One of the challenges facing aspiring writers (including students in the Creative Writing for Entertainment programs) is finding an audience for their work. Whether you’re revising a new story or have a polished piece you want to publish, you have to be proactive.
“A writer can’t be quiet and hide behind his or her keyboard, no matter how much they want to,” says Jennie Jarvis, the Script Analysis and Criticism Course Director.
We spoke with Jennie and a couple other faculty members in the Creative Writing department to find out the best ways to get themselves and their writing out there, and below is their advice.
Build a Writer’s Platform. “The idea of a writing platform is still a relatively new buzz word, but I find it a must have. At its most basic, a Writer’s Platform is an online presence in which the writer can be easily found and identified as an ‘expert’ in their field. For a writer that is writing a non-fiction book about, say, gardening, this would mean looking like an expert on gardening. However, for a fiction writer, the platform just needs to be based on making the writer look like a professional writer (no spelling errors or basic grammatical mistakes and no over-promoting your own work).” – Jennie Jarvis, Script Analysis and Criticism Course Director, Creative Writing MFA
Get a Without a Box Account. “Screenwriters know that one of the best ways to get their work in front of agents and producers is through screenwriting competitions, but where do you find them? Withoutabox.com is a great tool for all screenwriters and filmmakers who want to enter competitions. The writer needs to still do their research: Who are the judges? Are the prizes worth the cost of the entry fee? Are the prizes simply cash or is the more valuable prize of exposure included as well?” – Jennie Jarvis
Go to Open Mic Nights. “Hitting open mic nights in your area is a great way to expand your audience, test your material, and increase your personal network. It can be daunting to step in front of a group of people and share your words, but nothing will provide you with more vital feedback and encouragement. The process of writing requires isolation, so not only will you gain the benefits that have already been listed, but you’ll also get out of the house and get the face-to-face human contact that is necessary for keeping your sanity.” – Thomas Lucas, Developing New Worlds Course Director, Creative Writing for Entertainment
Join Film and Writing Associations. “Joining local writing and film associations and communities in the writer’s neighborhood is a great way to start the process of ‘putting yourself out there.’ Making friends in these organizations (notice, I said ‘making friends’ and not ‘selling your stuff to’) can help any writer to feel more comfortable in social situations and can, if you are lucky, lead to making that great connection that lands you an agent, publisher, or option agreement.” – Jennie Jarvis
Submit Your Work. “To succeed as a writer, you have to do two things: write and submit. But where do you submit? One place to get an answer to that question is ralan.com, which is a site listing most markets for genre fiction in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Great Britain. Ralan’s breaks down markets by the level at which they compensate authors. The site also lists anthologies calling for specific kinds of stories. In addition, Ralan’s will tell you if a market is closed or not responding to submissions. This feature will keep you from wasting your time. Every month, you should spend an hour or so on the site seeing what markets are available to you.” – Douglas Texter, Literature Criticism and Analytical Thinking Course Director, Creative Writing for Entertainment
Write Fan-Fiction and Post It Online. “Seriously. While fan-fiction is almost always non-commercial, it can be a good way to find readers, as your writing immediately has an audience, and fan-fiction readers are definitionally loyal: if they like your fan-fiction, they’ll buy any original work you tell them about. One caveat: you need to be a fan as well as a writer to write good fan-fiction. Don’t try to fake it. There are a number of major venues for fan fiction, including the well-established fanfiction.net, Wattpad, and Amazon’s forthcoming Kindle Worlds.” – Dr. Tof Eklund, Writing for Games Course Director, Creative Writing MFA