Publishing … and Other Forms of Insanity Newsletter: August 2022

Erica Verrillo
7 min readAug 1, 2022


Bad Reviews of Classic 20th-Century Novels

I enjoy reading bad reviews of famous novels — almost as much as I enjoy getting them. It comforts me to know that if a book of mine is called “lugubrious” I will be keeping company with Aldous Huxley. These books were panned primarily because they broke new ground. Innovative writing is rarely well received in the short run. However, in the long run, these books have stood the test of time, and are now considered classics. Read more here>>

40 Writing Contests in August 2022 — No entry fees

This August there over three dozen free writing contests for short fiction, novels, poetry, CNF, nonfiction, and plays. Prizes range from $100,000 to a free writing class. None charge entry fees. Read more here>>

82 Calls for Submissions in August 2022 — Paying Markets

This August there are more than six dozen calls for submissions. All of these are paying markets, and none charge submission fees. As always, every genre, style, and form is wanted, from short stories to poetry to essays. Read more here>>

26 Awesome Writing Conferences in August 2022

August is hot, hot, hot! So head for the coast! This August there are more than two dozen writing conferences. Many conferences and workshops will be held online, but some will be held in person or use a hybrid format. Read more here>>


5 Literary Agents Seeking Romance, Sci-fi, Literary Fiction, YA, Narrative Nonfiction, Memoir and more

Alyssa Maltese is seeking YA: Contemporary fiction with speculative, romantic, or light fantasy elements. Adult: High-concept commercial thriller & domestic suspense, Speculative fiction with female-centric concepts & sci-fi elements, Commercial suburban horror with a sense of humor; Prescriptive & research-driven narrative nonfiction from authors with an established expertise & audience.

Cindy Uh is interested in fiction and nonfiction. For non-fiction submissions, Uh is interested in narrative non-fiction, memoir, essay collections, and illustrated titles in categories ranging from inspirational, pop-science and psychology, and cultural criticism to self-help, wellness/spirituality, social justice, and women’s issues. In fiction, Uh is looking for upmarket women’s fiction For YA submissions, Uh is interested in contemporary stories that center BIPOC characters, and humor and quirk are always a plus.

Broo Doherty handles all genres, excluding children’s books, screenplays and sci-fi, but particularly enjoys crime, women’s commercial fiction, literary fiction and quirky non-fiction.

Rebeka Finch is looking for character driven contemporary romances. Rebeka is also looking for contemporary new adult romance that bridges the gap between YA and adult fiction, for the 20 something lover of modern romantic novels.

Brady McReynolds represents science fiction, weird fiction.

Read more here>>

6 New Literary Agents Seeking Nonfiction, Memoir, Literary Fiction, YA, Romance, Mystery, Fantasy and more

Allison Hegan’s interests include young adult fiction, historical fiction, historical romance, mystery, fantasy, suspense, and environmental topics.

Dr. Emma Wood is primarily drawn to excellent characterization and a strong voice. Sydnie Thornton is interested in YA across all genres: fantasy, historical fiction, contemporary that leans literary, as well as thrillers with upmarket qualities and distinctive characterization. As for the adult side, Sydnie is actively looking for historical fiction and whimsical contemporary fantasy.

Maria Alcantara is looking for New Adult upmarket fiction, mystery full of complicated characters and page-turning plot twists, and women’s contemporary or commercial romance and horror with inclusive voices of Latinos and the LGBTQ community.

Rachel Petty represents children’s fiction and non-fiction, from picture books up to YA and crossover.

Rachel Yeoh is actively looking for: literary, upmarket, book club, autobiographical fiction, political perspectives, social critiques, postcolonial literature, magical realism, nature writing, philosophical themes, classical retellings, character-driven stories, topical issues, narrative memoir, global voices, diaspora.

Read more here>>


5 Publishers Accepting Unsolicited Manuscripts from Writers — No Agent Needed

These publishers accept manuscripts directly from writers. As is the case with most publishers that don’t require an agent, they have a narrow focus. But, if your work falls into the categories they publish, you will have a good chance of having your proposal read. As always, go to the website, look at their other publications to see if yours will be a good fit, and follow all of their submission guidelines carefully. Guidelines can change! Read more here>>

4 Romance Publishers Looking for Writers — No Agent Needed

If you write romance, you don’t need an agent to get published. Many romance publishing houses are open to receiving unagented manuscripts, particularly digital imprints. Some of these, like Harlequin, are big names in the publishing industry. Be sure to click on the guidelines links to read their full requirements. As always, follow all instructions to the letter. Read more here>>


When to Stop Sending Queries to Agents

After you’ve sent out a few dozen queries to literary agents, and either not received a response from any of them, or gotten polite form rejections designed to soothe your pain while simultaneously increasing it, it’s time to either hunker down or make a new plan. Read more here>>

Hugh Howey’s Self-Publishing Success Story — Luck, Timing, and Writing for the Right Reasons

Hugh Howey’s success story does not fit into any of the myths instilled in us from early childhood. He was not discovered by a well-connected agent, or by an editor in a major publishing house. Like most of us, Hugh Howey had a day job. He worked sporadically — and happily — at writing, putting his partially completed books up on Amazon for 99 cents, until one of them took off. What is unusual about Howey is that he remained a self-published author on Amazon’s Kindle platform — even after he landed a book deal with Simon and Schuster. He also turned down offers from agents. Why? Read more here>>

The Secret to Writing a Best-selling Novel

Computer scientists have developed an algorithm which can predict with 84 per cent accuracy whether a book will be a commercial success — and the secret is to avoid cliches and excessive use of verbs. Successful books also avoided words that explicitly described actions and emotions such as “wanted,” “took,” or “promised.” Successful books used verbs that described thought processes such as “recognized” or “remembered.” From a linguistic perspective, this means that as a writer you are better off creating an impression that allows the reader to fill in the blanks, rather than filling them in yourself. The bottom line for successful books, at least in the US, is a style that is closer to journalism — something that conveys information rather than emotion. Read more here>>

What Writers Should Do During the Dead Month

August is affectionately known as the “dead month” in the publishing industry. During August all work comes to a virtual halt as editors, agents, proofreaders, typesetters, CEOs, dog walkers and everyone else on the planet takes a much-needed vacation.So, all you aspiring authors, don’t submit your manuscript to publishers, and don’t send your queries to agents in the month of August. If your manuscript is ready to go, you have several choices of what to do during the dead month. You can head to the beach, you can write your next novel … or … Read more here>>

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