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February 2014 Issue
Free Writing Downloads
Workshops Starting March 13th
- Creative Writing 101
- Query Letter in 14 Days
- Essentials of Science Fiction & Fantasy
- The Art of Storytelling 102
- Essentials of Mystery Writing
- Grammar & Mechanics
- Advanced Poetry
Workshops Starting March 20th
- Creative Writing 101
Guide to Literary Agents Blogroll
- 2nd Draft Critique Service
Before you send out your work, have it edited by an established pro!
- Agency Gatekeeper
A literary agent shares secrets.
- Agent in the Middle
Agent Lori Perkins blogs and tells all
- Ashley Grayson Agent Blog
From the Ashley Grayson Literary Agency
- Ask the Agent
Literary agent Andy Ross in Oakland runs an agency blog.
- Association of Authors' Representatives
- Barbara Doyen's Articles Page
Agent Barbara Doyen shares her knowledge.
- Barry Goldblatt Literary
A blog from the whole agency.
- BookEnds Agent Blog
Agents from Bookends Literary blog
- Brenda BowenAgent Brenda Bowen's "Bunny Eat Bunny" kids writing blog.
- Cameron McClureCameron, with the Donald Maass Lit Agency, runs her "Book Cannibal" blog.
- Caren Johnson Literary Agency
The official CJLA blog
- Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market Blog
This blog, run by Alice Pope, is a must-read for anyone writing in the juvenile market
- Chip MacGregor's Agent Blog
A Christian agent speaks
- Chuck's conference speaking schedule
See where Chuck will be presenting and when!
- Colleen Lindsay's Agent Blog
A new agent at FinePrint Literary blogs
- DHS Literary Blog
David Hale Smith's "Literary Show and Tell" blog.
- Diana Fox's Agent Blog
A literary agent talks publishing
- Dystel & Goderich Agent Blog
- Eddie Schneider
An agent from JABberwocky Literary blogs.
- Elaine English Literary Agency Blog
A blog from the whole agency.
- F+W Bookstore
Buy Guide to Literary Agents and a bunch of other great WD Books.
- FinePrint Literary Management Blog
A blog from the whole agency.
- Folio Literary Management's Blog
All the agents chime in on this new blog
- Fresh Books Blog
An agency blog.
- Full Circle Literary's Blog
Agents from Full Circle Literary in California blog
- Girl Meets Book
Agent Jamie Brenner of Artists & Artisans blogs.
- Greenhouse Literary Blog
Agent Sarah Davies shares her thoughts and wisdom
- Hartline Literary Blog
A blog from the whole agency.
- Janet Reid
Agent Janet Reid of FinePrint Literary gives her two cents on anything and everything
- Jennifer Jackson's Agent Blog
An agent with the Donald Maass Literary Agency blogs
- Jenny Bent's Blog
From the founder of The Bent Agency.
- Jill Corcoran
A kids agent at the Herman Agency blogs.
- Joshua Bilmes Agent Blog
JABberwocky Literary Agency
- Kathleen Ortiz Agent Blog
Kathleen with Lowenstein Associates
- Kelly Mortimer
Agent Kelly Mortimer's "Perils of Publishing" blog.
- Ken Atchity
The president of AEI, a script and literary management co., blogs.
- Kid Lit
A blog by kids agent Mary Kole of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency
- Kimberly Cameron & Associates
A blog from the whole agency.
- Knight Agency Blog
Exactly what it sounds like
- Laurie McLean's Agent Blog
The "Agent Savant" blog
- Lit Soup (Jenny Rappaport's Agent Blog)
An agent at the L. Perkins Agency blogs
- Lucienne Diver's Agent Blog
A blog on "Authorial, Agently and Personal Ramblings."
- Lyons Literary Agent Blog
Agent Jonathan Lyons blogs
- MFA Confidential Blog
This new WD blog features Kate Monahan and all things about getting an MFA
- Michael Larsen's Blog
Agent Michael Larsen of Larsen-Pomada Literary Agents blogs about publishing and nonfiction writing.
