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Interview with Jendi Reiter, Author and Cofounder of WinningWriters.com

Winning_Writers_logoToday we have a real treat. Jendi Reiter, one of the cofounders of WinningWriters.com, set aside a generous amount of time to answer some burning questions. The site and its newsletter are fantastic resources for authors of every type. It was great to be able to ask about their mission and how authors can get help just by signing up to their free newsletter.

Best of all, two of her books are currently on sale! So, after reading all about the newsletter and the great resources, you can snap up copies for yourself. Links are at the bottom of this post!

You started Winning Writers back in 2001 with Adam Cohen. Now you have quite a staff, each of whom handle different areas or programs. How do you find such great people?

Thanks for the kind words about our amazing assistant editors and judges. A great thing about being an online business is that we can work with freelancers from all over the country—or the world!

We found two of our Best Free Literary Contests database editors, including our current editor Samantha Dias, through the Western New England Editorial Freelancers’ Network. Sam is diligent, creative, detail-oriented, and proactive about brainstorming ways to improve the database. Find her on LinkedIn for your academic editing jobs, but don’t take her away from us!

Several of our past and current contest judges were prizewinners in those same contests. We invited them because they were already in tune with the contest’s aesthetic, and the skill level of their own work gave us confidence in their ability to recognize quality entries.

Others were local writer friends, such as award-winning poet Ellen LaFleche, or friends of friends—we joke that one of our babysitters is the Winning Writers HR director because she’s recommended several people we ended up hiring. Nearly everyone in Northampton is a writer or knows a writer, it seems!

Additionally, we reach out to subscribers whose work we admire, like 2017 fiction and essay judge Judy Juanita, and contacts that I’ve made through my poetry and fiction publications, like poetry contest judge Soma Mei Sheng Frazier, who was the editor of OSA Enizagam when one of my stories won their contest.

WW offers several contests every year with significant prizes. What is the thought process behind taking on so many contest programs, considering that most arts organizations offer only one?

Something for everybody! We’re always tweaking our contest offerings in response to perceived demand and the gaps we see in the marketplace. The free Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest is fun to judge, generates signups for our email list, and originally also had a scam-busting mission. (The vanity contest that inspired it has since gone out of business—we must be powerful!) There aren’t many contests for parody and humor poems, and the few that exist tend to prefer G-rated light verse that isn’t super original, in my opinion.

Everyone loves a good general-interest poetry and prose contest, so those are consistent earners for us, with over a thousand entries apiece in a good year. The North Street Book Prize for self-published books is meant to signal-boost great books that don’t have the insider connections and marketing budget to compete with major publishers in the marketplace.

Self-published, indie, and print-on-demand (POD) books are often at a disadvantage or straight-up ineligible for prestigious literary prizes. Meanwhile, the book awards programs that do welcome indies have large fees and frequently no cash prize—what are you paying for? We believe indie authors deserve better.

Your section on Contests and Services to Avoid is set up for very good reasons. I have noticed that a number of good organizations are suddenly demanding that authors who submit–whether they win, place, or are simply part of the ones who never make any short- or longlist–give them rights to publish part or all of their work. Often these nonprofits claim that the publications will help support the organization and their contests. What do you think of this approach, when it is taken by an otherwise respectable organization?

I am completely against this approach. No author should have to sign away their intellectual property merely for the privilege of entering a contest. If you don’t win or get published, the work you submitted to the contest is stuck in limbo—you can’t try to make money off it elsewhere, on the off chance that this contest will someday use it. At that point the contest starts to look like a scam to acquire a lot of free work from authors, instead of paying freelancers to contribute to their website or journal.

I especially dislike this trend when the contest advertises itself as “free” up front, and the rights grab is hidden in the long list of rules. I always push back against this when contest sponsors ask to be listed in the database, and I’m happy to report that sometimes they change the rules.

What, in your opinion, is the best part of heritage (i.e., traditional) publishing today?

Access to major distribution and marketing channels is an important advantage that will continue as long as reviewers, booksellers, and other gatekeepers persist in their prejudice against print-on-demand and self-published books.

Best part of the indie route?

More control over the content and book design. Not having to shop your manuscript around for years to an agent or traditional publisher.

What do you enjoy most about working on WW?

People send me free books! I get paid (more or less) to read interesting poetry and prose and to think critically about what makes it work, or not work. This is good for my development as a writer. I also love the opportunity to connect with writers and editors around the world.

What part would you like to see become easier, or larger, or farther-reaching?

