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.

ghost-fleet-book-cover

Traveling Back to Look Ahead at the Future of War

The two of us didn’t meet until we were in our 30s, but both grew up on a similar diet of science fiction, techno-thrillers and sprawling war stories. We’d prepare for summer vacation trips by getting a stack of books from the library... GIVEAWAY: August and Peter are excited to give away a free copy...

i-dont-have-a-happy-place-book-cover

5 Negative Voices and How to Shush Them

1. “Did you just write that? That’s pretty terrible. Kind of the worst, actually. Wait, do you even have an MFA?” Variations of this sentence will snake through your brain and disturb your thoughts many times during the writing process. I’d like to say there is some algebraic equation to eviscerate this kind of...

maria-ribas-literary-agent

3 Common Author Platform Mistakes — Plus How to Fix Them

When you hear the word “platform,” do you feel dread or excitement? Do you see social media and blogs as forced self-promotion or as an opportunity for conversation with readers? It’s an important question these days. More and more, the theory of an author platform—the idea that an author should communicate directly with readers...

Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 2.01.33 PM

Writing for the Soul: 5 (Less Conventional) Tips

I’ve just published my second book in the Storm Siren trilogy (thank you, HarperCollins) – and I’ll be honest with you. There are days I absolutely love what I do (like SERIOUSLY adore it)…but there are also days (or even weeks) I don’t ever want to see my computer screen again. Like walk away....

lisa-katzenberger

4 Questions Agents Ask Writers at Pitch Sessions

Over the years, as I’ve written both KidLit and adult fiction, I have participated in several agent pitches and critique sessions. I’ve read every article I could get my hands on discussing how to deliver your pitch, or how to gracefully listen to constructive criticism. But what continues to surprise me are the questions...

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 4.28.38 PM

10 Ways to Never Get Published

Getting your book published means that actual people will read it, and who wants that? Here are 10 bona fide ways to make sure your manuscript never sees the light of day. 1. Perfect your work. Revision is for amateurs; perfection is the goal. Your book can always be better than it is today!...

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 9.19.01 AM

Thoughts on the Unreliable Narrator

Dana is the main character in my book, The Pocket Wife. She is bipolar and off her medication; she’s also going through lots of “stuff,” and this toxic mixture is beginning to bring on a manic episode. In Chapter One, Dana is poised for flight. Still, she is quite lucid. In fact, except for...

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 10.44.17 PM

4 Signs You Might Be a Book Diva

It’s been less than a year since my very first book was published. It has been a wonderful, eye-opening year where I’ve reached unbelievable highs, dipped to depressing lows, and learned a boatload of lessons about the writing world. The biggest lesson I’ve learned over the past nine months is: Don’t be a diva....

any-way-you-slice-it-novel-cover

What Happens When You Lose Your Literary Agent?

GIVEAWAY: Kristine is excited to give away a free digital 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. (Please note that comments may take a little while to...

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 4.47.53 PM

The DIY Book Tour: How to Organize a Tour Yourself

You’ve landed an agent and a publishing contract, and you’ve pumped your fist in the air like a champion. Your dream has come true. Now what? Rest on your laurels and let the publisher handle all of the promoting? Hardly. You are now the leader of a grassroots movement, and the cause...

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 4.37.50 PM

How to Locate Your Weird (and Better Your Writing)

1. Embrace the First Truth: You’re a freak. No use denying it. I mean this very literally. After all, by definition, a freak is an “abnormal phenomenon.” So, if you believe that all humans are unique individuals, as I do, then there is technically no absolutely normal person and we are all, therefore, freaks....

the-wrong-side-of-right-novel-cover

4 Writing Tips I Learned at Drama School

As an undergrad at NYU, I saw the writing classes I took as “core curriculum,” pure and simple. Sure, they were rigorous and fun, but they distracted from my real focus—the studio where I spent twenty-five hours a week learning how to act. It took several post-grad years for me to come to terms...

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 1.06.03 PM

6 Questions Writers Ask about Copyright and the Law

(Column by Chuck as well as WD co-editor Brian Klems. Please note that these guidelines below, while helpful, should not take the place of formal legal advice. We are editors, not attorneys.) Imagine you’re at a writers’ conference. You’re getting ready to pitch that great novel idea to a bunch of powerful agents. As...

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 9.10.17 PM

The Utility (and Trappings) of the Novel Outline

I’ve been selling books for more than fifteen years and learning to write novels even longer. Of all the author readings and Q&A sessions I’ve hosted (and attended), one of the most common questions among beginning writers, even curious readers, is this: Do you start with an outline? You’ve heard the pros and cons....

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 7.21.56 PM

How 5 Great Writers Got Started on Their First Books

1. Toni Morrison -- The Spark: A Writing Group. Morrison was a 35-year-old professor at Howard University when she joined a writing group just for fun. It soon became clear that she couldn’t remain in the group unless she actually wrote something, so she began toying with a story based on an African American...

Screen Shot 2015-01-05 at 10.57.37 PM

It’s 2015 — Believe Anything Can Happen in Your Writing Life

My rational mind knows that the odds of these things happening might not be in my favor—and probably a kajillion-to-one for #2—but there’s something very liberating about giving myself permission to be open to the idea that anything can happen. As Alice’s father says, “The only way to achieve the impossible is to believe...

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 12.58.19 PM

The Power of Vulnerability

How many emotions do you experience in a week? A month? If someone told your story, what emotions would they put on the page? Think about your lowest moment and your best experience. I know it’s scary, but if you want your stories to have power, you have to be willing to be vulnerable....