- Miss Snark
No longer active, but this blog by anonymous agent Miss Snark still has oodles of priceless info in its archives
- Nathan Bransford
A popular blog from an agent at Curtis Brown in San Francisco
- Nephele Tempest's Agent Blog
An agent with the Knight Agency blogs
- Poetic Asides
A poetry blog from the editor of Writer's Market
- Promptly (Prompts Blog)
WD's own blog of writing prompts, run by magazine staffer Zac Petit
- Pub Rants
Kristin Nelson's Agent Blog
- Publishers Marketplace
- Query Shark
Janet Reid's blog where she dissects query letters
- Questions and Quandaries Blog
WD staffer Brian A. Klems answers questions of all kinds
- Rachelle Gardner
A blog by an agent who specializes in Christian Writing
- Romantic Reads
Dorchester editor Leah Hultenschmidt blogs romance.
- Sara Crowe's Blog
An agent from Harvey Klinger blogs.
- Scott Eagan's Agent Blog
The great Greyhaus agent blogs away.
- Script Notes
A WD scriptwriting blog from Chad Gervich, TV producer
- Steve Laube's Agent Blog
A Christian agent and former editor talks the biz.
- Suzie Townsend
A new assistant agent at FinePrint Literary blogs.
- Terry Burns's Blog
An agent with Hartline Literary blogs.
- Terry Whalin's Blog
"The Writing Life," as told by a former editor and agent.
- The Buried Editor
A blog dedicated to juvenile writing (YA, middle grade, picture books) run by an editor at CBAY Books and Blooming Tree Press
- The Gail Ross Literary Agency
The agency blog.
- The Inside Pitch Screenwriting Blog
A Hollywood Executive Talks About Screenwriting
- The New Literary Agents
A few new literary agents share advice.
- The Rejecter (Anonymous Agent)
- The Shatzkin Files
- The Sound and the Furry
WD contributor Nancy Parish talks writing.
- There Are No Rules
Jane Friedman of Writer's Digest Books, talks about publishing trends and has interviews online
- Tracy Marchini
An agent from Curtis Brown, Ltd. blogs
- United States Copyright Office
- Upstart Crow Blog
A blog from the whole agency at Upstart Crow Literary.
- Waxman Literary Agency
A blog from the whole agency.
- Wendy Sherman Associates Blog
Multiple agents blog.
- Writer Beware
A site dedicated to protecting writers from scams of all kinds - including unscrupulous agents
- Writer Unboxed
Primarily devoted to genre fiction, this site features plenty of interviews with industry pros
- Writer's Digest magazine
This big hub has tons of online articles from past issues of WD. Check out the revamped new site!
- Writer's Digest University (Writers Online Workshops)
Online writing courses are taught by WD staffers and contributors
- Writer's Market
This pay site is our online database of listings (magazines, book publishers, agents, and everything else). It has more than 6,000 listings.
A huge writing website and resource writers should check out.
- Wylie Merrick Agency's Blog
- Zack Company Blog
Agent Andrew Zack blogs.
- 2nd Draft Critique Service
Is Your Manuscript Publication-Ready?
Is Your Manuscript Publication-Ready?
Get professional feedback from 2nd Draft Critique Services.
After an evaluation of your submission, one of the professional 2nd Draft critiquers will provide feedback and advice. You'll not only learn what's working in your writing, but what's not, and—most important—how to fix it.
2nd Draft provides a high-level review of your writing, pointing out reasons your work may be getting rejected, or may not meet the standards of traditional publication.
Submit Your Manuscript
Editing Services are also available.
7 Things I’ve Learned So Far
Published authors share their best tips and advice on how to get published, how to find a literary agent, and how to be sell more books.
1. The book business is a great business: Trust me. I spent fifteen years in a really bad business: the music business (a super sleazy viper’s nest of an industry). I’m not saying the book biz doesn’t have its problems, but I’ve largely found publishing to be a well-oiled machine. Most of those employed within it are exceedingly professional and have a tremendous love of books, working tirelessly toward the success of them. Also, the book business isn’t as time-sensitive as music or film. You can get your first book published when you’re twenty-something, or forty-something, or sixty-something… Read more
5. Keep drawing and writing for yourself. While you’re working on projects that involve collaboration or a need to respond to and incorporate feedback, make sure you keep some creative time or space for just doing whatever the heck you like, for making things that are ‘just yours.’ Doing that can help diffuse any creative tension that may arise when you feel you’re having to negotiate with other agendas. Getting something published is a collaborative process involving compromise and negotiation: keep yourself some creative space where you can continue to be entirely selfish.
