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3 Blunders That Can Kill Your Author Platform

Today’s guest post is from author Kristen Lamb. The digital age author has more opportunities than any writer in the history of the written word. But with more opportunities comes more competition, and with more competition comes more work. Mega-agent Donald Maass will tell you there are only two ways to sell books—a good book and […]

Write-a-thon

The Story Bible: What It Is and Why You Need One

The following is an excerpt from Write-a-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It) by Rochelle Melander, now available from Writer’s Digest Books. In writing a series of stories about the same characters, plan the whole series in advance in some detail, to avoid contradictions and inconsistencies. —L. Sprague de Camp […]

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 […]

Rumors of Water

You Don’t Need a Degree to Find Your Voice

The following excerpt is from Rumors of Water: Thoughts on Creativity & Writing by L.L. Barkat. I am opening a jar of green tea from Granada, Spain. It’s an old salsa jar, without its label. The tea is silvery and reminds me of those pictures I’ve seen of the mountain mist in China. There are […]

3 Keys to Sustainable & Successful Indie Authorship

Note from Jane: I don’t usually run posts that feature or promote a single service or solution. Authors need to find partners who not only fit with them, but also fit with their work and their audience. In Scott Sigler’s case, I think he’s found an excellent partner that helps empower his long-term author career. […]

My Memories of a Future Life

Should You Serialize a Novel on Kindle?

Today’s guest post is by Roz Morris. Last month I released my literary novel as four episodes on Kindle: 100,000 words, in chunks of 25,000 words, at 99 cents a time. Why? Like many writers who enjoy blogging, my platform is a writing advice blog, Nail Your Novel. That was perfect when I was releasing […]

Will Boast

Write More Raw Material Than You Need

Last year, when I became a professor at the e-media department at the University of Cincinnati, I started working with more diverse media, and observing what goes into the making of even very simple videos. I worked with one of my colleagues on a 2-minute intro clip for an hour-long panel, and I assisted as […]

Phil Gibbs

3 Tips for Professional E-Book Covers

Today’s guest post is from Biba Pearce at Your Novel Online. An e-book cover has an important job to do. Not only does it present your book to the world, but it also says a lot about you, the author. It can be a powerful selling and marketing tool, or it can damage your image as […]

Brave Rooney

What Advertising Can Teach a Children’s Writer

Today’s guest post is from Gerry Renert, a three-time EMMY nominated kid’s writer, who has recently become a published children’s book author. I never thought I’d end up writing children’s books, especially when my first paying writing job was creating print ads to convince upper-crusters they needed a certain brand of scotch to announce their […]

How to Write Your Best Story

What Is a Story?

The following is excerpted from How to Write Your Best Story by Philip Martin. It may seem to address a simplistic question, but I must agree with Steven Spielberg when he said, “People have forgotten how to tell a story.” So I hope you won’t be too proud to remind yourself what storytelling is all […]

4-Ps of Marketing

E-Book Marketing 101

In case you missed it, my monthly column at Writer Unboxed was posted yesterday: A Checklist for Marketing Your E-Book. Here’s a snippet: Knowing how to effectively market your e-book can be a challenge if you don’t have any formal education or professional experience in sales and marketing. Plus, these days, the default strategy seems […]

Uncertainty by Jonathan Fields

A Hidden Aspect of Creative Life That Underpins Great Work

The following is excerpted from Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt Into Fuel for Brilliance by Jonathan Fields. Uncertainty and fear of judgment go hand in hand. The more you lean into uncertainty and the greater the risks you take to create something that didn’t exist before, the greater will be the potential for you to […]

Has Rejection Turned You Into Someone You’re Not?

“Don’t allow your wounds to transform you into someone you are not.” —Paulo Coelho It doesn’t happen often, but every once in a while, I hear a story (second hand) about writers who have been wounded by my feedback. These stories reach me many years after the feedback has been given. Every single time, while […]

When Writing Doesn’t Pay the Bills

In celebration of Labor Day, Open Road Media has produced a video that features writers talking about the jobs they held before becoming full-time writers. You’ll hear about selling blood, working for the railroads, and getting fired from a movie theatre. Writers featured include: Lawrence Block, John Lutz, Andre Dubus III (speaking about his father), […]

Storywonk Podcast

Listen to 20 Minutes of My Advice for Authors

I was recently interviewed on the StoryWonk podcast, with author Lani Diane Rich and Alastair Stephens. It’s a 20-minute discussion about publishing, new media, social media, and miscellaneous Jane-fu. Click here to listen.

