by Oberazzi / via Flickr

The Complete Guide to Query Letters

This post was originally published in 2014; it is regularly updated with new information. The stand-alone query letter has one purpose, and one purpose only: to seduce the agent or editor into reading or requesting your work. The query letter is so much of a sales piece that you should be able to write it without […]

Writer's Digest (October 2014)

The Evolving Role of the Literary Agent

In the most recent issue of Writer’s Digest magazine, you’ll find my feature article, “The Evolving Agent.” I discuss how literary agents’ business models and services are changing to fit the needs of their clients, who are increasingly self-publishing or choosing hybrid paths. The article covers: the value of agent-assisted self-publishing what happens when agents use […]

Nonfiction book proposals

5 Research Steps Before You Write Your Book Proposal

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. Some authors have a very deep knowledge of the community surrounding their topic, and understand the needs of their audience. Others do not. Either way, you’ll […]

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Both Sides Now: A New York Editor and Author Goes Indie

Today’s guest post is by author Leslie Wells. I’ve been on both sides of the publishing desk—as an acquiring executive editor for several decades, and as an author. The experience has provided insights that I wouldn’t have had otherwise, and made me more sympathetic to the nerve-wracking process of trying to get your book published. […]

Illustration by Helena Perez / Flickr

5 Mistakes You’ll Make on the Way to Publishing Success

Today’s guest post is by Carmen Amato (@CarmenConnects), author of The Hidden Light of Mexico City and the Emilia Cruz series. You have a polished manuscript in hand, and you’re ready to publish. But the road from finished manuscript to bestseller list is more like a labyrinth rather than a straight path. There are dozens of choices and decisions ahead. Here are […]

Steven de Polo / Flickr

How to Write a Competitive Title Analysis

The following post has been excerpted and adapted from The Author Training Manual by Nina Amir, recently released by Writer’s Digest Books. If you’re embarking on a nonfiction book project, your analysis of the competitive landscape is critical, whether you self-publish or traditionally publish. You need to understand and be able to explain how your […]

by ChaoticMind 75 / Flickr

6 Ways Micro-Publishing Strengthens Your Author Career

Micro-published books are short, tight, and swift. A meaningful discussion of micro-publishing has been pushed aside during the ongoing tug-of-war between traditional publishing and independent publishing (self-publishing). But we are well beyond “everyone is a writer” at this point. We have progressed into “everyone is a publisher,” if they wish to be—and we have been living in this realm for some time already. Fortunately, micro-publishing benefits the industry as a whole by bringing some much-needed simplicity and directness into a publishing equation that is often weighted down by its own complexity and contracts. And it also benefits you, the writer.

Page One

Why Editors Focus on Page One

Editors can tell within a couple pages if a manuscript will be acceptable to them. How? What makes this decision so clear to an editor and so muddy to an author?

Photo by Caro Wallis / Flickr

Submission: 6 Rules of Thumb From an Editor-Turned-Writer

Today’s guest post is by writer and editor Jennifer Niesslein (@jniesslein), who is based in Charlottesville, Virginia. I’m experiencing karma. For more than a decade, I co-edited a literary magazine—I was the person who wouldn’t respond regarding your writing for three months, sometimes longer. And now, for the past nine months, I’ve been writing. It […]

Knocking on doors of traditional publishers

How Long Should You Keep Trying to Get Published?

Don’t you wish someone could tell you how close you are to getting traditionally published? Don’t you wish someone could say, “If you just keep at it for three more years, you’re certain to make it!” Or, even if it would be heartbreaking, wouldn’t it be nice to be told that you’re wasting your time, so that you can move on, try another tack (like self-publishing), or perhaps even change course entirely to produce some other creative work?

Bradlee Frazer

Q&A on Copyright With an Attorney

By far, I receive the most questions from writers on copyright, mainly due to this post: When Do You Need to Secure Permissions? So I feel very lucky to have found an intellectual property lawyer, Brad Frazer, who is friendly and enthusiastic about providing answers to writers on a range of copyright issues. He’s written three other […]

Copyright symbol

Copyright Is Not a Verb

Today’s guest post is by copyright lawyer Brad Frazer. He has written two other posts for this site: Trademark Is Not a Verb and Is It Fair Use? 7 Questions to Ask Before Using Copyrighted Material. “I copyrighted my book by putting © on the bottom of the first page.” “This picture is on the Internet, so […]

The Birds Tree by ploop26 / DeviantArt

Why Self-Publishing Is a Tragic Term

Today’s guest post is by Ed Cyzewski. You may recall him from his previous post here, When Self-Publishing Is More Useful as a Marketing Tool. My friend Shawn recently released a book that shares his journey into full-time writing. It involves a failed small business, $50,000 in debt, a difficult return to his parents’ basement, […]

Flickr / Giovanni Orlando

Is Your Work Commercially Viable?