We would like to see a more diverse entry pool for all of our contests. Except for the book prize, they’re all judged anonymously, but white ladies somehow end up in the majority in our winners’ lists. We’re working on our outreach to minority writers’ communities, as well as inviting judges from different backgrounds to join our contest staff.

What exciting things are in the pipeline for WW?

By popular demand, we’re adding two new categories to our 2018 North Street Book Prize for self-published books: poetry and children’s picture books. The other categories are creative nonfiction/memoir, literary fiction, and commercial/genre fiction.

Our 2018 final judge for the Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest will be Dennis Norris II. He is a 2017 MacDowell Colony Fellow, fiction editor of Apogee Journal, and co-host of the podcast Food 4 Thot, a brilliant (NSFW) series with four multiethnic gay poets discussing literature and their love lives.

Jendi Reiter is the co-founder of WinningWriters.com, an online resource site for creative writers, named one of the “101 Best Websites for Writers” (Writer’s Digest, 2015-2016) and one of the “100 Best Websites for Writers” (The Write Life, 2016).

TN C 11 02Jendi’s award-winning books include the poetry collection Bullies in Love (Little Red Tree Publishing) and the novel Two Natures (Saddle Road Press), the spiritual coming-of-age story of a NYC fashion photographer during the 1990s AIDS crisis. Two Natures is on sale for 99 cents in Kindle and iBooks editions through October 15, 2017.

WW Newsletter: Thanks for your interest in Winning Writers! Sign up for the free monthly e-newsletter to receive access to The Best Free Literary Contest database, and join 96,000 Twitter followers.

 

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Job at Poets & Writers Magazine

Poets & Writers magazine is looking for an online editor. Here’s a brief description:
Online Editorial Assistant The online editorial assistant is an integral part of the team responsible for developing and maintaining Poets & Writers’ website (pw.org), which attracts over a million unique visitors per year and is the creative writer’s primary online source for information and advice. Responsibilities include maintaining a variety of databases, producing select web content, participating in the development of new online resources, and conducting related research. The position offers a fastidious, knowledgeable, and web-savvy person an opportunity to contribute to the ongoing development of Poets & Writers’ fast-growing online service to creative writers. The online editorial assistant reports to the associate web editor. This is a fulltime position in our New York City office; it includes excellent benefits and potential for growth.
Click here for details.

Another Job at Quarto #authorlife #author #editing

Do you have a creative touch? Have you always wanted to be part of the book publishing world? Quarto Publishing Group is expanding and has an immediate opening for a Project Editor in our New York City office. This position serves as the conduit between the author(s) and the publisher, and amongst internal departments. The PE gathers and organizes author submissions and manages the day-to-day editorial responsibilities of book projects on the production schedule, working with freelancers and in-house editors/designers to ensure that the book conforms to contracted specifications and meets the publisher’s expectations when it is ready for final signoff by the group managing editor.
Click here for info.

Job at Quarto #authorlife #author #editing

Fair Winds Press (a division of Quarto Publishing Group US, Inc.), a leading publisher of illustrated reference in the areas of health, cooking, beauty, fitness and new age, is seeking an Editorial Director to drive acquisitions strategy and editorial direction. Responsibilities include P&L management, editorial team management, contract negotiations, market and trend analysis, and collaboration with design, production, marketing and sales for coordinating the lives of Fair Winds books through all stages of production, publication, and beyond. Successful candidates will be entrepreneurial, creative, energetic, and able to think strategically about building a program through strong acquisitions, concept development and product execution. Excellent management skills, and a strong knowledge of competition and the global book market are required.
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Job at Rowman & Littlefield #author #authorlife #editing

Rowman & Littlefield is looking for an associate marketing manager to join the dynamic and sophisticated marketing team of 30+ professionals (including those working in publicity, creative services, convention services, analytics, rights & permissions, and sales & advertising capacities). This position offers significant growth opportunity. This position will report to the Vice President of Marketing.
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Job at Chronicle Books #authorlife #author #editing

Chronicle Books seeks an Account Manager to join our Domestic Sales team. Successful candidates are highly motivated self-starters with resilient entrepreneurial spirits and proven sales experience. A proven track record of strategically growing business in established accounts as well as seeking new business opportunities is essential. Excellent analytical, communication and presentation skills are a must!
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Job at HarperCollins #author #authorlife #editing

HarperCollins needs a Sales Support Associate to provide support to the Children’s Sales Division, specifically focusing on assisting the Barnes and Noble National Accounts rep as well as working with the field sales team and the Independent channel.
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