Back to Basics

Worksheets for Writing a Novel in 30 Days

If you think writing a book in a month is an irrational pursuit, you’re kind of right. Sometimes we have to do crazy things to get headed down the right path. A 30-day challenge can motivate you to do what you’ve put off for far too long: dedicating yourself to writing...

Limited Offer: Get Started Writing in 2011

I’m often asked by absolutely new writers: How do I get started? In honor of the new year, Writer’s Digest is offering a comprehensive package of tools, for a limited time, that helps answer that question. This package includes: An independent study writing workshop, based on a best-selling online course offered...

The Ultimate Guide to Novel Queries

To give everyone an easy page to reference (or share) on writing novel queries, here are links to every installment of my series. 5 Elements of a Novel Query + Examples of Personalization The 3 Elements of a Novel Hook Examples of Revised Novel Hooks Red Flags in Novel Hooks and...

Ultimate Blog Series on Novel Queries (#10)

This is my definitive No Rules series on novel queries. It’s meant particularly for writers who are new to the query process. (A series on nonfiction book queries will come later.) Go back to the beginning of the series. QUERY FAQs What if the agent reading your query can tell that...

Ultimate Blog Series on Novel Queries (#9)

This is my definitive No Rules series on novel queries. It’s meant particularly for writers who are new to the query process. (A series on nonfiction book queries will come later.) Go back to the beginning of the series. FULL QUERIES Here is where we put it all together—so you can...

Ultimate Blog Series on Novel Queries (#8)

This is my definitive No Rules series on novel queries. It’s meant particularly for writers who are new to the query process. (A series on nonfiction book queries will come later.) Go back to the beginning of the series. QUERY LETTER RED FLAGSHere is an overall list of red flags to...

Ultimate Blog Series on Novel Queries (#7)

This is my definitive No Rules series on novel queries. It’s meant particularly for writers who are new to the query process. (A series on nonfiction book queries will come later.) Go back to the beginning of the series. CLOSE YOUR LETTER PROFESSIONALLYYou don’t read much advice about how to close...

Ultimate Blog Series on Novel Queries (#6)

This is my definitive No Rules series on novel queries. It’s meant particularly for writers who are new to the query process. (A series on nonfiction book queries will come later.) Go back to the beginning of the series. THE KEY ELEMENTS OF YOUR NOVEL QUERY BIOFor novelists, especially unpublished ones,...

Ultimate Blog Series on Novel Queries (#5)

This is my definitive No Rules series on novel queries. It’s meant particularly for writers who are new to the query process. (A series on nonfiction book queries will come later.) Go back to the beginning of the series. ONE-SENTENCE HOOKS OF BOOKS THAT SOLDThere are many reasons for writers to...

Ultimate Blog Series on Novel Queries (#4)

This is my definitive No Rules series on novel queries. It’s meant particularly for writers who are new to the query process. (A series on nonfiction book queries will come later.) Go back to the beginning of the series. RED FLAGS IN NOVEL HOOKS & QUERIESTo continue the previous discussion on...

Ultimate Blog Series on Novel Queries (#3)

This is my definitive No Rules series on novel queries. It’s meant particularly for writers who are new to the query process. (A series on nonfiction book queries will come later.) Go back to the beginning of the series. GREAT NOVEL HOOKS MAKE IT LOOK OH-SO EASY!Whenever I teach a class...

Ultimate Blog Series on Novel Queries (#2)

This is my definitive No Rules series on novel queries. It’s meant particularly for writers who are new to the query process. (A series on nonfiction book queries will come later.) Go back and read Part 1. THE 3 ELEMENTS OF A NOVEL HOOKThe novel hook is where you sell your...

Ultimate Blog Series on Novel Queries (#1)

This is my definitive No Rules series on novel queries. It’s meant particularly for writers who are new to the query process. (A series on nonfiction book queries will come later.) THE 5 ELEMENTS OF A NOVEL QUERYEvery query should include these 5 elements (but not necessarily delivered in this order):...

Hands-On Advice + Interaction With Harlequin Editors (Free!)

I don’t often report on events like this, but this one is so benefit- and content-driven for writers that every kind of romance novelist could learn something valuable or boost their career because of it. Harlequin is hosting a 5-day online event next week (November 1-5) with more than 50 professional...

5 Things Every Writer Should Know About Rights

Most writers I know fall into 1 of 2 camps: people who are (overly) concerned that someone will steal their work, and innocents who don’t take time to learn what rights they ought to be protecting. So I’d like to outline the 5 things every writer should know about their rights...

3 Critical Steps After Rejection

Just released from Writer’s Digest, Writer’s Digest University is part market guide, part boot camp, offering keys to getting your work published. I am honored to have written the introduction to this book, which you can read in full here. In the intro, I share 3 steps you should take after...

I Want to Publish My Book. Now What?

This post is for all those people out there who don’t know ANYTHING about the publishing industry. This post is for people who write me and say: I’ve been thinking of publishing a book. How do I do that? I want to publish my book, but don’t know whether to go...

Listen to Free Q&A on Getting Published

A couple weeks ago, Chuck Sambuchino & I participated on a panel at Joseph-Beth Booksellers (in Cincinnati) where we answered questions from aspiring writers on how to get published. Due to the kind efforts of Emily Schneider, I can now share with you the recording of that Q&A session. Click here...

Basic Writing Principles Across All Media

Last week, I mentioned that I was prepping for a class on timeless writing principles for my students who are majoring in e-media. Today during class, I opened up the question to my knowledge network on Twitter, and received some excellent feedback. [I’ve bolded the ones that I had in my...

Back to Basics: Why Am I Getting Rejected?

Rejection is often the No. 1 area of pain, concern, and obsession for writers. More often than not, writers want to know WHY they’ve been rejected. Here’s the standard advice I most frequently offer. Why are editors rejecting my work when family and friends love it so much?Your family and friends...

Back to Basics: A Writer's 101 Guide to Blogging

On Thursday at 1p EDT, I’m presenting a live, online class, “Build Your Author Platform Through Blogging.” In preparation for that, I’m gathering my favorite resources and 101 articles that are helpful for anyone in getting started—and posting them here for everyone to enjoy. First, a few blogging principles: Provide consistently...

How to Ensure 75% of Agents Will Request Your Material

While attending the Midwest Writers Workshop, I posted a summary of a talk given by Marcus Sakey and John Gilstrap. Sakey advised that query letters, if any good, would result in a 75% “send me something” response. I had no idea what a bomb I was throwing by tweeting and blogging...

Back to Basics: Do I Need to Write a Book Proposal?

Book proposals are used to sell nonfiction book ideas. Instead of writing the entire book—then trying to find a publisher or agent (which is how it works with novels)—you write the proposal first, which convinces the editor or agent to contract you to write the book. Book proposals aren’t something you...