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.

3 Questions to Ask When Revising

When I reached the end of my first draft of ASSASSIN’S HEART, the story was in place, but I knew I had to bring out and uncover other elements, like themes, setting, and especially character arcs. Column by Sarah Ahiers, author of ASSASSIN’S HEART (Feb. 2, 2016, HarperTeen). Sarah has an MFA in...

5 Things for Writers to Look for in a Day Job

It might seem strange to have a post about what to look for in a day job on a publishing advice blog. After all, often the dream is to write full time. Day jobs are just a distraction, right? Realistically, though, it’s hard to earn a living from writing fiction full...

5 Writers Discuss the Writing Life

As DEATH AT THE DAY LILY CAFE, the second in the Rosalie Hart mystery series, reaches publication, I have been reflecting on the path I followed to getting published. Yes, I found a terrific agent and fell into the hands of a talented editor at Minotaur, but the first step was...

The Biggest Mistake New Writers Make

I wrote the first draft of my novel by hand, which I realize is slightly insane. Every morning I would wake up at five o’clock (or as I like to call it, o’dark o’clock), write three pages, and then go on with my day. Well, that’s a very simplified version, but...

Should You Follow the Siren Song of a New Idea?

Writing, rewriting, revising, re-rewriting. It’s painstaking, and after months—or possibly years—of working on a novel, you can feel bogged down, exhausted, even defeated. And then it happens: You get a new book idea. And not just any idea. A great idea. In fact, you’re sure this idea is a hundred times better...

New Literary Agent Alert: Sarah Manning of United Talent Agency

Currently Seeking: She is looking to actively build her list and represents both fiction and non-fiction. Sarah’s taste is varied and she enjoys crime, thrillers, historical fiction, commercial women’s fiction, accessible literary fiction, fantasy and YA. She likes big ideas that look at events or characters from new perspectives.

3 Things I Stopped Doing That Got Me Writing Again

Every writer has a “go to” set of techniques, strategies, and schemes they use to motivate themselves to get their stories written; all the things they do every day to write their way to “THE END.” However, after 20 years of barely completing a sentence, much less a story, here are...

Writing Through Fear

We’re all scared. Let’s just start there. No matter what stage of writing you find yourself in, fear is the constant adversary that will track your every move and hunt you down. Just when you think you’re bulletproof, you’ll plunge headlong into a sea of depression and be overwhelmed with waves...

Becoming a Novelist: Five Principles to Success

The story of how I broke into publishing is not one most aspiring writers immediately find helpful. One bitter individual informed me that my experience only proves the insularity of the industry, that you are nobody without an “in.” On the surface, he’s right; my “in” opened that final elusive door...

What I Learned from Attending Writers’ Conferences

Before teaming up with a new publisher to release both my poetry compilation ATL Fire and California travel memoir Golden State Misadventures over one quarter of a year in 2015, I frequented writers’ conferences and grew from those experiences. Column by Han Vance, author of memoir GOLDEN STATE MISADVENTURES (August 2015, Silver...

How Writing Taught Me the Need for Patience

Patience. Some regard it a virtue, and if there’s any one thing I’ve learned since embarking upon my journey into the publishing world, it’s that you need it in spades. Many are of the impression the most difficult part of being a writer is the actual writing. And yes, crafting a...

Fact vs Fiction: Keeping a Military Thriller Thrilling

As Navy veterans turned thriller writers, one thing we are often asked is how much of our military experience finds its way into our work. The answer is plenty, but how and what to include can be the difference between a high-octane thriller that’s packed with realism and a tedious study...

How Missing My Deadline Brought life to My Novel

I had a conference call with my publisher about a week before my husband’s emergency brain surgery. I remember pacing outside, in the December cold, with the phone pressed against my ear and trying to carry on a normal conversation while also sneaking glances through the living room windows to make...

6 Things Teaching Taught Me About My Own Writing

If you do something long enough people around you assume you must know what you’re doing. Next thing you know you end up as the instructor. I’m fairly sure this is how I started teaching. I’ve found that teaching writing to others has taught me a lot about my own writing. ...

One Day a Week, One Scene at a Time

I’ve read that ideally a writer should write each day during a designated period lasting a few hours, if at all possible. And that sounds about right as ideals go, and I don’t doubt that such a regular daily routine hones one’s writing skills and keeps the creative juices flowing. However,...

Short Novels Sell

After spending years revising my book, MARRIED SEX,  I was convinced that its 37,000 words had split the stylistic difference between James Patterson and James Salter—that this was as novel tight as a screenplay. No adverbs. Few adjectives. Only active verbs.  What Orwell called “prose like a windowpane.” Column by Jesse Kornbluth, debut...

 Creating Picture Books As an Author/Illustrator

I have always loved the relationship between story and pictures. As a child, I would spend hours poring over picture books. In my teens I discovered the amazing world of graphic novels. At university I studied and learned the techniques of film and animation. This love of story led me to...