WOW! Women on Writing Markets Newsletter

WOW! Women On Writing | Workshops | Writing Contests | The Muffin

Read Like a Writer

May 2024 Markets Newsletter

In this issue:

  • "Read Like a Writer" by Sue Bradford Edwards
  • "On Submission with Vinspire Publishing, Founder and Editor-in-Chief Dawn Rachel Carrington" interview by Angela Mackintosh
  • May Deadlines: Poetry, Fiction, Nonfiction, Multigenre, Just for Fun
  • Breaking In: "How to Become a Sensitivity Reader" by Lara Ameen
  • Craft Corner: "Making the Leap From Printed Page to Big Screen" by Jodi M. Webb
  • Recent WOW! Features and Posts from The Muffin
  • Success Stories from the WOW! Community


I love it when I run into my fellow writers at farmers markets and craft fairs. But one recent conversation really bothered me.  

Her: I don’t read fiction.

Me: But you write fiction.

Her: But I don’t like what they’re publishing today.

Me: Then why do you write fiction?

There isn’t much about being a writer that is easy. What’s the exception? Reading! Yet, I talk to a lot of writers who aren’t readers. Some don’t read anything new. Some don’t read at all. Others read one or two books a year.

But if you are going to write and sell today, you need to read what is being published today. Here’s why.

Study the Market

Reading recently published books is the best way to study the market. When you read what is being published now, you get a feel for . . . can you guess it? What is being published now!

My sister and I both loved rhyming picture books. We grew up on Dr. Seuss. Yet that isn’t what you want to write today. In fact, a lot of publishers will say point blank that they don’t want to see Dr. Seuss-style rhyme. After all, Dr. Seuss already did it. Instead, you need to write in a way that meshes with today’s market. And the best way to understand what that is to read what is being published now.

Study the Competition

Just as editors don’t want you to be Dr. Seuss, they don’t want you to be any of the contemporary authors they are currently publishing. So it may seem like a bad idea to read the competition, but it is actually a very good idea.

If you have an idea for a book about a little lion who lives in the suburbs, you need to read Dandy. When you do, you might decide that your story is too like Ame Dyckman’s. After all, that book has already been written. You want to do something different.

But you can’t be sure your book is different if you don’t know what is out there. Read new books!

Learn from What You Don't Like

The writer I talked to doesn’t read fiction because she doesn’t like any of today’s fiction. The problem is that this is what is being published today. If you don’t like it, there’s a slim chance that your work will be a good fit for the current market.

But you don’t have to love everything you read. I recently read a book by an author I love. LOVE! I made it through this book with determination. I didn’t like it much at all. And I finally realized why. The main character was naïve and oh so very gullible. And it wasn’t like this character was gullible only with teachers. After all, a character might believe authority figures mean them well even when this is not true. This character believed everyone! And this was a character who should have had enough street smarts to be skeptical.

When I consistently find characters in a given genre annoying, I know I need to stop reading this genre. I also know that I shouldn’t try writing in this genre. It just isn’t right for me.

Read to Write

Virginia Woolf said, “Read a thousand books and your words will flow like a river.” Read 1000 books before you start to write and submit.

Picture book authors, mystery writers, and middle grade fiction writers have all heard similar advice. Sometimes the number changes. Read 500 books or 5000. Read four books a month.

So how many should you read? I don’t know. I know excellent writers who never read more than 2 books a month. Me? I read about 200 books a year, including picture books and graphic novels.

I suspect the number of books needed is going to vary somewhat from person to person. All I know is that by reading so much, I’ve internalized a lot about what makes for an amazing book. I discovered this when I started writing fiction during the pandemic.

I’m not going to say that my work was so amazing that it required no rewrites because that wouldn’t be true. But I will say that my first chapter came together fairly quickly. I needed an ominous tone and, because of my reading and, admittedly also my movie viewing habits, I knew how to set an ominous scene.

I hadn’t learned everything that I needed to know simply by reading. Working on my craft has required reading how-tos, taking classes, and having my work critiqued. Still there is an awful lot that you can learn by reading, or listening to, vast quantities of books.

As you can tell, I’m obsessed with books and reading, and we at WOW hope you are too, because this month’s issue explores the world of books!

In our “On Submission” column, Angela Mackintosh interviews Dawn Carrington, editor-in-chief of Vinspire Publishing. This family-friendly publisher is seeking historical fiction, historical romance, and more. Carrington discusses what the press is looking for, current calls, and tips for writing historical fiction. 

If you’re interested in becoming a freelance reader, our newest “Breaking in” column will show you one way to do that! In “How to Become a Sensitivity Reader,” Lara Ameen shares what sensitivity/authenticity readers do, who it benefits, and how to find jobs.

If you’re an author and have ever wondered who would play your characters in the movie version of your book, this month’s “Craft Corner” column is for you! In “Making the Leap From Printed Page to Big Screen,” Jodi Webb shares the stories of two authors who’ve had their books optioned for the big screen, as well as some tips for creating these opportunities for your own book.

As always, we provide a stack of literary markets for you, and Margo L. Dill is back this month with Success Stories! We love celebrating the accomplishments of writers in the WOW community, and we are so inspired by you.

If you have a creative nonfiction piece (memoir, personal essay, hybrid, and more) ready to submit, consider sending it to WOW's Q3 2024 Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest, which closes at 11:59 pm PT, April 30. There are twenty winners and $1200+ in cash prizes. Essays should be 1000 words or less, and previously published work is allowed! We’d love to read your work.

Writers need to read. It helps us develop craft as well as knowledge of the current market. What are you reading right now?

Sue Bradford Edwards

Sue Bradford Edwards lives in the St. Louis area in easy reach of museums, the Missouri Ozarks, and the Mark Twain National Forest. She is a nonfiction author with over fifty books for young readers. For Sue, one of the best things about being a writer is always getting to learn new things. To find out more about her and her work, check out her site and blog and her newsletter.


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Angela is also offering one free spot into the course to be chosen at random. Enter to win a free course ($297 value) on WOW's blog! Giveaway ends May 7th.

Course Details

WOW! Classes Starting Soon

Life's a Bitch and Then You Write

Life's a Bitch and Then You Write

3 weeks starting May 6 ($30)

No matter what happens in life, the writing must go on if you want to achieve—and keep—success as a writer. In this class you’ll learn author Kelly L. Stone’s 3-step technique, developed during a particularly difficult time in her own life to keep her focused and on track with her writing career. This 3-step technique will help you find the “treasure in the ruin” (Rumi) and use adversity to strengthen, and deepen, your work-in-progress, as well as help you keep moving forward toward your writing dream—no matter what life throws at you. (Includes a free critique of up to 10 pages OR a 15 minute phone consultation.)

Class Details

Ghostwriting Your Way to a Profiable Writing Business

Ghostwriting Your Way to a Profitable Writing Business

4 weeks starting May 6

Who makes more money than most authors (probably put together)? The Ghostwriter. Ghostwriting is a profitable writing business that lets you help others fulfill their dreams and goals. In fact, a number of books that reach best-seller status and that are in libraries have been ghostwritten. In this 4-week class, you’ll learn everything you need to know about becoming a working ghostwriter, whether it’s to be part of your freelance resume or it’s to be the focus of your writing career. Led by Karen Cioffi.

Class Details

Pitching, Querying, and Submitting Your Work

4 weeks starting May 6

Whether you write essays, short stories or novels, sending your work to an agent, editor or publisher is a daunting task. This course will teach you to assemble submission basics including a pitch and a query letter. These tools will enable you to get your work in front of industry professionals. We will also discuss how to find markets and how to manage rejection. Course materials include successful samples and tips from industry experts. Led by Sue Bradford Edwards, an author with over 600 sales and 50 traditionally published books.

Course Details

Narrative Structures

Narrative Structures

6 weeks starting May 14

Have you always wanted to write a novel but don’t know where to start? Or maybe you always eagerly begin a manuscript only to lose momentum a couple of chapters later? Or maybe you want to learn more about traditional three-act frameworks because you still dread writing the sticky middle section? This class is aimed at writers of all levels who want to deepen their understanding of plot, narratives, and structures.

Course Details

An Introduction to Storytelling Forms

An Introduction to Storytelling Forms: Flash Fiction, Short Stories, Novels, Poetry, Screenplays, Personal Essays, and Memoir (Including Portfolio Creation)

12 weeks starting May 14

This 12-week course introduces students to storytelling in all its forms, examining flash fiction, short stories, novels, poetry, screenplays, personal essays, and memoirs. At the end of this course, students will have produced a portfolio of various forms. These portfolios exemplify a variety of writing styles and structures and can be used as evidence of a writer’s versatility and ability. 

Course Details

Self-Publish Your Masterpiece Webinar

Self-Publish Your Masterpiece

Live Zoom: May 15, 2024,

2 PM - 4 PM ET ($40)

You have written your pièce de resistance, whether it’s a romance, thriller, how-to guide, poetry ensemble, or cookbook, and you’ve decided to go the self-publishing route to get your baby out into the world—a route, by the way, that is widely acceptable these days (many authors have been immensely successful). But how do you do it? Where do you start? This two-hour course takes you step-by-step from turning your Word document into a gorgeous hard-copy book and ebook. Led by Barbara Noe Kennedy!

Webinar Details

Free Your Creativity By Writing With Constraints

Live Zoom! May 18, 2024,

11 AM - 2 PM ET  ($53)

For a creative twist, some prose writers impose unique conditions on their work as they craft a piece. Dr. Seuss wrote “Green Eggs and Ham” on a bet—that he couldn’t write an entire book using only 50 words. Here’s another dare: Write about a trek through the desert without using the words “sand,” “cactus,” “water,” “sun,” and “heat.” Challenging ourselves in this fun way can have an oddly liberating effect, leading to rich, resonant writing. In this workshop, we’ll experience them with a number of inspiring writing activities. We’ll be surprised by the ideas that spring forth—and thrilled with the original results! Led by Kimberly Lee!

Live Workshop Details

Writing Fitness and Sport Stories

Writing Fitness & Sport Stories

4 weeks starting May 19

Sports and writing are activities many people do for pleasure or self-fulfillment, but these are also rich areas of personal learning and potential social change. This course is designed to give participants space to write and reflect on their fitness and sports careers, lives, and bodies, and then discuss how sharing these personal stories can create social change. On a private webpage, participants will have access to short lessons, readings, and discussion boards each week, and have the option to submit up to 800 words per week for instructor critique. Led by Dr. Anne Greenawalt, Editor-in-Chief of Sport Stories Press!

Course Details

Visit the Classroom

Calls for Pitches and Submissions

WOW! Markets Newsletter - "Breaking In"

Would you like to share your expertise with other writers who read this newsletter? Have you recently found your niche? We are looking for articles for our newest "Breaking In" column. Last month, we published "How to Become a Commerce Writer" by Nicole Pyles; and this issue we published "How to Become a Sensitivity Reader" by Lara Ameen. You'll see they follow the same formula, including headers like "How I Got Started" and "Landing Your First Opportunity." If you've found your niche in the last 3-4 years (only because the market changes so quickly) and have some unique tips, we'd love to hear from you! Pay: $100 per article (for around 1500 words). Please send your idea along with clips to by May 15. (Note: next issue, we're publishing one on becoming a health writer, so we've got that covered. ;) We will respond to everyone after May 15th. Thank you!