GIVEAWAY: Sam is excited to give away a free copy of His book to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks. Since Sam is based in the UK, he is happy to open the contest to writers there, as well as writers in Canada/US. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Please note that comments may take a little while to appear; this is normal).. Read more
1. Stop trying to find time to write. Instead, make time. When you’re in “trying-to-find” mode, you’re not giving priority to your writing. Identify the time of day when you’re the most creative, then claim that time. Show up at the page. Get up early if you have to. Lock a door if you have to. Turn off your phone and Internet. Whatever it takes for you to carve out your time—do it. Make writing happen.
GIVEAWAY: A.B. is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. Read more
7. If you meet a writer and you like their work and you like them as a person, never let them go. Maintain that friendship at all costs. Across time and geography. Support them in everything they do. Celebrate their every victory (even if it coincides with your loss) and mourn their every loss (even if you were the winner). Offer them feedback, send them relevant submission calls and job postings, buy them drinks, let them sleep on your couch. A network of good writers who are also good people — reliable collaborators, strong editors, fun and sympathetic friends — will advance your career and enrich your life more than anything else.
GIVEAWAY: Kim is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: Burrowswrite won.) Read more
2. Less is more. Everyone has their own style. Some prefer lean and muscular, others prefer something a little more florid. Both approaches have their merits, and their fans. That being said, I’ve never heard a reader say, “Gee, I wish there were more adverbs in this book,” and I’ve never read a review that says, “If only the author had found more synonyms for ‘said’.” There’s a reason for that, and I wish I’d figured it out sooner. These days, when I proofread a first draft, the number one thing I find myself doing is deleting adverbs and removing dialogue tagging, especially fancy dialogue tagging (of the “snapped, growled, interjected” variety.) My debut novel, DARKWALKER, was only just released, and already I see flab, extraneous words just begging to be nipped and tucked. My subsequent works are a lot trimmer.
GIVEAWAY:E.L. is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: Aristomas won.) Read more
4. “Getting the word out” can mean just about anything. Everyone knows about social media, but old-school “social” still works. I paid my fee and went to the BEA’s Blogger Conference, introduced myself to book bloggers and gave them ARCs. (I also sat in on a number of conferences where everyone talked about Twitter.) The first bookstores that sold my book were stores in my neighborhood—an obvious target demographic for a book with the ‘hood’s name in it—because I walked in and asked. Get out there.
GIVEAWAY: Bradley is excited to give away a free copy of his novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: AnneTano won.) Read more
This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers (this installment written by Marion Winik, author of HIGHS IN THE LOW FIFTIES: How I Stumbled Through the Joys of Single Living) at any stage of their career can talk about writing advice and instruction as well as how they possibly got their book agent — by sharing seven things they’ve learned along their writing journey that they wish they knew at the beginning.
GIVEAWAY: Marion is excited to give away a free copy of her book to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: Tina Lincer won.) Read more
2. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, toss what doesn’t work, and start again. Professionals throw away chunks of novels and stories all the time and start again. Not every story will work, not every plot will come together or every character come to life. None of the mistakes I made were a waste of time or effort, because each one of them taught me something that made the next story better. The same is true of query letters. If the one you’ve written doesn’t get you requests, start over.
GIVEAWAY: Jaime is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: burrowswrite won.) Read more
1. There is no formula for success. I’ve been writing for ten years. I’ve self-published and I’ve traditionally published. When success finally hit, it was a combination of persistence, timing, and luck. The only thing a writer can do to influence their success is write a good story. The audience will find it. Sometimes that’s overnight and sometimes that’s after several years.
2. Reviews are the best promotion. In my personal experience, the most effective promotion for a book is a review. Even a bad review is beneficial because at least people are talking about your book. As of this writing, Fifty Shades of Grey has 5,875 one-star reviews on Amazon. So what. That’s five thousand people talking about the book. Conversation is crucial to the success of a book. Any conversation is better than silence.
