Debra Purdy Kong wrote a great post yesterday about using writing contests to build your confidence, reputation and body of work.
I've also enjoyed writing for charity anthologies. In the past, I've had stories in two anthologies published by Wolfmont Press to benefit the Marines' Toys for Tots, DYING IN A WINTER WONDERLAND and THE GIFT OF MURDER. I didn't make it into the latest, MURDER TO MIL-SPEC, which benefited Homes For Our Troops, but you can bet I bought a copy!
I do have two charity stories coming out this Christmas season: one in SPEC THE HALLS, speculative fiction set in the winter holidays, to benefit Heifer International; one in Black Car Publishing's DARK THINGS II: CAT CRIMES (no link yet), benefiting animal shelters.
Being accepted in charity anthologies means you donate your story and make no money (unless you buy copies at the author's price and sell them at the cover price). I've usually re-sold them at the price I paid OR, better yet, donated the difference between what I paid and the cover price to a local charity.
In addition to the benefits Debra listed for entering contests, donating stories to charity can extend your reach beyond the people who would ordinarily find you in their book browsing and give you new sales venues. The SPEC THE HALLS book will appeal to supporters of Heifer International, no matter what kind of fiction they usually read. The CAT CRIMES book will appeal to cat fanciers in addition to mystery readers. And that's icing on top of the cake of knowing you did A Good Thing.
I still have a few days to submit to Ethics Trading's anthology to benefit Doctors Without Borders. If I don't make it into that one, I can try for their next one.
Keep an eye out for charity anthologies. Do search for "charity anthology" or "stories for charity" or put the word out on your writer's grapevine that you're looking for those publications.
Oh, one more thing: If you're shy about plugging your own work, being part of a charity anthology is a great way to break that ice. I can push an anthology I'm not making a nickle from like crazy (see above).
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