Jezebel is a place for stories on politics, feminism, culture, fashion, and identity that may be considered too controversial, too brash, too out-of-the-box, or too risqué for traditional women’s magazines or mainstream media outlets. Contributing editor Nora Biette-Timmons shared their new pitch guide. They are seeking pitches on coverage of books, movies, TV shows, music, etc.; fun, newsy blogs; personal essays; columns and features. Pay reports indicate $0.28 - $0.50 per word. Pitches to


Dedicated to highlighting the diversity of the U.S. Latina experience, HipLatina empowers and entertains by providing thoughtful, engaging content on the topics Latinas care about most, from politics to beauty to culture. They are seeking pitches for articles (400-600 words), features/ essays (1000-1500 words), and listicles (75-300 words). Pay: $50 - $150 with a potential for more if it requires extensive reporting. Check out their pitch guidelines and send your pitch to

Insider - Essays from Retiring Boomers

Senior editor Conz Preti is seeking pitches from boomers about to retire. How are you feeling about it? She's seeking essays about how people are planning, what they want to do, how they are feeling. This is an ongoing pitch call. Pay: $250 per piece. Pitch her at

Eater - Travel & The Move

Eater is dedicated to all things food and dining. Senior editor Jesse Sparks is taking pitches for Eater's specialty newsletters/ columns, specifically for Travel and The Move! Travel: brief, passionate narratives making the case for why you should travel to a specific place to visit a restaurant, learn about a culinary tradition, or eat a dish or food. The Move: What is the best, most actionable advice you have to help other people improve their experience dining out at restaurants? Pay: $300 per piece (500 - 800 words). Pitches to

Fansplaining - Fan Culture

Fansplaining is a podcast by, for, and about fandom, hosted by Flourish Klink and Elizabeth Minkel. It was born on a panel at San Diego Comic-Con in 2015. After recording more than 250 episodes, in May, they are recording Flourish’s final episode (before they give birth and get ordained as a priest!), and then Fansplaining will temporarily transition into a written publication only. They are seeking pitches for articles, essays, and explainers on fan culture (2000 - 4000 words). Pay: $250 per piece. Check out their previously published pieces to get an idea of what they're looking for and send your pitches to

Herizons - Book Reviewer Bank

Herizons publishes social commentary on art, culture, and legal/ political/ community affairs related to gender, race, and sexuality. Each issue includes timely, feminist-informed essays, news, and reviews, prioritizing writers based in Canada. They publish book reviews around 350 words. Pay: $125 CAD. Submit your topic interests and a writing sample via form to be considered.

The Rumpus - Book Reviews

The Rumpus has put a call out for prose book reviews. Is there a recently published or forthcoming book that you can't stop thinking about? They're interested in thoughtful, engaging book reviews between 1200-2500 words. Please submit a finished draft of your review. They have a monthly budget of $400 to be shared among eligible contributors who opt in. Submit via form.

Bustle - Remote Commerce Writer

Bustle is seeking a remote part-time Commerce writer to join our growing Commerce and Affiliate Marketing team. The team covers the full range of product categories, including home, health, beauty, fashion etc. Writers should be knowledgeable and passionate about researching products, especially those found on Amazon. Pay: $22 - $24 an hour. Apply here.

CONE - Film, Music, Arts Events

CONE is an independent magazine and media platform covering authentic and innovative content across all artforms including music, film, and design. They are seeking pitches and coverage for upcoming independent film premiers, festivals and other related events on an ongoing basis. Pay: $200 - $400 for features (1000 - 1500 words). If interested, email

Shelfy - Culture

shelfy is a new social destination that offers a window into your current personality and interests. They are accepting culture pitches on an ongoing basis: op-eds, analytical pieces, reported features, and visual essays. They value long-term resonance over short-term relevance. Pay: $0.50 per word. Pitch via form.

Wired - Tech Stories

After a long hiatus, senior editor Natasha Bernal is back and looking to commission exclusive, interesting, and weird stories! Pay: $500+ per piece. Pitches to

Grow & Convert - Remote Product Copywriters

They are always looking for smart people who can understand and sell their clients products through writing. Although the majority of pieces they produce for clients are blog posts, they don’t do traditional blog writing like introductory guides, ebooks, and beginner-level how-to posts. They target high buying-intent SEO keywords in their articles to sell their client’s products. People with non-writing backgrounds are also encouraged to apply. Articles are typically 1200 - 2500 words. Pay: $500 per article. Writers who take on a full work load typically get assigned 10 - 12 pieces per month ($5,000 - $6,000 per month). Check out their job description and apply via form.

Bad Form - Issue 12 "Love" (in books)

Bad Form is a books magazine. They want pitches on your literature essays, book reviews, short stories and personal essays about books/ reading/ publishing. The theme for their October 2024 issue is "Love" (in books). They are open to BIPOC writers in the UK. Pay: £50 per piece. Check out their call guidelines and pitch via form by May 5th.

Black Doctor - Freelance Health Writers

Editor Taylyn Washington-Harmon is looking for freelance health writers. Writers should have previous experience writing for a Google-ranking health news website and understand clinical studies. Pay: $150+ per piece. Email her at with your clips.

100 Days in Appalachia - Writers 13 - 24

Rainesford Stauffer is supporting the 100 Days in Appalachia team with a vertical publishing young people ages 13-24. She's seeking pitches for reported stories, essays, opinion pieces, etc. No prior experience required. Pay: $200 for opinion, $300 for reporting, but goes up based on scope of work. Pitch

Shandy Pockets - US Destinations, Travel Writing

Editor Paul Oswell is looking for fun stories on U.S. destinations for their next issue. Send ideas his way (rants, funny incidents, weird stuff) like these stories. Pay: around $100 per piece. Pitches to

Observer - Freelance Tech Reporter A.I.

Observer is looking for a part-time reporter to cover entrepreneurship and leadership in artificial intelligence. They’re seeking someone who is fascinated by the founders, scientists, investors and experts in this emerging industry and is eager to report and write about them. The ideal candidate should have a good understanding of the latest developments in A.I. Pay: $200 - $300 per article for 600-800 words. US writers only. Send your resume to along with three to five writing samples or a link to a personal website/portfolio.

National Geographic - Science Stories

Claire Helen Cameron is temporarily editing science stories for the National Geographic website. If you have an enterprising, timely, news idea, especially in the areas of space science, paleontology or the physical sciences, send her a pitch. Pay: $1 per word. Pitches to

Hakai - Coastal Ecosystems

Pitches can come from a variety of perspectives—archaeology, ecology, biology, geology, oceanography, anthropology, environment, business, technology, policy, engineering, history, and more—but they must pertain to marine coastal environments in some way. Pay: CAN $1 - $1.55 per word. Check out their guidelines and pitch the appropriate editor.


They welcome pitches on all academic subjects and grades from pre-K through 12. Perhaps it’s something you’ve realized over the course of your career about how to get students excited about learning, a strategy you recently tried that didn’t quite work out and how you changed course, or an aha moment that led you to rethink how you teach a particular subject or lesson. Pay: $100 per article (850 - 1000 words). Check out their pitch guidelines and send your pitches to

Thrillist - Remote Deputy Editor

Thrillist is an online media website covering travel, experiences, and local neighborhoods. The Deputy Editor’s role is to serve as the right-hand to the Editorial Director, assisting in shaping and implementing content strategy, managing the day-to-day workflow of the team, and bringing thoughtful, compelling stories to life. US only. Pay: $90,000 - $105,000 per year. Apply online.

Time Out - London Based Culture and Lifestyle

Features editor Chiara Wilkinson is looking to commission a few features for Time Out UK / London. Original reporting across culture, lifestyle, city-related issues, ideally with appeal for Apple News, Google Discover audiences. Examples include "An Oral History of the Old Blue Last" and "Hong Kong Street Food is Coming for Hungry Londoners." Pay: 25p/word. Pitch her at with 'PITCH' in the subject line.

Flashlight Press - Picture Books

Flashlight Press books is seeking picture books (under 1000 words) for 4-8 year olds that have a universal theme and deal with family or social situations. Pays in royalties. Check out their guidelines and send your query to

Brain & Life

A magazine for people with neurologic conditions and their families and caregivers as well as people interested in brain health. The publication provides accurate and important new information about advances in the diagnosis and treatment of neurologic diseases, such as migraine, Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and other disorders. They are interested in writers who can write in a lively and consumer-friendly style. Articles are 500 - 1500 words. Pay: $0.75 per word. Check out their writer's guidelines and send your pitches to managing editor Mary Bolster at

Defector - Sports, Culture, Politics

Defector is an employee-owned sports and culture website. They cover sports, politics, TV, movies, science, weird stuff that happens on the internet, and anything else that catches their attention. Pay: $500 - $1000 per piece. Check out their pitch guide and send your ideas to

On Submission with... Vinspire Publishing

On Submission with Vinspire Publishing's Editor-in-Chief Dawn Carrington

By Angela Mackintosh

Historical fiction is more important than ever. It reflects on the mistakes and triumphs of those who have shaped the world we live in, allowing us to draw parallels from our past to our present. It doesn’t just share the events; it makes us feel them through the hearts and minds of characters, which creates a higher level of understanding. Through writing, we can explore real-life heroes and heroines we admire, perhaps ones that many readers don’t know about, and shine a light on their accomplishments. These stories offer an escape from a world overrun with technology, pulling us back to slower, and perhaps, more romantic times. I know many writers in the WOW! community love historical fiction and historical romance, so we are pleased to highlight Vinspire Publishing, a family-friendly press that publishes both! 

I chatted with editor-in-chief Dawn Rachel Carrington about what Vinspire Publishing is looking for, its current calls for submissions, some tips for writing historical fiction, and more. Dawn is a published author of over fifty titles, ranging from romantic suspense to historical romance. She’s an award-winning freelance editor/writer residing in historic Charleston, South Carolina, who has written over 1500 non-fiction articles, short stories, and essays for a variety of magazines and newspapers, including The New York Times and The Writer. She spent twenty-five years working as a paralegal prior to becoming a full-time writer. And because she enjoys helping other writers, Dawn teaches classes on writing, editing, and book promotion. In her spare time, it’s no surprise Dawn loves reading historical fiction. She also creates book videos and is an avid shopper, a huge Star Trek fan, a traveler, and an antique store addict.

Vinspire Publishing

WOW: Welcome Dawn! We’re thrilled to highlight Vinspire Publishing, a family-friendly publisher of historical fiction, historical romance, and more. Let’s go back in time, so to speak; what was the inspiration behind Vinspire Publishing, and how did it start?

Dawn: Vinspire Publishing actually began as Vintage Romance Publishing in 2004. My partners and I wanted to focus on historical romances set during the 1920s-1960s, as we’d all been fascinated by those time periods. Who doesn’t love An Affair to Remember or Sabrina? Those love stories teetered on the edge of perfection. 

WOW: Since 2004! So, it looks like you’re celebrating your twenty-year anniversary this year—congratulations! How did the company’s publishing focus grow over the years?

Dawn: After about five years, we decided to open up to earlier historical romances. Then, slowly, we decided that we were missing out on some great stories if we kept the reins in so tight. So we opened to mysteries, young adult, and inspirational fiction. We’ve continued to open our doors to other genres and look forward to other great stories!

WOW: How wonderful you’re open to so many genres now, and I know you have a current call for historical fiction. Many writers in the WOW community write historical fiction, which I admire because it’s not easy. Not only do you have to create authentic characters that reflect the time period and craft captivating plotlines, but you also have to do in-depth research to get all the little details right. As an editor, I can imagine it’s just as hard and requires extensive fact checking. What are the top five elements writers need to pay attention to when writing historical fiction?

Dawn: Great question! 

It does take a lot of work to make sure historical fiction tells a story without sounding like a history book. That’s why it’s so important that the history be interwoven within the stories, which is essentially world-building. If you can take the history out and still have a story, it’s not historical enough for us. We want to be immersed in the characters but also where the characters are and how they live.

Of course, the plot is a necessary component. Writers need to ask themselves if what they’re writing could really happen in the time period in which they’re writing it. Amanda Skenandore, author of Between Earth and Sky and The Second Life of Mirelle West, is my personal go-to writer of historical fiction. For first-time historical fiction writers, I would encourage them to read her books as a go-by.

