Publishing

How Many Rejections Does it Take to Self-Publish a Book?

Q: I’ve submitted my manuscript and query letters to various agents and publishers and have received several rejections. I feel this book is pretty marketable. How many agent rejections and how many publisher rejections do you think I should take as a signal to self-publish this book? I’m pretty tenacious. If...

How to Find Out Who Agented a Book

Q: When an agent isn’t listed in the author’s book acknowledgements, is there a way to search backwards to find that agent from the author, journalistic facilitator or publisher? Thanks for your expertise. —Alice Lazzarini A: Finding out who was the agent of a particular book can certainly be tricky, especially...

Article Black Holes

Q: I submitted two stories to a nursing magazine after consulting the editor in advance. I was told the stories were accepted, and one would appear in August. So far, no sign of my story, and when I tried to follow-up with e-mails and phone calls, my messages weren’t answered. What...

If I Write in Multiple Genres, Do I Need Multiple Agents?

Q: I’m in the process of authoring books in four different genres. Do I need to enlist four agents?—N. Schad A: You’re writing four books at once? I can’t handle writing two stories at the same time, let alone four, so I’m impressed. But when it’s time to find an agent,...

Live From LA: Questions from the Writer's Conference

Yesterday was the annual BEA/Writer’s Digest Books Writer’s Conference, and I was fortunate to be a panelist on the popular Ask the Editors session. The organizer, GLA editor Chuck Sambuchino, told me it was for my in-depth knowledge of the submission and editing processes and my familiarity with inexpensive ways to...

Why Do Authors Use Pseudonyms?

Q: Why do authors use pseudonyms?—Anonymous A: Authors write under pseudonyms, or pen names, for a variety of reasons. Established authors will do it to cross genres and keep from aggravating their fan bases. Wouldn’t you be a bit ticked off if you bought Stephen King’s next book expecting blood, guts...

What is a Literary Executor?

Q: I was recently approached by one of my relatives (my father’s cousin), who asked if I would be her literary executor. I don’t really know what this means and thought you might be able to shed some light on the subject. Do you know what this might entail?—Anonymous A: Often...

Will Newspapers Review Self-Published Books?

Q: The book critic at my local newspaper mentioned in an article that she doesn’t review self-published books. Is this common procedure? Are there any major dailies that do?—Joyann Dwire A: Some newspapers won’t review self-published books simply because they’re concerned about legal issues. Self-published books aren’t subjected to the rigorous...

Should I Get a Lawyer Before Signing with an Agent?

Q: Once an agent wants to take me on as a client and sends me a contract, do I need to have the contract looked at by a contract lawyer before I sign?—Allen Reiling A: Yes, it would probably be wise to have a lawyer who knows a thing or two...

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, winter or fall—agents are continually looking for good manuscripts. You’ll occasionally find one who says that she doesn’t buy...

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 are general guidelines for each literary category: Short stories range anywhere from 1,500 to 30,000 words; Novellas run from...

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, writer buys carton of eggs, Googles editor’s home address and, well, you can guess what happens next. There are...

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 and its guidelines are different. Which is more accurate?—Angel A: Companies’ websites are likely to be more up-to-date than...

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 the book published once it’s completed. Is there anyplace I can submit what I’ve written to have it looked...

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. L. FreireA: Negotiating a book contract is a lot like buying a car—there’s some give and take, not everyone...