A laptop computer, coffee cup, paper and writing implements are arranged on a wooden table.

The Nuts and Bolts of Becoming an Independent Editor

There is no formalized career path for freelance editors. From the hosts of the Independent Editor Podcast, here are tips on what to expect.
A professionally-attired man and woman sit at a conference room table, reviewing documents.

The Business Skill I Wish I Could Grant to All Writers

Writers often view themselves as without power, but you can’t wait for permission or the “right time” to negotiate a better deal for yourself.
Headshots of Susan Chang, Julie Scheina, and Sangeeta Mehta

Before You Hire a Developmental Editor: What You Need to Know

Three editors discuss the types and stages of editing, whether publishing industry experience matters, hiring guidelines and much more.
Image: behind a fence, the back of the Hollywood Sign looms over the valley below.

A Primer on TV & Film Adaptation for Writers (Where the Rules Change Often)

If your agent or publisher wants to pitch your book to Hollywood, they need to know the rules—or at least, the rules of the day.
Image: a mountain biker climbing a mountain on foot, carrying his bicycle on his back.

The Hybrid Publisher Debate: Do You Have the Right Mindset?

Not all hybrid and paid-for publishers are the same, and picking the right option depends on every author’s own thorough self-assessment.
Image: two professional women shaking hands. A neon sign on the background wall reads "Good vibes only".

How to Pitch Like a Hollywood Pro

How to put your best foot forward, from the new book PITCH LIKE HOLLYWOOD: What You Can Learn from the High-Stakes Film Industry.
Image: high-end greeting cards and other items on display at a stationery store.

Art and Commerce Need Not Be at Odds

What does creativity have to do with business? A lot, it turns out. It’s just a different kind of creativity than you engage with when you write.
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What It Takes to Be a Freelance Editor

Being a freelance editor requires lifelong curiosity, persistent self-education, ruthless support—and the ability to do all this quickly.
Image: urban wall with graffiti reading "Let's start over."

Why and How I Got My Rights Back from HarperCollins

Despite pre-publication buzz, one author found her book orphaned when the publisher was fired and the imprint dissolved.
Michelle Brower and Jennifer Chen Tran

Should You Publish Your Book with a Small Press? Two Literary Agents Advise

Literary agents Michelle Brower and Jennifer Chen Tran discuss the pros and cons of small presses, querying strategy, and much more.
Should MFA Programs Teach the Business of Writing?

Should MFA Programs Teach the Business of Writing?

Here are the most common arguments against teaching the business of writing in an MFA program—and why such arguments are flawed.
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Are Fictional Characters Protected Under Copyright Law?

Copyright law is written to protect stories, not characters, but over time the law on character protection has evolved.
Where My Money Comes From

Where My Money Comes From

A look at how the sources of my income shifted between 2016–2020, with online teaching now earning the lion's share.
How Much Do Authors Earn? Here's the Answer No One Likes.

How Much Do Authors Earn? Here’s the Answer No One Likes.

What you earn is about what business model you can envision or build for yourself and whether it's sustainable for you over the long term.
Why Waiting Too Long to Register Your Copyright Is a Big Mistake

Why Waiting Too Long to Register Your Copyright Is a Big Mistake

Though registration with the Copyright Office is no longer required for protection, there are still many reasons why it’s important.
when you need permission - fair use guidelines

A Writer’s Guide to Fair Use and Permissions + Sample Permissions Letter

If you need to request permissions from an author or publisher, here are general guidelines, plus a sample letter you can customize.
Image: wooden match with green top standing out from a field of wooden matches with red tops

3 Keys to Freelance Editing: Position, Package, and Price

When you’re starting out as a freelancer, it can be tempting to say yes to every project. But, as in writing, the key to success is often to go narrow.
Image: graphic of collaged film reels

Books to Film: The Option Versus The Shopping Agreement

If your goal is to see your book become a movie, it’s important to understand the rights you grant—and the money you earn—during initial development.
Questions to Ask Your Publisher Before You Sign the Contract

Questions to Ask Your Publisher Before You Sign the Contract

Every author must have a frank conversation with their publisher about book marketing—the earlier the better. Here's how to approach the conversation.
Image: book readers sitting back-to-back on the ground

Why Do Writers Hire Book Coaches?

Book coaching is much more than editorial support. Coaches help clients complete a transformation—from someone who wants to write a book into someone who has created a book they are proud of.
Image: Jim McCarthy, Paula Munier

What Does It Mean to Be A Full-Time Author?