9/11 app

Telling Important Stories Through Apps, Not Books

Today’s guest post is by Steve Rosenbaum. In the past ten years, the very nature of storytelling has changed so much, I don’t really know what to call myself. I’m an author, a filmmaker, and a photographer. The one thing I know for sure, I have a story about the 9/11 Memorial that is different […]

Nobility of Time

How to Waste Your Time on Social Media

Last week, I discussed how you can waste your time trying to get published. You can also waste your time on social media, which I discussed over at Writer Unboxed on Friday, in case you missed it. Here’s a small snippet: No amount of expert marketing can make a poor or mediocre product sell—or gain […]

Michael Hyatt interview

Hello to Visitors From Michael Hyatt’s Blog!

Today, Michael Hyatt is featuring a 12-minute interview with me on his blog. We talk about the following: How important is an author’s “platform” to their success in the publishing world? Do you think there is still a role for traditional publishers in the future? What are the best practices of really successful writers? What […]

The Myth of the Lone Creative Genius

Today’s post is an excerpt from the recently published Birth Your Book! by Dr. Liz Alexander. Find out more about Liz at the end of this post. Where did the myth of the lone creative genius come from? You know, the idea that a writer must sit alone in the garret awaiting his or her muse for […]

2012 Writer's Market

To Learn About Your Readers, You Need a Site

In the newest edition of Writer’s Market (and Writer’s Market Deluxe), there’s a featured interview with me, where I discuss the future of publishing, websites and blogging, and Twitter strategy. Here’s a brief snippet: Your personal website is impressive, incorporating your blogging, tweets, an e-mail newsletter sign up and more. What do you see as the […]

Banksy in Boston by Chris Devers

Stop Being an “Aspiring” Writer

Today’s guest post is by Ollin Morales from Courage 2 Create. Find out more about Ollin at the end of this post.  Every once in a while I’ll come across a blog post that is absolutely brilliant. It’s gold. If I was a literary agent or a publisher, I would sign you up in two […]

Writer's Digest (July/August 2011)

Are You Wasting Your Time Trying to Get Published?

Don’t you wish someone could tell you if you’re wasting your time trying to be a writer? Or if you’re at all close to getting traditionally published—assuming that’s your goal? In a recent issue of Writer’s Digest, I have a feature article, “Revising Your Path to Publication,” that attempts to address these (rather) unanswerable questions. […]

Inis Meáin

Grantwriting 101 for Writers

It doesn’t occur to most writers that there is “free” money—from government and nonprofit foundations—that is available to support creative projects and professional development. However, it requires writing grants, and it’s not a skill or experience that many people have. If it’s something you’re curious about, here’s a primer. Before You Consider Applying for a […]

Facebook logo

3 Principles for Facebook Fan Pages

Facebook is the No. 1 most popular website in the United States in terms of visits, which means it’s more popular than Google. According to its own stats, Facebook has 750 million users, 50% of which are active on it every day. This alone makes Facebook an important site when it comes to author marketing […]

Storify Willamette

3 Invaluable Takeaways for Writers: Willamette 2011

I speak at many writing events each year, and I always love to pass on the most useful advice I hear. So I’m starting a series through Storify where I curate and headline some of the best conference advice that I find reported via social media. Click here for the goodies.

Kindle

5 Things Beginners Need to Know About E-Book Publishing

The e-book publishing landscape is changing fast—with new services, new terms, and new formats. Despite the pace of change, here are 5 things that have remained fairly constant this year—and that you must be aware of—before you undertake any kind of self-publishing process for e-reading devices. I promise to update this list should any of […]

Christina Katz

The Secret to Twitter That Can’t Be Taught

I’ve found Twitter—and many aspects of social media—somewhat tricky to teach. Why? Here are 3 reasons to start: Using social media is mostly about being YOU, finding your voice, and finding the right audience (those inclined to listen). Your strategy, motivation, or purpose will be different—and it will change—depending on where you’re at in your […]

Platform Inventory Worksheet

Draft Your Platform Action Plan: 5 Worksheets

Last weekend at the Midwest Writers Workshop, I offered a workshop on author platform building. Part of the workshop included 5 worksheets to help writers take an inventory of their platform (as it stands today), and also brainstorm how to better grow it. Good news for you: I’m making my platform worksheets available for free. […]

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 […]

Getting Over the Hump by Jeffrey Gifford

Expect Resistance With New Technology

This phenomenon comes up a lot when I talk about Twitter (or—really—any new media tool). People don’t use it. They haven’t tried to use it. And they decide not to use it often because it’s too much trouble. This reason, in and of itself, is fine. I understand when people have other priorities, especially when […]

Conversation Prism

Build Diversity Into Your Online Presence

Back in 2008, a smart guy named Brian Solis created the Conversation Prism (above), and wrote a blog post titled State of Social Media 2008. 2008 is eons ago in new media terms—but the post is worth revisiting, especially for writers just now learning how to integrate online media into their everyday life. While not […]

Jane speaking at the 2011 Writer's Digest Conference

Jane’s Writing Advice Archive

I’ve been offering writing and publishing advice for a long time. So I thought it might be time to create a handy archive of what’s available online, especially for those who haven’t been following me since the very beginning. Click here to browse. If you know of something wonderful I’ve written that isn’t included here—or […]

