GLA Quick Subscribe
Updates from Guide to Literary Agents
Get the GLA Newsletter!
Search Blog Categories:
Search Monthly Archives:
Guide to Literary Agents RSS Subscription
Free Writing Downloads
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
Website of the Week
Craft and Story Beginnings
1. While you should certainly feel free to include characters of whatever age you choose, make sure there’s at least one teenager. While young adults often read books without teenaged characters (I was partial to Somerset Maugham stories and Solzhenitsyn, to cite a needlessly bizarre example) those generally aren’t considered part of the YA genre.
2. Make things more complex, not less. You may feel an impulse to simplify things in an attempt to make your story more accessible, but I would resist that. Read more
Writers constantly have rules thrown at them left, right, and center. Show, don’t tell! Stop using so many dialogue tags! More sensory detail! More tension! Speed up the pace! Yada yada yada … it can become overwhelming, yes? I used to feel overwhelmed by it all too. In fact, I still do sometimes. It’s hard enough to get the words on the page, let alone consider how to put them there.
GIVEAWAY: Jessica is excited to give away a free copy of her book to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners can live anywhere in the world. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. Read more
2. Write something completely different. A teacher at school gave me this advice. When you’re stuck, don’t just try to think outside of the box. Try a whole other box. If you write YA, try writing a steamy scene. If you write thrillers, try writing a picture book. The change in format and tone will force you to break out of your comfort zone, to push your boundaries. You’ll discover new ways of expressing yourself, new limitations and new freedoms, and you can apply the new tricks to your existing work. If nothing else, trying to write something different might just remind you of how much you love writing your old stuff! Read more
1. Communication style: How does your character talk? Does she favor certain words or phrases that make her distinct and interesting? What about the sound of her voice? Much of our personality comes through our speech, so think about the way your character is going to talk. Her style of communication should be distinctive and unique.
GIVEAWAY: Tom 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: KarenLange won.) Read more
Grief alone is not enough to make a novel. It can be the backdrop, sometimes the obstacle, but novels must be flavored with other focuses, obstacles, and emotions in order to draw in their readers. Here are 5 ways to use grief more effectively in fiction: 1. Make Them Care. When starting to write your book about a character’s loss, you may be tempted to dive right into their grief on page one, thinking that this is your inciting incident…
GIVEAWAY: Denise is giving away the e-book for free on the 3 days of Feb. 8-10. Read more
4. The Distractor. She wants to talk about anything and everything but writing. Her children started swim lessons last week, her mother-in-law is visiting Paris next month, it’s windy (cold, hot, rainy, etc.) outside, her favorite hairstylist is moving salons… you get the idea. She often has to leave the group session to take phone calls or return text messages. While I love the fact I’m more than just writing to my wonderful writing group, when we get down to business it’s ALL about the writing and that time is precious.
GIVEAWAY: Donna 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: Sprunty won.) Read more
Where writers are concerned, there are plotters and there are pantsers. Pantsers fly by the seat of their pants when they write a story. They start off with no more than a kernel of an idea or a first sentence or a character, and away they go. They have no idea where they are going, but somehow the story takes over, and they make it—I would say, miraculously—to the end with a complete book.
Writing a book this way gives plotters hives. I’m a plotter and thinking about writing a book pantser-style puts me into a panic and gives me an irresistible craving for a pitcher of margaritas or a package of Oreos. Read more
3. A Receptive Audience Will Await. Since Islandport Press released Strangers in October 2012, I’ve realized the extent to which people who love Old Orchard Beach (Maine) love the idea of a book set there. The town has only about 8,000 year-round residents, but the population swells to more than 100,000 in the summer. Since Strangers was released, I’ve been getting emails and Facebook messages from people who were previously … umm … strangers to me … saying they feel as though reading the book has allowed them to vicariously visit a place they love. Read more
No one agrees on anything. As a journalist, I became adept at self-editing and even more convinced of the uselessness of outside criticism. Don’t get me wrong, I have had some great editors and they have done a stellar job in helping to craft my stories. But I have also witnessed what happens when a story is edited by several different editors, each of them determined to leave their mark. I have had one editor remove a section only to have another put it back in. I have read stories so thick with markings that I once again lost track of what I was originally trying to say. I developed strategies to avoid multiple editors, turning work in close to the deadline so there was less time for it to be passed around. Read more
Previously, I attended the Writer Idol Event at Boston Book Fest. It was not for the faint of heart, but for those willing to brave public ridicule, it was a great way to get helpful feedback. This is how it worked: An actress picked manuscripts at random and read the first 250 words out loud for the panel and the audience. If at any point a panelist felt he would stop reading, he raised his hand. The actress read until two or more panelists raised their hands, at which point the panel discussed the reasons they stopped, or in cases where the actress read to the end, they discussed what worked. (This guest column by Livia Blackburne.) Read more
Engage your audience:
While I’m not a writer, I feel like I’ve developed a firm grasp on why some novels work and some simply don’t. Often during critique sessions, I find myself going over a concept that I think applies well across the board of all genres: ENGAGE YOUR AUDIENCE.
