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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How to Conquer Self Doubt And Just Write

There’s a monster hiding under my desk. He lurks there, waiting for the right moment to attack. He’s an ugly little bastard, too. I have a lot of names for him, but for the sake of not overusing profanity in this blog, I’ll call him by his real name, Self-Doubt. Most of you might...

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What To Do When You Get an Agent But the Book Hasn’t Sold (Yet!)

Getting an agent is hard enough. But leaving your manuscript’s fate in the hands of a stranger is sometimes harder. After spending all that time conceptualizing your story and drafting your chapters and preparing your proposal, it’s often difficult to sit back. Fortunately, you don’t have to. Here are five ways writers can stay...

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The Value of Free: Writing For Non-Paying Markets

I've come to realize I'm in a unique position to provide perspective on one of the hottest hot-button writing issues of the internet age: namely, the edict that (cue echo effect) The Writer Must Be Paid. It’s such an obvious rule-of-thumb, only a fool would argue against it. Turns out, I am just that fool....

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How to Write a Great Opening Line

For some of us, writing fiction seems a lot like trying to pick up a Hot Stranger in a bar: The opening line makes or breaks us. If we blow our opening line in a bar, the Stranger turns off, never to find out what scintillating people we are; in a book, the reader...

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How to Write and Plan a Book Series

It’s said that J.K. Rowling had the whole of the Harry Potter series in her head before she started. If you’re in the JKR camp, read no more. You’re way ahead of me. On the other hand, if you’re not a long-range planner, my experience may be of use. Like most writers, I have...

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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...