In this Q&A, literary agents Jim McCarthy and Paula Munier discuss the priorities and responsibilities—to yourself and to others—of being a working writer.
Image: golden eggs in a basket

Intellectual Property: The Big Picture for Authors

Ensure that your work continues to generate earnings for you and your heirs by staying on top of contracts, royalties, licensing, and available formats.
Image: three keys

3 Critical Things You Won’t Learn in an MFA Program

Writing takes grit and so does publishing, but your odds are better if you understand what you’re up against. In this guest post, author and educator Susan DeFreitas shares some “secrets” everyone should know.
Racing snails near the finish line

What Happened After I Lost My Agent—Twice

A series of setbacks can easily lead to feelings of failure. In this guest post, author Rachel Pieh Jones offers lessons on overcoming discouragement, refocusing, and getting back on track.
Hourglass with coins, estimate time and cost for copyediting

Copyediting Jobs: How to Estimate Hours and Pricing

Copy editors are known for perfectionism. But while there’s no end to the fussing you can do, there’s a limit to what someone will pay you to do it. In this guest post, CMOS contributing editor Carol Saller explains how to determine what your time is worth.
Sarah LaPolla Kim Lionetti Establishing Long Term Writing Career

How to Establish a Long-Term Writing Career: Insight From Two Literary Agents

For some authors, a single book deal is validation enough. For others, it's the beginning of a lifelong journey through en ever-changing landscape. In this Q&A, literary agents Sarah LaPolla and Kim Lionetti discuss what it takes to sustain a career beyond the first big break.
Public Libraries: How Authors Can Increase Both Discoverability and Earnings

Public Libraries: How Authors Can Increase Both Discoverability and Earnings

Libraries represent a valuable opportunity for a book discoverability and sales, but librarians may not know your book exists without marketing outreach.
schmoozing for introverts

Schmoozing for Introverts: How to Network Like a Pro

Learn a few simple tricks to schmooze like a pro at your next writing conference—or at least operate like a less awkward version of yourself.
A Primer on Estate Planning as a Writer

A Primer on Estate Planning as a Writer

Whether you start writing as a child or in your golden years, it's never too early to learn about estate planning. You may wonder which is best, a will or trust, for bequeathing your written work. Both have their advantages. Here's what you need to know.

3 Types of Contracts Every Writer Should Understand

Publishing relies on contractual relationships, but not all contracts are equally enforceable. Here's what you need to know about forms of legal contracts.
copyright term in the US

What Is Public Domain? (And Why 2019 Is a Big Year)

Today's guest post is by intellectual property lawyer and novelist Brad Frazer (@bfrazjd). The “public domain” is not a place.
writing life time balance

3 Principles for Finding Time to Write

How do you navigate the writing life when you have an intense day job? Does such a thing as work-life balance exist?
author earnings

Author Income Surveys Are Misleading and Flawed—And Focus on the Wrong Message for Writers

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.
online crisis

How to Lessen Your Chances of an Online Crisis

It can happen to you. Your carefully built author business and your reputation can come under attack and threaten to disrupt your livelihood and your personal life. But you can help prevent a crisis in the first place by using some simple engagement strategies.
Copywriting 101: How to Earn Money By Writing for Businesses

Copywriting 101: How to Earn Money By Writing for Businesses

Writing for businesses is a way for skilled writers to earn a good, dependable income. Someone is responsible for writing all the websites, brochures, and marketing materials out there. Why not you?
Building Your Business Model as a Writer

Building Your Business Model as a Writer

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.
Writer Unboxed

Building a Strong Author Platform: It’s Not Just About the Numbers

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.
What I Earned (and How) During My First Year of Full-Time Freelancing

What I Earned (and How) During My First Year of Full-Time Freelancing

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.
Business of Being a Writer

My New Book, The Business of Being a Writer, Is Now Available!

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.
3 Principles of a Successful Freelance Career

3 Principles of a Successful Freelance Career

When I began working as a freelancer, I wanted to find clients to pay me in the thousands. Once I figured out how to land writing jobs, I was working long hours, always seeking more clients, and somehow still getting paid next to nothing. I was missing something on the business side of things—an essential piece of the puzzle.
business partner

The Risks and Rewards of Bringing Your Spouse or Partner Into Your Business

There are real risks to working together on a business with your spouse or partner, especially if you are both still learning how to do it well and manage your household through the uncertainty of the start-up existence. Adopting formal agreements on how to interact with one another can help avoid stress and anxiety.
choosing a pen name

How to Choose and Set Up a Pen Name

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
taxes for authors

The Pressure to Release More, More, More Titles

Whenever you produce titles fast, you're making trade-offs.
Authors Guild

My Recent Work with The Authors Guild: New Publishing Resources and Classes

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.
International Freelancer

Freelance Writing IS a Viable Career (Don’t Listen to the Naysayers)

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.
Indie Author Fringe

Improve Book Sales Through Better Descriptions and Keyword Targeting

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.
nonfiction authors lawsuit

5 Things Nonfiction Authors Can Get Sued For

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.
Mall of America

Why We Should Pause Before Mocking the Mall of America Writing Residency

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.
online writing class

So You Want to Teach an Online Writing Course?

A course’s success depends on anticipating and understanding the needs of writing students and producing the outcomes they most desire.
author platform building

Building a Platform to Land a Book Deal: Why It Often Fails

If you're preparing to pitch your nonfiction work to agents or publishers, you may have heard about the necessity of platform. What if you don't have one?