Jane Friedman AWP

Advice for Undergrad Students Pursuing a Creative Writing Degree

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 […]

Writer's Digest (October 2014)

The Evolving Role of the Literary Agent

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 […]

NoiseTrade Books

How to Use NoiseTrade Books as a Strategic Marketing Tool

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 […]

Jane Eyre Detail

The 4 Different Types of Conflict in Dialogue

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 […]

Both Sides Now: A New York Editor and Author Goes Indie

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. […]

Illustration by Helena Perez / Flickr

5 Mistakes You’ll Make on the Way to Publishing Success

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 […]

Steven de Polo / Flickr

How to Write a Competitive Title Analysis

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 […]

Scratch Q2 2014 Faith

The Role of Faith (the Non-Religious Kind) in the Writing Life

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 […]

by ChaoticMind 75 / Flickr

6 Ways Micro-Publishing Strengthens Your Author Career

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.

Colleen Gleason covers

The Importance of Your Book Cover: Achieving the Right Fit

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 […]

© Salim Photography/

The Power of Understatement in Fiction Writing

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.

Page One

Why Editors Focus on Page One

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?

Photo by Caro Wallis / Flickr

Submission: 6 Rules of Thumb From an Editor-Turned-Writer

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 […]

Fine-Tuning Fiction by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

Your Story Opening: Shock vs. Seduction

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.

Flickr / Eole

If You Struggle With Plot, Here’s How to Think About It Differently

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.

Knocking on doors of traditional publishers

How Long Should You Keep Trying to Get Published?

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?

Replacement Child by Judy Mandel

Getting a Traditional Book Deal After Self-Publishing

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 […]

26 Questions on Writing & Publishing: My Answers on Reddit

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 […]

Bradlee Frazer

Q&A on Copyright With an Attorney

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 […]

Plympton: serialized fiction for digital readers

Plympton: A New Effort to Produce Successful Serial Fiction

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 […]

The Plot Whisperer Workbook by Martha Alderson

7 Essential Elements of Scene + Scene Structure Exercise

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 […]

You Should Really Write a Book

Two Deadly Sins of Memoir Writing

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 […]

Copyright symbol

Copyright Is Not a Verb

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 […]

Benjamin Percy

Avoid Opening With Dialogue

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 […]

Rejection

Tips for Dealing With Rejection + Other Success Strategies

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 […]

KFUN radio

Notes From My On-Air Interview With Writer’s Block

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 […]

Question mark

How to Impress the People You Interview (and Be Professional)

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 […]

Wired for Story by Lisa Cron

The Reader Must Want to Know What Happens Next

Today’s post is excerpted from Wired for Story by Lisa Cron, just released from Ten Speed Press. We think in story. It’s hardwired in our brain. It’s how we make strategic sense of the otherwise overwhelming world around us. Simply put, the brain constantly seeks meaning from all the input thrown at it, yanks out […]

The Birds Tree by ploop26 / DeviantArt

Why Self-Publishing Is a Tragic Term

Today’s guest post is by Ed Cyzewski. You may recall him from his previous post here, When Self-Publishing Is More Useful as a Marketing Tool. My friend Shawn recently released a book that shares his journey into full-time writing. It involves a failed small business, $50,000 in debt, a difficult return to his parents’ basement, […]

Trademark symbol

Trademark Is Not a Verb: Guidelines From a Trademark Lawyer

Today’s guest post is from lawyer Brad Frazer. He has also written two other posts for this blog: Copyright Is Not a Verb and Is It Fair Use? 7 Questions to Ask Before Using Copyrighted Material. I bet I get one call or e-mail per day from someone wishing  to “trademark” something.  “Hey, Brad,” they […]

Silas Dent Zobal

Fiction Is About What We Can’t Say

If you write fiction, then you don’t want to miss the latest Glimmer Train bulletin, which features three wonderful essays focusing on craft. One of the essays, by Silas Dent Sobal, is a powerful meditation on both how things die and how one writes fiction. Here’s how it starts: I have a sense that what […]