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.

18 Ideas for a Successful Book Launch

Whether you publish traditionally or independently, you will want to do as much as possible to help launch your book. Here are 18 things I found helpful in the launch of my debut picture book, A MORNING WITH GRANDPA, illustrated by Christina Forshay (Lee & Low Books): 1-2 Years Out About...

Ditch Microsoft Word for Scrivener. Now.

How many times have you wanted to throw your laptop across the room when Microsoft Word started moving slower than a three-toed sloth with a bad case of vertigo? If you’re like me and your manuscript is over 100,000 words, it probably happens on a fairly regular basis. I’ve had it...

5 Easy Steps to Writing a Bestseller

1. Write a good book. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Yet it can be difficult to accomplish. A good book is unique, with compelling characters, voice, and plot. It’s not easy to come up with something original when you’re writing within the confines of a genre like romance, where the tropes are...

7 Writing Rules You Can Ignore

When I say you can ignore these rules, I don’t mean that you should. These “truisms” floating around about writing are useful to think about, especially when you’re starting out, and they can point you to weaknesses in your work. In the end, though, you have to trust your own process....

5 Ways to Combat Author Anxiety

It turns out Author Anxiety is a Thing. It’s not just me. I discovered this on the eve of publication of my debut novel, DECEPTION ISLAND, when I was silly enough to Google my shiny new title. Up popped a Netgalley reviewer live-tweeting as she read it. Only she was hating...

Self-Care Makes Better Writers

I've been more curious about myself, which, I believe, has directly led to seeing other people more clearly. This also translates to character writing: in my new book, my characters are more accessible to me, though no less complex. I find I write with more joy. It's the self-work that has...

Train Your Brain and Make Writing a Priority

Finding the time to write is a universal struggle for writers. Day jobs, kids, pets, presidential elections, to-do lists…there are a million things that require our time and attention before we can give anything to writing. When I was in college, I wrote a terrible young adult novel. I worked on it...

3 Imperfect Rules for Writing

I’ve been thinking a lot about perfection recently. As a creative writing teacher, I often hear statements about the writing process from my students—statements that involve one of my least favorite words: should.

6 Tips for Getting Rid of Writer’s Block

3. Participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). On November 1, participants work towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 on November 30. It allows you to focus on word count and the completion of a novel, even if the writing is (at first) complete crap on the...

5 Tips for Writing Appealing Characters

An appealing protagonist (or villain!) gives readers someone to root for, but appealing characters are not the same thing as perfect characters. Characters that never make mistakes and have lives without incident are not only boring, they are the quickest way to turn-off your readers. Column by Emily Littlejohn, author of INHERIT THE...

Packing For The Labor Of Publishing

Once upon a time, before I was a writer, I attended births. Not as a midwife or a doctor. I was a doula—the person who often came to a labor early, who did their best to stay awake for the duration, who drove home in the wee hours, windows open and...

5 Ways to Get Into Character

It’s been said that great authors act as stenographers, jotting down thoughts and actions as their characters dictate. Whether you’re focused on a single protagonist or penning a novel with multiple points-of-view, you must know your characters, so that when they talk to you, you’ll recognize their voices. But how do...

The Constant Gardener

Before I had a garden, I remember how desperately and urgently I craved success. I remember staying up all night, writing as fast as I could, or agonizing over the same few paragraphs. I would do anything to get published. And all of that was profoundly unhelpful. What I needed to...

Contests: A Non-Traditional Route to Publication

Like most unpublished writers, I believed that there were only two paths to getting my words and thoughts before the world’s readers. I could go the traditional route of sending out query letters, and hope my brilliant writing would be plucked from the slush pile on a discerning agent’s desk. She would...

The Kama Sutra of Getting Published

Put yourself in these three publishing positions to maximize your chances. I wrote my first book-length manuscript at the foolish age of 19 and thought it would set the New York publishing houses ablaze. A few dozen rejection letters and no blaze later, and I came to understand what we all...

Conferencing for Introverts 2.0

A while back, I wrote about attending a conference as an introvert, and how misguided “outsiders looking in” feelings can sometimes hold us back from getting the most value from an event. The reality is that published or unpublished, agent or editor, we attend conferences for the same reason: to grow,...

How Breaking Genres Can Help You Get Published

Agents, publishers, and editors are always looking for “fresh writing.” They want something new. Something they’ve never seen before. Four years ago, I was just a reader attending college classes for my business degree. I hadn’t written anything other than school papers, but decided I was going to write a book...

The Small-Press Experience

A little over a year ago, my first novel was published. After countless revisions, querying it to an inch of its life, finding an agent, leaving an agent, finding a publisher, content edits, line edits, etc., etc., my little-story-that-could became a full-fledged, published novel. For months after its release, the question...

Don’t Write What You Know Until You Know Something.

Not long after college, I had the good fortune to have lunch with Howard Fast (Spartacus, Citizen Tom Paine). A mutual friend had arranged the lunch, knowing that I wanted to be a writer.  The great master listened politely as I told him I was writing a play about the Stasi infiltration of...

The Lure of Domestic Noir

Domestic noir is a growing genre. Given successes such as Paula Hawkin’s GIRL ON A TRAIN and Gillian Flynn’s GONE GIRL, it appears that regular domestic situations are a fertile breeding ground for suspense thrillers. Everyday dramas play out around the kitchen tables and the bedrooms of family homes. In fact, generally...