Guest Columns

How to get published — read hundreds of helpful Writer’s Digest guest columns from published writers teaching the craft and business of writing.

Partner with Your Publicist: Why You Need Literary Publicity

Every author wants his or her book to be a success. Dreams of best-seller lists, grand book tours with sold out speaking engagements, and that coveted interview with Oprah, luxuriate in the backs (and often fronts) of many the writerly mind. But the process of connecting the dots between first draft...

The Five Little Secrets of Memoir Writing: A Contrarian POV

A memoir can be a massive undertaking. As writers, we sometimes take pride in this complexity. It makes us seem, well, more professional. It can also alienate us from real people. And real people have stories to tell. Very real stories. So it becomes important that we set aside our biases...

Three Keys to Selling a Children’s Picture Book Biography

I love picture book biographies. I love reading them and being inspired and thinking, “Wow, that’s an amazing story. How come I didn’t know that?” And I love writing them. Why? Because picture book biographies are all about inspiring kids to their own greatness. This is important to me. In addition...

How to Transform Funny Stories into Comedy Writing Gold

Funny stories that comedians perform in clubs are called anecdotal stand-up. These stories can be based on real-life experiences or they can be made up. In either case, there are three keys to transforming a funny story that your friends enjoy into anecdotal stand-up that can entertain an audience. Build frequent...

Research Tips for Writing Nonfiction

I recently moved into a new house and office, and was faced with carting along decades of writing research in the process. Books, albums, boxes of photos, cassettes—that was the easy part. Assembling the stacks of files, the collapsed cartons of photocopies, insect-infested pamphlets and newspaper clippings, the 10,000 pages of...

The Great Debate: To Prologue or Not to Prologue?

As many of you know, book publishing industry professionals and readers alike have openly expressed their dislike of prologues. Act first, explain later. Great advice from James Scott Bell. Be careful with backstory and prologues. #writetip — Nat Russo (@NatRusso) September 30, 2017 Yes! Prologues don't work all the time, do...

Marketing & Sales Perspectives for Indie Authors

I’ve considered myself a professional writer for a little over three years now, and I’ve learned a great deal about the publishing industry in that time. Much of how I think and what I do as an independently published author parallels the experiences of my traditionally published friends, but there are...

5 Things the Screenwriting Business Taught Me About Writing

A confession: I bristled at being called a “screenwriter” while jacket copy for Magicians Impossible, my debut novel, was being finalized. Everyone else wanted that facet of my biography in; I wanted it out. I didn’t want to be “screenwriter with debut novel,” which to most reading pegs said debut novel...

Brianna Shrum, How to Make Out

5 Tips for Querying & Choosing a Literary Agent

So you’re in the query trenches. You’ve been gritting your teeth through this process for months, weeks, years, millennia, and suddenly, an e-mail comes in with the golden ticket: OFFER OF REPRESENTATION. The call goes beautifully, you are ready to sign. Then your inbox dings again. And so it begins.  ...

Josh Barkan

Breaking In: Josh Barkan

Josh Barkan is the author of Mexico (January 24, 2017; Hogarth/Crown Books), a collection of short stories that capture the beauty, strangeness, and brutality of life in modern Mexico. He’s also published two other books: a novel, Blind Speed, and a collection of stories, Before Hiroshima. His writing has appeared in...

Literary Scouts: How to Get Your Book Directly to a Publisher

Note: The following is a guest post from Stephanie Stokes Oliver, an author, editor, and scout for Simon & Schuster’s Atria Books. For more information on Stephanie’s scouting guidelines, see below. You can find her online at stephaniestokesoliver.com. Cheers! You’ve finished your manuscript, and are preparing to begin your search for...

6 Tips for Reading Like a Writer

I’m willing to offer this generalization: whatever level we’ve attained in our development as readers, we always lag behind that standard as writers. I’ve never met a good writer who wasn’t also a great reader. The more broadly and deeply we read, the more we recognize excellent writing in its endless guises and...

Collaborating with your Subconscious

Do you want readers to love your protagonist? Or to be inspired by her? A powerful tool for achieving the strong visceral responses you want is outside your conscious mind, but it’s not out of reach. Everything you write, especially a first draft, is a collaboration with another writer: your subconscious....

18 Ideas for a Successful Book Launch

Whether you publish traditionally or independently, you will want to do as much as possible to help launch your book. Here are 18 things I found helpful in the launch of my debut picture book, A MORNING WITH GRANDPA, illustrated by Christina Forshay (Lee & Low Books): 1-2 Years Out About...

Ditch Microsoft Word for Scrivener. Now.

How many times have you wanted to throw your laptop across the room when Microsoft Word started moving slower than a three-toed sloth with a bad case of vertigo? If you’re like me and your manuscript is over 100,000 words, it probably happens on a fairly regular basis. I’ve had it...

5 Easy Steps to Writing a Bestseller

1. Write a good book. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Yet it can be difficult to accomplish. A good book is unique, with compelling characters, voice, and plot. It’s not easy to come up with something original when you’re writing within the confines of a genre like romance, where the tropes are...

7 Writing Rules You Can Ignore

When I say you can ignore these rules, I don’t mean that you should. These “truisms” floating around about writing are useful to think about, especially when you’re starting out, and they can point you to weaknesses in your work. In the end, though, you have to trust your own process....