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.

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Contests: A Non-Traditional Route to Publication

Like most unpublished writers, I believed that there were only two paths to getting my words and thoughts before the world’s readers. I could go the traditional route of sending out query letters, and hope my brilliant writing would be plucked from the slush pile on a discerning agent’s desk. She would then successfully pitch...

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The Kama Sutra of Getting Published

Put yourself in these three publishing positions to maximize your chances. I wrote my first book-length manuscript at the foolish age of 19 and thought it would set the New York publishing houses ablaze. A few dozen rejection letters and no blaze later, and I came to understand what we all understand as writers:...

Angela Ackerman author writer

Conferencing for Introverts 2.0

A while back, I wrote about attending a conference as an introvert, and how misguided “outsiders looking in” feelings can sometimes hold us back from getting the most value from an event. The reality is that published or unpublished, agent or editor, we attend conferences for the same reason: to grow, network, and learn....

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How Breaking Genres Can Help You Get Published

Agents, publishers, and editors are always looking for “fresh writing.” They want something new. Something they’ve never seen before. Four years ago, I was just a reader attending college classes for my business degree. I hadn’t written anything other than school papers, but decided I was going to write a book and get it...

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The Small-Press Experience

A little over a year ago, my first novel was published. After countless revisions, querying it to an inch of its life, finding an agent, leaving an agent, finding a publisher, content edits, line edits, etc., etc., my little-story-that-could became a full-fledged, published novel. For months after its release, the question which seemed to...

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Don’t Write What You Know Until You Know Something.

Not long after college, I had the good fortune to have lunch with Howard Fast (Spartacus, Citizen Tom Paine). A mutual friend had arranged the lunch, knowing that I wanted to be a writer.  The great master listened politely as I told him I was writing a play about the Stasi infiltration of a group of...

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The Lure of Domestic Noir

Domestic noir is a growing genre. Given successes such as Paula Hawkin’s GIRL ON A TRAIN and Gillian Flynn’s GONE GIRL, it appears that regular domestic situations are a fertile breeding ground for suspense thrillers. Everyday dramas play out around the kitchen tables and the bedrooms of family homes. In fact, generally speaking, the more...

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5 Ways to Be a More Mindful Writer

Great writing flows most easily from a place of inner clarity and calm. But with all the stimulation and stress in our overscheduled lives, it’s hard to slow down long enough to think clearly, much less creatively. Mindfulness can help. Column by Deborah Sosin, MSW, MFA, author of CHARLOTTE AND THE QUIET PLACE (Sept....

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3 Questions to Ask When Revising

When I reached the end of my first draft of ASSASSIN’S HEART, the story was in place, but I knew I had to bring out and uncover other elements, like themes, setting, and especially character arcs. Column by Sarah Ahiers, author of ASSASSIN’S HEART (Feb. 2, 2016, HarperTeen). Sarah has an MFA in Writing for Children...

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3 Lessons I Learned about Realism from Mentor Texts

I never took a creative writing class; I don’t have an MFA. But, as an English professor, I read for a living, and I have learned almost everything I know about writing from mentor texts (texts that teach us how to write). When I was young, I read all the time. I read everything....

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5 Things for Writers to Look for in a Day Job

It might seem strange to have a post about what to look for in a day job on a publishing advice blog. After all, often the dream is to write full time. Day jobs are just a distraction, right? Realistically, though, it’s hard to earn a living from writing fiction full time, and many...

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5 Writers Discuss the Writing Life

As DEATH AT THE DAY LILY CAFE, the second in the Rosalie Hart mystery series, reaches publication, I have been reflecting on the path I followed to getting published. Yes, I found a terrific agent and fell into the hands of a talented editor at Minotaur, but the first step was joining a critique...

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The Biggest Mistake New Writers Make

I wrote the first draft of my novel by hand, which I realize is slightly insane. Every morning I would wake up at five o’clock (or as I like to call it, o’dark o’clock), write three pages, and then go on with my day. Well, that’s a very simplified version, but for the sake...

MORE-IGAMI. Text copyright © 2016 by Dori Kleber. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by G. Brian Karas. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

Should You Follow the Siren Song of a New Idea?

Writing, rewriting, revising, re-rewriting. It’s painstaking, and after months—or possibly years—of working on a novel, you can feel bogged down, exhausted, even defeated. And then it happens: You get a new book idea. And not just any idea. A great idea. In fact, you’re sure this idea is a hundred times better than your current...

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New Literary Agent Alert: Sarah Manning of United Talent Agency

Currently Seeking: She is looking to actively build her list and represents both fiction and non-fiction. Sarah’s taste is varied and she enjoys crime, thrillers, historical fiction, commercial women’s fiction, accessible literary fiction, fantasy and YA. She likes big ideas that look at events or characters from new perspectives.

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3 Things I Stopped Doing That Got Me Writing Again

Every writer has a “go to” set of techniques, strategies, and schemes they use to motivate themselves to get their stories written; all the things they do every day to write their way to “THE END.” However, after 20 years of barely completing a sentence, much less a story, here are three things I...

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Writing Through Fear

We’re all scared. Let’s just start there. No matter what stage of writing you find yourself in, fear is the constant adversary that will track your every move and hunt you down. Just when you think you’re bulletproof, you’ll plunge headlong into a sea of depression and be overwhelmed with waves of doubt. As...

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Becoming a Novelist: Five Principles to Success

The story of how I broke into publishing is not one most aspiring writers immediately find helpful. One bitter individual informed me that my experience only proves the insularity of the industry, that you are nobody without an “in.” On the surface, he’s right; my “in” opened that final elusive door to publication. Less...

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What I Learned from Attending Writers’ Conferences

Before teaming up with a new publisher to release both my poetry compilation ATL Fire and California travel memoir Golden State Misadventures over one quarter of a year in 2015, I frequented writers’ conferences and grew from those experiences. Column by Han Vance, author of memoir GOLDEN STATE MISADVENTURES (August 2015, Silver Stone Press). His...