Jane’s Writing Advice Archive

Jane at 2010 Capitol City Young Writers Conference

Jane speaking at the 2010 Capitol City Young Writers Conference

This page is frequently updated with the best advice (free and online) that I’ve offered for writers. Last update: May 12, 2014

For a continually updated list of Q&As, interviews, and podcasts that other people have conducted with me, click here.

Feeling overwhelmed? I’m available over Google Helpouts for paid, one-on-one consultations.

Getting Started

The Only Way to Know If You’ll Be a Successful Writer

Everyone Wants to “Help” Writers. But Whose Help Do You Really Need?

The Golden Rule of Professionals: Be Specific & Ask Good Questions

5 Things Every Writer Should Know About Rights

Why Writers Should Attend Conferences + 5 Ways to Benefit From Them

The Secret to Writing & Publishing That Should Be Taped to Your Wall

Your Friends and Family Are Wrong

Persistence Doesn’t Matter If You Make This Common Mistake

Leading Indicator of Success: How You Deal With Loss, Failure, Rejection

You Hate Your Writing? That’s a Good Sign!

How to Avoid Being Fooled by Bad Writing Advice

Distinguishing Between Straight-Up Advice & Paradigm Shift

Should You Hire a Professional Editor?

How Long Should You Keep Trying to Get Published?

Best Advice: Have More Fun (Stop Worrying and Obeying)

The Dirty Secret Behind Writing Advice

3 Questions Every Creative Person Must Ask

5 Attitudes Toward Publishing You Should Avoid

Back to Basics + 101 Guides

Start Here: How to Get Your Book Published

Start Here: How to Write a Book Proposal

The Complete Guide to Query Letters That Get Manuscript Requests

How Long Should You Keep Trying to Get Published?

Infographic: 5 Key Book Publishing Paths

Where to Find Free Market Listings

Is Your Work Commercially Viable?

Back to Basics: Writing & Publishing Memoir

How Do You Know If Your Agent Is Any Good?

Back to Basics: Why Am I Getting Rejected?

Get Started Guide: Blogging for Writers

The Best 101 on Self-Publishing + Resources

Back to Basics: Writing a Novel Synopsis

Writing & Publishing Terminology 101

Craft + Technique (Write Better)

Why Take the Time to Read Your Work Out Loud?

4 Steps to Useful Critiques: The Lerman Method

5 Ways to Find the Right Freelance Editor

Worksheets for Writing a Novel in 30 Days

Why I Don’t Care ABout Grammar (And Why You Should Stop Worrying)

It’s OK to Leave Out Stuff—In Fact, It’s Better

Perfecting Your First Page: 3 Tasks or Exercises

Story Openings: What Constitutes Significant/Meaningful Action?

The Biggest Bad Advice About Story Openings

A Big Mistake to Avoid in Story Openings

 Getting Published

Start Here: How to Get Your Book Published

Start Here: How to Write a Book Proposal

The Complete Guide to Query Letters That Get Manuscript Requests

How Long Should You Keep Trying to Get Published?

Infographic: 4 Key Book Publishing Paths and/or Infographic: 5 Key Book Publishing Paths

Where to Find Free Market Listings

Is Your Work Commercially Viable?

The Basic Pitch Formula for Novelists

Back to Basics: Writing a Novel Synopsis

5 Attitudes Toward Publishing You Should Avoid

How Do You Know If Your Agent Is Any Good?

Back to Basics: Why Am I Getting Rejected?

Rejection: It’s What You Do Next That Counts

3 Critical Steps After Rejection

How to Ensure 75% of Agents Will Request Your Material

What Writers Wish They’d Known Before Pitching

5 Reasons Pitches Can Be Detrimental Rather Than Helpful

The Art of Live Pitching (3 Rules)

5 Questions to Ask Yourself After Hearing: We Can’t Sell Enough to Justify Publishing It

Stop Being Afraid of Posting Your Work Online

How to Get a Book Deal While Avoiding the Slush Pile

Nonfiction Books + Publishing

Start Here: How to Write a Book Proposal

Book Proposals in the Digital Age

Your Self-Help Book Should Not Be a Thinly Disguised Memoir

 Memoir

When Is Lying in Memoir Acceptable? 3 Key Issues

Back to Basics: Writing & Publishing Memoir

Creating Memoir That’s Bigger Than Me, Me, Me 

Your No. 1 Challenge If You’re Writing Memoir

5 Common Flaws in Memoir Projects

Don’t Write a Memoir to Get Revenge

Inspiration + Encouragement (The Writing Life)

The Secret to Finding Time to Write, Market, Promote, and Still Have a Life

5 Things More Important Than Talent

5 Remarkable Prompt & Exercise Books

How Do You Make the Time to Write?

Why Do We Think Talent Ought to Be Rewarded?

3 Ways to Add Meaningful Structure to Your Writing Life

My Secret to Battling Procrastination

Placing Too Much Importance on Passion

Publishing Industry

Reasons to Be Optimistic During the Disruption of Publishing

5 Valuable Charts That Show How Publishing Is Changing

5 Industry Trends Requiring Every Writer’s Attention

Why Don’t Publishers Market & Promote the Books They Publish?

The No. 1 Disappointment of Published Authors—And How You Can Avoid

3 Lessons in Publishing I’m Thankful For

Marketing & Promotion

Book Marketing 101

A Key Book Marketing Principle That Authors Must Learn (or Not Forget)

The No. 1 Component of an Effective Online Marketing & Promotion Strategy

The No. 1 Overlooked Skill for Every Author

What Authors Seem to Forget About Marketing—Especially Those Who Dislike It

How to Sell More Books by Optimizing Your Metadata

3 Things That Come First Before You Tackle Social Media

The Marketing Paradox: Start Small to Get Big

4 Ways to Immediately Improve Your Book Marketing Efforts

How Should You Spend Your Book Marketing Budget?