Then, there are the characters. If a character is based off of a real-life person, then the author needs to do even more research to ensure that character doesn’t do something they wouldn’t have done in real life. That could include something as simple as smoking a cigar when the real-life person never smoked. Those are small details, but they are so important, especially to lovers of historical fiction who already know many of those details. 

Dialogue is another challenge for writers of historical fiction. Making sure that what a character is saying is something that they would have said during that time period. I’ve written 1920s, 1930s, and 1950s romance, and it involved a lot of research, especially when it came to the slang terms and/or the etymology of certain words—so words that weren’t in use at the time don’t get used in the fiction. Eytmonline is a great research tool for that! 

And finally, though it might not seem like a big thing, the attire of the characters is an important element for us. The writer needs to know if a crinoline or a bustle would be more appropriate for their character to wear. Did the women wear their hair up or down? Short or long? And did men wear long pants or short? But there is so much more depth to go into when it comes to the attire. Readers will point out inaccuracies, so writers really need to be on their toes!

Dawn Carrington

“If you can take the history out and still have a story, it’s not historical enough for us. We want to be immersed in the characters but also where the characters are and how they live.”

WOW: Those are fantastic tips, Dawn, and so helpful! I saw Vinspire had a couple of open submission calls, including one for historical fiction novels and another for romances with mature characters over the age of 45, which is great! Please tell us more about those calls or what type of manuscripts Vinspire Publishing is currently seeking. How should writers submit to you, and are unagented manuscripts welcome?

Dawn: We are open to unagented manuscripts right now. Submissions for our mature romance line will always be open for unagented manuscripts, and we prefer to keep these contemporary, but we would not be opposed to a historical romance with older characters.

Recently, we opened to historical fiction novels with or without romantic elements, but we’re leaning more toward without. We’d love to see some titles that immerse us into little known points of history or the history of certain occupations. 

To submit, authors should view our guidelines at and make sure to read our family-friendly statement as it details what we do not allow in our books. 

WOW: With unagented submissions open, I can imagine it’s quite competitive. On average, how many queries/submissions do you receive a year, and what is your acceptance rate?

Dawn: When we are open to unagented submissions, we generally receive an average of fifty submissions a month. That’s not unusual for us, as we’re rarely open to submissions without an agent, so writers don’t know they can submit to us on their own. 

We’re a smaller publisher, and we don’t publish dozens of titles a month, so we have to be very selective with our acceptances. We don’t want to contract a title without being able to publish it within a year or a year and a half. So, usually, we accept 1-2 percent of submissions.

That said, if someone is submitting the first book in a series, we generally like to contract for the entire series. 

WOW: That’s all good info, thank you! Aside from genre, are there any storylines, plot structures, or craft elements you are looking for, and what type of voice typically resonates?

Dawn: As I mentioned above, we’d love to see some historical fiction titles that immerse us into little known points of history or the history of certain occupations. We’d love to see things like a story from a Jack the Ripper survivor, a story about a female Soviet pilot flying bombing missions against German forces during the Second World War, and tales of little known heroes and “firsts” like Doris “Dorie” Miller who was an American Naval cook who became the first African-American recipient of the Navy Cross as well as a nominee for the Medal of Honor, or Mitchell Red Cloud, Jr., a Native American whose heroic actions during the Korean War resulted in a posthumous Medal of Honor. Then there’s Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee, who was Superintendent of the Navy Nurse Corps and the first woman awarded the Navy Cross. These are just some of the kinds of stories we’d love to see. 

For mature heroes and heroines, we’d love to see different occupations that aren’t written about that much. Give us smokejumpers, 911 operators, skydiving instructors, train engineers, and more. There are so many other unexplored options that would work great in a romance!

Dawn Carrington

“For mature heroes and heroines, we’d love to see different occupations that aren’t written about that much. Give us smokejumpers, 911 operators, skydiving instructors, train engineers, and more. There are so many other unexplored options that would work great in a romance!”

WOW: You’ve given me so many ideas! Little known heroes, “firsts,” and unusual occupations would all make for interesting stories. In your work as an editor, what are some common problems you see in manuscripts you decide to pass on?

Dawn: Poor grammar is one of the main issues we see in submissions. If we can’t make it past the query without running into misspelled words, improper verb usage, and selective commas, it’s probably going to be an immediate pass. 

Another big issue is manuscripts that don’t follow our guidelines. We are a family-friendly publisher, which means we don’t allow profanity, extreme violence, or sexual situations in our books. Yet, we consistently see those in submissions. 

And finally, an issue that is fairly consistent are subjects we don’t publish. We’ve received short story collections, urban fantasy, and science fiction, to name a few. An easy way to tell if we publish it is to review our categories as well as what we’re interested in on our submissions page.

Vinspire Book Covers

WOW: It’s always a good idea to review what books have been published. I noticed your book cover design and interiors are beautiful, and that is a wonderful benefit for authors. Are authors involved in the cover design process at all?

Dawn: Thank you! Our authors are given a cover description worksheet to be filled out. That, then, goes to our book designer, and she works up a draft based upon what they would like to see and what we know will appeal to the public. We are open to making changes at the author’s request and have even completely redone book covers if an author is not happy. Fortunately, that happens rarely as we have a wonderful cover designer, Elaina Lee from For the Muse Design

Our beautiful interiors are designed by Woven Red Author Services, and Joan is a dream to work with! 

WOW: That’s fantastic news! Does Vinspire Publishing work with authors on the editing of their books, and how hands on are you with edits?

Dawn: Absolutely! We have several editors, and we try to keep the editor’s favorite genres in mind when assigning books. 

I do edit occasionally myself, but for the most part, I’m there if a question arises about what is acceptable or not, if something can be included or not, and I do make the decisions about bringing in new editors. If there is ever a time when an author isn’t happy with an editor, I will either assign a new one or work with them myself.

WOW: You’ve shared such wonderful advice with us today that I know working with an editor as passionate as you would be a dream! You are teaching two four-week classes through WOW this summer: Strengthening Your Fiction and Dissecting Rejection—important topics for novelists. Can you tell us more about why you created the courses, and who should take them?

Dawn: Strengthening Your Fiction came about because we do see a lot of submissions from first-time writers. Writing a book isn’t easy, but if all you know is the basic structure, it’s even more difficult. The writing has to stand out. The dialogue needs to sing. In other words, it needs to be strong to get our attention. 

I wrote Dissecting Rejection because there are so many reasons why books are rejected, and it’s not always because the editor didn’t love the writing. I think, by knowing some of the potential reasons why a book can be rejected, an author can circumnavigate some of those issues and better their chances at acceptance. 

Strengthening Your Fiction
Dissecting Rejection

WOW: That’s helpful, and WOW is excited to host them! Besides being an editor and instructor, you are also the author of over fifty titles, ranging from romantic suspense to historical romance. I’m floored by how prolific you are and would love to learn more about your process. Do you have any writing habits or rituals?

Dawn: I don’t have any habits, per se. I did set a goal back in 2012 to write every day, and I’ve met that goal for twelve years. It doesn’t matter how many words; I just have to write every day.

WOW: Writing every day for twelve years is incredible, Dawn! What are you working on right now?

Dawn: I’m writing a nonfiction book called, The Struggle is Real—Surviving While You’re in a Financial Hole and Starting the Climb Out of It. Essentially, it’s a resource guide that will help people find programs that can help with practically any bill or circumstance in their lives. It includes information on free health care screenings, assistance with rent, tips on what to do when your car breaks down and you can’t afford to fix it, and even help with childcare. I’m trying to cover as many topics as I can to help low-income families survive a financial crunch, as I’ve been there myself, and I wish I’d had resources to help me. 

WOW: What an amazing resource! I’d love to have you back when it publishes, so we can chat about it. We always like to end our interviews with a fun question, and I happen to know you’re a huge Star Trek fan! You also write for the site Redshirts Always Die. I once met Leonard Nimoy at Book Expo America when he was promoting his photography book, and he had a great sense of humor. Spock is definitely one of my favorite characters. Who is your favorite Star Trek character and why?

Dawn: Captain Kathryn Janeway from Star Trek: Voyager. Kate Mulgrew was the first female to lead a Star Trek show, and her character was a tough yet kind-hearted captain with determination, grit, and an unyielding strength of character. She was, quite simply, one of the best captains in Star Trek, and I’m thrilled that she has returned in Star Trek: Prodigy.

WOW: Fantastic answer! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today, Dawn. It’s been a pleasure!

Vinspire Publishing

Many thanks to Vinspire Publishing’s editor-in-chief, Dawn Carrington. Dawn shared great advice for writing historical fiction and wonderful ideas for unexplored storylines. I feel inspired to write, and I hope you do, too!

If you have a completed manuscript and you’d like to submit to one of Vinspire’s calls, whether it’s historical fiction or romance with mature characters, you can read more about their calls and submission guidelines here and here.

Vinspire Publishing is currently open to unagented manuscripts, but that’s not always the case, so be sure to review their guidelines, including their family-friendly statement before submitting. Vinspire Publishing offers royalties, and contracts are negotiated with authors. Visit their website for more information, and keep up with the latest calls for submissions by signing up for their email newsletter at

Angela Mackintosh

Angela Mackintosh is a writer and artist living in the Sequoia National Forest, California. Her writing has been published in numerous literary journals, including Writer's Digest and Exposition Review. Her essay about her Okinawan mother, “Sayonara, ai” is forthcoming in Under the Sun's annual issue in May. When she’s not editing for WOW!, she enjoys painting, trail running, and snuggling with her three rescue cats.


Poetry is Currency

Deadline: Rolling

They want the poetry that means the most to you, regardless of marketability or monetary concerns. Theme and subject matter are up to you. They’re particularly interested in hearing from poets of traditionally marginalized, vulnerable, or disenfranchised groups and backgrounds (women, BIPOC, LGBTQ+, disabled, neurodivergent, poor and working class, etc.). Send 3-7 poems in a single attachment with your name in the filename. Pay: $10 per poet. No fee. 

Ghost Peach Press Prize in Poetry – Full-Length Poetry Collection

Deadline: May 1

This contest for a full-length poetry collection is open to any poet writing in English who has not yet published more than one full-length book in poetry (poets with multiple chapbooks are eligible), and offers a cash prize of $1,000 and publication, as well as ten copies of the published book. Entries will first be read by Ghost Peach Press’s panel of editors, and 2024 judge Leila Chatti will choose the winning collection from ten finalists. Manuscripts should consist of 48 – 90 pages of poetry (not including front and back matter). Fee $25

Vilas Avenue: Issue 6 – Theme: Impermanence

Deadline: May 1

Vilas Avenue is open for submissions to Issue Six, a themed issue on the concept of “Impermanence.” They hope to inspire a variety of interpretations of the theme, challenging the writer to attain a deeper understanding of the state of change—crafting work that lives, dies, lives again, & vanishes into momentariness. Pay: one author will be chosen at random to receive a $25 honorarium. No fee.  

2024 Noemi Press Book Award for Poetry Book

Deadline: May 1

A prize of $2,000 and publication by Noemi Press is given annually for one book-length poetry collection. Poets at any stage in their career may submit a manuscript (no page limit). All manuscripts are read anonymously. Fee: $25

Fourteen Poems – LGBTQ+ Poets

Deadline: May 15

They want to represent all that’s thrilling about the new wave of LGBTQ+ poets. If you’re a poet, even if you’ve never been published before, they want to read your work. Send up to 5 poems in a single pdf or word document, with a small paragraph about yourself. Pay: £25 for each poem published. No fee. 

2024 James Laughlin Award – Second Book of Poetry

Deadline: May 15

Offered since 1954, the James Laughlin Award is given to recognize and support a second book of poetry forthcoming in the next calendar year. The winning poet receives a prize of $5,000, an all-expenses-paid weeklong residency at The Betsy Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida, and distribution of the winning book to approximately one thousand Academy of American Poets members. To be eligible, a book must be under contract with a U.S. publisher and scheduled to be published between January 1, 2025, and December 31, 2025. No fee. 