Reading Notebook #31: A Writer’s Appetite for Fame

From “Writing and Winning” by Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker (October 18, 2010). Click here to read the full piece. Since the first strum on the oldest lyre, literature has been about competition and the possibility of recognition. Pindar, the father of lyric poetry, took as his chief subject the winning of games, and the […]

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 […]

The Man Without Qualities

Reading Notebook #23: Why Things Are the Way They Are

From The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil: “At this moment he wished to be a man without qualities. But this is probably not so different from what other people sometimes feel too. After all, by the time they have reached the middle of their life’s journey few people remember how they have managed to […]

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 […]

Reading Notebook #15: Americans Don’t Like to Listen

From a phenomenal personal essay: “Go West” by Peter Hessler in The New Yorker (April 19, 2010). Note: All of Hessler’s pieces for The New Yorker are incredible. The American appetite for loneliness impressed me, and there was something about this solitude that freed conversation. One night at a bar, I met a man, and […]

Kindle vs iPad

Reading Notebook #14: Best Coverage of Publishing’s Current Dilemma

Snippets from “Publish or Perish” by Ken Auletta (New Yorker, April 26, 2010). You MUST go read the full article. Excellent stats from article Independent booksellers have declined from 3,250 to 1,400 since 1999 Big Six publishers account for 60% of all books sold in the U.S. Breakdown of book sales in U.S. 30% – […]

Committed

Reading Notebook #10: How to Destroy a Relationship

From the marvelous Elizabeth Gilbert, in her book Committed: There is nothing wrong with a married person launching a friendship outside of matrimony—so long as the “walls and windows” of the relationship remain in the correct places. It was Glass’s theory that every healthy marriage is composed of walls and windows. The windows are the […]

Reading Notebook #9: The Loss of Dreams

From “Slow Fade” by Arthur Krystal, about F. Scott Fitzgerald in Hollywood (The New Yorker, November 26, 2009) Fitzgerald’s scripts were hobbled by the same quality that lifted his fiction above the superficial: the complicated nature of his mind. Although he came to believe that “life is essentially a cheat … and that redeeming things […]

Cathaoir Synge

The Dirty Secret Behind Writing Advice

I’ll start by saying that I have always advised writers in good faith. I would never suggest a writer undertake something harmful, obstructive, or a waste of time. But lately I’ve started idly imagining how my favorite author, Alain de Botton, would react if he read advice on my professional blog. (Go follow Alain de […]

Reading Notebook #6: Why the World Needs More Women Directors (Like Ephron & Taymor)

From “Man of Extremes”, a profile of James Cameron by Dana Goodyear, in The New Yorker (October 26, 2009) Cameron behaves as if he were the embattled protagonist of one of his own films—an ordinary Joe beaten on the anvil of extraordinary trials. “The words ‘No’ and ‘That’s impossible’ and phrases like ‘That can’t be […]

Reading Notebook #5: Life Patterns & Something Out There

From “The Secret Cycle” by Nick Paumgarten, in The New Yorker (October 12, 2009) And yet patterns exist, and we slowly discover them. Seasons, migrations, moons: the template is there. Consciously or unconsciously, most people accept certain components of cycle theory. We seek and see patterns in things. It is the way our minds work, […]

Amelia Earhart

Reading Notebook #4: Not to Endure Even an Attractive Cage

From the New Yorker article on Amelia Earhart by Judith Thurman (September 14, 2009) [From Earhart’s letter to her husband on her wedding day] You must know again my reluctance to marry, my feeling that I shatter thereby chances in work which mean so much to me. … In our life together I shall not […]

Michel de Montaigne

Reading Notebook #3: I Distrust My Thoughts

Snippets from “The Life and Essays of Michel de Montaigne” by Jane Kramer, in the September 7, 2009, issue of The New Yorker. Montaigne … often warned his readers that nothing he wrote about himself was likely to apply for much longer than it took the ink he used, writing it, to dry. … “Yes. […]

Art of Possibility

Reading Notebook #2: Invent a Story That Enhances Your Life

Snippets from The Art of Possibility by Benjamin & Rosamund Zander.(See a really cool TED talk by Benjamin Zander.) It’s all invented anyway, so we might as well invent a story or a framework of meaning that enhances our quality of life and the life of those around us. … Virtually everybody wakes up in […]

Reading Notebook #1: You Can Write Well & Behave Badly

From “Slang-Whanger” by Arthur Krystal in New Yorker (May 18, 2009) We don’t for a moment believe that Hazlitt is inept, or unattractive, or capable of behaving like a lunatic. You can’t write well and behave badly. But, of course, you can, and Hazlitt did. He cheated on his wife, alienated friends, and when Napoleon […]