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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5 Tips for Writing Historical Fiction

Here are a few points that writers of historical fiction might consider as they sit down to work: 1. Fiction = Friction. Regardless of your time period, regardless of all the in-depth research you’ve done, you must remember that you’re writing fiction first, and historical fiction second. In other words, don’t forget that it’s...

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How to Write Your First Novel: 6 Pieces of Advice

6. Take the time to celebrate the milestones in your writing process. When you finish a chapter, take yourself and significant other out for dinner. When you finish the first draft, uncork a bottle of Champagne. (Not prosecco, real Champagne.) I timed the completion of the first draft to coincide with my birthday. I...

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5 Ways to Publicize & Promote Your Book

1. Start tweeting now! Or Tumblring, or whatever, and discover what feels genuine to you. My publisher is very active across multiple social media platforms and encouraged me to get involved well in advance of my book release, to explore what I was comfortable with and start making connections. I happen to like Twitter...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Mike Mullin

This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers at any stage of their career can talk about seven things they’ve learned along their writing journey that they wish they knew at the beginning. This installment is from YA writer Mike Mullin, author of the ASHFALL series. GIVEAWAY: Mike...

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The NE-SCBWI Conference: Talking With Agents Stephen Fraser, Jennifer Laughran and Vickie Motter

The NE-SCBWI Conference, organized by the New England chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, took place in April 2012 and offered an agent-author panel featuring the following literary agents: 1. Stephen Fraser (Jennifer De Chiara Literary), joined by his client Christine Brodien-Jones 2. Jennifer Laughran (Andrea Brown Literary), joined by her client...

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Don’t Get Rejected Before Agents Even Read a Word

People who work in book publishing always have a ridiculous amount of reading to get through. I once worked on what is pejoratively termed the "slush pile" in the HarperCollins fiction department, where I would often be the first reader. As such, I would get to decide if the story was worth further consideration...

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A Thank You To the Agents Who Said No

I wrote my memoir, Home is a Roof Over a Pig: An American Family’s Journey in China, sent it to beta readers, edited and rewrote, and began work on that all important task: the query letter. Following the advice I’d read on this blog and others, I wrote a query letter that rocked, and...

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How to Pitch Agents at a Writers’ Conference

So you’re at a writers’ conference and you have a chance to sit down with an agent. This encounter is basically like speed dating because you have about five minutes to get the person across the table from you to want, if not to commit to a relationship, at least to try one...

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What Writers Can Learn From Charlie Sheen

Here is where we must be more like Charlie Sheen. When the highest paid actor on television gets fired after a public psychotic break, which he then turns in to a concert series, which then lands him a new television deal, we must conclude that any of us can have our dark night of...

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How Rejection Can Lead to Hope

Guest column by Nichole Bernier, author of the novel THE UNFINISHED WORK OF ELIZABETH D. (Crown/Random House, June 5, 2012). She has written for magazines including Conde Nast Traveler, ELLE, Health, Men’s Journal, and Child, and is a founder of the literary blog Beyond the Margins. She lives outside of Boston with husband and...

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How to Write A Great Thriller: 5 Pieces of Advice

There are all sorts of guides on how to write a great thriller. I’ve read some. I’ve learned a lot from writing my own novels and I’ve learned a lot from co-writing with James Patterson, someone you have heard of who knows a thing or two about drama. This is by no means an...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Steven Raichlen

This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers at any stage of their career can talk about seven things they’ve learned along their writing journey that they wish they knew at the beginning. This installment is from writer Steve Raichlen. GIVEAWAY: Steven is excited to give away a...

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Notes to the First-Time Novelist

When I started writing THE GREEN SHORE, I didn’t call it a novel. It was a “project,” or “this thing I’m working on,” or maybe even a novella, but a “novel” it wasn’t—at least I didn’t admit as much. At first it felt wild and free, like a new crush, undefined and full of...

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Your Novel’s Missing Ingredient? It Could Be You

I know BB King when I hear him. I may not have heard the song before, but a few bittersweet notes from his Gibson guitar is all it takes to make a positive identification. His sound is unique, an expression of his singular personality. Like a song, a novel is many things. It’s a...

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4 Reasons For Making Time to Read

2. Reading Builds Confidence – As a beginning writer, I lacked confidence in my work. When I received feedback on my writing, I would start changing things to meet one person’s criticism only to have another reader suggest the opposite, and I had no idea how to evaluate their comments. These people were my...