2024 Richard Snyder Memorial Poetry Book Prize

Deadline: May 15

The Richard Snyder Memorial Prize is awarded annually for a manuscript of original poetry by any poet writing in English. The prize winner will receive $1,000 and publication with Ashland Poetry Press. Manuscripts should be 48-96 pages. Individual poems within your manuscript may have been previously published, but not the work as a whole. The judge will be Matthew Rohrer. Fee: $27

2024 Loraine Williams Poetry Prize

Deadline: May 16

The Georgia Review is pleased to announce that Cole Swenson will serve as the final judge for the 2024 Loraine Williams Poetry Prize. Each year one winner gets $1,500 and publication. They also publish three finalists, each of whom receives $200. An entry may include one, two, or three poems, but no more than a total of ten standard pages in 12-point or larger type. Fee: $30

The Sally Albiso Poetry Book Award – Writers in Alaska, Oregon, Washington State

Deadline: May 19

Submit a manuscript of 56 to 68 pages of poetry. This annual award honors the memory of MoonPath Press poet Sally Albiso who passed away in 2019. All entrants receive Sally Albiso's collection Moonless Grief. Only poets residing in Alaska, Oregon, or Washington State are eligible. Winner will receive $2,500 and publication. Fee: $10

Off Topic: Poetry Box

Deadline: May 25

Off Topic is open for poem submissions for a tea, chocolate, and poetry box they mail out to subscribers. Submit 1-3 poems of any style. The poem should be no more than 15 lines (including blank lines). One poem will be selected for publication each month and printed postcard-style to be mailed out to our Poetry Box subscribers. These selections are made two months in advance. Pay: $30 CAD. No fee.

The 2024 River Heron Poetry Prize

Deadline: May 31

River Heron Review seeks clear, concise, and crafted work from a variety of diverse voices and perspectives. Submit up to three poems in one document, five pages maximum. The winning poem and four finalists' poems will be announced in late July. The River Heron Poetry Prize awards the winning poet $500 and 2 runners-up $100 each, a Zoom reading, plus publication. Two finalists will also be announced and awarded a Zoom reading and publication. Fee: $15

2024 Anhinga Prize for Poetry

Deadline: May 31

The award is open to all U.S. poets writing in English. Entrants do not need previous publications or degrees in poetry and writing to submit. The winner receives $1000, 25 author copies, and a 50% discount on books. They will also offer an online reading for the winner. Manuscripts must be 48-100 pages, excluding front matter. Single spaced submissions are preferred for poetry MS. Fee: $28

Two Sylvias Press Chapbook Prize 2024

Deadline: May 31

Winner receives $500, their chapbook published as print book and eBook, 20 author copies, and an amethyst depression glass trophy (circa 1930). Please submit 17-24 pages of poetry (not including title page, table of contents, end notes). Individual poems may be previously published. Fee: $18

The Homebound Publications Poetry Prize 2024 – Full-Length

Deadline: May 31

Submit a manuscript between 48-75 pages in length. While there is no cash prize at this time, the winning author will be offered a royalty contract and publication in ebook, paperback, and audiobook. The winning author/book will also receive a feature spread in Homebound Publication’s biannual magazine, The Wayfarer. A limited number of individual poems may have appeared in print or online but the poet must hold sole rights to the work. Fee: $25

Poetry London Pamphlet Prize 2024

Deadline: May 31

The Poetry London Pamphlet Prize will help writers of all backgrounds and ages who are ready to take their work to the next level. The winner will receive £250, publication of their pamphlet with Poetry London Editions and ten author copies of the work. The winner will also be invited to launch their pamphlet at Poetry London’s Autumn 2024 Readings at the Southbank Centre as part of the London Literature Festival in October. Please only submit 24 pages of poetry. Fee: £20 per pamphlet, or £10 per pamphlet for current subscribers

Spring 2024 Flash Fiction Contest with Guest Judge Literary Agent Emily Williamson


The Chicago Chakram journal of pulp and literary fantasy – Women Protagonists

Deadline: Until filled

The editors are looking for fantasy fiction—women inclined or compelled to fight with swords, who might also do anything, such as pursue lofty aspirations, lead military campaigns, experience love with other women, grapple with dilemmas, and so on. Word count: 4,000 – 9,000 words. Pay: $200 plus 5% of all profits from journal sales and donations. No fee. 

Long Division: Stories of Social Decay, Societal Collapse, and Bad Manners

Deadline: Until filled (500 subs cap, Opens May 1)

We live in divided times. We’re fueled by misinformation. We retreat inside ideological bubbles. We no longer trust each other. We've forgotten what holds us together. We’re more dangerous than ever. Editors Doug Murano and Michael Bailey are looking for original stories of transgression, of the mechanisms behind what’s fraying the bonds that bind us. Preference for stories that have a speculative element (horror, fantasy, sci-fi), but it is not 100% necessary. Pay: $0.10 per word for fiction (up to 5,000 words). No fee.

Leapfrog Global Fiction Prize – Adult Novels, Novellas, and Story Collections, and YA/MG Fiction

Deadline: May 5

Submissions are now open for the 2024 Leapfrog Global Fiction Prize! They are open to adult novels, novellas, and story collections, as well as young adult (YA) and middle-grade (MG) fiction. At this time, they are not accepting graphic novels, poetry collections, or picture books. Minimum length 22,000 words. First Prize: publication contract offer from Leapfrog Press and Can of Worms Press, with an advance payment against royalties, plus the finalist awards. Finalists: $150 and critiques of the manuscript from contest judges; permanent listing on the Leapfrog Press and Can of Worms contest pages as a contest finalist. Semi-Finalist: Choice of a free Leapfrog or Can of Worms book; permanent listing on the websites. Honorable Mention: listing on the Leapfrog Press and Can of Worms Press websites. Fee: $35

Eggplant Emoji

Deadline: May 6

Eggplant Emoji, the comedy literary journal is currently seeking previously-unpublished comedic short fiction submissions for its fourth volume. Volume 4 will be a print and eBook collection of hilarious short stories that are character-driven and culturally striking. They want scenes with dialogue, and stories with a beginning, middle, and an end. Submissions should be 1,000 - 7,000 words, with a comedic tempo of at least one witty line or funny moment per page, but ideally more than one. The intended audience will be 17+ and they encourage adult or sexual themes. Pay: $25 per piece. No fee.

Stone’s Throw Short Fiction Contest – Theme: Stories set at home

Deadline: May 7 (Opens May 1)

Stone’s Throw is the monthly online companion to Rock and a Hard Place Magazine, delivering shorter, sharper content on a regular basis in an electronic medium, before collecting all 12 stories for an annual print anthology. They’re looking for all the same dark fiction, crime and noir as their usual submissions, but with a target length between 1,000 - 2,000 words. They’ll read through the best, choose the one story that shines brightest, and publish it online the following month, paying $25 per accepted story. This month, they’re looking for stories set at home, wherever that is. No fee.

100-Foot Crow – Drabbles

Deadline: May 15

100-Foot Crow is a new literary magazine exclusively focused on speculative drabbles—that is, 100-word science-fiction and fantasy stories. Even though they’re only 100-words, drabbles still need all the essential elements of a story: character, setting, conflict, theme, and plot. You may submit two stories per submission period. Pay: $0.08 per word. No fee. 

Archive of the Odd – Found Fiction

Deadline: May 15

Archive of the Odd is a biannual magazine of found fiction—stories told in the style of found footage, also known epistolary, neo-epistolary, found file, or found document fiction. Essentially, stories told in the form of other documents. 500-8,000 words is preferred for the main magazine, but they will consider 5,000-12,000 for a standalone chapbook publication. Pay: $0.01 per word and a share of the royalties; artwork: $30/page plus royalties. No fee.

Luna Station Quarterly

Deadline: May 15

The on-going mission of Luna Station Quarterly is to display the vast and varied talents of female-identified speculative fiction writers. They are interested in fantasy, sci-fi, space opera, new fairy tales, some creepiness, original worlds, unique settings and storytelling forms, and strong characters. Stories should be 500 to 7000 words in length. Pay: $10 per story. No fee. 

Ross Writing Contest for Legal Short Fiction

Deadline: May 15

Entries must be original works of fiction of no more than 5,000 words that illuminate the role of the law and/or lawyers in modern society. The winner will receive a prize of $5,000. Entrants must be U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents and 21 years or older. Contest entries will be judged by a panel selected by the editor and publisher of the ABA Journal and the winner confirmed by the ABA Journal Board of Editors. No fee.

CRAFT 2024 Short Fiction Prize

Deadline: May 19

Since their launch in 2017, CRAFT has been a premier online home for the contemporary short story. They admire self-assured style and unabashed ingenuity, a willingness to explore and expand the form. The first-place winner will receive a $2,000 award, online publication, a subscription to Journal of the Month, and—new this year—a writerly Tech Bonus worth up to $500! The second- and third-place finalists will receive $500 and $300, respectively, along with online publication. They seek short fiction only for this contest: 1,000 to 5,000 words in length. Fee: $20

Peter Hinchcliffe Short Fiction Award

Deadline: May 28

This contest honors distinguished St Jerome’s University lecturer, Peter Hinchcliffe, who was instrumental in founding The New Quarterly and who served for many years as co-editor. A $1000 top prize will be awarded for one work of short fiction. All entries will be considered for publication in The New Quarterly ($250 paid upon publication). Fees include a 1-year Canadian subscription or renewal to The New Quarterly. Entrants must not have published either a first novel or short story collection. While there is no word limit to short fiction entries, most fall within the range of 2000 - 5000 words. Fee: $40

A Killing at the Copa: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Barry Manilow

Deadline: May 30

There are few musicians in the world today who are more recognizable than Barry Manilow. With a chart-topping career spanning decades and a current residency in Las Vegas, Manilow continues to demonstrate his incredible musical talent and creativity. Manilow created a crime story of his own in his hit song Copacabana, and now we look to provide the same treatment to his many other hits. Your story must relate strongly to the song it’s inspired by, whether that’s by the lyrics or the name. You still must have a good crime/mystery. They prefer stories that are 3,000 – 5,000 words. Pay: $25 per contributor and an e-book copy. No fee. 

Escape Pod

Deadline: May 31

Escape Pod is a science fiction podcast. They are fairly flexible on what counts as science (superheroes! steampunk! space opera! time travel!) and are interested in exploring the range of the genre. They want stories that center science, technology, future projections, and/or alternate history, and how any or all of these things impact individuals and society. Short stories (original fiction): 1,500 – 6,000 words. Reprints: 1,500 – 7,500 words (stories); 7,500 – 18,000 words (novelettes). Pay: $0.08 per word for original fiction; $100 per story for reprint fiction. No fee. 


Deadline: May 31

Bag of Bones Press is looking for stories (2,000 - 5,000 words) on the theme of skin. Take the prompt as literally or as abstractly as you like. They tend to prefer speculative, surreal, supernatural, dark fiction with creeping, poetic, dread-inducing prose, and unpredictable endings. Profits made during the year of publication will go to a skin cancer charity. Pay: £0.005 per word. No fee. 

