Here’s a word I have eliminated as fully as possible from my information and advice lexicon for writers: passion.
Today, our problem is not finding more great things to read. It’s finding time to read the great many wonderful things that are published.
The two biggest mistakes in book publicity pitches: they are too long in length, and not pointed or provocative enough.
You should consider how secret you want to be about your true identity. Maintaining secrecy is difficult. The higher the level of secrecy, the more complicated the process
If you want to publish your book, here are the steps you should follow to assess your work’s potential, then research and pitch editors and agents.
In my many years of critiquing queries, I see the same weaknesses again and again. Here are the biggest issues that afflict novel queries and how you can fix them.
If there’s something at the heart of the story that still interests you, that keeps pulling you back, that still haunts you years later, then that’s probably a sign that there’s something worth struggling for there.
When submitting your short form literature to a magazine or journal, your cover letter is often the first impression an editor sees. It serves as an introduction to your thoughtfully crafted art. As such, it is significant, but it shouldn’t be intimidating or even take much of your time to write.
Everyone has a meaningful story to tell, but not everyone’s story (or writing) is going to deserve a commercial publishing deal. Here are the most common problems I encounter in memoir pitches and manuscripts.
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. You’ll have a much easier time writing your proposal if you take time to conduct market research beforehand.
Marketing FOMO is more debilitating than distracting—and if you suffer from marketing FOMO, your marketing tasks will never be done.
How do agents—generally considered the gatekeepers to publishing companies—approach the issue of diversity in the publishing industry?
Everything you need to know to start writing a book proposal for your nonfiction book.
Whenever you produce titles fast, you’re making trade-offs.
Here are the latest stories that are causing confusion (and sometimes moral panic) where it’s not deserved.
Some agents and editors say that personalizing a query letter can backfire. Others say the opposite—that it’s mandatory. What should you do?
Every writer’s pet fear stems from the mother of all fears: What other people think of what I write is more important than what I think of what I write.
A detailed look at how NetGalley’s Stuart Evers and Myfanwy Collins went from manuscript to publication, with marketing and PR advice.
How to Spot Toxic Feedback: 7 Signs That the Writing Advice You’re Getting May Do More Harm Than Good
If you recognize the following characteristics in the critiques of your work, it may not just be inept—it may, in fact, be toxic.
Is a book’s success all luck, even if ‘luck’ includes hitting the right subject matter at the right time, or is it marketing—and can an indie author in any way compete with a publisher?
Turns out there is only one universal rule of plot, and it goes back to what Joseph Campbell uncovered: every single story worth telling is about transformation via trials.
Writer Katherine Vaz discusses an assignment that is given to every student at her university: to write about “the most important thing ever to happen to me.”
Authors need help with digital book marketing—the kind of help that traditional publishers rarely provide. Co-ops and collectives can help fill that gap.
When you’re wooing the media, what you’re really trying to do is to intrigue them. To whet their appetites. Sometimes the best way to do that flows from remembering that less is often more.
As writers, we don’t always know how much of ourselves to share with the public. But it behooves us to create and curate an author persona—the public face for our work.
Half of writers are plotters, and the other half are pantsers. One is not the right way or the wrong way; there is only the way that works best for you.
Every author, regardless of when or what they’ve published, has an Author Central page. But many authors have not claimed theirs—which is a big mistake.
How do great authors develop stunning narratives, break from tradition, and advance the form of their fiction? They take whatever basic ideas they’ve got, then move them away from the typical.
I’m delighted to announce that I’ve been working with The Authors Guild on the creation and release of their new resource guide on e-publishing.
Learn the difference between all ready/already, altogether/all together, all right/alright, any time/anytime, anyway/any way.
If you dream of a full-time freelance writing career, don’t be discouraged by the largely negative messages about how difficult it is out there.
By far the most common entry-level mistake in the writing game, the thing that can get a perfectly good story rejected by an editor on the first page, is overwriting.
Memoir, as William Dean Howells said, is the “most democratic province of the republic of letters.” Indeed, the genre is evidence that every person in the world has a worthy story to tell, that it’s not what the story is but how it’s told that engages a reader.
No pressure, but the opening of your book is the gatekeeper in determining whether your novel will sell. If your opening is weak, it won’t matter if chapter two is a masterpiece. Editors and agents and booksellers and librarians and readers will stop reading before they get there.
We order; we catalogue. It is, simply, what the human mind excels at.
Misconceptions about getting started often hold new writers back. You may think that to be successful as a freelance writer, you need a J-school degree, an impressive database of editorial contacts, and a truckload of supplies. Not so—read on to learn the most common myths that can sabotage you before you start.
You need to write a memoir—except the mere thought floods you with anxiety. You’ve got decades of memories; where would you even start? Lists to the rescue!
If fiction writing is something you’d like to pursue in your retirement years, follow these steps to help you prepare for the business of authorship.
For new writers, throwing in a few combat scenes can seem like an easy way to add some excitement to a novel, but the reality is that violence can be incredibly difficult to pull off effectively.
Taste is not static. Rather than a fixed endpoint toward which one toils away, it’s a target that moves over the course of a lifetime.
Discussions about the “resurgence” of print and the comeback of independent bookstores amounts to wishful thinking, not an understanding of the industry.
All three paths to producing emotional responses in readers are valid, but all three have pitfalls and can fail to work. To successfully use each, it’s necessary to understand why each is effective when it is.
If you’ve given up on the self-publishing route and want to try traditional publishing, then there are several approaches you can take to interest agents.
Is it better to have a long or short book description on Amazon? What should go in the first line? How do you research appropriate categories and keywords? Learn principles and tools to master the power of descriptions and reach your target market.
Unlike pure fiction, nonfiction is grounded in the real world, with real people, real names and real places, and this inevitably creates an environment where a legal misstep can occur.
In this post I regularly update the best resources I know of related to learning to publish an ebook, finding the right distributors and services, and staying on top of changes in the industry.
When I ask most clients what their goals are in hiring me, I usually get some version of “to get more followers and sell more books.” I encourage them to think both bigger and more deeply about social media.
Sometimes that first draft is never going to become a final draft. That doesn’t mean it’s a waste, though.
The Mall of America residency isn’t going to be an appropriate opportunity for even a majority of writers. But it’s the right opportunity for someone.
Established writers can’t often—and probably shouldn’t—publish far outside of their area of expertise. It’s a fast way to alienate your existing fan base. But crowdfunding allows you to experiment outside of your genre for a project you want to see out in the world.