Some people in my personal life have asked how I go about finding writing opportunities. Since a couple years back, I’ve narrowed down some really useful sites and tools for finding gigs, and I just wanted to share them with you.
Freedom With Writing – This is a site which aggregates a lot of different types of writing opportunities. From magazines looking for pitches to anthologies to contests, this has been a longtime source of opportunity for me.
Authors Publish – Really great tool specifically for short story writers and for those of you looking to sell a manuscript. They have a variety of publications listed here. Some of this information, fair warning, is outdated and some media outlets are defunct, but again, a good resource.
Twitter – This is a weird one, but it’s important that you recognize how valuable social media is in terms of finding opportunities. I can type “anthology submissions” into the search bar and sift through that for more information. Follow authors, agents, podcasts, publications, video game companies, and production companies. I learned about the Insomniac internship opportunity solely because I follow the company’s employees on Twitter. But do not just follow major companies– indie outlets are frequently looking for material!
Facebook – Don’t use this to look for submissions; use this as a networking tool and as a means of promoting your work. Join Facebook groups for writers. For example, QueerSciFi is a group that I’m apart of, and they’re great because not only do they host discussions, but they also have their own yearly flash fiction publication you can submit to (which I’ve been published in) and they have an exclusive day for people to promote their work for free. Also, everyone is so sweet. Never had a bad experience.
Writer’s Guild Foundation – I would recommend subscribing to their mailing list. Right now they’re doing a bunch of panels and events on Zoom, which are open to anyone who is interested. You just need to RSVP in time.
Literarium – This is a great resource for finding markets to submit to. I would not recommend submitting directly from Literarium, as in my personal opinion, it’s not super user-friendly, but they frequently include links to publication websites, and you can submit directly on there. You can sort by genre, and what kind of outlet you want to submit to (magazine, anthology, competition.) Hugely valuable tool.
The Submission Grinder – Like Literarium, this isn’t super user friendly, but I like it because you can sort by word count in addition to genre. You can also specify the word count per page that you’re looking for. Again, you’ll want to go directly to publication websites to submit.
Horror Tree – Good website specifically for finding horror outlets to submit to, as well as sci-fi fantasy. These are smaller indie publications, but a lot of them pay!
If you want to write for film and television is that you’re likely going to need an agent in order to break into the industry, and build key relationships. One of the best ways that you can do that is by getting involved in competitions. Now, unfortunately, a lot of these involve submission fees… Becoming a screenwriter, from my personal experience, requires more of a financial investment as opposed to being an author. A lot of things in the book-world are free, screenwriting submissions are rarely free.
Coverfly – This has been my #1 site for screenwriting. You can submit to various competitions, request feedback on your work, and best of all, your work is ranked on what’s called “The Red List,” which basically showcases all the best scripts.
Film Freeway – You can submit to screenwriting competitions on Film Freeway too; they don’t do a nice ranking or have a Red List like Coverfly does, but I believe that they have some competitions that aren’t hosted on Coverfly.
ScreenCraft – This company hosts various screenwriting competitions throughout the year, with a lot of big industry names as the judges. Definitely worth submitting to them, and also signing up for their newsletters.
The Script Lab – This site is lovely. I receive so many helpful emails from them about all kinds of different screenwriting competitions. They also host a free screenplay competition, which, to my knowledge, is the only free regularly occurring free screenplay competition.
ISA (International Screenwriters Association) – So, they have some exclusive opportunities and gigs that you have to pay to get access to, but in my opinion, you can get a lot out of the free account. This is a great resource when it comes to finding mentorships, fellowships, and even open calls for new scripts for streaming service or TV shows. Some companies are commissioning writers to write screenplays.
Things I Wouldn’t Recommend
Sites like Fiverr and Upwork
These freelancer sites are extremely competitive and have weird submission processes. I created an Upwork acount in the hopes of finding more opportunities, but the first job opportunity I got? Spam, and a creepy request to invite people a Skype session for an “interview.” While I’m sure that these sites try their best to weed out the creeps and weirdos, I’m not exactly excited to work for someone who can’t bother to capitalize their sentences in their job posting. Now, maybe that doesn’t bother you personally, and you’re okay with that. But understand that these sites, and your ability to find work, is hugely dependent on the feedback that your clients give you. If you really want to try it out, by all means do so, but check out some cautionary tales first.
Joining Smaller Guilds
I was a member of the Women Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) for about a year. You pay a small fee (about $50 annually, if I recall correctly) to join. Not a lot of opportunities came about, but I think that’s largely because I didn’t invest a ton of time into it. If you choose to drop the money to enter into a guild, please be sure that you check out what they offer to determine exactly how useful it will be for you.
As you’ve probably gathered from your own personal experience, writing is hard work. By no means is it an easy get-rich-quick scheme. Even after publishing my novellas and short stories, honestly, I’ve probably made less than $250 altogether from my writing since 2017.
That’s not just because I typically submit to smaller publications, but also because I struggle with self promotion and networking. There are parts of this industry that I haven’t learned about, and still don’t understand. (For example, I didn’t learn what a blog tour is until like three weeks ago… thank you QueerSciFi members for explaining that to me.)
The purpose of compiling this list wasn’t to provide you with a golden ticket to a luxurious rich writer life on the upper west side of Manhattan, but rather to give you a series of outlets to get your work out there. I don’t necessarily write because I’m trying to earn money (although that is nice, I’m not going to lie!) but because I like to connect with readers and get feedback on the things I create.
If I just keep all my stories on Google Docs or my laptop, no one gets to read it, and I don’t get to improve. I also don’t get to “prove” myself as a writer, and add to my list of reputable publications, which could often help me land other writing gigs. From my experience, publications like to see people with a strong track record because it means that they know their craft, or perhaps, have a good following that can bring traffic to their site.
If you limit your idea of publications to Penguin Random House and Harper Collins, you’re probably going to feel overwhelmed, and like the odds are stacked against you– and you would be 100% correct. You’re going up against writers with agents, accolades, and above all, money. Money to invest in hiring sensitivity readers, editors, and marketing campaigns. If you’re like me, you probably don’t have that kind of capital backing to bolster your career.
Not to mention, publications that are less mainstream are looking for weird or more niche stories! Harper Collins might not want your zombie vs. cultist queer urban fantasy love story (such as my script, Meg and May.) But a smaller press? They would probably be open to that! Working with indie publications is not only a great way to get your name out there, but to really hone your craft.
Now, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invest time in polishing your writing skills on your own. Don’t think that you can turn in a story with major grammatical or structural problems, and an editor is going to magically fix it for you. You also must review the publication’s other works to determine if it will even fit. Don’t submit a zombie story to a high fantasy publication. Don’t submit a tragedy to a romance press. More importantly? Don’t think that working with smaller publications will accelerate your pathway to success so that you can work with big-name companies.
Expect to be rejected, but hopefully, expect to learn.
Ultimately, I hope that this list is a useful resource for you. Much love, please stay safe, and practice social distancing as much as you can.