The 13th Annual BOA Short Fiction Prize

Deadline: May 31

Since its founding in 2010, the BOA Short Fiction prize has been awarded to ten of the most exciting and unique voices in American fiction. Winner Receives: Book publication by BOA Editions, Ltd. in spring 2026 and $1,000 honorarium. Submit minimum of 100 pages; maximum of 200 pages. Individual stories from the manuscript may have been published previously in magazines, journals, anthologies, chapbooks, or self-published books, but must be submitted in manuscript form. Fee: $30

The Bath Novel Award 2024

Deadline: May 31

The Bath Novel Award is a £5,000 international writing prize for unagented writers who are unpublished, self-published or independently published. Initial submissions are the opening 5,000 words plus one-page synopsis of adult or young adult novels in every genre which are complete at over 50,000 words. The winner will also receive our beautiful Minerva trophy, based on the world-famous sculpture in Bath’s Roman Baths. Shortlisted writers win a compilation of award readers’ comments on their full manuscript. All listees win feedback on their opening pages from Cornerstones Literary Consultancy’s editorial director Monica Chakraverty. Fee: £29.99


Bright Wall/Dark Room – Theme: Spike Lee

Deadline: May 1

To honor the 35th anniversary of American masterpiece Do the Right Thing in June, they’re dedicating that month’s entire issue to director, screenwriter, actor, and inveterate New York Knicks apostle, Spike Lee. They are seeking essays and voices tackling any and all of his films, his performances, his writings, his impact on cinema and culture. Send a pitch of your essay by May 1. Pease include: a rundown of the idea, a projected word count (they usually publish work between 2,000 and 4,000 words), a sense of what makes it a great fit for BW/DR (usually some distinctive form or offbeat focus that would set it apart from outlets more focused on news and reviews), and links to pieces published at outlets with editorial oversight. Pay: $100 per essay. No fee. 


Deadline: May 5

Tolka is a biannual literary journal of non-fiction: publishing essays, reportage, travel writing, auto-fiction, individual stories and the writing that flows in between. They publish work by Irish and international writers. Word count: 2,000 - 4,000 words. Simultaneous submissions are okay, and submissions should be in one document. Pay: €500, prior to publication, and a copy of the issue. No fee. 

Charles Darwin University Creative Non-Fiction Award 2024 – Australian Writers

Deadline: May 13

They are looking for a factually accurate work, written with attention to literary style and technique. It can take the form of a biography, autobiography, memoir, diary entry, travel writing, food writing, literary journalism, or criticism. Word limit: 3,000 words. The winner of the Charles Darwin University Creative Non-Fiction Award will receive a $500 prize and an NT Writers’ Centre membership and masterclass, and a double pass to the Brown's Mart’s performance program. Entrants must reside in Northern Territory, Australia at the time of submission. No fee.

Trio House Press Creative Nonfiction Book Award: Aurora Polaris

Deadline: May 15

Trio House Press is pleased to offer the Aurora Polaris Award for a book of creative nonfiction of up to 80,000 words, open to writers at any stage of their career in any form of creative nonfiction. Award: $1,000, publication, and 20 books. Fee: $25

Conger Beasley Award for Nonfiction

Deadline: May 20

New Letters is accepting submissions for the Conger Beasley Award for Nonfiction. All entries will be considered for publication in New Letters. Essay entries may not exceed 8,000 words. First prize winner receives $2,500. Fee: $24

Hippocampus Magazine

Deadline: May 31

Hippocampus is looking for true tales from your life. Honesty that possesses both the situation AND the story. Intensely personal experiences that reflect universal truths about what it means to be human. Personal essays and memoir excerpts up to 4,000 words. Flash nonfiction up to 800 words. Pay is $40 per piece. Fee: $3

2024 James A. Winn Nonfiction Prize

Deadline: May 31

The James A. Winn Prize will be awarded annually by the Michigan Quarterly Review to one nonfiction piece submitted for consideration. Please submit one unpublished piece of nonfiction of 1,500-7,000 words. Simultaneous submissions are welcome but please withdraw your submission as soon as it is accepted elsewhere. Preliminary judges for the prize will be the Helen Zell Writers’ Program students at University of Michigan who currently review submissions on behalf of the journal. The 2024 Judge will be Elizabeth Goodenough. The winning story will be published in the Winter issue of the following year. The prize will be in the amount of $1,500 and publication. All submissions will be considered for publication in MQR. Fee: $20 



Deadline: Rolling

Scarlet is a bimonthly blog dedicated to publishing the work of artists whose pieces give voice to the complexities of our multiple identities. In keeping with Jaded Ibis Press’s mission to uplift marginalized voices, Scarlet aims to showcase bold and unique framings of the view from the margins, giving strong preference to writing that questions norms and provokes discourse. They are looking for work that redraws lines and reclaims spaces. Submissions should be original works of poetry or prose that amounts to 1500 words, or less. Pay: $80 per piece. No fee. 

Scrawl Place

Deadline: Rolling

Scrawl Place is part visitor’s guide, part literary journal. The audience for this publication is the guest, the visitor, the traveler, the day-tripper, the out-of-towner, and the in-towners eager to wander. They’re looking for submissions about “places in the places” where you live or where you’ve visited. They accept CNF, fiction, poetry, and hybrids of any length. Submit one to three pieces at a time. Previously published work is accepted. Pay: $35 per piece. No fee. 

Perennial – Fall 2024: Issue 1

Deadline: Until filled

Perennial is a hybrid arts collective, event series, and print/digital magazine-to-be based in New York. They are seeking fiction, nonfiction, and poetry (no specific limitations) for their inaugural issue, Fall 2024. Submissions are read blind and materials should be submitted in a single document. Simultaneous submissions are okay. Pay: $20 - $50 per piece. No fee. 

Bombay Literary Magazine: Issue 58

Deadline: Until Filled (Opens May 1)

They open May 1 and will only consider the first 400 submissions in each category (fiction, poetry, etc.). Please only submit to one category. Fiction: submit one short story between 2,000 - 7,000 words. Poetry: submit five poems, all in one document. Please do not send them fewer than five poems—they wish to understand your range and style through a substantial sample. Translations: They welcome translated poetry (3-5 poems) or short fiction. Each is considered a separate category. Graphic fiction: They are looking for graphic fiction aimed at adults. The length is up to you. Pay: ₹ 5,000 (approx. $61) per contribution. No fee.

Own Voices, Own Stories Award 2024 - Picture Books

Deadline: April 30

The Own Voices, Own Stories Award is offered annually to children’s picture book manuscripts written by new authors who identify as BIPOC and/or LGBTQ+. Grand Prize winners will receive a $2,000 cash prize, in addition to a publishing contract with advance and royalties standard for new Sleeping Bear Press authors. Honor Award winners will receive a $500 cash prize as well as one consulting session with a Sleeping Bear Press editor. Submissions should be for ages four through ten and may be picture books of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. Text must come in at under 1,300 words (not including backmatter or ancillary material). Only stories with human protagonists will be considered. No fee.

The First Line – Theme: “Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today.”

Deadline: May 1

They are looking for fiction and poetry that incorporates the first line above. Fiction: All stories must be written with the first line provided. The line cannot be altered in any way, unless otherwise noted by the editors. The story should be between 300 and 5,000 words, and all genres are accepted. Poetry: They have no restrictions on form or line count, but all poems must begin with the first line provided. Nonfiction: 500-800 word critical essays about your favorite first line from a literary work (does not have to include the first line prompt). Pay: $25 - $50 for fiction; $10 for poetry; $25 for nonfiction. No fee. 

Prairie Schooner

Deadline: May 1

The Schooner’s intention is to publish the best and most interesting writing available, both from beginning and established writers. They publish short stories, poems, imaginative essays of general interest, and reviews of current books of poetry and fiction. For poetry, send a selection of 5-7 poems contained within a single document. For fiction, essays, and reviews, send only one selection at a time. No fee.

december Magazine

Deadline: May 1

december invites submissions of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction (essays, memoirs, biography, literary journalism, social or cultural commentary or analysis), and visual art (print or digital). Pay: print contributors are paid $10 per page, regardless of genre, with a $40 minimum and $200 maximum. Limit each submission to no more than five poems and combine all of your poems into one document, one short story or three very short (each 1,000 words or fewer) stories, and one essay, memoir, or other work of creative nonfiction. Fee: $3 (non-subscriber)

Sierra Nevada Review 

Deadline: May 1

Since 1990, the Sierra Nevada Review has been publishing daring new poetry, short fiction, literary nonfiction, and visual art from the shores of Lake Tahoe. They publish writing that leans toward the unconventional, surprising, and risky. Poetry: Please upload no more than five poems or five pages of poetry, whichever comes first. Fiction & Nonfiction: Fiction, YA fiction, and literary nonfiction should not exceed 4,000 words. They welcome flash fiction and nonfiction submissions. You may submit more than one flash piece, as long as your total word count does not exceed 4,000 words. Fee: $3

LIGHT Magazine Contest

Deadline: May 1

Leaders Igniting Generational Healing and Transformation (LIGHT) is calling for submissions for the next issue of the LIGHT Magazine, an annual literary journal in public health that connects, creates, and curates content for the public by the public. Using art, letters, stories, and poetry, tell them: how might we create healthy spaces and places for all? Prizes: 1st: $500, 2nd: $375, 3rd: $125. Letters should be between 250 to 500 words. Poems should be between 250 to 500 words. Stories should be between 1000 to 2000 words. Fee: $5


Deadline: May 1

Boulevard strives to publish only the finest in fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. "While we frequently publish writers with previous credits, we are very interested in less experienced or unpublished writers with exceptional promise." They accept fiction and nonfiction works up to 8,000 words and pay $100-$300 (sometimes higher) for accepted work. They do not accept science fiction, erotica, westerns, horror, romance, or children stories. For nonfiction works with any element of research or reportage, please submit under the "Nonfiction--Research-Based Essays." They accept poems of up to 200 lines and do not accept light verse. Submit no more than five poems. They pay $25-$250 (sometimes higher) for accepted poems. Fee: $3

Sundog Lit

Deadline: May 1

"We want writing that attempts to salvage something pure from the collision of warmth and cold, that says what it can about the world it finds itself in. We seek a diversity of voices speaking from visceral, lived experience. We like truth we can stare at until our eyes water, words so carefully chosen we want to reread them as soon as we have finished." Fiction: Submit short stories of no more than 3,000 words or up to 3 flash fictions of less than 750 words each in a single document. Nonfiction: Submit a single piece of no more than 4,000 words or up to 3 flash essays of less than 1,000 words each in a single document. Poetry: Submit up to 3 poems in a single document. Pay: $50 upon publication. Fee: $2


Deadline: May 1

They accept fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry including text-based visuals, but they especially want to see your experimental and hybrid concoctions. Check out their magazine to find out what experimentation means to them. For prose, please limit your submission to 4,000 words for a single piece or up to three flash pieces under 1,000 words each. Poetry submissions should be no longer than 4 pages, with singular poems on their own page. No fee.

Elixir Verse Equinox: Fall 2024 - Theme: Stella Verses

Deadline: May 3

Elixir Verse Press is an indie literary press, publishing works that vary from the whimsical to the primordial. They look for and celebrate voices that are diverse, unexpected, clever, raw, honest, and inspiring. They love works about self-discovery, healing, and empowerment. They especially adore magical, mystical, lyrical, uplifting, and otherworldly content. Their Fall 2024 theme is Stella Verses: starlight, radiance, wonder, heavenly guide, celestial, hope in the darkness. When you look at the stars, what do you see? Fiction and Creative Nonfiction: up to 3,000 words. Fiction can be in any genre as long as it addresses the theme; creative nonfiction can be slices of life to expressive lyric essays. Poetry: submit up to three at a time; poems of 60 lines or less. Art: up to 3 pieces per submission. Pay: $5 per piece. No fee. 