GIVEAWAY: Elene is excited to give away a free e-book copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: frj4833 won.) Read more
1. Write everything down. I’m in the grocery store, staring vaguely at the produce, when the heavens open up and a great writing idea lands in my brain. I know I should stop and write it down. But isn’t that a little weird, to pull out my notebook in the middle of the Safeway? I’ll look like a moody Goth kid scribbling in her diary. Besides, this is such a great idea, there’s no way will I forget it. And then, guess what? I forget it.
GIVEAWAY: Helene is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: SammySammo won.) Read more
2. You may have to compromise to gain commercial success. As an artist working in a commercially driven industry, you could face an uncomfortable choice. Your agent and publisher will usually look at your labour of love with an eye on what is right for the market, not what is right for your vision. Publishing is an industry, and industries want to make money (although kudos and credibility in the form of prizes or critical acclaim from the intelligentsia form a lesser part of the equation). It is up to you whether you refuse to compromise your vision, and thus run the risk of your career facing a potentially fatal setback, or accede to their requests. Just make sure you can live with the consequences of your decision.
GIVEAWAY: Michael is excited to give away a free copy of his novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: spacehg won.) Read more
3. Fix the end by fixing the middle. I routinely tell my students that if they’re struggling with the ending of a story, it is probably because they haven’t quite worked out the conflict. I spent a long time struggling with how to end my novel, and I rewrote the final chapter many times before it occurred to me to take my own advice. A difficult but essential scene was missing, and once I had that in place, I finally understood how to bring the novel to a satisfying conclusion. I could have rewritten that ending until the cows came home, but it was only by addressing a problem much earlier in the novel that I was able to get the ending right. Read more
1. Write through the wait. When The Girl Factory was on submission to publishers last October, I felt like I was in limbo. There is a waiting game to play and I’m terribly impatient. The first few days, I spend a lot of time checking my inbox for emails from my agent and thinking about possible responses from publishers (even though my agent guided me through the process and assured me that responses don’t usually arrive quickly).
GIVEAWAY: Karen is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: burrowswrite won.) Read more
1. Hearing voices in your head isn’t a bad thing if you’re a writer. When I start to hear voices in my head, it’s a good sign. It means that my characters are coming to life. When I start something new, I’m always waiting for that moment, when, Golem-like, my characters will take on their own lives. For me, that’s when I start to hear them talk. I finish a scene on the page, but I can still hear them chatting. I like to eavesdrop on their conversations. It’s very reassuring. Read more
1. Keep your manuscript, not your head, in the clouds. I used to be casual and nonchalant about saving my writing to a remote server – until a heartless perp broke down my front door, rampaged through my house, and stole my computer containing my manuscripts and research notes, pictures, blogs in progress, and all of my contact information. Even so, I was lucky. I had sent my most recent novel to the publisher just a few days before. I had a hard copy of an earlier draft, but the thought that I might have had to recreate all of the edits from memory made my blood run cold. As the saying goes, “Experience is a dear school, but fools will learn in no other.” I now send everything to that mysterious, digital Cloud in the sky on a daily basis. Read more
1) Don’t send your manuscript out to every agent at once. I learned this by mistake. I made a list of twelve agents that I wanted to send my book to and prepared a submission pack for each one. I then realized that I only had three stamps so I sent three out and decided that I might as well wait and see how they responded before sending the rest. I’m glad I did. All three turned it down and all three mentioned that they didn’t like synopsis. I rewrote the synopsis (which, in fairness, was awful) and sent out the manuscript to the remaining seven agents on my list. Five said yes! Maybe they would have been interested anyway, who knows, but it makes sense to submit in batches to take advantage of any feedback you might get.
