You’ve probably heard the adage that you must begin your novel with action—even if it’s not the main action of the book. While this rule is fairly well-accepted in fiction teaching circles, not everyone agrees with it.
When we talk about plot as separate from the characters, the symbols, the locales, the dialogue, and the philosophical introspection, what we are doing is privileging events over everything else. But nothing exists in a vacuum.
My website (JaneFriedman.com) has been named a 101 Best Website for Writers by Writer’s Digest.
What is crowdfunded publishing? Learn about the two types of models now prevalent, plus the major services you can choose from.
It’s nearly spring, and that means conference season is about to go into full swing! Here’s a list of online & offline events I’m involved in.
A traditionally published children’s author discusses how she’s launched a successful indie publishing effort in less than two years.
Writers flounder trying to figure out how to make their idea compelling enough to sustain a great novel. Here’s how to go from ordinary to extraordinary.
Most novels have some amount of back story—because they rarely start from the beginning of a character’s life. However, writers tend to misuse it or include too much.
Giving away your work isn’t a problem if you’ve developed a strategy around it, and know how to turn new readers into fans.
I’ve revisited my No. 1 post on how to get published—adding more advice and instruction.
Even though I’ve been actively teaching in the university setting for more than 10 years, I’ve nearly always been in front of non-writing majors. (Right now, at the University of Virginia, I teach media studies majors.) However, my undergraduate degree is a BFA in creative writing, and recently the AWP approached me to write an essay […]
Can we trust our memories as “facts?” And what if others disagree? How do we explain our creative process and answer their protests?
In the most recent issue of Writer’s Digest magazine, you’ll find my feature article, “The Evolving Agent.” I discuss how literary agents’ business models and services are changing to fit the needs of their clients, who are increasingly self-publishing or choosing hybrid paths. The article covers: the value of agent-assisted self-publishing what happens when agents use […]
Note from Jane: I am very grateful to Ed Cyzewski (@edcyzewski) for today’s guest post, where he shares valuable insights about book marketing via NoiseTrade (not to mention email newsletters and ebook giveaways). If you’d like to share insights from your book marketing experiments in a guest post, please contact me. First, a Bit of Background In […]
Today’s guest post is by author K.M. Weiland (@KMWeiland), author of the newly released Jane Eyre: Writer’s Digest Annotated Classics. Conflict in dialogue provides authors with one of their best opportunities for jazzing up their stories and powering their plots. Slow scene? No problemo. Just throw in a nice, heated little argument. What could be […]
Today’s guest post is by author Leslie Wells. I’ve been on both sides of the publishing desk—as an acquiring executive editor for several decades, and as an author. The experience has provided insights that I wouldn’t have had otherwise, and made me more sympathetic to the nerve-wracking process of trying to get your book published. […]
Today’s guest post is by Carmen Amato (@CarmenConnects), author of The Hidden Light of Mexico City and the Emilia Cruz series. You have a polished manuscript in hand, and you’re ready to publish. But the road from finished manuscript to bestseller list is more like a labyrinth rather than a straight path. There are dozens of choices and decisions ahead. Here are […]
The following post has been excerpted and adapted from The Author Training Manual by Nina Amir, recently released by Writer’s Digest Books. If you’re embarking on a nonfiction book project, your analysis of the competitive landscape is critical, whether you self-publish or traditionally publish. You need to understand and be able to explain how your […]
The latest issue of my magazine Scratch is now available! The theme is Faith. If you’re not a subscriber, here’s what you can read for free. The Scratch Interview by Cheryl Strayed by Manjula Martin In this revealing interview, New York Times bestseller Cheryl Strayed talks about success, artistic faith, and how to bounce a rent check […]
Your task is to express your goal as a writer in one sentence. Get it right, because it’s the single most important sentence you will ever write. It will sustain you and provide a compass for your entire writing journey.
Micro-published books are short, tight, and swift. A meaningful discussion of micro-publishing has been pushed aside during the ongoing tug-of-war between traditional publishing and independent publishing (self-publishing). But we are well beyond “everyone is a writer” at this point. We have progressed into “everyone is a publisher,” if they wish to be—and we have been living in this realm for some time already. Fortunately, micro-publishing benefits the industry as a whole by bringing some much-needed simplicity and directness into a publishing equation that is often weighted down by its own complexity and contracts. And it also benefits you, the writer.
Is it possible to successfully publish and sell your e-books—without a platform—as long as you choose the right genre?
Is a low-residency MFA degree in creative writing right for you? Here’s what you need to know.
Note from Jane: The following post is the first in a series that will offer tips and advice from successful authors about self-publishing, specifically those who use Barnes & Noble’s Nook Press as part of their overall sales, marketing, and distribution strategy. This series is sponsored by Nook Press, which means they have paid for […]
This infographic breaks down the key 5 publishing paths, their value to authors, the potential pitfalls, and examples of each.
One of the most useful and powerful devices for the fiction writer is understatement. You tell the reader less so that the reader knows more. Instead of having everything spelt out, the reader is given, in a very careful way, just enough information for the imagination to go to work. From understatement the reader can derive great pleasure and satisfaction.
Learn about four of the biggest pitfalls in story beginnings: false suspense, prologues, dream sequences, and too much backstory.
