Author Archives: QQAdmin1

What's the difference between self-publishing and print-on-demand (POD)?

Q: What’s the difference between self-publishing and print on demand (POD)? Is one better than the other? —Rachele LaBello A: With self-publishing, a company generally charges you an upfront fee (roughly between $500 and $1,000) and then does print-runs, or large orders, just like a traditional publishing house. You pay the...

Complement vs. Compliment

Q: I’m always getting the words “complement” and “compliment” confused. Can you set me straight once and for all?—Adam P. A: These two words used to give me a hard time, too, but with a little trick that I learned I was able to set it straight once and for all—and,...

Two Pitches, One Magazine

Q: I’ve written two travel articles about two separate areas in a certain Canadian province. Should I mail them together to editors since they would go well together, or do they need to be mailed separately?—Sharon L. A: First thing you’ll want to do is send a query letter to the...

How Do I Copyright My Manuscript?

Q: I recently finished a novel and want to know what I can do to have it copyrighted. Is there a special process? –Sylvia R. A: Whenever you put something in a tangible format—written on paper, typed on computer, chiseled on stone tablets—it’s copyrighted and protected under U.S. copyright law. No...

Literary fiction vs. Maintstream fiction

Q: I see these two terms bandied about on almost every literary blog and Q&A: Literary fiction vs. Maintstream fiction. What are the differences between the two?–Rook V. A: If I made a list of differences between literary and mainstream fiction, it’d look nearly identical to Janet Paszkowski’s “Defining Artless Fiction:...

Tax Time: Is Your Writing Career a Business?

Q: I made some money last year through my writing. As tax time rolls around, I’m wondering: How much money do I have to earn before I have to declare myself as a business? –Alice H. A: There is no set dollar amount that mandates you to declare your writing income...

Covering the Cover Letter

Q: I’ve written a personal essay for a magazine that invites its readers to submit “meaningful remembrances.” The submission guidelines state that submitted articles are welcome for review. Should I send a query letter or send the essay along with a cover letter? What format should I use?—Carla V. Britt A:...

Dealing with Writer's Block

Q: Do you have any advice on overcoming writer’s block? I am currently taking a course on this subject and wondered how professional writers deal with this common problem. —Jane Thomas A: Writers have only three true enemies: time (or lack thereof), computer viruses and writer’s block. Defeating the first two...

Brian's Q&Q Three-Question Quiz

Happy Thanksgiving my Q&Q friends! I’m off this week getting a little rounder (I love pumpkin pie almost as much as I love my wife), so no new question answered. But for those itching for some knowledge—or even just a refresher—I offer up a challege: Go to the search box about...

Should I Use The Chicago Manual of Style for my Book?

Q: In my writing I strictly follow the rules in The Chicago Manual of Style. For example, in a sentence joined with an “and,” I place a comma after the last word before the “and” when the first part of the sentence is a complete sentence. I have received a rejection...

How Many Rejections Does it Take to Self-Publish a Book?

Q: I’ve submitted my manuscript and query letters to various agents and publishers and have received several rejections. I feel this book is pretty marketable. How many agent rejections and how many publisher rejections do you think I should take as a signal to self-publish this book? I’m pretty tenacious. If...

When to Use a Semicolon

Q: I would like some help on the use of the semicolon in sentences. —Roger L. A: The semicolon is a tricky beast, but it does serve specific purposes in sentence structure. Before getting to its uses, it’s best to understand what the semicolon really is. The semicolon is a hybrid...

How to Find Out Who Agented a Book

Q: When an agent isn’t listed in the author’s book acknowledgements, is there a way to search backwards to find that agent from the author, journalistic facilitator or publisher? Thanks for your expertise. —Alice Lazzarini A: Finding out who was the agent of a particular book can certainly be tricky, especially...

When Editors Add Typos

Q: I want to get paid for my writing, so I signed up for a journalism workshop at my community college to attain some clips. I’ve written articles for the school paper, but the “editors”—many just out of high school—have added typos to my articles. Can I still use these as...

Article Black Holes

Q: I submitted two stories to a nursing magazine after consulting the editor in advance. I was told the stories were accepted, and one would appear in August. So far, no sign of my story, and when I tried to follow-up with e-mails and phone calls, my messages weren’t answered. What...

Are E-Mails Copyrighted?

Q: I’m working on a book that includes several passages from e-mail messages I’ve received—stories, poems, quotes, etc. What obligations do I have when it comes to using the e-mails? Also, is it OK to get anecdotes (relevant experiences for nonfiction article topics) from people online through chat rooms and bulletin...

If I Write in Multiple Genres, Do I Need Multiple Agents?

Q: I’m in the process of authoring books in four different genres. Do I need to enlist four agents?—N. Schad A: You’re writing four books at once? I can’t handle writing two stories at the same time, let alone four, so I’m impressed. But when it’s time to find an agent,...

How Do I E-mail Clips?

Q: When a publication requests e-queries and clips, how do you e-mail the clips?—Nannette Croce A: Sending clips via e-mail can be difficult. You can try scanning the images, but that sometimes blurs the words and makes the piece illegible. You can copy text into a word processing document and send...

Can You Use Someone Else's Character in Your Book?

Q: Can I use a minor yet intriguing character from a famous work as the protagonist of my novel? I know it’s been done with novels like Wide Sargasso Sea, using Mrs. Rochester from Jane Eyre, but would a secondary character from a novel published before 1950 (yet still in print)...

Begging The Question: How To Use It Correctly

Q: I’ve been told that I often misuse the phrase “begs the question” in my writing. Can you explain to me how to use this phrase correctly and give me an example? Thanks. —Anonymous A: “Begging the question” is a phrase that’s commonly misused. In fact, even I misused it once...

Allude vs. Elude

Q: What’s the difference between “allude” and “elude”? Are they interchangeable? —Anonymous A: “Allude” and “elude” are frequently misused in place of each other, even though they’re about as different as broccoli and ice cream. “Allude” means to refer to something in a casual or indirect way. Michelle alluded to my...

Quotes Within Quotes

Q: When should I use single quotes instead of double quotes?—John Batson A: Double quotation marks signify the exact words of someone else speaking in your writing. Single quotation marks come into play when the person you’re quoting quotes someone or something else. Look at this example: “I’m irritated with Dad...