Jon Sternfeld is an agent with the Irene Goodman Literary Agency representing literary fiction and narrative nonfiction. Read more
1. Create a revision plan. I created a revision plan based on my publisher’s and first reader’s notes. Once I buy-in from my publisher to this plan, I was ready to get to work.
2. Don’t edit as you write. Write, wait a while, then edit. Leave your work alone for as long a time as you can before sitting down to edit it. While I spent over two years querying agents and small presses, my manuscript laid dormant. So when I finally got my book contract, I read it front to back, chapter by chapter, with my revision plan in hand. I marked up a hard copy with a red pen. Read more
Agents are always looking for something different inside their massive slush piles. Something unique and original—a “hook.” I became especially aware of this last summer, while querying agents I was invited by one agent to revise and re-submit my novel. Her main suggestion? A stronger hook.
I’ll be honest—the word “hook” has always bothered me. Sure, I understand what it entails—giving your work that extra punch, that unique story idea in order to get the reader interested, and to stand out from the thousands of other trying-to-get-published writers. Read more
In writing, characters should be like artichokes. You don’t get to the heart until you do some serious work peeling away the layers. What the reader sees, as well as what other characters see when they meet a character, be it protagonist or a secondary character, will be superficial at first. Perhaps the character was too good to be true, and as time goes on, faults are revealed. Or maybe it’s the other way around. An unlikeable character turns out to be golden inside.
Terry Odell is an author of several romantic suspense books. Her next book out is Where Danger Hides (June). Read more
Need a Fiction Jumpstart? Check Out the "Write Your Novel in 90 Days" Webinar (and Get a Free Synopsis Critique!)
If you’re looking for a fiction jumpstart, check out our webinar this Thursday on “Write Your Novel in 90 Days.” The webinar, taught by Sarah Domet, the author of 90 Days to … Read more
People often ask me: “Where do you get your ideas?” Most of the time, I don’t know exactly how I came up with an entire book plot, but for someone who’s only been writing since May of 2009 (and yes, this is really true) lots of ideas have gone from my head to the computer in that timeframe. Some good and some kinda crappy.
Guest blog by Julie Cross, author of the YA novel, TEMPEST (Fall 2011; Thomas Dunne Books), the first in a trilogy about a 19-year-old time traveler who witnesses his girlfriend’s murder. Read more
You all know the great ladies over at Nelson Literary, right? Well, Kristin Nelson taught a fantastic webinar for us a while back, and now we are honored to have Nelson Literary’s … Read more
There are so many different iterations of this advice that I don’t quite know which genius began it all. I’ve heard it personally from Scott Westerfeld and Barry Lyga and Ally Carter and, hell, pretty much everyone. But the brunt of it is this: In order to get published or anywhere near publishable, you’ve got to write about a million bad words.
Mary Kole is an agent with the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. She also runs the KidLit blog. Read more
Step 1: Is your protagonist an ordinary person? Find in him any kind of strength.
Step 2: Work out a way for that strength to be demonstrated within your protagonist’s first five pages.
Donald Maass is the founder of Donald Maass Literary Agency. Read more
1. Know your group, and tailor your critique sessions accordingly. It’s helpful to begin each reading with a quick introduction, in which the writer is given the opportunity to communicate her needs to the group.
2. Ask each member of the group to read her work aloud, rather than simply giving group members copy to read silently. Reading your work aloud helps you check for awkward phrasing, clumsy dialogue, or a plot point that doesn’t ring true. Read more
Two years ago I began transitioning from my career as a journalist by tapering off my work for The New York Times. I took my debut novel through several edits and began to explore the complicated road to publication. Social Media provided an opportunity to write for others and vastly expand my network of friends and colleagues.
Guest column by Laura Novak. Laura was a television news reporter before writing for The New York Times on business, health and the arts. She is working on the Clari Drake Mystery Series set in Berkeley. Read more
So how’s your relationship with your significant other going? The one with your heroine or hero, I mean. In a writer’s life, a main character is a very significant other. Now that my first published novel is about to be released, I realize how much I’ve learned about the writer-main character relationship.
Guest column by Judith Rock, whose historical fiction debut, The Rhetoric of Death (Sept. 2010), received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and Booklist.
Writers talk about the revision process, taking time to go back into their work to reconfigure, tweak or even burn and start again. But why can’t the brain just jump to the polished end in the first place? Why does there have to be a process?
Guest column by Laura Toffler-Corrie, author of The Life and Opinions of Amy Finawitz (middle grade, Aug. 2010, Roaring Book Press). Read more
It’s the old adage you hear in every writing class, workshop, critique group and probably on some things you’ve had edited, rejected or submitted in your lifetime. “Show, don’t tell,” says the editor or agent or well-meaning crit partner. “You know, this really is an issue of showing versus telling,” says the writing teacher. Well, we all know that showing is good and telling is bad. But do we really know what that means?
Guest column by agent Mary Kole of Andrea Brown Literary. Read more