choosing a pen name

How to Choose and Set Up a Pen Name

You should consider how secret you want to be about your true identity. Maintaining secrecy is difficult. The higher the level of secrecy, the more complicated the process

cover letter for magazine or journal

The Perfect Cover Letter: Advice From a Lit Mag Editor

When submitting your short form literature to a magazine or journal, your cover letter is often the first impression an editor sees. It serves as an introduction to your thoughtfully crafted art. As such, it is significant, but it shouldn’t be intimidating or even take much of your time to write.

memoir won't sell

Why Your Memoir Won’t Sell

Everyone has a meaningful story to tell, but not everyone’s story (or writing) is going to deserve a commercial publishing deal. Here are the most common problems I encounter in memoir pitches and manuscripts.

Nonfiction book proposals

5 Research Steps Before You Write Your Book Proposal

Note from Jane: I’m currently offering an interactive course on nonfiction book proposals; late registration is possible. Writing a nonfiction book proposal—a good one—requires not only sharp clarity about your idea, but also how that idea, in book form, is relevant and unique in today’s market. You’ll have a much easier time writing your proposal […]

writer worst fear

A Writer’s Worst Fear

Every writer’s pet fear stems from the mother of all fears: What other people think of what I write is more important than what I think of what I write.

mailboxes at night

Going Beyond Truth-Telling in Personal Essay

When I was a teenager, I had braces, but quickly stopped wearing my retainer after the braces came off. Now, twenty years later, I’ve sorely regretted my lack of diligence. It turns out that teeth have a long memory about where they used to be, and wander back to their original starting position. So I visited an […]

Memoir Class

A New Memoir Class Starting April 17: Perfect for Beginners

Memoir, as William Dean Howells said, is the “most democratic province of the republic of letters.” Indeed, the genre is evidence that every person in the world has a worthy story to tell, that it’s not what the story is but how it’s told that engages a reader.

opening scene

The Importance of a Strong Opening Scene

No pressure, but the opening of your book is the gatekeeper in determining whether your novel will sell. If your opening is weak, it won’t matter if chapter two is a masterpiece. Editors and agents and booksellers and librarians and readers will stop reading before they get there.

freelance writing

4 Freelancing Myths That Are Holding You Back

Misconceptions about getting started often hold new writers back. You may think that to be successful as a freelance writer, you need a J-school degree, an impressive database of editorial contacts, and a truckload of supplies. Not so—read on to learn the most common myths that can sabotage you before you start.

How to Get Violence Right in Your Fiction

For new writers, throwing in a few combat scenes can seem like an easy way to add some excitement to a novel, but the reality is that violence can be incredibly difficult to pull off effectively.

Ira Glass on taste

On Tastemakers and Making

Taste is not static. Rather than a fixed endpoint toward which one toils away, it’s a target that moves over the course of a lifetime.

Debra Eckerling

5 On: Debra Eckerling

Debra Eckerling (@WriteOnOnline), founder of the writers’ support group Write On!, discusses common writer challenges, the value of blogs, what it means to take writing to the next level, tragic networking mistakes, and more in this 5 On interview.

nonfiction authors lawsuit

5 Things Nonfiction Authors Can Get Sued For

Unlike pure fiction, nonfiction is grounded in the real world, with real people, real names and real places, and this inevitably creates an environment where a legal misstep can occur.