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.

swallow

5 Tips for A Successful Reading

1. Respect your audience. The most valuable thing anyone can give you is time and attention. Arrive early and start on time. I’ve seen authors waltz in 45 minutes late to their own reading—because they were next door enjoying a leisurely dinner. (Planning, people!) During Q&A, remember there is no such thing as a...

lender

3 Laws of Writing on Wildlife

1. All animals all the time. I’ve had a dedicated and passionate interest in wild animals and wild places since I was 8 years old. Reason? Walt Disney. It was Disney’s early short films on wildlife that sucked me in. He showed animals in their natural habitat and lots of them. One of those...

fox2

Pitch Perfect: How to Craft Your Book’s Hook

So what makes up a good hook? Simplicity. You don’t need to recite a paragraph-long pitch to an editor. You don’t need to wow them with every nuance of the conflict between your hero and heroine. That comes later. What you want to do first is get them interested in you and your book’s...

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How to Make a Positive Impression at a Writers Conference

“Agents are human too.” If you’ve been around agents for any amount of time, you’ve undoubtedly heard this phrase. Writers say it about agents, agents say it about themselves … but rather than considering it a brush-off joke or cliché, “Agents are human too” actually provides a healthy perspective when networking with them at...

gershow

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...

testa

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...

going

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.

Massey

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...

schindler

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...

spinella

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...

tohline

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...

parmar

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,...

wayne

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...

daly

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...

toffler-corrie

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...

wood

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...

napoli

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...

manning

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...

newton

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...