One question I’m frequently asked by my clients is “where can I publish my shorter work?” In response to this question, in future weeks and months, I’m going to write a few features that highlight potential markets for your work.
I’d like to begin with a publication I’ve only recently become aware of: Leaf Writers’ Magazine. The magazine was first published in print and online by Leaf Books in Spring 2010 and the fourth edition is about to appear this month. Leaf Books was already established as a leading publisher of micro-fiction and they have put over 250 authors and poets into print, many for the first time, sourcing their material via their regular competitions.
Each issue of the magazine focuses on a couple of writing practices, genres or themes, and sets well-known authors alongside those just starting out. In Leaf’s own words:
“Seamlessly blending the heart and soul of a literary quarterly with the guidance and advice of a creative writing course, Leaf aims to bridge the gap between the beginners and the professionals of the writing world. The magazine also serves as a directory for the latest literary courses, reading groups, festivals, events and publishing opportunities for writers.”
To give you an idea of the magazine’s content, the edition I read included an interview with author of Chocolat, Joanne Harris and an interview with the poet Gillian Clarke. The interview with Joanne Harris reveals that she didn’t find things easy at the beginning of her writing career:
“My first full-length attempt at a novel was never submitted, but my next try, The Evil Seed, was published three years after its completion. It wasn’t an easy process; I spent most of that time looking for an agent, after realizing that unsolicited manuscripts are seldom read.”
It’s another example of persistence being key for writers and is a reminder that most well-known authors have an unpublished manuscript sitting under their bed somewhere…
The Gillian Clarke interview included a comment on her writing habits:
“Like most poets I spend more time thinking than writing, and the poem comes or it doesn’t, like a spell out of the air.”
This reminded me of a comment made by the playwright David Hare at the Shakespeare and Company Literary Festival which I attended last year. Hare also talked about spending more time thinking than writing, an insight that gave me much food for thought in relation to my next book, as it made me really focus on the quality of thought that must go into one’s work if it is to excel.
In addition to the interviews, the edition of Leaf Writers’ Magazine that I read had a comprehensive ‘Writers’ groups guide’, and articles on topics including how to get the most of writers’ workshops and point of view in writing fiction. It also included an inspiring piece about writers’ favourite locations for writing.
For me however, the most impressive thing was jut how much of the magazine was reader focused. A lot of the material in the magazine was generated by Leaf authors, including extracts from Leaf books and the winners of a memoir writing competition. One of the reasons I chose to feature Leaf is that they are so author-friendly in this respect, genuinely encouraging new writers. Indeed they are actively looking for submissions, including articles, as outlined on their website here.
Like many independents, Leaf are not yet in a position to pay contributors but they do offer valuable experience of publication and exposure for new authors. Every commended story in their competitions gets published in an anthology. (The last memoir competition included around 35 commended authors, all to be published.)
When I work with writers who are seeking a literary agent, I always advise on including relevant experience of publication in the covering letter (it sounds obvious, but you’d be amazed how many people forget to put it in). That’s just one reason I recommend aiming to publish your work with magazines such as Leaf. As well as being fantastic for your writer’s CV, publication in small magazines can offer a real confidence-boost too. In my view, when we’re feeling confident, we’re more likely to do our best work and also to push ourselves to submit further work – or, as Seth Godin would say, to Poke the Box.
Issue Four of the magazine is about to be published and will focus on creative collaboration and writing techniques. It will include an interview with Phillip Gross and Simon Denison about their award-winning book of poems and photography I Spy Pinhole Eye, Cinnamon, 2009. Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl will discuss the process of writing their novel Beautiful Darkness, Puffin, 2010 together, while tutor and author Myra Schneider will examine the concept of beginnings in poetry. Issue 4’s essential guide will be dedicated to Writing Handbooks, profiling the top titles to use as your creative writing bibles. They have also accepted a very short piece I wrote called “Overcoming writer’s doubt”. I confess I found it quite a challenge to squeeze my thoughts on that subject into just over 300 words, but if you do read the magazine, I hope you will find it useful.
If you’re interested in Leaf Writers’ Magazine, you can order a hard copy or buy an instant PDF download here. They also send out a newsletter which you can sign up for here. If you do choose to buy the magazine, I’d love to hear your views on it. If you have had success in publishing your shorter work lately, do please share in the comments; the more we share our resources, the better for all writers who use this site.