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.

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...

Screen shot 2011-10-10 at 2.12.09 PM

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 For an unpublished author, snagging an agent is a definite coup.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...

houck

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?...

Van natta

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....

corso

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...

hobgood-oster

A Day in the Life of an Animal Author

What in the world is an animal author anyway? We’re all animals, last I checked, and if you’re reading this, you are likely an author or someone who works closely with authors. But when you scan current book catalogs or walk into your local bookstore (that rare tactile moment of encounter with real bindings...

draven

The 7 Deadly Sins of Paranormal Romance

SLOTH: Info Dumps. Nothing turns me off faster than a book that starts off with a long narrative explaining all the world building. Info dumps are lazy. They’re bad form. The details of your world should come to light slowly, layer upon layer, immersing the reader in the experience. For hints on how to...