Flash 405 Contest – Theme: Home

Deadline: May 5

Exposition Review is open to flash fiction or nonfiction up to 405 words; poetry: one poem, up to 5 lines (including prose poems); stage & screen: a complete scene, up to 4 pages; and experimental: a complete short-form narrative utilizing innovative techniques and/or hybrid forms. Their theme is: Home. The winners will all receive publication on the website. Their first and second place winners will also receive a cash prize. First place wins 40% of all entry fees and publication; second place receives 20% of all entry fees and publication. Fee: $5

Bloodletter: Issue Three – Theme: Hysteria

Deadline: May 7

Bloodletter is a digital magazine that is published biannually. Each issue is organized around a guiding theme, which contributors are encouraged to engage with, deconstruct, or reject. Women, trans, and non-binary writers are encouraged to submit work that offers a feminist perspective to the horror genre, or more broadly, the horrific. Issue Three: Hysteria will be published in September 2024. They accept one fiction submission OR one non-fiction/pitch submission OR up to five poems (compiled in a single PDF document) per person. Please do not submit this form more than once. They are also seeking woman, trans, or non-binary artists to illustrate Bloodletter. Featured artists will receive a $250 stipend. No fee. 


Deadline: May 8 (Opens May 1)

They are seeking works of short fiction, creative nonfiction, and indeterminate prose. They are interested in literary works 1,000 words or less that manage brevity without sacrificing fullness. They like narrative, but they also like work that uses form to express something about the time in which we live. Please limit submissions to three pieces if they are longish. Five if they are shortish. Pay: $20 per piece. No fee. 

Shooter – Theme: Nightlife

Deadline: May 12

Shooter publishes themed print issues twice a year, and they are currently seeking short stories and non-fiction of 2,000-6,000 words and/or up to three poems on the theme “Nightlife.” The theme is open to interpretation. They are looking for stories, essays, memoir and poetry on anything that relates to nocturnal happenings: dating, working the night shift, crime, clubbing, dinner, sex, partying, witchcraft, ghosts, childbirth, insomnia, even nocturnal wildlife. Pay: £25 per story or artwork and £5 per poem. No fee. 

Pictura Journal

Deadline: May 15

The editors at Pictura Journal are looking for work that “offers a vivid snapshot of the writer’s world—we want to see cracks in the plaster, last night’s empties on the coffee table, the shivering birch just outside the kitchen window. We want to see the mundane rendered with clarity & quiet moments given room to breathe.” Poetry: Send up to five poems in one document. They prefer free verse and can’t guarantee that they’ll be able to replicate any special visual structure. Prose: Send one or two pieces of fiction or creative nonfiction, each no longer than 1,500 words. Excerpts of longer works are fine, but they must make sense on their own. Pay: $5 per piece. No fee. 

Talk Vomit – Theme: Girlhood

Deadline: May 15

Talk Vomit is a literary magazine based out of Massachusetts that harbors a willful longing for when the internet was still fun. Their summer edition’s theme is “Girlhood,” however you interpret that. Nonfiction: under 4,000 words. Fiction: under 2,000 words. Poetry: submit up to two poems. Book Reviews: 300-600 words. Pay: $10 - $30 for fiction and nonfiction; $5 - $15 for poetry. No fee. 

Magazine1 – Issue 2

Deadline: May 15

Magazine1 is an online magazine based out of a bookstore in Sarasota, Florida. They want every weird thing you can think of. Prose (fiction, hybrid): Up to 4,500 words for a short story or up to four pieces of flash fiction, each with a maximum of 1,000 words. Poetry: up to 10 pages of poetry. Pay: $40 gift card to use in their bookstore, either the physical location or online. Fee: $5 


Deadline: May 15

Words are worlds. manywor(l)ds, as a project, embraces the worldmaking possibilities and practices of language in all its forms. They welcome submissions from LGBTQ+ creatorsWomen and other marginalized gendersCreators w/ disabilities. They encourage emerging writers to submit. They don’t have any specific guidelines for genre or word count, but you can see samples of what they publish online. Pay: $10 per piece. No fee. 

A Velvet Giant

Deadline: May 15

A Velvet Giant is an online, genreless literary journal. They love ambiguity: flash pieces, found pieces, cross-genre experiments, the "poem" that thinks it might be a story, the "story" that thinks it might be a poem. Retellings and reimaginings. Work that chips away at institutional structures. Work that breaks everything down so that it can build. Please send your submission as an attachment consisting of no more than 3 pieces, 10 pages total maximum (writing double-spaced), attached to one email as a single file. Pay: $20 per piece. No fee. 

Honeyguide Magazine – Theme: Reptiles

Deadline: May 15

Honeyguide is a bi-annual magazine that publishes stories, art, and poetry that examine the connection between animals and humans. They accept pieces from the perspective of animals who are as present and authoritative as human characters. Pay: $20 for feature stories, $50 for featured artwork. No fee. 

2024 Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant

Deadline: May 15

The Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant supports emerging and established writers who write about contemporary visual art. You may apply for a grant in one of the following project types: Article, Book, or Short-Form Writing. The Article category supports essays, magazine features, and extended exhibition reviews. Article grants are $15,000 each. The Book category supports a broad range of books on contemporary visual art, from general-audience criticism to academic scholarship. Book grants are $50,000. The Short-Form Writing category supports the ongoing practice of writers who regularly produce short texts that respond to current exhibitions, events, and issues in contemporary visual art. By “short” they mean texts in the range of 250-1,500 words. Short-Form Writing grants are $30,000 each. No fee.

2024 Emerging Writer's Contest

Deadline: May 15

The Emerging Writer's Contest is open to writers of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry who have yet to publish or self-publish a book. Read past winners of the contest here. They award publication, $2,000, review from Aevitas Creative Management, and a 1-year subscription for one winner in each of the three genres. The winning story, essay, and poems from the 2024 contest will be published in the Winter 2024-25 issue of Ploughshares. Submit fiction and Nonfiction under 6,000 words and poetry between 3 to 5 pages. Fee: $30 (No fee if you are a subscriber)

The Lorelei Signal – Complex Female Characters

Deadline: May 15

The Lorelei Signal is a quarterly SF/Fantasy electronic magazine—one that will feature strong / complex female characters. This does not mean your female character has to be the main hero or villain in the story. What it does mean is no shrinking violets, or women who serve only to get into trouble so the male hero can rescue them. Short Stories: no longer than 10,000 words. Flash Fiction: under 1,000 words. Poetry: submit up to 5 poems. Pay: $15 for short stories; $5 for poems and flash fiction; $5 for reprints. No fee. 

The Georgia Review

Deadline: May 15

The Georgia Review pays all contributors; the current standard rates for their print issues are $50 per printed page for prose and $4 per line for poetry, up to $800. In addition, all contributors receive a one-year subscription to The Georgia Review and a 50% discount on additional copies of that issue. For consideration, submit 6–10 pages of poetry or one long poem. Although they are willing to read work of any length, they rarely publish prose works 9000 words or longer. Fee: $3

New Letters Competitions

Deadline: May 20

$2,500 Patricia Cleary Miller Award for Poetry: Submit up to 6 poems.

$2,500 Robert Day Award for Fiction: 8,000 words max

$2,500 Conger Beasley Jr. Award for Nonfiction: 8,000 words max.

Fee: $24

The 2024 Irene Adler Prize - Women Pursuing a Degree in Journalism, Creative Writing, or Literature

Deadline: May 30

This year the prize is open to women worldwide. The Irene Adler Prize winner will receive a $1,000 US scholarship. Up to two awards of $250 apiece will be given for honorable mentions. The competition is open to women commencing or continuing to pursue a bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D degree in journalism, creative writing, or literature at a recognized post-secondary institution in 2023-24. Each application consists of two (2) elements: A 500-word essay in English based on five essay prompts, and a completed entry form. No fee.

The Cutbank Chapbook Contest

Deadline: May 31

The winning author receives a $1,000 honorarium plus 25 copies of the published book. Two runners-up will be chosen for publication as well and receive a cash prize of $250 and 25 copies of their book. The CutBank Chapbook Contest honors a book of original poetry, fiction or creative nonfiction by a single author; translations are not eligible for this award. While previously published stand-alone pieces or excerpts may be included in a manuscript, the manuscript as a whole must be an unpublished work. Translations and previously self-published collections are ineligible. Manuscripts should be 25-40 typed pages in length of poetry (a cohesive poetry manuscript), fiction (either a short fiction collection or novella), or creative nonfiction (one long essay or a collection of short essays). Fee: $20

The Older Writers Grant – Writers 50+ 

Deadline: May 31

The Older Writers Grant, for a writer who is 50 years of age or older at the time of grant application, is intended to assist such writers who are just starting to work at a professional level. The writing application sample could be of poetry, fiction, drama, or creative non-fiction, of speculative literature. Writers are asked to include a 500-word cover letter and autobiographical statement as well as a writing sample (up to 10 pages of poetry, 10 pages of drama, or 5,000 words of fiction or creative nonfiction—if sending a segment of a novel, novella, or novelette, include a one-page synopsis as well) is part of the application. Grant: $1,000. No fee.

Baltimore Review: Summer Contests and Regular Submissions

Deadline: May 31

Writers can enter contests in flash fiction, flash creative nonfiction, and prose poem. One entry in each category will receive $400 and all entries will be considered for publication with payment of the regular rate of $50. They are also accepting submissions for their latest issue. They accept fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Submit one short story (really, just one, no more than 5,000 words; shorter is often better, to be honest). Flash fiction, one story only, may also be submitted here. Submit only one story per reading period. Submit one creative nonfiction piece (no more than 5,000 words). Submit flash fiction, flash CNF, and prose poem up to 1,000 words. One, two, or three can be submitted but no more than 1,000 words total. Submit three poems. Fee: $8 fee for summer contest categories; no fee for other submissions.

3Elements Review: Issue 43 – Theme: Wedding dress, Crowd, Anchorage

Deadline: May 31

3Elements is looking for submissions for their next issue. They ask submissions to include three elements (specific words to be used in the pieces) given for this submission period are: Wedding dress, Crowd, and Anchorage. Prose submissions should not exceed 3,500 words. Poetry submissions should be comprised of a single poem. Your story or poem doesn’t have to be about the three elements or even revolve around them; simply use your imagination to create whatever you want. You can use any form of the words/elements for the given submission period. No fee.

Koukash Review

Deadline: May 31

Koukash Review is an indie literary magazine featuring Pan-Arab/Southwest Asian North African voices in all their brilliant hues. They encourage submissions from all underrepresented voices, including those of women, queer and trans artists, and global diaspora. All work should be original & unpublished. Submit: Poetry (1 to 5 poems, up to 10 pages), Flash Fiction/Fiction (up to 5000 words), Essays/Creative Nonfiction (up to 5000 words). No fee.


Deadline: May 31 (Opens May 1)

They are seeking submissions that convey a unique perspective and honest insight into our world. They are especially interested in underrepresented voices of all kinds. Genre fiction submissions are welcome, particularly speculative fiction. Prose: There is no strict word count, although they most frequently publish fiction and nonfiction between 500-5,000 words. For regular submissions they accept up to three prose submissions per author as long as the total number of words is less than 7,500. Poetry: Up to six poems are accepted per submission, and all forms are encouraged. Pay: $25 per contributor. Fee: In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and Mental Health Awareness Month, no-fee submissions are open for all API creators and all Mental Health identified creators, not limited to those from the US. 

Willow Springs

Deadline: May 31

Willow Springs accept fiction, nonfiction, and poetry submissions. Contributors receive $100 per published long-form prose piece, $40 for short prose (up to three stories, each under 750 words, can be included per submission), and $20 per published poem (up to 5 can be included per submission). They offer two complimentary copies for work they publish. Fee: $3

Tangled Locks: Summer 2024

Deadline: May 31

Tangled Locks is looking for complex stories, poems, and essays with a strong female point of view. They love unexpected poetic language and a bit of magic realism. They welcome all authors and their words with one caveat in mind—if you can sum up your female character in one line (or worse yet: one word), their publication is probably not for you. Fiction and Nonfiction: Maximum word count is 1500 words. Please include the word count and title in your document. Poetry: Please submit one poem in a single document. If special formatting is required, please send it as a pdf. Pay: $15 per piece. Fee: $4 

Black Fox

General: May 31

Black Fox Literary Magazine is a print and online biannual publication featuring quality fiction of all styles and genres, poetry, nonfiction, art, and photography. Fiction and Nonfiction submissions should be no more than 5,000 words, and Flash fiction submissions should be no more than 1,000 words. Send no more than three poems at a time. Accepted contributors to our issues are paid $20 each. No fee.

