So you’ve finished writing your short story, your screenplay, your article, or perhaps some other piece of writing, and you’ve found yourself asking the question, “now what do I do?”
Maybe you have a couple of published pieces under your belt already and you’re wondering what the next step is—or if there even is a next step. Well, the good news is there’s always a next step. And the even better news is that we’ve got all it laid out for you in this quick and comprehensive guide.
Whether you’re not sure how to connect with other writers, get published, or get paid, keep reading for some helpful tips on navigating the world of writing and getting your work out there.
Part I – Getting Published
Whether it’s online or in print, the process of publishing often seems shrouded in mystery and pretty intimidating to the novice writer. I remember quite vividly once asking myself, “Who the heck publishes books in Belize?”
What I’ve come to learn is that our options are few and far between (at least when it comes to traditional publishing), but there are indeed options.
The Image Factory is one of the pioneers of art in Belize, giving artists of all kinds a voice and a platform to share their work. For writers, they act as hybrid publishers, which you can find a great explanation of in Ivory Kelly’s article on publishing your literary work.
There’s also Cubola Publishers, who offer opportunities via the Belize Writers Series and the Belize Literary Prize.
On an international scale, there are plenty of options to choose from, including traditional publishing houses, online journals, and magazines. Take The Caribbean Writer and Peepal Tree Press for example.
These days though, more and more writers are opting for the route of self-publishing, and with good reason too. With platforms like Kindle Direct Publishing, Lulu, Blurb, and several others, self-publishing has become much easier—and much more widely accepted—over the years. Author Nia Arthurs has found great success self-publishing her “Make it Marriage” series, along with several other romance novels.
Of course, self-publishing comes with its own challenges, but it’s nothing some in-depth research can’t solve. Not sure where to start? This blog has a pretty comprehensive guide to self-publishing.
Also online, many writers have been turning to platforms like Medium to get their non-fiction, poetry, and even some fiction work published. The Writing Cooperative and The Startup are both great Medium publications that accept a wide range of work.
Part II – Getting Paid
Publishing is probably the most obvious method of getting money for your work. But there are also plenty of other paid opportunities out there for writers of all kinds—you just have to know where to look.
Many publications and magazines offer writers some form of payment for publishing their work. Adda, Fiddlehead, Strange Horizons, and EVENT Magazine are just a few examples of these. Wadadlipen has a pretty extensive list of literary magazines for your consideration.
Writing Gigs/Job Boards
There are tons of people out there looking for qualified writers to produce content for them— that includes fiction writers, too! Forums like Problogger and Freelance Writing are a great place to start if you’re looking to earn a bit of extra cash using your writing skills. (The only caveat to this is that you usually need a functioning PayPal account that can receive money.)
And, of course, there are writing competitions. The beauty of submitting to writing competitions is that, even if you don’t win or get shortlisted, you’ll still have a completed manuscript ready for submitting elsewhere. That’s still a win in my book.
Some competitions to consider include:
The Belize Literary Prize (commencing this April)
The Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize, which is accepting submissions in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.
The Commonwealth Short Story Prize (entries are closed for this year but keep an eye out for the 2022 prize announcement mid-September)
Part III – Getting Connected
Getting in the know is one part of navigating the writing world for opportunities. Staying in the know is another. In today’s digital age, social media is quickly evolving into a tool for marketing, sharing, and building communities surrounding one’s work, especially for us creatives. Not only does it allow us to connect with other creatives, but it offers plenty of opportunities for getting our work out there as well. And, in post-pandemic times, social media has been making the planning and executing of online events more than possible. Even our own Book Week, happening this April, will be taking place online.
Rebel Women Lit, Onwe Press, Caribbean Book Club, and Caribbean Writers and Poets are just a few of the many brands that have been using social media to create online literary communities and opportunities for writers near and far.
Personally, creating a social media platform for my writing has enabled me to have my own safe space (which might be surprising, considering how toxic social media can become when used wrongly.) Thanks to it, I’ve been able to meet other writers and artists both local and international, and I even managed to discover several writing opportunities in the form of open submissions and a couple of clients here and there.
Meanwhile, traditional local media remains an effective way for Belizeans to stay connected with readers and with each other. New opportunities for our Belizean writers are often covered on the news and in the papers (so keep your eyes open!)
Even our local libraries are frequently partnering with authors to create high-quality content that they post on their social media platforms.
As we all know, and as mentioned in our previous post, writing is hard work. So is getting your writing out into the world. But with the right tools and enough determination, it’s more than possible.
So, what are you waiting for? Get to publishing!