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. […]

Writing on the Ether: Buy My Book

This is my low horse. You should see me on my high one. They’re so skittish, these creatures. Especially around loud noises. Like “BUY MY BOOK!” And “FOLLOW ME BACK!” ‘Tis the season when bales of content are heaved onto the market. And as we share our social mediocrity, my little neigh-sayer, do remember: if […]

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 […]

Writing on the Ether: Light My Kindle Fire

C’mon baby, light my Kindle Fire. And watch out for sparks from certain NOOKs in crannied marketplaces. Beware bald guys bearing 3Gifts. Silk, Bezosense, and smell that? It’s the lighter fluid of Android aspirationals yearning to be treed like iPads for Christmas. It’s beginning to look a lot like Amazon.   [blackbirdpie id=”119057323443486720″]   “One […]

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 […]

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 […]

Writing on the Ethr: Your Fastest Read Today

“I messed up, I owe you an explanation.” You see, Jane and I have been misspelling the name of this new column. This Flickr-ed into my mind while watching Netflix shoot itself in the other foot with Qwikster. Reed Hastings, having turned “flicks” into “flix,” should have named the DVD service Qwixtr. It’s not as […]

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 […]

The Memoir Project

Don’t Write a Memoir to Get Revenge

The following is excerpted from The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life by Marion Roach Smith. It would be impossible to count up just how many people over the years have come into my class hell-bent on writing a revenge tale. So here’s some hard-won advice: Never write a story because you […]

Barbara Becker with son and grandsons, 1990

When Mom Was My Age (#44)

When Mom Was My Age is an interview series between daughters and mothers. New interviews appear on random Mondays. If you would like to participate, contact Jane. The following interview is with Barbara Ann Hess Hershey Becker (age 84), reflecting on her life at age 63, interviewed by daughter Shirley Ann Hershey Showalter. Shirley has […]

The Funny Man by John Warner

Using Word of Mouth (Not Media Attention) to Sell Books

I’ve known John Warner since my days as an acquisitions editor at F+W Media. He is among the most decent, classy, and talented authors I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. I acquired and edited three of his humor books at F+W (though only two were published—long story), and we partnered on a short-lived […]

Baggage at Rest

Writing on the Ether: A Valise Full of Numbers

The first time I flew into Heathrow, I was thrilled. Everyone was calling my name. “Porter! Porter!” Allow me to get your baggage this week. A valise full of numbers “In its one day on offer as (an Amazon) Daily Deal, Food, Inc. sold 14,158 ebook copies—an astounding number. Sales for the previous day were 9 copies.” […]

Far Niente Cave Library

Writing on the Ether: Your Media Sommelier

Your media sommelier here. Our first pairing: Noble, tart, and high time somebody said it “We agents, who have struggled to maintain a fragile sense of trust with writers, only deepen the chasm between our professional community and the artistic community we serve when we introduce more doubt into the relationship, and when we wave […]

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), […]

Melanie Rae Thon (photo by Andi Olsen)

7 Reasons to Tell a Story in 2011

In the latest Glimmer Train bulletin, there’s an amazing piece by Melanie Rae Thon, “The Heart Breaks, and Breaks Open: Seven Reasons to Tell a Story in 2011.” Here’s a small snippet: … [E]very time you remember an episode of your life, you are reinventing it: embellishing, deleting, altering it through fusion and imagination. If […]

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 […]

Porter Anderson

Writing on the Ether: How To and How Not To

I am thrilled to introduce a new weekly feature, Writing on the Ether, by former CNN journalist Porter Anderson. Writing on the Ether will round up some of the best and timeliest articles related to writing and publishing that you don’t want to miss. Porter has been well-known to me since 2010 as one of […]

Zach Duffy

Are You an Impatient Writer Who Burns Out?

