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  • Questions and Quandaries

Questions & Quandaries Blog

Online editor Brian A. Klems has been writing for Writer’s Digest since 2003. He covers the most pressing grammatical, ethical, business and writing-related questions—and often does it with a bit of humor.

Staples or Paper Clips?

Q. When I’m submitting a manuscript to a publisher, should I paper clip or staple the pages? Are the rules the same when submitting to a contest?—D. Fuson A. In general, publishers … Read more

An Interview With Novel Journey

Hey Everyone, The good folks at Novel Journey were nice enough to interview me and share it with their readers. If you get a chance, stop on by:http://www.noveljourney.blogspot.com Brian

When's the Best Time to Query?

Q: When is the best time to query agents? I’ve heard different things, like winter is bad, summer is slow, but it’s OK in the spring. Is this true?—Kristen HoweA: Spring, summer, … Read more

Novel and Short Story Word Counts

Q. How long is the typical short story supposed to be? How about novellas and novels? Are there guidelines with regard to word count for a first-time novelist? —Molly Heyl A. There … Read more

Do I Have to Live Close to an Agent to Get One?

Q: I live in a small town where there are no agents. Do I have to have an agent in my town or can I get an agent from another town or … Read more

I versus Me

Q: I get confused when trying to decide when to use the pronouns “I” and “me.” Sometimes it’s obvious, but other times I just can’t decide. What’s the rule?—Anonymous A: Pronouns can … Read more

How Do I Get Paid on Time?

Q: What steps can writers take to ensure timely payment? —Anonymous A: This kind of thing happens all the time: writer does job, submits invoice, waits for check, check never shows up, … Read more

Can I Use Contractions in my Writing?

Q: I know that grammatically we shouldn’t use contractions at all unless it’s‑in speech, but I see that many nonfiction bestselling authors use them. What are the current guidelines for their use?—Henry … Read more

Multiple Submissions Etiquette

Q: Is it proper to send out the same article to multiple publishers at the same time? What happens if several magazines accept the article?—Casey Magan A: Hmm, did you send this … Read more

Accurate Writer's Guidelines

Q: I read Writer’s Digest and keep tabs when they run market listings and I also own a copy of Writer’s Market, but sometimes I go to the publisher’s or agency’s website … Read more

Tracking Queries

Q: What’s the most efficient way to track magazine queries? I’ve been doing it by date on a single sheet of paper, but that seems haphazard. —Ellen Ryan A: There isn’t a … Read more

How Do I Get Into Sports Writing

Q: I love sports and have always enjoyed reading my local paper’s sports page. Now that I’m focusing on my writing career, I’d like to join the ranks of those who cover … Read more

Will My Book Get Published?

Q: I have the first five chapters of a novel written, and I think they’re reasonably good. It would be nice, however, to know if I even have a chance at getting … Read more

Will I Get Sued if I Use Real Names in my Memoir?

Q: I am writing a memoir and need to know if I can use real names in the book. I am going to write about some terrible experiences and some don’t show … Read more

Can I Trust That Writing Website?

Q: Is there a way to verify the legitimacy of Internet-based sites that offer writing classes? How can I check on their standing in the business community?—Cynthia Cheng A: Ah, the Internet—where … Read more

Using Famous Names and Proper Nouns in Fiction

Q: In a work of fiction, what restrictions exist on using the names of professional sports teams, TV networks or real people (e.g., the Los Angeles Dodgers, FOX Network or Rupert Murdoch)?—Jeff … Read more

Hiring a Public Relations Specialist

Q: I’ve finished my book, landed a contract and have a publication date. Should I hire a public relations specialist to spread the word? –Ozzie G. A: While most of us don’t … Read more

Is It People or Persons?

Q: What is the correct way to write the following sentence: “Mark was one of the most generous persons I’ve ever met,”  or “Mark was one of the most generous people I’ve … Read more

Query Letter Synopsis

Q: Every time I start to write a query letter, I seem to write an entire synopsis of a work. How do I know where to stop? — Adora Mitchell BaylesA: This … Read more

No Agent? No Problem

Q: I would like to know what an author is to do if a publisher were to offer up a contract to him or her when there is no agent involved?— C. … Read more

Starting a Sentence With "But"

Q: So, BK, what about starting a sentence with “but”? Is there a rule for that? Because I do it all the time. But I really don’t want to, if it’s against … Read more

When Burnout Sets In

I’ve been planning to start writing a novel that is burning inside me but my day job gets in the way—and it’s not because of time. I get paid to write; I’m … Read more

How Hollywood Handles Book Options

Q: I’m curious to know how a novel gets optioned for a movie. What’s the process and, as an author, what can one expect?—Marlon Sanders A: The first step in this process, … Read more

Looking To Get Paid

Q: I’ve been writing articles in one of the local papers here in our hometown, but I’ve never been paid for my work. The Editor/Publisher of the paper knows me personally. Do … Read more

Everyday Versus Every Day

Q: Sometimes I see “everyday” as one word and sometimes I see it as two (“every day”). Are both correct? Is there a difference? —Karen S. A: The English language is tricky … Read more

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