A photograph of several bookstore shelves loaded with books.

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?

Melissa Sipin

Write What Haunts You

What haunts you? What images or moments have never left you? What do you keep revisiting again and again and again?

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 […]

Red Hot Internet Publicity by Penny Sansevieri

3 Ways to Improve Your Website Design

Today’s guest post is adapted from Red Hot Internet Publicity by Penny Sansevieri. Between Los Angeles and Las Vegas there’s a stretch of I-15 that’s just barren desert with you, sand, a cactus or two, a few vultures hoping to get lucky, and endless billboards. Most people speed down this stretch of highway as fast […]

You've Got a Book in You by Elizabeth Sims

To Be Great, Strive to Be Ordinary

The following guest post from Elizabeth Sims is adapted from her newest book, You’ve Got a Book in You, from Writer’s Digest. As you plunge into writing your book, here’s the main thing to do: Strive for the ordinary. Because that’s what the greats do. If I were a person who used vulgarities, I would […]

Best Business Advice for Writers: April 2013

Best Business Advice for Writers is a monthly link round-up where I share the best online articles focused on the business of writing and publishing. Share any best reads you’ve found lately in the comments. Discover Your Author’s Brand by Philip Martin If you’re turned off by conversations of author branding, this post is for you. Martin […]

Career Changing Move

What One Small Step Made a Big Impact on Your Writing Career?

The biggest career-changing moves I ever made were a combination of: Signing up for Twitter in 2008 & starting the Best Tweets for Writers series (story here) Buying my own domain name—long before I ever started using it—in 2005, then actually launching this site in December 2009 What have your career-changing moves been? Writer’s Digest […]

Joel Friedlander

How Much Attention Should You Pay to Book Design? A Q&A With Joel Friedlander

I’m very grateful to Joel Friedlander (@JFBookman), at The Book Designer, for taking time to answer a few questions about book design, especially as it relates to self-publishing. I’m a firm believer in the power of design. I think it affects purchasing not just in obvious ways, but also on a subconscious level. So it […]

blogging for writers

2 Strategic and Compelling Reasons to Keep Blogging—Plus When to Kill a Blog

Note from Jane: Today’s guest post is from Dan Blank (@DanBlank) and covers a topic that was recently addressed on this site by L.L. Barkat: the value of blogging. If you remember, Barkat advised writers to stop blogging. For the other side of the story, I’ve asked Dan to offer reasons to keep blogging. In […]

Improve Your Author Website

3 Ways to Improve Your Author Website Today

To maximize the effectiveness of your author website, it’s necessary to study the data behind how people find your website, navigate it, and use it. Here are three of the most important areas to watch carefully.

Allison Amend

Worry About the Writing, Not About Being a Writer

If you could write a letter to your younger writing self, what would you say? Author Allison Amend has imagined and written such a letter. Here’s how she starts: I see you worrying endlessly about your future, and I just wanted to write you a letter and reassure you that fifteen years from now you […]

Best Business Advice for Writers: March 2013

Best Business Advice for Writers is a monthly link round-up where I share the best online articles focused on the business of writing and publishing. Share any best reads you’ve found lately in the comments. Anatomy of a Successful Kickstarter Campaign by Tom Allen (@tomsbiketrip) It sometimes feels as if everyone is running a Kickstarter—and that […]

Fine-Tuning Fiction by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

Your Story Opening: Shock vs. Seduction

A reader is drawn into a story in one of two ways: shocked or seduced. This is called the hook, and it must be in the first three paragraphs of the text, preferably in the first sentence. The hook also sets up the initial pace of the story, which is maintained through the beginning of the tale.

Writer Unboxed

5 Publishing Industry Trends for Writers to Watch

Most writers are aware that the publishing industry is undergoing a range of transformations, new beginnings, failures, and consolidations. But there’s so much change it can be difficult to weed out and understand the most relevant and important changes—especially when hundreds of opinions seem to surround the smallest change. Based on industry conversations I’ve had in the last six months, as well as reports I’ve read by people I trust, here are five trends that writers should keep a close eye on.

Ted Weinstein tweet on magazine publishing

The State of Online Journalism Today: Controversial

On Tuesday, March 5, I found (via Twitter) the following piece by freelance journalist Nate Thayer: A Day in the Life of a Freelance Journalist—2013 The post consists of an e-mail exchange between Thayer and an Atlantic editor, where Thayer is asked if he would repurpose a previously published piece for the Atlantic’s website. He […]

Matthew Salesses

The Pros and Cons of Being Agreeable and Saying Yes

As writers, we must often protect our time so that we can get our most important writing done. On the other hand, being agreeable and saying “yes” more often can lead to meaningful opportunities—even publication.

Flickr / Eole

If You Struggle With Plot, Here’s How to Think About It Differently

The notion of “plot” is a misconception that leads too many writers to get confused and focus on all the wrong things. Instead, writers should focus on using the plot-free concept of series. A series is the repetition and variation of a narrative element within a story, the process of improvement or deterioration which creates the narrative arc.