WOW! Women on Writing Quarterly Flash Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Contests

Deadlines: April 30 (nonfiction) and May 31 (fiction). Our favorite writing community offers quarterly contests judged blindly with multiple cash prizes and more for 20 winners, up to $1,350 (fiction) and $1,175 plus a gift certificate to CreateWriteNow (nonfiction), an affordable critique option, and a 300-entry limit on each contest. Previously published work is accepted! What’s not to love? This season's guest judge is Literary Agent Emily Williamson with W Literary Agency. Fee: $10 (Flash Fiction) and $12 (Nonfiction).

Just for Fun

giphy image

May 22 is National Goth Day! Paint your fingernails black, crank up Siouxsie and the Banshees, and consider submitting your best gothic work to Diet Milk: Gothic by May 15 (opens May 1). Diet Milk is a biannual literary magazine devoted to Gothic prose, poetry, and art. Neatly genred or genre-bending, classically styled or modern, they want your prettiest, most pungent dread. Poetry: submit up to three poems at a time. No single poem should exceed one page in length. Prose: send EITHER up to 3 stories of less than 999 words OR a single story of 1k—2k words. Stories exceeding 2025 words will be rejected automatically. Pay: $15 per poem, $0.01 per word ($40 minimum) for short stories, and $50 per art piece. No fee. 

Breaking In

How to Become a Sensitivity Reader

By Lara Ameen

Have you ever wanted to write about a marginalized perspective outside of your own lived experience? If so, then you may consider hiring a sensitivity reader to help you craft that perspective in your work. 

As a marginalized person or someone with a certain area of expertise, have you ever wanted to help screenwriters and authors with their manuscripts or screenplays? Then sensitivity reading may be the perfect freelance job for you.  

I want to share with you about the process of sensitivity reading and what it takes to become a sensitivity reader as well as how to find job opportunities and build your freelance career.

What is Sensitivity Reading?

Sensitivity reading, also known as authenticity reading, is a type of editorial work that authors and screenwriters may find useful when writing outside the lens of their own experience. If you are seeking to approach writing characters in a respectful and authentic manner, but they are outside of your lived experience, then hiring a sensitivity reader would be a crucial stepping-stone in your writing process. 

Sensitivity readers may read the entire unpublished manuscript or may only read certain sections, scenes, or for certain characters, depending on the need with the intention of highlighting inaccuracies in regard to culture, marginalized representation, stereotypes in language, or bias. A sensitivity reader may read from the lens of their own lived experience, but, in addition, they also may have an academic background where they have learned about the intricacies of harmful representation, and what to write instead. 

Sensitivity reads will often include in-line comments in the manuscript, pointing out inaccuracies and areas where certain representation, bias, or stereotypes need to be fixed. It also may include a reader’s report where the sensitivity reader points out inaccuracies in greater detail and cites specific examples. Some publishing houses may request that a sensitivity reader write up a reader’s report along with the in-line comments on an author’s manuscript.

How I Got Started

I found out about sensitivity reading through another writer at the BinderCon LA writers’ conference in 2017. In 2016, I’d been on a panel of writers talking about being a disabled/chronically ill writer, and in 2017, I was teaching a workshop there on how to write disabled characters in TV, film, and YA fiction. 

Before this, in undergrad, I had minored in disability studies and took classes, such as Literature and Disability and Disability Memoir. I then went on to pursue an MFA in screenwriting at California State University, Northridge. By Fall 2015, I began a PhD in education with an emphasis on disability studies and was enamored by disability representation in all forms of media, particularly TV, film, and genre fiction. Between 2015 and 2017, I had the opportunity to be on several panels about disability representation in media, and this would continue for several more years. 

When someone at BinderCon told me about sensitivity reading in 2017, I was immediately intrigued. As a multiply marginalized disabled writer with years of lived experience as well as academic knowledge, this sounded like an incredible opportunity. From that point on, I asked other author friends I knew from conferences if they could keep me in mind for any sensitivity reading opportunities that may arise. 

However, my first sensitivity reading job came from Twitter (now called X) in 2019. Someone had retweeted a post from an editor asking for a sensitivity reader who used a wheelchair. The project was for a middle grade contemporary novel and one of the supporting characters uses a power wheelchair. The editor had her DMs open, so I sent her a message and told her I was a wheelchair user and would love to read for that character. Although I read the whole book and assisted with things like ableist language throughout the text, I also paid specific attention to that character and her story arc. I read the novel, made in-line comments, and sent the editor a reader’s report with my notes. 

She ended up referring me to someone she knew who had a client who needed help with a character in her adult science fiction novel, and that was how I got my first two jobs as a sensitivity reader. 

The rest of my jobs have come from word of mouth (through other author friends online) or through an authenticity reader database with Penguin Random House. Sometimes, I have put my name on various freelancing websites or the Disability in Publishing website.

Although I primarily read for disability representation in a variety of areas, I do read for other marginalized identities and academic subjects as well. 

I have read a variety of manuscripts across middle grade, young adult, and adult categories, both fiction and non-fiction, in almost every genre. Due to my background in screenwriting, I can also do sensitivity reading for screenplays, TV pilots, graphic novel manuscripts, and audio drama podcast scripts. I do not feel comfortable evaluating picture books or chapter books, but every sensitivity reader has different areas of expertise.

“If you are a marginalized writer, know that your perspective is valid.” 

Landing Your First Opportunity

Landing your first opportunity as a sensitivity reader may be difficult. It took me two years until I got my first opportunity.


Never underestimate the power of networking. However, this does not necessarily have to be in person. It could come through connections with other organizations or writers online.


Getting your first sensitivity reading job will probably be slightly easier if you are already a writer and have an established connection of writer friends or a support system to lean on, especially if you are a marginalized writer. Even so, it can take time. 

If you are a marginalized writer, know that your perspective is valid. 

Should you wish to become a sensitivity or authenticity reader and help people craft respectful portrayals of marginalized characters, start by asking your writer friends if they know anyone who needs a sensitivity reader and share a little bit about your area of expertise. You can also advertise services on your website or blog and drive traffic to those service listings. 

You may also advertise your services on popular websites, like Fiverr or Upwork.

Some publishing houses have an authenticity reader database, such as the one by Penguin Random House (which is not open at this time). 

Once you have completed a job or two or you know this type of work is right for you, there are a few databases/directories that you can check out and submit your name for listing to get started or even do a Google search to find one that fits you. A few to start with are:

  • Write Up Editorial Agency: Write Up | Editorial Agency | Genuinely Inclusive Content:

Getting started can be the hardest part, but there's a real need for good sensitivity readers in the current marketplace. I've found once you secure a job and do it well, more work will follow.

“Sensitivity reading also often includes emotional labor on behalf of the person evaluating your manuscript, such as if the character is a victim of sexual assault, domestic violence, or abuse, so it’s important that readers are paid fairly.” 


A sensitivity read is a paid job. Someone is being paid for their area of knowledge or expertise. 

The rates of a sensitivity reader may vary depending upon what they are being asked to evaluate. 

When working with small or large publishing houses, often the price for a sensitivity read is set by the publishers. Sometimes a sensitivity reader can negotiate with the publisher for a certain rate. When sensitivity readers are working for individual authors, they may set their own rates. 

Sensitivity readers are also often given deadlines for when the manuscript must be submitted back to the editor or author.


Rates may be as low as $300 or as high as $1000-$1200, depending on the length and type of manuscript. 

If you are a marginalized person taking on a sensitivity reading job, it’s helpful to negotiate for the highest rate possible, for your area of invaluable expertise. You are bringing great value to the book and helping to create the best possible story with your lived experiences and expertise. 

Sensitivity reading also often includes emotional labor on behalf of the person evaluating your manuscript, such as if the character is a victim of sexual assault, domestic violence, or abuse, so it’s important that readers are paid fairly. 

In conclusion, if you are thinking about becoming a sensitivity reader, don’t be afraid to ask for what you’re worth. It can be a very rewarding job, but also an extremely emotionally taxing one depending on what you are reading in the manuscript.

Dr. Lara Ameen

Lara Ameen is a screenwriter, novelist, short fiction writer, sensitivity/authenticity reader, and holds a PhD in education with a disability studies emphasis from Chapman University. She received an MFA in screenwriting from California State University, Northridge. Her YA contemporary fantasy novel, SPAER, was awarded a disabled writers’ grant from Suffering the Silence, longlisted in Voyage YA's First Chapters Contest, and their Book Pitch Contest. A 2022 Lambda Literary Screenwriting Fellow, 2022 Mentorship Matters TV Writing Program Finalist, and a 2022 NBC Launch TV Writing Program Finalist, she was a 2023 Screenwriting Mentee as part of 1in4 Coalition’s mentorship program for disabled screenwriters. She is a 2021 alum of the Tin House YA Workshop, and 2021 and 2024 alum of the Futurescapes Writers' Workshop. Her short fiction has been published in Prismatica Magazine, Disabled Voices Anthology, Flash Fiction Magazine, Drunk Monkeys, just femme & dandy, Hairstreak Butterfly Review, and elsewhere. She made her traditional publishing debut as a contributor to the 2024 Lambda Literary finalist young adult multi-genre anthology, Being Ace, published by Page Street YA.

Craft Corner

Making the Leap from Printed Page to Big Screen

By Jodi M. Webb

Every author has played the game: Who Will Star in the Movie Version of my Book? It’s thrilling to imagine actors we know only from the red carpet bringing life to the world we created on the big screen—or the little screen—or the streaming screen. But there’s one

My first peek at the transformation of a book into a movie came when Kathleen Aldworth Foster told me that her historical novel Doneraile Court: The Story of the Lady Freemason had been optioned for a TV series.

Kathleen has always focused book promotion on the niche group of Freemasons because her novel is based on a true story that happened to a Freemason organization in Ireland. While in County Cork, Ireland, for a fundraiser, she met a Freemason who was also an actor in Cork County. He loved her book! So much so, that he took it to a production company he worked with, and Kathleen found herself with a book optioned for an Irish TV series. 

Fast forward to Kathleen’s return to Pennsylvania, talking about her recent good luck at a local craft fair, when Heidi Bordogna, who is a producer for Sandstone Production, screenwriter, and Fordham University film professor, just happened to overhear while attending the craft fair. They made an appointment to meet for coffee, where Heidi talked to Kathleen about protecting her rights. Kathleen was happy with her agreement with the Irish production company, but she was still searching for an American screenwriter for the adaption. So now, Heidi has agreed to be Kathleen’s screenwriter. Ireland fundraiser + Pennsylvania craft fair = optioned TV series.

Clearly, this was an amazing fluke, and I tried to find someone who went the more traditional route. Someone whose newsletter I’ve been receiving for years is Claire Cook, author of twenty-three books, including one made into a movie: Must Love Dogs. I soon learned that the story of the movie Must Love Dogs could have been one of Claire’s plotlines!

Here’s Claire’s tale: on her Must Love Dogs book tour, Claire stops at a Vermont bookstore. She visits, she signs books, she leaves. A few days later, Gary David Goldberg, producer of Family Ties and other award-winning TV series, stops by with his family and buys Must Love Dogs. After all, there is a big tabletop display of her books, and he does love dogs. In the blink of an eye, he has optioned the book. Success! the complicated world of Hollywood, the deal eventually “dies.” Here comes the twist that every story needs: Claire faxes David to thank him for thinking her book was a movie possibility. David is shocked. A person who was turned down sending a thank you note? No one does that. 