What is an Author’s Marketing Responsibility With a Traditional Publisher?

A Critical Marketing Secret: Don’t Go It Alone

The Four Stages of Marketing & Promotion

5 Questions for Those Who Don’t Have Time to Market and Promote

How Much Has Book Marketing Changed Since 2005?

I Hate Press Releases

Audience Development: Critical to Every Writer’s Future

The Persistent and Damaging Myth About Introverts and Marketing

The Most Important Marketing Acronym: WIIFM

Giving Stuff Away Is Not a Strategy

Every Author Needs Professional Headshots

Authors: Don’t Pay Money for BEA Book Promotion

2 Questions You Should Memorize for Networking Events

Simple Tips on Finding and Working With a Publicist

Platform Building

The Art and Business of Reader Engagement and Author Platform

How Much Does Author Platform Impact Sales?

Should You Focus on Your Writing or Your Platform?

3 Numbers That Matter to Your Platform

5 Excellent Tips for Platform Building

The Hardest Part About Developing Platform

Draft Your Platform Action Plan: 5 Worksheets

Are There Limits to Literary Citizenship?

Online Marketing + Social Media

Pay Proper Attention to Your Bio

3 Things That Come First Before You Tackle Social Media

3 Reasons Why a Facebook Page Can’t Replace an Author Website

5 Reasons Why Your Online Marketing Doesn’t Work

A Checklist for Marketing Your E-Book

Please Do Not Pay Money for an Online Ad Until You Read This

3 Horrible Mistruths About Social Media That Drive Me Insane

You Don’t Have to Blog, Tweet, or Be on Facebook

When or Why Social Media Fails to Sell Books

How to Sell More Books by Optimizing Your Metadata

Build Diversity Into Your Online Presence

Facebook Strategy for Authors: In-Depth Discussion

5 Principles for Using Facebook

How I Got a Six-Figure Twitter Following and Why It Doesn’t Matter

The Evolution of How I Use Twitter

Build a Better Author Bio for Twitter

Twitter: One Size Does Not Fit All

The Secret to Twitter That Can’t Be Taught

Using Facebook to Amplify Your Reach—And Not Annoy People

Managing Multiple Identities Online (Avoid)

Does Twitter Make Sense for Most Writers?

Websites

10 Ways to Build Long-Lasting Traffic to Your Website or Blog

3 Ways to Improve Your Author Website

3 Ways to Improve Your Website Design

5 Keys to Writing for an Online Audience

Building Your First Website: Resource List

Is Your Author Website Doing Its Job? 6 Things to Check

3 Reasons to Have a Website If You’re Unpublished

5 Things That Make Me Stop Reading Your Site or Blog

Your Homepage Is Not As Important As You Think

Build a More Effective Author Website

The Big Mistake of Author Websites & Blogs

Should You Hire Someone to Design Your Website?

WordPress Plug-ins I Can’t Live Without

Why Don’t Publishers Believe in Author Websites?

Blogs

10 Ways to Build Long-Lasting Traffic to Your Website or Blog

Get Started Guide: Blogging for Writers

5 Keys to Writing for an Online Audience

Top 10 Blog Traffic Killers

5 Things That Make Me Stop Reading Your Site or Blog

Please Don’t Blog Your Book: 4 Reasons Why

Why You Should Add E-mail Subscription Service to Your Blog

The Big Mistake of Author Websites & Blogs

How to Leave Meaningful Blog Comments

E-mail

Authors: Build Your E-Mail List—Now 

Why You Should Add E-mail Subscription Service to Your Blog

Yes, E-mail Still Works for Book Marketing

Are You Committing These E-mail Sins?

Self-Publishing + E-Publishing

10 Questions to Ask Before Committing to Any E-Publishing Service

Should You Self-Publish? 15 Questions

How to Publish an E-Book: Resources for Authors

Amazon KDP Select: Is It Worthwhile for Authors?

How to Sell More Books by Optimizing Your Metadata

Self-Publishing and Traditional Publishing: Enjoy the Best of Both Worlds

Agent-Assisted Self-Publishing and the Amazon White Glove Program

A Checklist for Marketing Your E-Book

The Best E-Publishing Resources

No. 1 Most Important Factor for Writers Considering the Self-Pub Option

Self-Published Authors Have Great Power, But Are They Taking Responsibility?

Self-Publishing and Online Publishing Will Not Ruin Your Chances at a Traditional Deal

The Best 101 on Self-Publishing + Resources

5 Things Beginners Need to Know About E-Publishing

4 Key Categories of Self-Publishing

8 Things Readers Want From Self-Published Authors

The “Self-Pub Is Crap” Debate

Should You Self-Publish After a Near-Miss?

3 Barriers You Must Eliminate to Maximize E-Book Sales

How to Get Reviews for Self-Published Books

How Much Attention Should You Pay to Book Design?

10 Tips for Effective Book Covers

The Future of Self-Publishing Services

Rights & Legal Issues

Are You Worried Your Work or Ideas Will Be Stolen?

When Do You Need to Secure Permissions?

Is It Fair Use? 7 Questions to Ask Before Using Copyrighted Material

Trademark Is Not a Verb: Guidelines From a Trademark Lawyer

Copyright Is Not a Verb (advice from an attorney)

Q&A on Copyright With an Attorney

Resources 

The Best Literary Fiction Blogs & Websites

7 Lessons for Delivering a Powerful Message

7 Free-to-Enter National Writing Competitions That Impact Your Career

7 Free E-Books for Writers