Five Websites Every Writer Should Bookmark

okay quick disclaimer: You don’t have to bookmark them. You’re not an idiot if you don’t. I’m not going to come round and check – about whether you are an idiot or whether you have bookmarked these sites. I know some people have a little trouble with titles and literal interpretations. There is no trainspotting in Trainspotting. Getting everything in and one hundred percent correct can be difficult when you have about ten words max and most prefer less than three. So… bookmark, don’t, your choice.. But if it makes a difference, all of these are free…

ncis sweet

The (Submission) Grinder

This is fairly self-explanatory, even if like me you automatically picture monkeys when you hear the name. The grinder is a kind endeavour from the people behind Diabolical Plots, a sci-fi/fantasy webzine, which gives up to date information on the fiction market, primarily Literary magazines. It’s entirely free and gives you a way to track your progress, along with others which can be a handy way to narrow potential options, review the feedback, rate of response and through that (for the slightly masochistic) measure your degree of success.

 Short stories have long been considered the toe in the door for the fledgling writer. The reality isn’t as simple. The market has, like every other part of the industry, undergone some fairly seismic shifts yet the results remain much the same. Getting into any magazine – and there are quite a number, rising and crashing daily, periodic, one offs, new starts – might seem easier than ever, few pay, either in cold hard cash or reputation dollars. The elite number that are worth putting on your covering letter remain extremely difficult to break into. Most will ask for first publishing rights, simultaneous subs aren’t always allowed and as for that fairytale result, barring the remarkable story of Zadie Smith (but you know, Cambridge) I’ve never heard of anyone being discovered via a lit mag. Doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened, would love to hear if it has. But most of us will still need this next site..


This woman is the Grand Dame of ‘holy shit, you made him cry’… She doesn’t mince her words and while I am not going to say I agree with her choices or comments every time, I wouldn’t argue with her overall effectiveness. I wouldn’t argue about the colour of the sky, even if she told me it was purple spotted.

ncis shark

Getting your query actually ripped to shreds incisively commented upon is apparently a little like getting a real shark to bite. Rare (whatever you have heard). But that’s possibly because if you actually read her blog, learn to put into practice the basic fixes she suggests, there is nothing left for her to say, except please send the full. And sadly the number of times that has actually happened (10 from the Sharks mouth ) shows that getting the query right doesn’t guarantee anything. Getting it wrong however does.

What I love about this site is that when so few agents give personal feedback – they simply don’t have the time – being able to see working examples, many revised over a dozen times, with the thought processes of the agent reading laid out alongside each change, does at least give you a good idea of whether it’s the query or the book letting you down. You can also, get a pretty good idea of what kind of things she is looking for in the book itself. Ms Shark clearly favours a certain tone, heroine and style. Noir meets desperate housewives? Hows’ that for a pitch?

The Bookseller

This is your industry. You don’t have to be published to be a part of it, but if you are going to be a part of it, it makes sense to know what’s going on. Who got the deal you dream of every day as you ride the bus beside the guy who hasn’t discovered the volume button on his phone? What does the lucky cow look like? Oh.. five years younger than you were three birthdays ago.. So what’s her book about then??

ncis whatever



Disclaimer: this can become oddly addictive. Do not make pie charts to figure out whether zombie/mermaid coming of age YA will fair better than post apocalyptic Robot erotica.. I can tell you now, neither will get you a six figure advance, I’ve got the graph to prove it.

There is an important mental shift that every writer makes at some point and if you don’t then you are probably don’t need this website. Its when you start taking yourself seriously as a writer. You’re not a silly little dreamer anymore, you’re a professional silly little dreamer. I am still working at amateur status but have recently added this site to my favourites.

The Creative Penn

Writers have options and those options are potentially very lucrative (calm down – I said potentially. I might potentially marry Jenson Ackles..) However that professional aspect of being a silly little dreamer might actually be more crucial for self-publishing than trad routes. There is no support system in place, no one to make those big decisions, no army of prose primpers behind you.

Apparently we and our fragile little ego’s need it..


You have to be professional in a whole bunch of related industries, marketing probably being the most crucial. Just getting most of the now banned forever from my twitter feed writers to understand that marketing is not the same as advertising and spam doesn’t taste good no matter how it is served up. I’ll leave the rest to Ms Penn to explain, as I don’t actually know anything more..

Literary Rejections

And when you have bookmarked all of these. Used all of these. Ate your body weight in fruit pastilles, washed down with a bucket of cheap schnapps (might have been slightly off… does it usually clump?) you’ll probably need this website. I’m actually jealous; whoever thought of this is a genius.

It’s hard. There’s no right or wrong, no born master, only the determined and blood-soaked, smelling of schnapps.. Good luck.


ncis abby





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