Editors Blog

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.


Why Writers Need Book Bloggers

Having gone through paperback and hardcover publication, having watched the marketing and publicity wheels spin—or screech to a halt—I’ve come to see book bloggers as indispensable to authors, especially first-time authors. Guest column by Miriam Gershow, who lives in Eugene OR, where she is at work on her second novel, Knock Knock. Her...


What Writers Need to Do Besides Write

As writers, we tend to focus entirely on the manuscript. We sweat over it, we curse it, and we pace the floor worrying over one sentence, or even one casual phrase. Because of this obsession, we often believe that our Dream Agent, the one who is patiently sifting through the slush pile, will instantly...


Creating Active Characters in YA Novels

Have you ever heard an editor or critic refer to a character as passive? Maybe, like me, you've found yourself frustrated by this term. What exactly does it mean, and what's so bad about creating a passive character? Isn't this a trait we often find in real people, especially certain teenagers, who can be...

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Using Conferences to Your Querying Advantage

Conferences can be great places to learn, but let’s face it, when you’re unagented and have a completed manuscript, your main agenda may not be the workshops. I’ve attended several conferences, both as a pre-published writer and a published one. The truth is, my main goal has remained the same: Networking.


E-Publishing and the Entrepreneurial Author

These days, breaking in to publishing is a decidedly different landscape than it was even just a few years ago. While mainstream print publishing is still going, many authors have cast their eyes toward the New World of digital (or digital-first) publishing. It’s wild, yet exciting, territory with unique challenges that easily rival those...


5 Ways Writers Kid Themselves

1. I have an agent! Success is mine for the taking. For an unpublished author, snagging an agent is a definite coup. And having representation can open the door to the publishing world … But it doesn’t guarantee the opening of that door. There’s a chance that after several months (or more than a...


The Tidal Wave of a Learning Curve

There’s a learning curve to publication; it’s different for everyone. Mine amounts to years of ripples in the ocean followed by one ferocious wave. My first instinct was to yell, “Wait! I can’t swim!” I don’t know anything about being a published author. Is there a code of conduct, a manual, perhaps? Preferably one...


How Do We Know When It’s Time To Quit Being A Writer?

Twenty-five days later, I had done what I'd been unable to do in four previous years of writing: finished a full-length manuscript. I printed this manuscript at a Copy Cop in downtown Boston and spent about five days editing the manuscript on paper, with a red pen, feeling very official. After transferring the edits...


It Takes a Village (to Write a Novel)

It takes a village. It really does. The sitting down and getting the words from the fingers to the computer screen is a fairly solitary operation. But the getting the ideas to the fingers and then the computer screen to a book … a village. A big and wonderful village. Guest column by Priya Parmar,...


Publicity Tips When Publishing Your Book

BEFORE YOUR BOOK IS PUBLISHED Make a Web site, preferably from your name (not your book’s title—it’s a long career you’re trying to build). Author pages on publishers’ sites rarely do a good job. A decent site costs $500-1,500, depending on the designer and the complexity, or you can make one on the simple-to-use weebly.com...


Be True to Yourself and Your Voice Will Come

When I sent off my very first manuscript almost two decades ago, I made just about every mistake you could make. I included my own illustrations with my picture book, and since I'm not much of an artist, I sent some bright paper cut-out artwork, reminiscent of Matisse minus the talent and technique. I...


Examining Trends vs. Style in Children’s Books

Unless you’re into a time travel trend and have been MIA for the last years, you probably pretty much know the landscape: immortal, sexy creatures like vampires, werewolves and fey with an odd desire to return to high school and fall in love. Ghosts and fallen angels are fast becoming smoking’ hot. Zombies are...


What I Learned About Writing a Second Novel

It seems crazy to claim "beginners luck" when you’ve been writing since your twenties and get your first novel published at 39. At the time it felt more like a grand plan unfolding; a plan that included—of course it would!—the prompt arrival of novel number two. I had a great idea, right? I’d done...


Book Marketing For 21st-Century Authors

Almost three years after the deal got made with Crown Publishing Group, my travel memoir about my time helping to start a radio station in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan has hit the shelves. Hooray! But there’s little time to celebrate, and there hasn’t been much downtime for months—even though the actual book was...


How Writing About Loss Helps You Heal

Just a few days before my 27th birthday, she had a severe heart attack. I returned to Ohio, never imagining I’d remain there for over a year—Mom spending that entire time in one hospital or another, battling congestive heart failure, stomach paralysis, ventilator dependency, and lung cancer (the thing that would ultimately claim her...


What’s In A Title? Everything.

The right name brings a person to life and allows you to see who they truly are and all the potential stretching out in front of them. The right title does the same for a novel. For most of the many years it took me to write my novel, its working title was “Looking for...


From Self-Published Success to Agented Author

For a new writer, finding an agent sometimes feels like you’ve been sent on a snipe hunt. Other writers insist they are out there, tout the glories of bagging one, and share their wild adventure stories about when they got theirs. But are agents really out there? If so, how do you get one?...

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Utilizing Your Strengths To Realize Your Writing Dreams

So in this time of reflection on the past year and looking forward to the new one, look closely at your strengths—what drives and energizes you—and don’t beat yourself up about perceived weaknesses when it comes to social media, accounting, promoting yourself, editing, book design, and so on. If your strength is writing, write....


Write From Your Own Life Experiences

It wasn’t always this way … I stared out trying to escape my life when all of sudden it hit me. Why not sit and write about it? Which was indeed the hardest thing I ever decided to do? You see, I never chose to be a writer; the writing came to me at...