions? Feel free to leave a comment and I’ll do my best to help.

Fighting the good fight with you,
Alfonso

 

Do You Need A Degree To Be A Writer?

School Days

I’ve always been a writer. In what seems like a former life now, I used to be a teacher.

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When I was teaching, my students knew I was a writer.

Probably because I wouldn’t shut up about it. You know those bartenders who are actors or those waiters who are musicians. Yeah, I was that guy.

My students got a kick out of me (and hopefully learned a little something). They were all great in their own ways (well, almost all were); however, many years later, I find that some of the most memorable students were the writers. Of course.

When I was teaching, students with a talent and passion for creative writing were always eager to share their stories and other writing with me.

You may want to replace the word eager with desperate. But hey, we writers want to get read, otherwise what’s the point, right?

Rashad’s science-fiction short stories were incredible. Of course, the factual descriptions involving smoking cigarettes were inaccurate. But I suppose that’s a good thing for an 8th grader.

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Jibriel’s screenplays for short films were excellent. He wasn’t a student of mine, or even in my school, but word about my second career spread and Jibriel sought me out. I’m glad he did.

Should Rashad, Jibriel, or any other aspiring writer pursue a Bachelor’s in Creative Writing or an MFA?

The answer, for most writers, is no. Here are five reasons why I think you should probably skip the MFA or BA in Creative Writing:

1. Writers Hate Other Writers

What kind of person really wants to be around other writers all the time?

You love writing now, but how would you feel about it if you were talking about writing all the time? Would studying creative writing that intensely sap your interest?

And, of course, there are professional jealousies.

Could you handle other writers in your program receiving more recognition than you?

Could you handle your own creative writing being judged harshly by other writers in the program? Would this discourage you?

2. Never Ending Student Loans

Are you ready to embrace debt?

Because that’s what you’ll face unless you’re from an affluent family, can land a scholarship, or attend a low-cost state or city university.

3. Insularity and Lack of Adventure

If you want to write something worth reading, then you’d better have a wide array of experiences.

I suppose interesting stories can be written about downing vodka shots for Adderall, grinding to Teach Me How To Dougie at a frat party, or performing a bell run. Maybe.

But remember, the only thing that’s positively more boring than stories about writers are stories about students in MFA programs.

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4. You Can Do It Yourself

Writing is an art, not a science. Therefore, some degree of natural talent is extremely useful. If you have talent, all you need to do is hone it. If you don’t, cut your losses.

Write consistently, embrace honest critiques, dedicate yourself to continual improvement, read as much as you can on improving craft, and soak up an array of interesting experiences.

If you do all of the above, you’ll soon be writing better than many who undertake formal study in creative writing.

5. These Programs May Stifle Creativity

Want to be confined to writing in certain forms, on certain topics, or within other parameters that limit the creative process? Hell no.

Conclusion 

If you’re really really really serious about being a writer, then you can ditch the creative writing program without any negative consequences.

And if you’re not serious, why are you wasting your time reading this blog?

Like What You Read? Like What You Read!

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If you found this post helpful, please do me a solid and like and subscribe. If you’re really looking for a way to get on my good side, then share this post on social media!

If you’re not sure if a creative writing program may be right for you, leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to shoot a helpful answer your way.

Fighting the good fight with you,
Alfonso

 

 

 

 

 

How To Land High-Paying Writing Jobs

I landed a five-figure screenwriting gig without ever having sold a screenplay before.

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I landed a similarly lucrative non-fiction writing gig without ever having written a non-fiction book before, or anything longer than a short story.

Regardless of what my mom told me growing up, I’m not special. If I can do it, so can you.

Moral Of The Story: Listen To Lauren

My fiancée Lauren and I have a relationship that’s like a sitcom. A problem arises. She proposes a solution. I go my own way in a bullheaded fashion. My own devices fail. I reluctantly try her way and succeed.

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Yes, she is always right. I hope she never reads this admission. Let’s make this our special secret, okay?

