Image: Sculpture of Samantha Smith with Peace Dove, located on the State Capitol's grounds, Augusta, Maine.

Are You Sure You Don’t Have an Author Platform?

An amateur historian finds that her passion has led to enough expertise and authority for her book proposal to be taken seriously.
Image: An author smiles at an audience member as he prepares to autograph a book at an in-store book signing.

The Right Way to Ask a Published Writer for Publishing Advice

Here are some tips on what to do before approaching a published writer with questions about how to get your book published.
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How Bad Publishers Hurt Authors

When her indie publisher goes AWOL, an author finds the community and resources she needs to pick up the pieces and persevere.
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What I Learned From 90 Queries

Even with an excellent query and opening pages, you’ll still get rejections. A lot of them. Success comes to those who refuse to give up.
Elise McHugh & Stephen Hull of UNM Press

When Is It Smart to Submit Your Work to a University Press? (You’d Be Surprised!)

When a Vermont author’s book was accepted by a New Mexico university press, she decided to ask its editors about the acquisitions process.
To Nail Your Book Proposal: Think in Synergies, Not Sections

To Nail Your Book Proposal: Think in Synergies, Not Sections

A successful nonfiction book proposal addresses market demand and cements the writer’s authority throughout the entire document.
3 Common Pitfalls in Memoir Queries

3 Common Pitfalls in Memoir Queries

Memoirists have a lot of leeway in choosing a pitching strategy. But with freedom comes great responsibility, and it's easier to get into trouble when there isn't a tried-and-true formula to follow.
University bookstore on campus

Why You Should Consider a University Press for Your Book

University presses are not just for scholars, and many are far more open-minded than you may think.
To Everyone Who Wants Me to Read Their Writing and Tell Them What to Do

To Everyone Who Wants Me to Read Their Writing and Tell Them What to Do

To achieve writing success—especially commercial success—requires an inner drive that pushes you forward no matter what feedback you receive.
Start Here: How to Self-Publish Your Book

Start Here: How to Self-Publish Your Book

This is an introductory guide to the major self-publishing options available to authors today, and how to choose the right service for you.
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The Peer Review Process: What Sets University Presses Apart

During peer review, expert scholars evaluate your proposal. Their suggestions can improve your book if you synthesize them thoughtfully.
How to Get Your First Freelance Byline (and Why Even Fiction Writers Should Freelance)

How to Get Your First Freelance Byline (and Why Even Fiction Writers Should Freelance)

Freelance writing—even for little or no pay—offers a low-stakes way to gain publication credit, hone your skills, and raise your visibility.
Your Final Responsibility to Your Story: Creative Stewardship

Your Final Responsibility to Your Story: Creative Stewardship

When you’ve finished your story, it’s time to step into a stewardship role to place it in the best position to connect with readers.
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How to Find Compelling Comps for Your Book

Identifying comparable titles helps agents and publishers understand where your book fits in the market and who your most likely readers are.
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What If It Takes 12 Years to Get an Agent?

What keeps many writers from a book deal isn’t a polished manuscript or proposal. It’s a sense of the publishing landscape as it really is.
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Hybrid Publishing: Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know

Hybrid publishing is like hiring a contractor: You pay them to oversee the design and construction and, when it’s done, you own the result.
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How I Landed a Book Deal Via Twitter—Unintentionally

For one unagented author, landing a publisher was a result of preparation, transparency, and a well-developed network.
Fiona Higgins

A Successful Author Was Rejected By Her Publisher. Here’s How She Found Another.

When big publishers rejected a book due to marketing concerns, one author forewent an advance to work with an indie that saw potential.
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I Spent Nearly Two Decades Writing and Editing My Book. It Finally Found a Publisher.

Perseverance isn’t just about finding the right agent or publisher—it’s also about refining your work into the best version of itself.
how to find publishers and agents

How to Find Publishers

If you have a book idea or manuscript, one of your first questions is probably: How do I find a publisher? Here are the most popular, essential resources.
Message inside a glass bottle washed up on the beach

Are Editors Responding to Submissions During Coronavirus?

Despite the pandemic, getting that proposal off your desk allows you to shift your energy to platform—a bigger deal than most authors realize.
Image: young girls in period costume at historic printing press

What I’ve Learned Writing Middle Grade Nonfiction

Librarians and teachers are clamoring for more history nonfiction for younger students. Author Tim Grove offers tips on writing to this unique segment.
Comprehensive Guide to Finding, Hiring and Working With an Editor

The Comprehensive Guide to Finding, Hiring, and Working with an Editor

This post explains four critical types of book editing, why you need an editor, how to choose one, and what your editor can and cannot do.
how to write a novel synopsis

How to Write a Novel Synopsis

Learn how to craft a strong novel synopsis, while avoiding the most common mistakes, including the dreaded "synopsis speak."
3 Unique Research Methods for Identifying Small Publishers

3 Unique Research Methods for Identifying Small Publishers

Small presses are their own ecosystem. To understand the landscape, study the review sites, awards, and distributors catering specifically to that market.
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Using Partnerships to Help Land a Nonfiction Book Deal

Unless you’re a celebrity, your expertise in a field may not be enough to interest publishers. A partner can increase your book’s credibility and reach.
Image: Query tracker spreadsheet, tab labeled All

Here’s a System and Template for Tracking Your Submissions (Bonus: It Reduces the Sting of Rejection)

You can't control rejections, but you can control your next steps. Staying organized and focused helps isolate and minimize the impact of any one rejection.
Image: a pair of cufflinks with question marks on them.