Twitter

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

It’s almost a running joke. Whenever my manager introduces me at an event, he always starts by saying how many Twitter followers I have, which is inevitably far more than anyone else in the room. Today, my follower number is a little over 175,000, and it grows by a few hundred every week. How did […]

Susan Jackson Rogers

Start Small: Moving From Notebook to Story

In the latest Glimmer Train bulletin, Susan Jackson Rogers has written a brief essay on the writing life: “Closing the Gap: Moving from Notebook to Story.” She discusses how stories get their beginnings and gain traction: Each time, I have to remember: Start small. Why doesn’t “starting small” feel like real writing? Really, there isn’t any […]

CJ Lyons

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

CJ Lyons (@cjlyonswriter) is an award-winning, critically acclaimed New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. She practiced pediatrics and pediatric emergency medicine for 17 years before scoring her first big book deal, after which she quit her job and decided to become a full-time author. However, a few weeks before her first book was to be published, it was pulled for reasons […]

Kate Gale

You Need Stakeholders in Your Writing Life

Over at Glimmer Train, author and editor Kate Gale discusses the importance of stakeholders in your writing life—just as a nonprofit organization needs stakeholders. She says: You need a group of people who buy into this idea that you want to be a writer. … You only need a few stakeholders. Five is a nice number. […]

Commodity Publishing and The Future of Fiction

Commodity Publishing, Self-Publishing, and The Future of Fiction

Many years ago, when I started working for Writer’s Digest, I was put on the self-publishing beat. I started by reading Dan Poynter’s guide, by the godfather of self-publishing, then the Marilyn Ross guide. I attended EPIC, once the leading conference for e-book authors, and sat on a panel with Piers Anthony to discuss the […]

The Media Training Bible

5 Things Bad Radio Guests Do (And 7 Ways to Rock on Radio)

Today’s guest post is from Brad Phillips (@MrMediaTraining), author of The Media Training Bible: 101 Things You Absolutely, Positively Need to Know Before Your Next Interview. Radio stations hate bad guests, since listeners will immediately switch the dial. Here are five habits of bad radio guests. 1. They give long answers. Short answers allow the […]

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?

Replacement Child by Judy Mandel

Getting a Traditional Book Deal After Self-Publishing

Today’s guest post is by Judy L. Mandel, author of the Replacement Child, forthcoming from Seal Press in March 2013. I asked her to tell the story of self-publishing her memoir, which ultimately led to a traditional book deal from Seal. Most authors don’t give any credence to luck, but they lie. Luck has so […]

Tumblr

Find Me on Tumblr

If you’re a Tumblr user, just a quick announcement you can now find me active there. While I’ve had a Tumblr account for a couple years now (and have used it in various capacities—at VQR and University of Cincinnati), I’m now using it as a way to talk about everything not pertaining to writing advice. […]

Geoff Wyss

How to Write Characters Who Evoke Reader Compassion

How do you write fiction with characters who are mysteriously human, who evoke empathy and compassion from the reader? Is it by making them understandable? No. Geoff Wyss explains: The better we understand someone, the more fully we should be able to respond to him. But we don’t understand people in real life, not in […]

Best Business Advice for Writers: November 2012

For a couple years, I curated a weekly round-up of links called Best Tweets for Writers. I had fun doing it, but ultimately abandoned it in 2011 when I could no longer sustain the time commitment. Nowadays, there’s no shortage of link round-ups for writers, of varying quality. While I hesitate to add another one […]

Creating Space by Ed Cyzewski

Quality Writing Projects Require Safe Places—And Here Are Five

Today’s guest post is by Ed Cyzewski (@EdCyzewski). You may remember him from a previous guest post at this site, Why Self-Publishing Is a Tragic Term. Ed’s latest e-book is available as a free download on Tuesday & Wednesday of this week—visit Amazon to download Creating Space: The Case for Everyday Creativity. After years of doubting that […]

A photograph of several bookstore shelves loaded with books.

Sell More Fiction by Activating the Power of Book Clubs

Today’s guest post is by Rob Eagar, author of Sell Your Book Like Wildfire. Book clubs and discussion groups—where millions of readers congregate both in-person and online to discuss their favorite books—offer a powerful marketing opportunity for novelists. Some of the most popular social networks devoted to book readers include GoodReads (12 million members strong), LibraryThing, Red Room, […]

A Framework for Thinking About Author Platform

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of participating in an online Google Hangout with the Bay Area Bloggers, hosted by Anne Hill and Suzanna Stinnet. The conversation focused primarily on author platform. We discussed its evolution, its purpose in your career, and how you can decide what efforts are worth your time—plus the value of collaborating […]

26 Questions on Writing & Publishing: My Answers on Reddit

Last Friday, I had the honor of spending a day with the Reddit writing community, where I participated in an AMA (Ask Me Anything). I answered such questions as: Is self-epublishing being overblown? Where can you find freelance editing and copyediting jobs? What are some good conferences to meet agents in person? How has agenting […]

Joshua Henkin

2 Critical Factors for Successful Stories

You can be a beautiful and gifted writer yet fail to craft a compelling narrative. Joshua Henkin, in the latest Glimmer Train bulletin, elucidates, in a memorable and striking way, how to check your work for two critical factors of a successful story: For a story to work, there needs to be both consequence and […]

Jane chatting with Kay Steinke at LitFlow

Do Publishers Need to Offer More Value to Authors?

Last month, I gave a 15-minute presentation in Berlin, Germany, called The Future of the Author-Publisher Relationship, as part of an innovative publishing think-tank event called LitFlow. To accompany my talk, I wrote a 2,500-word article. In a nutshell, I suggest that—given the changes happening in the industry—traditional publishers will need to be more author-focused […]