Dramaquill's All Things Writing

November 22, 2013

Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents

A few years ago I received an email from a fellow named Chuck Sambuchino, inquiring about an article I had written on the business of playwriting.  He wanted to publish it in the Writer’s Digest Market Book, “Screenwriter’s and Playwright’s Markets” (both 2009 and 2010 volumes).  Of course I was thrilled and with some editing and tweaking a new article was born.

This was the first time I had heard of Mr. Sambuchino and I soon found that he had an amazing web presence and a vast knowledge of the writing biz and in particular, agents.  I’ve been following his blog and newsletter ever since.

Today, I’d like to share his links with my readers.  Whether you’re actively seeking an agent right now or you’re interested in knowing more about what it takes to get one, I’m sure you’ll find lots of valuable information in his blog, articles and books.





February 1, 2009

Contest entry fees: To pay or not to pay

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Sometimes, winning a writing contest can be an amazing way to get exposure, prize money, and if you’re lucky, a contract. 

But more and more contests are charging entry fees…and I don’t mean $5.00, either.  Recently I’ve seen novel contests that were charging as much as $50.00 to enter. 

Now think about it for a minute.  What if you enter four contests a year?  Each one costs $50.00.  Personally, I think the $200.00 in entry fees would be put to much better use buying paper, printer ink, stamps and envelopes for subbing to editors and agents. 

Whenever entering a contest, please do your research.  Paying an entry fee isn’t always a bad thing but there are factors to consider:

  • Is it a reputable contest – who’s running it
  • Does the entry fee match the prize
  • What is the entry fee used for
  • Who’s doing the judging
  • What are the terms if you win
  • How many prizes are there
  • Are prizes awarded based on number of entrants
  • Do you have to spend more money if you win

Let’s face it, a fifty dollar entry fee for an entire novel, where the prize is a publishing contract with an established, well-known publisher, would be $50.00 well spent.  However, that same fee, where the prize was a vanity press contract, would be, in my opinion, a waste of $50.00.  I wouldn’t even pay $5.00 if I was entering a poem on a site where the winners were chosen by online voting.  The fee has to reflect the prize.

So how do you find out which contests to enter? 

  • read everything you can about the contest
  • ask other authors if they have participated
  • ask your local librarian
  • read winners’ manuscripts from previous contests

To get you started, here’s a shortlist of contests.  Some charge fees – others don’t.  You decide.

Writer’s Digest’s contest fees are small in relation to the prizes.

Both for MG and YA first novels.  NO FEE.

For writers of fantasy and sci-fi.  NO FEE

Contest for playwrights – doesn’t appear to have a fee.

This site lists a ton of contests.  At the bottom of the site they tell you the types of contests they will not list, so they’ve done a bit of the research for you.


When it comes to writing contests, that really is the question.

December 28, 2008

Magazines for writers

Perhaps some of you got a subscription to a writing magazine, like Writers’ Digest, over the holidays.  Or maybe you already subscribe to several magazines. 

But there are also a lot of resources online for writers of all genres.  Check out some of these to get you ready for all of your writing projects in 2009:

Writing-tips newsletter

The verb writing ezine

Web Mystery Magazine

Fundsfor Writers
FFW small markets
The Writing Kid

The Writer’s Life

Writing World

Fiction Factor

Writing for Dollars

Fiction Factor

The Allen & Urwin Writing Centre Newsletter

Right-writing Newsletter

Writers’ Digest newsletter (sign up in LH sidebar)

September 22, 2008

Where to get your play published

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In my spare time, when I’m not teaching music and drama, revising my adult suspense novel or writing new plays for our drama classes, I’m always looking at opportunities to get my plays published.

I’ve written a couple of articles about different aspects of playwriting. Watch for my “The Business of Playwriting”, coming out in Writer’s Digest’s newest market book, “The Screenwriter’s and Playwright’s Market, 2009”, available at amazon.com, amazon.ca and chapters indigo:


Here are some great links I want to share. Just remember to thoroughly research any potential publisher and always follow their guidelines to the letter when submitting your work.

For women playwrights, this is a great resource site:

International Centre for Women Playwrights

To me, this company is synonymous with plays but beware, they only take the BEST!
Samuel French

For women playwrights, screenwriters and artists, check out this site and sign up for the fabulous newsletters. You won’t be sorry.
The Fund for Women Artists

Not sure how to submit to this one but check out their website for more info:
Broadway Play Publishing Inc.

Another BIG company:
Dramatists Play Services

Lots of plays for children accepted here:
Pioneer Drama Service Inc.

This one takes all the usual types of plays but also has a large religious play section:
Baker’s Plays

Here’s another tradition publisher of plays:
Playscripts Inc.

This one takes all sorts of plays except musicals:
Brooklyn Publishers

And just a few other resources:

Drama Geeks – a place where you can download lots of different plays by
masters like Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde

And for those budding screenwriters, check out Drews Script-o-rama for downloadable movie and TV scripts:

If you’re going to contact one of the bigger, well-known companies, it isn’t likely that you’ll even get them to take a look unless your play has a proven track record of productions. Often you’ll have to submit a program and general history of ticket sales etc.

My advice: As with any publishing endeavour, try the smaller presses first. We all have to get our start somewhere, right?

July 13, 2008

You never know who may be reading what you’ve written

When I first started subbing out my work, I listened to the advice of more experienced writers as I worked on getting some clips in my portfolio:  Start with smaller publishers/publications first.

So, that’s what I did.

Although I had more rejections than acceptances at first, it wasn’t long before I was able to get a few articles accepted, for pay, by ezines and websites.  I also cracked some of the smaller children’s magazines and ezines, allowing my first kidlit poems a chance to be read by a wider audience than the children at our studio.

I’m thankful that a lot of these smaller publishers accept work on its merit, rather than the reputation or publishing record of the submitter.  If it weren’t for them, would any of us newbies ever get our feet in the door?

More recently, as many of you know, I’ve turned my focus to two areas.  One, my first adult suspense novel and two, writing plays for our drama students.  I’ve managed to sell some of my playscripts to middle school drama clubs and children’s programs at some smaller professional theatres.  I’m working on my novel’s final revision so it can start making the rounds with agents and editors.

But last week, to my surprise, I received a very interesting email from an editor of Writer’s Digest books.  It seems that he is putting together a new “market” book and wanted to know if I still had rights to an article he’d read online. 

I was amazed.

I was also fairly certain I hadn’t sold anything other than the electronic rights to this article in question, so I checked.  Yes, I still had all other rights.  So, I emailed him the exact information and he responded with an offer to include my article in Writer’s Digest’s newest market book, coming out in December of this year. We are currently in the process of doing some tweaking and negotiating the contract. 

I’ll publish more details once the contract is signed and everything’s a go for sure.

But this brings up two very interesting points about the power of the internet and having a web presence.

The editor told me they almost never reprint articles that were originally published online but my article caught his eye because of its appropriateness”
to the new book

This article was written back in 2000 and sold to a small online writing website ezine.  I had cracked a small market and was happy to have been accepted for publication.

And now, several years later, a piece I wrote for one of the smaller publishers is now going to debut with one of the biggest.

So always write with integrity and submit your best work.  You never know who may be reading what you’ve written.

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