The Complete Guide to Query Letters

The query letter has one purpose, and one purpose only: to seduce the agent or editor into reading or requesting your work. The query letter is so much of a sales piece that it's quite possible to write one without having written a word of the manuscript. All it requires is a firm grasp of your story premise.
morning coffee

5 Common Story Openings to Avoid—If You Can Help It

While it's not wrong to open in these ways—and a great writer can make even the most pedestrian series of events read as fascinating—consider if you can find a more advantageous way to begin.
Image: car off road and stuck in mud

7 Common Mistakes in First-Time Memoir

Readers come to a memoir in hopes it will shed light on their own life experiences. Stay on the right track by focusing on what makes your story unique and engaging.
Net Success: Catching a Publisher

How I Caught a Publisher Unexpectedly

Writer Nancy Jorgenson tells her story of surprise success in landing just the right publisher for her book—one she had never heard of.
winning essay contests

How I Won My Third Essay Contest

Writing an essay that wins a contest is not an easy task, but it’s not impossible either. Tammy Delatorre explains the writing and revision process that has led to multiple contest wins.
Linda Camacho and Jennifer Soloway

Beyond Good Writing: Two Literary Agents Discuss What Matters Most

Good literary agents keep fighting for books they believe in. But how do agents decide which authors to rep? In this guest Q&A, literary agents Linda Camacho and Jennifer March Soloway describe their ideal projects and offer strategic advice for authors.
literary journals

Simplify Your Submissions to Literary Journals

The commonly accepted strategy in literary journal submissions—"study the publications you submit to"—can discourage emerging writers. Here's an alternative.
novel query problems

When Your Query Reveals a Story-Level Problem

When novelists struggle to pitch their work, it may have more to do with the book itself than the query letter. Editor and book coach Susan DeFreitas discusses three reasons why a promising work never lands a traditional deal.
platform unpublished

Building a Platform for Your Work When You’re Unpublished

When I finished my biography, I studied how to get it published. Websites advised: platform, platform, platform. But I had no relevant background. Now what?
balance budget

Balancing Your Submission Budget for Literary Journals

Although the world of submissions can be complex and expensive, balancing your submission budget doesn't have to be. Here are some tips to help you minimize expenditures and maximize profit.
literary journals

Lit Mag Resources You Can’t Do Without

Today's guest post is by Jenn Scheck-Kahn, founder of Journal of the Month. Literary magazines, also called literary journals or
define and describe your readership

How to Define and Describe Your Readership: A Confusing Issue for Nonfiction Book Proposals

If you’re pitching a nonfiction book, at some point, an editor or agent will expect you to describe the readership that your book is intended for.
small presses

How to Evaluate Small Publishers—Plus Digital-Only Presses and Hybrids

As the publishing industry has transformed in the digital age, small press activity has proliferated. Here's how authors can evaluate their offerings.
What It Really Takes to Break Through with Your First Book Deal

What It Really Takes to Break Through with Your First Book Deal

In many ways, it’s never been harder to get a traditional book deal. At the same time, there have never been more ways to establish a career as an author.
should you typset your own book

Can You (Should You) Typeset Your Own Book?

If people judge books by their covers, then typesetting is the difference between a brief or a lasting impression. The cover may grab a reader’s eye, but what the reader sees when they crack open the book is what will hold their attention.
Find a Literary Agent

How to Find a Literary Agent for Your Book

A step-by-step guide to finding literary agents, plus how to select the right agent for you and your work.
why traditional publishing

Why Pursue Traditional Publishing? (Are There Enough Good Reasons?)

What's the overriding reason for an author to find an agent and a traditional publishing deal? Is it possible that the reasons may be flawed?
confusion on query letters

The Conflicting Advice You’ll Receive on Query Letters

At its core, a query letter is a sales document, and so it’s meant to sell. But opinions differ on the best possible sales approach in a query.
crowdfunding by the numbers

What Authors Need to Know About Crowdfunding Their Book: A Case Study by the Numbers

Any author can successfully launch their book through crowdfunding if they are willing to put in the effort. However, it may not be the right path for everyone.
how to title your nonfiction book

Secrets to Developing the Best Title for Your Nonfiction Book

If you're pitching your book to agents or editors, the perfect title for your book will define your subject and grab their positive attention. It should be a label they can confidently share with colleagues in editorial board meetings and use to convince the powers-that-be to release money to acquire your book.
comparing yourself to other writers

Emotional Etiquette for the Writer Seeking an Agent

Sometimes guidelines for writers discourage perfectly private, internal envy, anger, indignation, etc., directed toward other writers, or toward agents (or publishers) rejecting work. But that hardly seems realistic, nor is it fair to ask humans to stop being human.
pitching agents at writers conferences

How to Pitch Agents at a Writers Conference

Pitching agents at a writers conference can be a difficult task for the new writer. Here's how to make it a little easier on yourself.
how do you respond to criticism of your work

How Do You Respond to Criticism of Your Work? 6 Patterns to Recognize

Are you getting the most from professional feedback, or are you inadvertently sabotaging your progress? Look for these patterns in your response.