Anyway, one day, after years of providing editing services, I wanted to get my feet wet and land a client as a writer, not as an editor. Lauren suggested Upwork.com

I decided to give it a try, and after a few searches, I turned to her in disgust and said something to the effect of “Why the hell would anyone write a 50,000 word book for $100?”

If you’re willing to write a book for $100, and you live in the US, EU, or any other developed country, you’re a fool. Believe me, I told this to Lauren. Over and over again until she got sick of hearing my self-righteous statement. And a couple more times long after she had grown tired of my ranting.

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But, Lauren told me to stick with it. Reluctantly, I did.

And I landed a five-figure screenwriting client.

Without having sold or optioned a screenplay at that point.

Five figures certainly beats $100, right?

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Full Gordon Gekko Mode

Okay, quick interlude. I know some people are probably annoyed at the money talk. To those people, let me quote British author Samuel Johnson, “No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.”

There is NOTHING ugly about getting large sums of money for your writing. If you want to turn writing into a career, you’re going to need those large sums of money. If writing is just a hobby, that’s fine, but if you want to make writing your primary profession, then you’re going to need to be able to get people to pay you for your work.

And pay you more than $100.

How I Landed My First Client

So, how did I land this client? Let me walk you through the steps:

Step 1 – I applied for the gig.

As Woody Allen said, “80 percent of success is showing up.”

Step 2 – After no response, I sent a follow-up message.

No response does not mean no. No response means you need to do more to convince me.

Step 3 – I steered the prospective client to a phone call.

We established rapport, shared values, and a willingness to learn about the topic.

Step 4 – I sent writing samples.

I sent him a previous screenplay I had written.

Step 5 – I kept sending follow-ups after he went cold.

He agreed to work with me, and gave me insights into writing his screenplay, but then went cold for ten months. I kept sending him follow-ups, spaced long apart not to annoy, but regularly enough to be assertive. I never was judgmental or passed blame. I’m a professional and I acted the part.

Step 6 – I flew out West to meet with him.

There, I got a chance to further develop the rapport, learn more about the project, and iron out the details. It was a success!

And he wasn’t the only client I landed.

With A Little Help From Your Friends…

Ever hear the old saying, it isn’t what you know, it’s who you know?

Yeah, sometimes that’s true.

I landed another great client as a referral from a friend. She knew that I was looking for writing clients. Another friend of hers was looking for a talented writer.

Yes, sometimes it’s really that easy.

A Whole Bunch Of Other Ways To Land High-Paying Writing Clients

Of course, these aren’t the only ways to land high-paying clients on great writing projects. Here are a few other methods you may want to consider:

  1. Craigslist. Yes, there are a lot of flakes there, but there are diamonds in the rough.
  2. Create a website and blog, and hit social media hard. Get yourself out there online. Lots of people do, though. The key is quantity and quality. Provide immense value and provide it as often as you can.
  3. Develop an expertise. Coupling talent as a writer with a subject expertise puts you ahead of nearly all competition when finding ghostwriting gigs.
  4. Target business leaders. Use your professional network to find the alpha dogs of the business world. They’re often far too busy to write books on their own, and pay ghostwriters well.
  5. Make business cards and leave them in well-trafficked areas. Go to affluent neighborhoods and leave business cards behind in coffee shops, libraries, hotel common areas, etc.

Conclusion

Whether through a friend, Upwork.com, Craigslist, a website/blog/social media presence, sharpening up on a skill, targeting your friendly neighborhood CEO, or hitting the rich neighborhoods with a stack of business cards, writers don’t have to be poor (even if it’s fun to joke about).

Now go out and land a high-paying gig and make me proud!

What’s Your Story?

Have you ever landed a high-paying writing gig? How did you do it? Share in the comments below. I’m open to guest posts for compelling and insightful stories about this topic.

You Like Me! You Really Like Me!

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If you found this post entertaining or informative, please do me a solid and like and subscribe. If you’re really looking for a way to get on my good side, why not share this post on social media?

If you have any questions about landing high-paying writing gigs, just leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to shoot a helpful answer your way.

Fighting the good fight with you,
Alfonso