GIVEAWAY: M.M. is excited to give away 2 free copies of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: Jeri Baird won.) Read more
3. Relationships with other writers are the most valuable resource in a writer’s toolbox. I attended my first writers conference in 1994. I was 22-years-old and pregnant with my third baby. I was the most unlikely person there to become a published author, and while the knowledge I learned about writing has benefited me over the years, the people I’ve met changed everything. I met a multi-published author who became a good friend. She also introduced me (and recommended me) to my agent, who I’ve worked with since 1997. I met other new authors who I connect with for support and critique. They are still my friends, and all of us have found publishing success. So many times at conferences writers stalk the agents and authors. Just as important are those sitting at the lunch table with you. Read more
1. Writing Routines Are Only So Valuable. I used to be a stickler for routine. My desk needed to be just so. I needed the room (and preferably the apartment) to myself. I needed non-vocal music (classical or soundtracks). Then I moved to a one-bedroom apartment in Germany. I couldn’t get a good radio station—this surprised me. The only option for a desk in my furnished apartment was a slatted folding table not much larger than one square foot that I had to stick in the corner of the living room. Gone were all the little things I depended on. But I worked that year, every day, and learned that all that other stuff was unnecessary. I needed only the desk.
GIVEAWAY: Ben is excited to give away a free copy of his collection to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: SammySammo won.) Read more
2. Go tackle a new quest. There’s nothing like a new obsession to keep you from obsessing over submission. Sure, some books get snapped up by editors faster than you can say “six figures,” but for most of us, it takes longer. A lot longer. To dull the ache and fear of the inbox, start something new. Put everything you’ve got into it. The other, stinkier part of this is that your darling book-on-sub just might not sell. You need to have a horse to get back on if that manifests as reality. Read more
3. Publication will happen when you least expect it. You’ve sent in your amazing manuscript, one that will have editors clamoring to publish it, pushing the advance into the stratosphere. For the next two weeks, you sit by the phone (or carry it with you wherever you go) willing it to ring. With each little beep and buzz, you fish it out of your purse or run from the bathroom with your pants around your ankles so you don’t miss “the call”. Yeah, right. I was offered my contract while my husband and I were on a freeway off ramp, trying to keep the mattress we were moving from sliding off the truck. He was miffed I chatted on the phone instead of helping. He got over it. Hard as it is, it may take a while for you to hear – if you ever do. Send it in and move onto the next project. Read more
1. Rejection is required. I used to see rejection slips as the bane of my existence. Every rejection felt like a backwards step in my writing career. But every writer has been rejected at one time or another—usually before ever being accepted. Once I began to look at each rejection as a necessary step on the road to acceptance and publication, rejection slips stopped being bad news and started being good news. Every rejection brings you a little closer to your goal.
GIVEAWAY: Charlie is excited to give away a free copy of his novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: August Priest won.) Read more
2. Keep a writer’s notebook. Brilliant thoughts are fleeting. You need to pin them down before they get away. Because I write about the sixties, I often find character traits and plot points when reading obituaries in the New York Times, for example, and if I don’t capture those flashes of insight, they will leave me. I annotate my clippings and put them in my bulging notebook. Some ideas are for the second book I’m writing now, while others will fit in the third or fourth of my Austin Starr series. I’ll be delighted to find the clippings a few years from now when I start writing the relevant stories. My mind is like my bulging notebook, and sometimes things fall out because of crowding. It’s far easier to keep the physical clippings together.
GIVEAWAY: Kay is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: annemarielacy won.) Read more
2. Don’t start writing until you love the premise. Whenever I find myself playing the avoiding game with my writing, I ask myself why. The answer always seems to be that there’s something about where this story is headed that I don’t like. Sometimes this happens with the very first page. When I rework the premise – either going deeper with the characters, or changing some element of the plotline that isn’t working – I find I can’t wait to get back to the scene.
GIVEAWAY: Kate is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: Katie won.) Read more
5. Don’t put a time limit on your dreams. Like an idiot, I thought I’d write my book, do a few edits, and get published. In my mind, this would all go down in a year. Four years later, I signed my contract. I could’ve saved myself a lot of heartache with a more realistic goal. You should do what I didn’t do.
GIVEAWAY: Celeste is excited to give away 2 free copies of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: kstjshin won.) Read more
2. Never quit for the day without being excited about what you’re going to write next. Forget finishing the chapter or getting to a good stopping place. It is absolutely imperative to stop in the middle. I get up only when I have the next sentence or event in my mind. That way, I’m anxious to get back to it. I’ll be thinking about it as I do other things (see #1 above) and the story and my characters will be calling to me. When I don’t do that, the next time I sit down I will face a blank page and I can spend the entire day wandering and wondering and never move forward. Read more