Author Archives: Ben Sobieck

Organizing a Writers Workshop: Marketing (Part 2)

Today’s guest post is by NO RULES regular Susan Cushman, director of the 2011 Memphis Creative Nonfiction Workshop. Last month, I wrote about how to plan the budget, faculty, venue, housing, meals, and social events for a writing workshop—specifically for the 2011 Memphis Creative Nonfiction Workshop. Today’s post is about what...

Midlist Nonfiction Books: Too Much Effort for Too Little Return?

Pictured above: A slide from Margaret Atwood’s marvelous presentation at TOC on the future for authors When it comes to non-narrative nonfiction books, I don’t think of the authors of these books as authors. I think of them as experts, entrepreneurs or business professionals who are interested in authoring a book...

How to Start a Successful Newsletter

Next week, I’m teaching an online class on how to start a successful e-mail newsletter. This is a topic I’ve covered here at No Rules before, but this class will allow me to show you in-depth how to get started, discuss strategies, and go behind the scenes with free services so...

Is It OK If Writing Is Also Your Day Job?

It’s something I’ve often said to young writers: Study or work at anything but writing. Go lead a separate life, and learn or do something that will enrich whatever you end up writing later. In the latest Glimmer Train bulletin, Iowa grad Anna North offers a different and compelling perspective. Here’s...

How to Build Your Website Without Knowing Code

Today I sent out the latest issue of my e-mail newsletter, which I call “3 Happy Things.” Each issue has a different theme, and this one focused on how to build a website for free, without knowing code, in less than an hour. Click here to view the newsletter on codeless...

Best Tweets for Writers (week ending 4/29/11)

I watch Twitter, so you don’t have to. Visit each Sunday for the week’s best Tweets. If I missed a great Tweet, leave it in the comments. Also: Check out these upcoming online classes from Writer’s Digest: I’ll be presenting How to Start a Successful E-mail Newsletter on May 12. How...

Not Taking it Personally

One of the best parts of receiving an MFA is the steady feedback you get about your work from both teachers and classmates. This feedback is often invaluable in the rewrite process, and when you’ve been working on a chapter or story for so long, and you’ve been thinking about it...

Why Do We Think Talent Ought to Be Rewarded?

I’ve been having conversations on Twitter about whether determination is more important than talent. (It was sparked by this recent blog post.) These seem to be the key concepts at stake: Talent. I’d define this as what you’re born with, what doesn’t change. When you have talent, it may lead nowhere...

Friday Mish-Mash of Cool Things

A lot of things have crossed my desk lately, so let me share them all at once. Above: Edgar Award winners Ruth Rendell, Lawrence Block, Peter Blauner, and others discuss their writing and what they consider the ultimate reward for penning a great mystery novel. StoryADay May Writing Challenge. This is...

Determination: More Important to Success Than Talent

Now that I’m a full-time teacher, one of the greatest pleasures I have is supporting the talent of my students. When I was in college, I often wondered if my writing professors could tell which students would “make it.” I thought it was connected to raw talent—and that professors could see...

Everyone Wants to "Help" Writers. But Whose Help Do You Really Need?

You’ve probably heard the “Wild West” cliche more than once this year in reference to all the changes happening in the publishing industry. For starters, there’s the Borders bankruptcy, the Amanda Hocking self-pub success story, the Eisler defection, and Amazon striking deals with New York houses for print distribution of their...

Advice from Those Who've Made It

Everybody’s got that one friend who keeps the group apprised of all things cool and culturally relevant. My close friend, Theresa, is that person for me. Theresa was the first person I knew to have an IPhone, she knows the best restaurants in Chicago that don’t make it into Chicago Magazine...

Ask the Agent: Kelly Mortimer

In the March/April 2011 issue of Writer’s Digest, you’ll find Kelly Mortimer featured in my Ask the Agent column. Kelly went above and beyond the call of duty in answering my questions, and I felt bad that I had to cut most of what she had to say. So I promised...

Best Tweets for Writers (week ending 4/22/11)

I watch Twitter, so you don’t have to. Visit each Sunday for the week’s best Tweets. If I missed a great Tweet, leave it in the comments. Best of Best My letter to beginning science-fiction writers; 2,000 words of advice@RobertJSawyer Read this and work out whether you should rewrite that scene...

Editing

In my previous posts, I’ve talked about rejection letters and how they make writers feel. But what I’m learning in my class this semester is that the best way to feel better about rejection is to become an editor yourself. As editors of Columbia’s literary anthology Hair Trigger, we read through...

The Big Lesson I Learned This Year As a Professor

It’s all about structure! In my guest post this month for Writer Unboxed, I offer 3 specific ways to add more structure into your writing life. I also point to free worksheets and exercises, as well as the most helpful online articles I’ve seen on goal-setting. Click here to read the...

My Thoughts on Drinking + Life + Writing

This week, I’m the featured interview over at Drinking Diaries, a site devoted to women’s experiences with alcohol. I had 2 thoughts when I was invited to participate: Oh, fun!!! Oh no. The stereotype of the alcoholic writer always makes me a little self-conscious when I talk about drinking, or liking...

Back to Basics: Writing & Publishing Memoir

It can be very difficult to sell a memoir when you’re not famous. Without a celebrity’s fan base, or a loyal and captive audience, then you need to write like a master, or have such a fantastical story that no one can divert their attention from it! The other question that...

The Two Rules for Successful Freelance Pricing

Today’s guest post is from Laurie Lewis, who has had a freelance medical writing business for more than 25 years. She is the author of What to Charge: Pricing Strategies for Freelancers and Consultants. I know a guest should be gracious to a hostess, so I hate to disagree with Jane....

Best Tweets for Writers (week ending 4/15/11)

I watch Twitter, so you don’t have to. Visit each Sunday for the week’s best Tweets. If I missed a great Tweet, leave it in the comments. Getting Published + Agents/Editors Excellent advice!–>Top Five Mistakes Writers Make at Conferences, by @RoniLoren@inkyelbows In the Future, Everyone Will Have a Chance. (But Not...

Writing a Life

Today’s guest post is by the lovely Darrelyn Saloom. Follow her on Twitter, or read her previous posts for NO RULES. Pictured above: Garden Cottage at Bay Breeze Guest House— Why write? Not for the money. You may hit the big time, some do. Most don’t. So why spend years and...

5 Innovative Poets to Watch & Learn From

As everyone knows, you can’t make a living from writing and selling poetry. Or can you? Well, it IS next to impossible to make a living by only writing poems. Sometimes I wonder if that’s why poets seem to be the ones I see most often experimenting and innovating. They know...

What is Your Publishing Persona?

Some people in my grad program submit their work to magazines and contests often, some sporadically, and some not at all. I’ll freely admit that I fall into the first category. I guess it’s because before I started my MFA, I spent so many years writing in the dark, afraid to...

Helpful Insights for Self-Publishing Novelists

I moderated a panel at SXSW called The Self-Publishing Novelist, which included insights from 3 experienced experts: John Sundman. Read an interview with John here, Building an Enthusiastic Fan Base as a Self-Published Author. Carolyn McCray. Read her helpful articles over at Digital Book World, including Best Practices for Amazon E-Book...