Learn how self-published novelist Ransom Stephens landed a two-book deal with Amazon—without even querying.
Some writers think a small press is something you have to make the best of. Yet small presses can often serve as a first—even best—option. Three case studies show why.
Writers are often advised to fill their scenes with rich detail—to show, not tell. However, taken too far, you can clutter or bloat your story with too much irrelevant description.
Editors can tell within a couple pages if a manuscript will be acceptable to them. How? What makes this decision so clear to an editor and so muddy to an author?
Today’s guest post is by writer and editor Jennifer Niesslein (@jniesslein), who is based in Charlottesville, Virginia. I’m experiencing karma. For more than a decade, I co-edited a literary magazine—I was the person who wouldn’t respond regarding your writing for three months, sometimes longer. And now, for the past nine months, I’ve been writing. It […]
This infographic breaks down the key 5 publishing paths, their value to authors, the potential pitfalls, and examples of each.
Self-publishing is not for every writer—you must have specific traits. Ask yourself the following 15 questions before you decide to go it alone.
Should authors take advantage of the Amazon KDP Select program? A comprehensive discussion of who the program is well-suited for, plus best strategies.
There are no “rules” for agent-assisted self-publishing, but the biggest drawbacks are usually loss of control and loss of royalties. All authors should negotiate a contract beforehand that protects their rights and lifetime earnings.
A reader is drawn into a story in one of two ways: shocked or seduced. This is called the hook, and it must be in the first three paragraphs of the text, preferably in the first sentence. The hook also sets up the initial pace of the story, which is maintained through the beginning of the tale.
The notion of “plot” is a misconception that leads too many writers to get confused and focus on all the wrong things. Instead, writers should focus on using the plot-free concept of series. A series is the repetition and variation of a narrative element within a story, the process of improvement or deterioration which creates the narrative arc.
Don’t you wish someone could tell you how close you are to getting traditionally published? Don’t you wish someone could say, “If you just keep at it for three more years, you’re certain to make it!” Or, even if it would be heartbreaking, wouldn’t it be nice to be told that you’re wasting your time, so that you can move on, try another tack (like self-publishing), or perhaps even change course entirely to produce some other creative work?
Today’s guest post is by Judy L. Mandel, author of the Replacement Child, forthcoming from Seal Press in March 2013. I asked her to tell the story of self-publishing her memoir, which ultimately led to a traditional book deal from Seal. Most authors don’t give any credence to luck, but they lie. Luck has so […]
Last Friday, I had the honor of spending a day with the Reddit writing community, where I participated in an AMA (Ask Me Anything). I answered such questions as: Is self-epublishing being overblown? Where can you find freelance editing and copyediting jobs? What are some good conferences to meet agents in person? How has agenting […]
By far, I receive the most questions from writers on copyright, mainly due to this post: When Do You Need to Secure Permissions? So I feel very lucky to have found an intellectual property lawyer, Brad Frazer, who is friendly and enthusiastic about providing answers to writers on a range of copyright issues. He’s written three other […]
In the past year, I’ve run two posts specifically related to serial fiction—a guest post by Roz Morris and a Q&A with Sean Platt. I also wrote a more in-depth piece for Publishing Perspectives on the topic last year. Last month, Amazon announced Kindle Serials: a new, formal publishing program, exclusive to Kindle, that focuses […]
Today’s post is excerpted from The Plot Whisperer Workbook (Adams Media, 2012) by Martha Alderson. Two lucky commenters were chosen to receive a free copy of the book: Tanette Smith and Mindy Halleck. Congratulations! In a scene, a character acts and reacts to people, places, and events. In this respect, scenes are the basic building […]
Today’s post is excerpted from You Should Really Write a Book by Regina Brooks and Brenda Lane Richardson. Copyright © 2012 by the authors and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Griffin. In considering memoir writing through the prism of relationships, it’s important to alert you to two deadly sins. From the standpoint of trying […]
Today’s guest post is by copyright lawyer Brad Frazer. He has written two other posts for this site: Trademark Is Not a Verb and Is It Fair Use? 7 Questions to Ask Before Using Copyrighted Material. “I copyrighted my book by putting © on the bottom of the first page.” “This picture is on the Internet, so […]
It’s a typical pet peeve of editors and agents: Stories that begin with dialogue. In the latest Glimmer Train bulletin, author Benjamin Percy explains why a dialogue opening is so often ineffective: When a reader first picks up a story, they are like a coma patient—fluttering open their eyes in an unfamiliar world, wondering, where am […]
Earlier this week, I was the featured interviewee over at Andrea Hurst’s Authornomics series. I answer questions such as: What’s the most important thing a writer should focus on to grow their career? What are some tips for dealing with rejection? How can self-publishing authors be successful in an ever-changing environment? Click here to read […]
Last week, I was a guest on KFUN radio, where I offered advice and insights for writers. Topics covered: First steps in creating an online presence Resources for e-publishing How to determine the best tools for marketing and promoting your books 3 tips on effective blogging Click here to read a full summary of the […]
Today’s guest post is from author Christina Katz. Her most recent book is The Writer’s Workout. Not too long ago I received a formal interview request, which was well executed, so I said I would make time for the interview. Once we got on the phone, the interviewer said, “Okay, go ahead.” I thought, “Oh […]