3 quick nonfiction tips from WD magazine

Pull Quote time!

The new issue of WD hit newsstands yesterday, and it’s loaded with a guide on succeeding in the current economy (from breaking into new writing realms to dealing with taxes), lessons from an author-turned-agent, an interview with Elizabeth Berg, and more. 

From the magazine, here are three nonfiction tips, pull-quote style, that stuck out in my mind after sending the issue off to the printer.

On networking when freelancing:
“People often think they should network with folks at the top of the food chain. In actuality, it’s more helpful to network with people lower on the chain (low-level execs or assistants). This is because: a) They have more time to network; b) they have a greater need to network; and c) finding talented new writers and articles is part of how they get recognition.”
–Chad Gervich, from his piece “Don’t Be a Stranger: Get Personal to Get the Gig”

On success when selling a debut nonfiction book:
“I surrounded myself with a coach and mentor who kept me moving. I also did things in the right order: I focused on building my platform and developing a winning proposal before I wasted time writing a book that no one wanted to publish.”
–Debut author Debra Berndt, from the Breaking In column by Chuck Sambuchino

On queries:
“I’ve noticed that the tighter and more concise (read: shorter) my queries are, the faster I’m getting responses. With the increased workloads brought on by downsizing in the current economy, many editors would rather not take the time to wade through long, detailed queries. Try condensing your queries down to a few highly targeted sentences, trusting that an editor will e-mail for clarification if you’ve piqued her interest.”
–Freelancer Perry P. Perkins, from his article “Doing the Math”

* * *


Feel free to take the following prompt home or post your response (500 words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments section below. By posting, you’ll be automatically entered in our occasional around-the-office swag drawings. If you’re having trouble with the captcha code sticking, e-mail your story to me at writersdigest@fwmedia.com, with “Promptly” in the subject line, and I’ll make sure it gets up.

Write the last sentence to an unwritten novel or nonfiction book that’s so intriguing that others won’t help but want to read the rest of the text. [Feel free to include a paragraph or two leading up to it. And if you’re searching for character or subject fodder, how about the topic of the last phone call you placed today?]

(Prompt courtesy of WD Online Community Editor Brian A. Klems.)

And speaking of nonfiction, WD’s Jane Friedman is also hosting a live webinar tomorrow, “Critique Series: Nonfiction Hooks & Book Proposals Live.” Click here to check it out and to get your proposal critiqued.

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2 thoughts on “3 quick nonfiction tips from WD magazine

  1. Mark James

    Zac . . nonfiction . . . hmmmm. . . I’ve heard of that. . . can’t quite remember where. . . seriously — those tips are great, and I think they cross over to fiction as well.

    Martha . . . a whole story. . . I feel like a slacker.

    It’s difficult to end this journal here, when I’ve given you no hope, left you no choice but to break your vows, condemned you to a life destined to end in damnation.

  2. Martha W

    Okay, this one was difficult. And I don’t think I pulled it off… but, hey, I tried. Right? LOL.


    Darkness fell like a cloak, kept old secrets hidden. The demons lurking on the edges filtered back into the shadows of the trees to escape while they could.

    He didn’t care. His fight was gone too.

    Aaron sank to the ground beside Sara and gathered her close to him, prayed to the Gods for a pulse. Even hearing her faint breath didn’t assure him that she would be okay.

    She squeezed his waist in a ferocious hug and sobbed into his shoulder.

    "Baby, don’t ever do anything like that again."

    "You don’t like the excitement?"

    "Excitement I enjoy. Having my heart and soul ripped out, no."

    She leaned back from him but he held her close, kissed her gently. His love mixed with the pain blazing from his eyes. Every inch of her looked like it hurt.

    "I guess that’s your messed up way of saying you love me." She said it so matter-of-factly he had to laugh.

    "No. I said what I meant. When I tell you I love you, I’ll just say it." He rose from the ground, cradled her tight to his chest. Carefully, he used long neglected legs to carry her back to the cove house.

    It was a long walk but neither of them spoke. He knew she hadn’t realized he was walking again. And he didn’t want to analyze the reasons for it right now so he just let it be.

    As they cleared the trees closest to the house, she spoke again. "So are you going to say it?"

    He smiled over the top of her head. "What?"

    She sighed. "Never mind."

    "Okay." He wanted to say more but the door to the house flung open and her cousins rushed to greet them.

    When Aaron saw their faces, his hopes of holding off discussion faded like yesterday’s dreams.

    Tara pointed at him, shook her head. "You’re… you’re…"

    "We’re really tired and just want to lay down." Sara raised her head from his shoulder, wiped a hand across her cheek. "Why is everyone staring?"

    Zac cleared his throat. "Well, for starters, you look like crap."


    "And second, when Aaron left – he was on wheels." Ethan finished.

    "What are you…" And the light went on.

    She squealed and wiggled in his arms until he was forced to set her down or risk hurting her further. She had forgotten her own injuries for the moment.

    "You guys could have left that for morning, you know." Aaron griped.

    Sara ran her hands down his legs and back up again, checked every inch of him even though she was the one sorely bruised.


    She jerked upright, framed his face for a long kiss, pressed against him. "Aaron," she whispered.

    He picked her back up, carried her through the house to the bedroom they now shared.

    "Have I had a chance to tell you I love you?"