Recently, I was a featured guest interviewee over at Curiosity Quills. They asked me some challenging questions about publishing and the future of authorship. Here’s a small snippet: People are impatient and they want to see results very quickly. There’s a lot of emphasis on quantity—quantity of friends or followers or fans or viewers—rather than […]

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 […]

Margaret Jensen

When Mom Was My Age (#43)

“When Mom Was My Age” is an interview series between daughters and mothers. New interviews appear every Monday. If you would like to participate, contact Jane. The following interview is with Margaret Jensen (age 63), reflecting on her life at age 36, interviewed by daughter Megg Jensen. From Megg Before I e-mailed Jane about appearing in this series, […]

Reading Notebook #33: Enlightenment (and Love) Taste of Freedom

From “How to Know It’s Real Love” by Martha Beck, in Oprah magazine. Buddha once said that just as we can know the ocean because it always tastes of salt, we can recognize enlightenment because it always tastes of freedom. There’s no essential difference between real love and enlightenment. While many people see commitment as […]

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 […]

Alan Watts

I Am Always Sincere, But Never Serious

I am always sincere, but never serious. —Alan Watts When I started my first professional blog, I struggled to give it a name. While I thought I could offer helpful information, the truth about writing advice is that it’s only helpful if you’re the kind of writer who benefits from it. Not all writers do […]

Cheryl Christmas Soper

When Mom Was My Age (#42)

“When Mom Was My Age” is an interview series between daughters and mothers. New interviews appear every Monday. If you would like to participate, contact Jane. The following interview is with Cheryl Christmas Soper (age 55), reflecting on her life at age 33, interviewed by daughter Katharine McKinney. From Katharine My mother is in many ways my dearest […]

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 […]

Amy Stolls

How Much Has Book Marketing Changed Since 2005?

Amy Stolls is the author of The Ninth Wife, a novel just released from HarperCollins as a paperback original. The premise: What sane woman would consider becoming any man’s ninth wife? I had the pleasure of meeting Amy in late 2010, before her novel’s release, while serving on a panel for the National Endowment for […]

Chiang Mai wat and yellow buddha

Don’t Feel Guilty About “Playing Around” Online

“The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others […]

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 […]

Patricia Jean Saiger Limbacher

When Mom Was My Age (#41)

“When Mom Was My Age” is an interview series between daughters and mothers. New interviews appear every Monday. If you would like to participate, contact Jane. The following interview is with Patricia Jean Saiger Limbacher (age 47), reflecting on her life at age 20, interviewed by daughter Rachel Saiger. From Rachel My mom, Patricia Jean Saiger Limbacher, is […]

Darrelyn Saloom, 1958

Behind the Curtain of Memory

Before the kidnapping, I lived with my father and two older sisters in Austin, Texas. In second grade—1963—Daddy longed to enroll me in an art program at a progressive academy because I covered our walls with words and drawings of rotary telephones. I’d never attend the conservatory, but I remember holding my father’s hand as […]

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 […]

List Making & The Creative Process

I love making lists. Big-picture lists, daily lists, grocery lists, checklists … you name it, I list it. I even make little list tools that sometimes other people enjoy. (For example, click here for my Weekly Goal Sheet. Here are specific instructions on how to use it.) Lists are a personal thing—they speak to the ineffable […]

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. […]

When You Have Anxieties About Change

Yesterday, I was a guest over at Writer Unboxed, discussing the anxieties that surrounded my move from “Writer’s Digest blogger” to “independent blogger.” Here’s a snippet. When it comes to personal change, I feel protective of what story gets told about it. As writers, we should be super-cognizant of the power of storytelling in our […]

Best Tweets for Writers (week ending 7/29/11)

I watch Twitter, so you don’t have to. Visit each Sunday for the week’s best tweets. If I missed a great Tweet, leave it in the comments. Never miss a round-up: Subscribe to this site via RSS, e-mail, or however else you prefer. Best of the Best The vague test and your first line @Kid_Lit Should […]

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 […]