No one but Claire. Claire and David become pen pals via fax, sharing miscellaneous tidbits from their lives. And eventually, looking for a project about ten months later, David thinks of his pen pal. So, Must Love Dogs becomes a movie because the author said, “Thanks, even though you said no.”

Can your book be optioned without the blockbuster name power of Stephen King, George R. R. Martin, or John Grisham? Yes! There are many authors who have their movie options sold by an agent, including Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which was released in theaters by 20th Century Fox. Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train was released in theaters by Universal Pictures, and Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge, became an HBO miniseries.

Argh! But what about the rest of us who aren’t blessed with the gift of serendipity or bestseller lists? What can we do to make our books into movies or TV series? As you probably guessed, the road to production is fickle, but there are a few things you can do to test the waters.

Who Do You Know?

As you guessed from the experiences of Kathleen and Claire, getting your book in front of the right people is key. What if you don’t know those people? After all, many of us live in Cleveland or Boulder or Little Rock. Not exactly hotbeds for the entertainment industry.

Find out if your literary agency has a branch that focuses on optioning books and if they are pitching your book to the entertainment industry. Even if they don’t directly handle optioning books, your literary agent may have contacts in the entertainment industry they can introduce to you. 

What’s Your Logline?

No agent? Remember all that work you did to get a publisher? It’s time to do that again for selling the movie options for your book. At this point you don’t need a screenplay, just your published book (and hopefully brisk sales). For now, you’re selling the idea.

Remember your book’s elevator pitch? When selling movie options you need a logline just like your book needed the elevator pitch. A logline includes the movie genre and one to two sentences about your main character and their goals/evolution. For longer pitches, you should also have a treatment, which is the movie equivalent of a book proposal and includes a synopsis, audience, and why your movie should be made now.

Approach Producers

Remember researching book publishers trying to find the perfect one for your book? Great, because it’s the same process all over again for your screen options. If someone specializes in documentaries, they won’t be interested in your romance. If their last movie had a budget of $700 million, they may not be interested in a pitch from an unknown. Just like book publishers, some will accept unrepresented work, and all will have specific instructions for submissions. 

To start your search for a producer, try Backstage, a trade publication for the entertainment industry. Do your research to find out about recent work, awards, and accomplishments of each producer. Use that information to decide on the ideal producers and personalize each query you send.

When They Come to You

Someone has come to you with the proposal that they want to make your book into a movie/TV series. Are the first words out of your mouth: “Where do I sign?”  

Instead try: “I have to talk to my agent.” 

There is a long road from, “We’re interested in your book,” to “That’s a wrap.”  

It may feel like you’ve already done all the hard work, but it’s worth it to have someone, like an agent, on your side who understands Hollywood deals. Literary agents and entertainment attorneys know all the legal jargon and how to protect your rights while negotiating the best deal. If you have a tentative offer on the table, you won’t have any trouble finding representation. Chances are they will come to you asking to be your representative. Some of the largest agencies are CAA, WME, UTA, and Paradigm

So yes, you can work at getting your book out to the entertainment industry by systematically researching, pitching, and negotiating with producers. But along the way, don’t forget those unexpected connections that can lead to a movie deal. Opportunities are everywhere!

Jodi M. Webb writes from her home in the Pennsylvania mountains. After a decade hiatus from writing, she is back with bylines in Tea Journey, Mental Floss and a WIP about her plant obsession. She's also a blog tour manager for WOW! Women on Writing. Get to know her on Instagram or Facebook or by visiting her website at

The Muffin: Recent Blog Posts

Interview with Dr. Angela Yarber, Creator of the Course Publishing for the Global Good (and Giveaway!)

By Nicole Pyles

I'm excited to interview Dr. Angela Yarber, founder and Executive Director of Tehom Center Publishing and creator of the online course Publishing for the Global Good. This course is perfect for you if you are interested in writing and publishing a book that makes a difference in the world. Learners who complete the course have an opportunity to pitch a book directly to Tehom Center Publishing, a traditional publisher, and have a chance to finish the course with a publishing contract.

Enter to Win a Book Proposal Course ($297 value) by May 7

Why Non Poets Need to Read Poetry

By Sue Bradford Edwards

April is National Poetry Month. If you’re not a poet, you may be tempted to give this post a miss. “Ugh, she’s just going to yammer on about poetry. Yuck.” But bear with me. 

Even if you aren’t a poet, it is an excellent idea to read poetry. Here are five reasons why. 


Heaven help us, poems have depth. There is the topic that you see on the surface. “Hey, this is a poem about bluebirds. I adore bluebirds!” But there is also the underlying topic. “Wait a minute. This is a poem about memory and how it shapes the present.”


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Why I Love the Libby App

By Renee Roberson

When my kids were younger, I used to frequent the library almost weekly, even more during the months of June, July, and August when the summer reading programs were in full swing. During the height of the pandemic, my visits came to a screeching halt. I was focused on keeping my job as a magazine editor and trying to launch a podcast. I knew there was an app called OverDrive that was supposed to allow you to check out books from the library digitally on your Kindle, but I found it clunky and difficult to use. Around 2022 I discovered the Libby app, which is owned by OverDrive but much more user-friendly. All I had to do was download the app to my phone, find my local library, enter in my current library card number, and voila, I was connected to so many resources I didn’t know what to do with them at first.


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Fake It 'Til You Make It

By Jodi Webb

That is the motto of a close friend of mine and, considering they started a successful business in their 20s, I'm happy to take it.

Too often I find myself worrying that I can't write well enough, don't know enough about a topic or am competing against scads of people who are just better at this writing game than I am. But then I have to give myself the "Fake it 'til you make it" pep talk.

I think the problem is that I am basically a shy person who tends to downplay myself and my experiences. I continually need to remind myself that if I don't believe in myself, why would anyone else?


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The Wonderful World of Freelance Editing: 5 Fabulous Perks

By Melanie Faith

Do you love to read? Have you participated in a writing workshop or beta read for a friend? Or taken a creative writing class to learn the building blocks of prose and poetry? Have you offered suggestions for a friend’s essay or creative piece? Are you a creative writer? Are you a fan of precise or beautiful language? Do you love talking about the writing and revision processes? Do you enjoy discovering an individual author’s voice and offering encouragement?


If the answer to any of these questions is yes, freelance editing may very well be a wonderful fit for your natural skills, bring enjoyment, and offer some spending money or a helpful additional income to your household while doing something you already love—communicating and developing fun-to-read, page-turning literature for fellow readers.


Let’s look at just a few of the many perks of becoming a freelance editor. 


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Ask the Book Doctor: About Manuscript Formatting

By Bobbie Christmas

Q: How important is the format of my manuscript? If I don’t follow standard manuscript format, can my book get rejected?

A: I can’t speak for every agent and publisher in the world. I can, however, address some of the things that are standard in the industry. If you have any hope of landing an agent or selling your book to a traditional publisher, the format of your manuscript could possibly stand in the way if it doesn’t follow standard manuscript format—SMF. It’s hard enough to land an agent or find a publisher willing to buy your manuscript, so it’s important to show your professionalism by following the standards in the book publishing industry.


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Are Your Writer Senses Tingling?

By Jodi Webb

Recently, the working world has been debating the pros and cons of remote work vs. office work, especially the blurred line between work time and personal time. I agree that workers shouldn’t be required to be available to their clients/supervisors 24/7. People need to have a portion of each day when they aren't working.

Things are different when you’re a writer. As a writer, I’ve come to accept that my writer senses (much like Spider-Man’s spidey senses) are tingling all the time – whether I’m at work or not. While spidey senses are looking for crimes, writer senses are looking for ideas. Some of my best ideas came to me, not during my time in my office, but when I was “off duty.” As writers, I think every experience of our life should include a faint whisper, “Could this be useful to the writer in me?” So, for writers, personal and work life often overlap.


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Friday Speak Out! Seeds of Truth in Fiction

By Mary Fleming

People often ask me: “Where do you get your ideas?”

They generally express this question with wonderment, as if I must have lived a wildly adventurous life. Or as if they see me sitting down at my desk, picking up a pen or opening the computer and Bang, the plot and the characters strike like a bolt from heaven and out flows a novel.

If only.

I collect the seeds for my fiction from real life. Either things my friends have experienced or a story I read in the news. When the story sticks with me, it starts to take root in my brain, and I know I have a possible short story or novel. Then plot and characters begin to grow and take shape. By the end the seed has developed into something quite different from the origin story.


Success Stories from the WOW! Community

By Margo L. Dill

Once again, our WOW! community writes to us about the amazing work they are involved in, publications they’re announcing, and recognition that’s well-deserved. It’s May, and many of us have a lot of distractions on the calendar, even if they are celebrations: graduations, end-of-year programs and shows, weddings, summer holidays, and more. So check out your fellow WOW! writers, and find some inspiration in both the small and big accomplishments they are sharing with us. And make sure to check out the one at the very end from X, formerly known as Twitter. Remember, I’m the editor of this column…

As the editor, I want to remind you that we love to hear from you about your successes and your projects. For example, the first one on the Facebook list came to us in a message through our page. I read it and saved it for this success story column. You can email us, too! Please send SUCCESS STORIES to Margo at and please cc to keep it out of the spam filter. You don’t have to wait for our post like the one we did this month on Facebook, Instagram and X. 

Finally, we love all success stories. We’ve been in the trenches with our writing at WOW!, and then we’ve been high in the clouds with happiness for a goal achieved. Currently, we’re all in different stages now. Some of us write every day. Some of us are stuck. Some of us write at our day jobs, and some of us spend our days teaching other writers. The one thing to remember is that if you are excited about something to do with your writing—you started a blog or a substack, you published your book, you secured an agent, you started your novel—we’re excited too! 


Barbara Cooker writes to tell us about the announcement of a new book of poems in February titled, Slow Wreckage.

Staci Andrea Author writes, “My debut thriller, Fraidy Hole, ranked between Stephen King and Clive Barker at Number 8 on Amazon Kindle last week! My latest suspense released April 26, Beneath Her Lies, and both of my thrillers, Lake Laps and Fraidy Hole placed 3rd and 2nd in their categories last weekend in The BookFest readers and writers conference. It’s been a fun ride!”

Peggy Joque Williams writes, “My historical fiction, Courting the Sun: A Novel of Versailles, will be published May 9 by Black Rose Writing. I’m having a book launch celebration two weeks later at a local indie bookstore.”

Conni Ohler Eckstein writes, “I finished my book to help suicide loss survivors, and I'm looking for an agent and publisher!”

Andrea Dorn writes, “I finally got around to starting my Substack column called Ponderings at So far, I'm keeping up with it.”


mayaseranawriter writes, “I translated my second novel into Spanish (my native language) and I signed a publishing contract with a Chilean publisher. Book comes out this May.”

deepamwadds writes, “I just launched my debut novel, What the Living Do (Regal House Publishing) with three events. Four more to come! It’s been so gratifying. The Masters Review was my first official review.” 

joyrossdavis writes, “I signed a publishing contract with @Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishers for my novel to be released in July called The Goddess of Weaver Street.” 

blynngoodwin writes, “I’m about 2/3 of the way through my WOW blog tour for my new book, Disrupted. Google DISRUPTED + Goodwin to find it.

pugsnpages writes, “My debut thriller, Her Dead Boyfriend, by C. Fitton was published on March 22 with Kingsley Publishers.”

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Exposition Review @ExpoReviewLit writes, “We were honored to nominate pieces from our #Lines issue for the #BestAmericanseries, a premier annual showcase for the country’s finest short fiction and nonfiction. Read them here: @IshanDylan @ktlawler324 @womenonwriting @HarperCollins @MarinerBooks

Editor’s Note: When you click that link in this tweet, you are taken to this wonderful announcement for our very own Editor-in-Chief of WOW! Women On Writing! Do you see Angela’s name next to “The Recruit?” YAY! This is a BIG success for someone who always champions us. 

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