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.

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 Esquire and as...

ssoliver

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 the perfect agent...

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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 the more examples...

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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. You can micromanage...

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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 the time you...

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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 simply give up...

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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 set in stone...

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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. Here are seven...

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5 Ways to Combat Author Anxiety

It turns out Author Anxiety is a Thing. It’s not just me. I discovered this on the eve of publication of my debut novel, DECEPTION ISLAND, when I was silly enough to Google my shiny new title. Up popped a Netgalley reviewer live-tweeting as she read it. Only she was hating it—pulling it apart...

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Self-Care Makes Better Writers

I've been more curious about myself, which, I believe, has directly led to seeing other people more clearly. This also translates to character writing: in my new book, my characters are more accessible to me, though no less complex. I find I write with more joy. It's the self-work that has opened up the...

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Train Your Brain and Make Writing a Priority

Finding the time to write is a universal struggle for writers. Day jobs, kids, pets, presidential elections, to-do lists…there are a million things that require our time and attention before we can give anything to writing. When I was in college, I wrote a terrible young adult novel. I worked on it during holiday breaks...

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3 Imperfect Rules for Writing

I’ve been thinking a lot about perfection recently. As a creative writing teacher, I often hear statements about the writing process from my students—statements that involve one of my least favorite words: should.

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6 Tips for Getting Rid of Writer’s Block

3. Participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). On November 1, participants work towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 on November 30. It allows you to focus on word count and the completion of a novel, even if the writing is (at first) complete crap on the page. You can...

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5 Tips for Writing Appealing Characters

An appealing protagonist (or villain!) gives readers someone to root for, but appealing characters are not the same thing as perfect characters. Characters that never make mistakes and have lives without incident are not only boring, they are the quickest way to turn-off your readers. Column by Emily Littlejohn, author of INHERIT THE BONES (Nov. 1,...

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Packing For The Labor Of Publishing

Once upon a time, before I was a writer, I attended births. Not as a midwife or a doctor. I was a doula—the person who often came to a labor early, who did their best to stay awake for the duration, who drove home in the wee hours, windows open and radio blaring and...

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5 Ways to Get Into Character

It’s been said that great authors act as stenographers, jotting down thoughts and actions as their characters dictate. Whether you’re focused on a single protagonist or penning a novel with multiple points-of-view, you must know your characters, so that when they talk to you, you’ll recognize their voices. But how do you develop this...

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The Constant Gardener

Before I had a garden, I remember how desperately and urgently I craved success. I remember staying up all night, writing as fast as I could, or agonizing over the same few paragraphs. I would do anything to get published. And all of that was profoundly unhelpful. What I needed to do was leave the...