This spring, I’ll be on the road speaking at a wide range of events on the East Coast (and one in Europe).
There’s a legendary joke about the writing life, often attributed to Margaret Atwood. It goes like this: A brain surgeon and a writer meet at a party.
The writers who visit you in class, when you’re still a student—especially if you’re young and impressionable—these writers stick with you for a lifetime.
Voice: It’s either there in the writing or it’s not. And some writers haven’t developed or “found” their voice yet.
One of the hardest things to do—for any individual, organization, or business—is to define a vision and strategy. It involves diving deep into one’s strengths and weaknesses, and understanding the market opportunities and threats. Talking strategy usually means dealing with uncomfortable realities, as well as risking disagreement with others.
Writer Anthony Doerr once told me something his father told him, and I’ll paraphrase it poorly here: You’re going to get your neck sunburned looking up all the time.
If you’re pitching a nonfiction book, at some point, an editor or agent will expect you to describe the readership that your book is intended for.
Focusing on the smallest thing you can accomplish: this is the magic trick to making progress or getting unstuck.
The irony of commitment is that it’s deeply liberating – in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic,
I regularly read and report on marketing trends that affect traditionally published and self-published writers. Today I’m sharing the most useful articles I’ve found and shared thus far in 2018.
Publishers and authors can use sophisticated language to describe books—to sound unique, clever and smart. But readers describe books in more direct ways.
When children cannot find themselves reflected in the books they read, they learn a powerful lesson about how they are valued in society.
How do you navigate the writing life when you have an intense day job? Does such a thing as work-life balance exist?
Novelist Cai Emmons discusses how a van tour to meet booksellers in person helped her overcome her timidity toward book marketing.
This post was first published in 2012 and is regularly updated. First things first: an author’s website, whether it gets much traffic or not, is foundational to your career. It offers readers as well as the media the official word on who you are and the work you produce. If you blog, then it can […]
Do you write write according to your own internal motivations or creative impulses—with the intention to create serious art—or do you write hoping to create a bond between writer and reader?
For beginning fiction writers, focusing on place is one of the easiest ways to improve stories that aren’t quite working.
Broadly, traditional print book sales continue to grow at about 2 to 3 percent per year, but growth is driven by nonfiction, backlist titles, and children’s/YA. Fiction sales have been flat for several years now, with frontlist fiction down 5 percent due to a lack of big titles.
I don’t trust author-income survey results and I question their usefulness in improving the fortunes of writers. Too often it feels like propaganda from writers’ organizations, with the outcome boring and predictable.
As the publishing industry has transformed in the digital age, small press activity has proliferated. Here’s how authors can evaluate their offerings.
Should you self-publish or traditionally publish? This infographic will help you determine the best choice for you and your project.
Silence—or, in fact, just saying less—is an art that can be strategically practiced by authors who seek attention. It is also a critical strategy when trying to influence people who hear about new books all day, every day.
Despite the notion that we are voiceless, the challenge of a good creative writing instructor is to teach students that they do indeed have a voice and that their voice, that all our voices in concert, have meaning.
Violence can be too sanitized, too tamed into a generic, pre-packaged mold, and so it can’t yield the kind of interesting questions or meditations readers crave, and writers must eventually confront.
Over the last month, I’ve been talking (and writing) about how to build a business model for career that suits your particular strengths as well as the unique quality of your work. Here are my latest appearances.
A smart and strategic author should evaluate their platform strength on three levels: (1) ability to reach new readers, (2) ability to engage existing readers, and (3) ability to mobilize super fans.
When a character “change” feels beautiful, it’s because the character has confirmed what we’ve hoped or suspected all along. Maybe the character hasn’t changed at all, but rather has finally been put in a situation where her truest self can be revealed.
In 2014, I made the leap from conventional employment to a full-time freelance career. Here’s how I did it—and what I earned, down to the dollar.
My newest book, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), takes it on principle that learning about the publishing industry can lead to a more positive and productive career. It helps writers feel empowered and confident to navigate an ever-changing field.
For AWP 2018, I hired a team of writers to help me cover business-related sessions, as part of the launch for my newest book (official release date: March 16). Their blog posts are available over at the companion website for the book.
Writer Jane Delury discusses the importance of showing up and writing regardless of the conditions you find yourself in, no matter how you feel.
Danielle Lazarin: “At every stage of my work, questions are my most essential writing tools. I use them to move through to the other side of murky. It’s only by stepping into that unknown and uncomfortable space repeatedly during my process that I can become more deliberate in the story I’m telling.”
There’s growing unrest surrounding the proliferation of free and cheap books, particularly ebooks. The reasons for sharp discounts and giveaways are legion (and some reasons are better than others), but regardless of the reason, I see greater shaming of those who are seen to “devalue” literature in our culture.
A round-up of publishing industry trend articles, helping freelancers and authors anticipate changes coming in 2018.
I have been speaking at the Midwest Writers Workshop in Muncie, Indiana, continuously since 2003. Here’s why I keep returning, year after year.
There’s a very famous piece of advice from Anne Lamott that occasionally makes the rounds on social media. She says: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” This advice, especially when shared out of context, makes me cringe.
I regularly round up and comment on book marketing advice that have writers buzzing. Here’s what sparked discussion in 2017.
My favorite digital media tools that have enhanced my productivity and creativity as a teacher, author, and entrepreneur.
How authors can blog successfully for long-term platform and book marketing efforts, with tips for online writing, strong headlines, and good SEO.
Issues touched on: Barnes & Noble woes, the maturity of the self-publishing market, Wattpad profits, traditional publishing’s problem launching blockbusters, and the growth of the Amazon ebook sales/borrows
While it’s not easy to launch a book without any kind of online presence, many first-time authors are in exactly that position. Here’s a 4-step game plan.
A step-by-step guide to finding literary agents, plus how to select the right agent for you and your work.
Novelist Sophie Chen Keller offers an incisive look at what’s different about writing a novel for adults when the narrator is a child.
If you plan to pursue writing as a professional, long-term career, I recommend starting and maintaining an author website even if you’re unpublished.
Over a last year, a consistent theme has emerged in my discussions with writers around the country: They feel distracted. What is to be done?
At its core, a query letter is a sales document, and so it’s meant to sell. But opinions differ on the best possible sales approach in a query.
Author Jay Swanson discusses how he’s succeeded with Patreon, which allows fans to pledge monthly financial support to his creative efforts.
I’m a contributor to a new essay collection, WHAT EDITORS DO, edited by Peter Ginna and published by University of Chicago Press.
I’m the featured guest on the new Backmatter podcast from Leanpub, which is focused specifically on the publishing industry and its latest trends.
Fiction writing, while not closely associated with affecting one’s real-life relationships, can indeed have that power and develop one’s empathy.