Free or Cheap Resources for Emerging Writers
Residencies, job opportunities, where to publish, how to find agents, how to pitch, and more
For emerging writers, getting published for the first time can seem like a tremendous undertaking. Either you don’t know where to start, or no one wants to take a chance on publishing a newcomer. There is where you might ask, well, then how do you get published? To help ease the process, various writers, organizations, and other members of the literary community offer their own resources to keep you up-to-date and informed about any and all aspects of the publishing industry. From weekly newsletters to social media-specific tools, there is continued support to help you throughout all stages of your writing career.
Here are some of the free or cheap resources about where to publish, how to find agents, and details about contests, residencies, job opportunities, and more.
The Community of Literary Magazines and Presses is a great organization for both writers and publishers. For writers, CLMP offers a searchable database of magazines and presses and posts job opportunities with incredible publishers. As a member of the CLMP community, publishers receive consultations and a submission manager comparable to Submittable.
Duotrope is a subscription-based service that supplies writers with upcoming deadlines, statistics on various publishers and agents, a submission tracker, and searchable agent names. For $5 a month, these resources are compiled to give you everything you need in your literary toolkit in one platform. Check out their free trial.
Submittable’s newsletter, Submishmash Weekly, sends a curated list of writing news, opportunities, and podcast and book recommendations to those who are looking to commute in style. If you want to be regularly informed without the stress of mass unfiltered content, sign up for the newsletter.
Author’s Guild is a professional community for writers, advocating for authors' rights. This organization helps writers learn about publishing, self-publishing, finances, publicity, and other aspects of the industry you might not know about. One of their most utilized features is their legal team, who can review any contracts to suggest recommendations and negotiation tips.
Study Hall is an online community for media workers. For 4$ a month, members access weekly newsletters of freelance opportunities, job openings, a weekly media digest, a Slack network, a listserve, and other helpful tools like a database of editors and a guideline to pitching outlets. If you're a journalist/writer/editor of color, there's a subsidized tier of 1$ a month.
Writer Julia Phillips offers her calendar for funding deadlines, which includes fellowship, grant, and residency opportunities.
A 2019 survey by Lee & Low Books showed that "76 percent of publishing staff, review journal staff, and literary agents are White." What does the lack of diversity mean for the book industry? Minorities in Publishing is a podcast, hosted Electric Literature contributing editor Jenn Baker, that features various writers, publishers, and members of the lit community talking about representation and race in the book world.
Originally a Yahoo listserv, this blog curated by poet Allison Joseph offers information on creative writing opportunities for poetry, fiction, and nonfiction writers. Posts include notices of calls for submission, upcoming writer awards, and other deadlines to help writers in various stages of their career.
Poets & Writers is a magical place, offering databases for writing contests, literary magazines, small presses, agents, conferences/residencies, MFA programs, and grants/awards/contests. Each of these databases allows you to narrow searches by various specifications, such as genre type, to give you the best and most appropriate options for what you’re looking for.
The writing scene is challenging in terms of paying writers the full value of their words while sustaining the incredible work of literary journals in a system where there is little money to begin with. This is not to say only write for the publications that can pay top dollar; drying out meaningful and conscientious magazines would only hurt the literary ecosystem. For the writers who need to be financially mindful, Who Pays Writers compiles a list of publications’ pay per word and commentary from writers on their respective publishing and payment experiences.
Every month, the Masters Review blog presents a list of contests, prizes, fellowships, and residencies that are open to submission for the month. Though no-fee entries do exist, the entry fees are generally higher for many of the opportunities provided. After cycling through the many ethical questions of submission fees, check out the postings and decide if the opportunity is worthwhile (and financially sustainable) for you.
For all your query needs, Query Shark is a great space to understand what differentiates a good query letter from a bad query letter. The website suggests tips, tricks, and constant real-world examples sent in from other writers learning how to submit queries. You even have the option of sending in your own query letter for critique.
Electric Literature's fiction magazine Recommended Reading has a new monthly series that offers writing advice on the craft of fiction. For "Read Like a Writer,” Recommended Reading editors Halimah Marcus, Brandon Taylor, and Erin Bartnett select stories from the archives "that illustrate a specific technique, style, or writing challenge."
For children’s book writers, We Need Diverse Books provides ten yearlong mentorships to the following book categories: Picture Book Text, Middle Grade, Young Adult, and Illustration. By helping emerging authors, WNDB hopes to support those starting in the industry with attention to diversity and inclusion. There is no fee application, so start assembling next year’s application.
Entropy Magazine’s “Where to Submit” section details open submission periods for presses, magazines, journals, chapbooks, residencies, and other literary opportunities. The list is curated every three months by Justin Greene, which means it shows the very best of where writers can send their immediate work.
Manuscript Wish List is a website and Twitter account where you can search agents and editors by genre and topic. After writing your novel, you might be overwhelmed by the question of who to query. This resource is a great way to narrow down the search options to find someone who is suitable for your wants and needs. Don’t fret, though, finding the write person who understands your work is a process and should be chosen with care.
For the social-media savvy, you may already know about the “Binders Full of [Insert Here].” These are typically private community groups. Members of the community post job listings, pitches, and discussion posts. This Binders group, along with others more individualized to your writing needs or identity, is an accessible space to ask questions and be involved in the literary community.
For any and all writers of color, this resource is for you! This public Twitter list shares an expansive array of writing opportunities, pitch openings, and jobs—not restrictive to publishing—to diversify the literary field and support the WoC community. Run by people who get you, this is an account where you can embody the crying laughter emoji with no shame.
Publishers Marketplace offers information about various literary agents and their book lists. The site also provides job listings on its Lunch Job Board, where a range of publishing jobs are posted regularly from large publishers like Penguin and New York Times to smaller literary presses.
If you don’t want to search the acknowledgments of your favorite books for agent information, search QueryTracker to see which literary agents rep your literary heroes. This resource is a great way to look for potential agents to query and see if there are common names or agencies popping up from established writers you admire or write in your bathhouse.
For emerging translators, Translation Database is a great resource by Three Percent and Open Letter Books to search for translated works via language, translator, publisher, or publication year. This is a great way to enter the translation field and see what new voices are emerging. Susan Bernofsky’s blog Translationista is also a great source if you are an emerging translator who wants to learn more about what’s happening in the field.
NewPages offers searchable databases for literary magazines, writing contests, MFA programs, and calls for submission. The website posts recent opportunities with detailed information, such as what is published and various costs. You can whittle down the options by specifying by genre or publication type.
Res Artis provides a comprehensive list of worldwide residencies in all art forms. Take a peek at what’s currently open for application or specify residency profiles based on location, fee, accessibility, or language. This can be a good resource if you have the opportunity to take deliberate time for yourself and your art.
In Catapult’s Publish or Perish column, writer Tony Tulathimutte offers a free spreadsheet template to keep track of submissions, magazines, agents, and more. Feel free to download a copy, spread your literary wings, and fly free with courage and organizational prowess.