Writers often ask, “How do I get published?” But I don’t like to answer that question until I know what exactly they’re trying to publish. I’d say at least 50% of new writers are attempting to publish a work that would be deemed commercially unviable by a Big Six house, at least as initially conceived. […]

blog to book

Please Don’t Blog Your Book: 4 Reasons Why

It’s been a trend ever since I worked full-time as a book acquisitions editor: Blog-to-book deals. I acquired or oversaw the publication of more than a dozen bloggers-turned-book-authors. Sometimes it translated into book sales, sometimes not. Point is: I know that blogs can lead to book deals. However, I want you to think twice before […]

Writer Unboxed

5 Attitudes Toward Publishing You Should Avoid

Today I’m over at Writer Unboxed, discussing the types of attitudes that make me want to issue red-flag warnings to writers. They are: If I can’t get a deal soon, I’m self-publishing. I just want to get my book published. Quality is subjective, and I don’t need a professional editor. I just need someone to […]

How Do You Know If Your Agent Is Any Good?

I recently received the following question from a writer who wishes to remain anonymous: Every new writer wants to know how to get an agent and everyone seems to write about that topic. But I want to know how to assess my agent. How do I know if I have a good one? I’m trying […]

Speaking at SXSW PubCamp 2011

My Best Advice for Writers From 2011

Last week I shared 12 Must-Read Articles From 2011. Now I’m going to share a list of the best advice I gave in 2011 as a handy reference. My Absolute Favorites You Hate Your Writing? That’s a Good Sign! This was one of the most tweeted articles I wrote in 2011. The Persistent and Damaging Myth […]

Publishing Perspectives

Serial Fiction: An Old Form Made New

Yesterday, my feature article for Publishing Perspectives went live: Experimenting With Serials for Fun and Profit Here’s a little excerpt: Debate continues about whether the reader really prefers [serials] for long-form narratives. Shya Scanlon, a literary author who experimented with serialization in 2009 with The Forecast 42 Project says, “It would have been much better had I had […]

The Secrets They Kept by Joanne Tombrakos

What Good Salespeople Know That Writers Should

Today’s guest post is by author and business person Joanne Tombrakos. What ultimately spurred my decision to self-publish was a quality that had served me well during the 25 years I spent selling commercials on radio and television stations. Impatience. Simply put, I got tired of waiting for someone else to publish me. Good salespeople […]

Writer Unboxed

Do-It-Yourself vs. Professional Help

Yesterday was my regular contribution to Writer Unboxed. I discussed how some independent authors are putting their work out there with zero professional help. Here’s a snippet: Working with professionals should challenge you. It should raise the bar. You’ll probably feel some doubts about the quality of your work. This is a good thing. Professionals usually […]

Writer's Digest (October 2011)

Book Proposals in the Digital Age

I started my first publishing job in 1998, and I immediately started reviewing nonfiction book proposals as part of an editorial team. By 2010, what constituted a strong book proposal had dramatically transformed. You can probably guess why. The Internet has forever changed how we discover, access, and distribute information and entertainment. For a nonfiction […]

Free

Where to Find Free Market Listings

Last updated in April 2015 Most writers are aware of Writer’s Market, the annual directory and online database that offers more than 8,000 listings of where you can get your writing published. It costs $39.99/year to subscribe online. There are also many free resources are available. Here are the best free sites that I’m aware of. Some of them […]

Going Geek by John Carpenter

Using an Agent to Get on Kindle

I’ve been keeping an eye on John Carpenter and his book project ever since we first started having conversations on Twitter last summer. He’s a knowledgeable, savvy writer with a professional career in college admissions. His goal this past year has been to find a home for his book, Going Geek. Going Geek is a […]

Midwest Writers Workshop

The Basic Pitch Formula for Novelists

At the Midwest Writers Workshop, an agent panel gave some wonderful, straightforward advice about how to construct your pitch. You could use this formula as part of a query letter or in a live pitch. Brilliant! Option 1 I have a completed [word count][genre] titled [title] about [protagonist name + small description] who [conflict]. Option […]

Reading Notebook #29: When the Author Became More Important Than the Publisher

From “Talent Grab” by Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker (October 11, 2010) … a parallel revolution was taking place in the publishing world, as authors and their agents began to rewrite the terms of their relationship with publishers. One of the instigators of that revolution was Mort Janklow, a corporate lawyer who, in 1972, did […]

Reading Notebook #18: There’s More Bad Writing Than Ever

From an interview with Clay Shirky over at the Barnes and Noble Review: I’ve always adopted the Bill Burroughs mantra, which is, “If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.” Which is to say that if there is any intrinsic value in writing or expressing yourself or taking a photo, it’s worth doing […]