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There Are No Rules Blog by the Editors of Writer’s Digest

Get on the cutting edge of today’s publishing trends and how authors can succeed in a world of fast-paced technological change, guided by the editors of Writer’s Digest. You’ll get an inside look at the work, play, and passion of the publishing business and find practical tools for success.

Sherman Alexie’s Top 10 Pieces of Advice for Writers

National Book Award winner Sherman Alexie’s birthday is Sunday, and his new title Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories was released this week. To celebrate the short-story writer (War Dances), poet (The Business of … Read more

Write Fiction that Grabs Readers from Page One

In your novel, the inciting incident is the first sign of trouble for your protagonist: it’s the catalyst, the chemical reaction, that sets the plot into motion. But the inciting incident isn’t … Read more

Literary Agent Jim McCarthy Explains the “10 Elements of Novels That Sell” on Oct. 4, 2012. The Webinar Comes With a Critique


A lot of people write novels, but few sell. Why? It all comes down to a mastery of language and voice. It means creating great, vivid characters that we remember. It’s about starting your book strong. It’s about mapping out a story structure that has highs and lows to take the reader on an emotional journey. Literary agent Jim McCarthy, a wise publishing pro, will be covering all these topics as he repeats his popular webinar, “10 Elements of a Saleable Novel Today,” on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012. The webinar starts at 1 p.m. EST and lasts 90 minutes. Read more

How to Get the Most Out of a Writing Conference

In only a few weeks, our staff will be venturing west for the Writer’s Digest Conference in Los Angeles, set for Oct. 19-21. On tap this year, writers can expect keynotes by … Read more

Introducing Our New Advice Column for Writers: Funny You Should Ask!

Have you ever wished you could get advice on your writing life, your pursuit of publication, and everything in between, from an expert source would tell it to you straight, with good … Read more

Happy Birthday, Stephen King!

Today is Stephen King’s 65th birthday. To honor the man who is perhaps the most well-known living writer, here’s a linkfest of all things King. Don’t forget to have an It cupcake or two … Read more

Create an Awesome Author Website in 24 Hours — Webinar by Jane Friedman on Sept. 20, 2012


If you want to find success as an author — whether through traditional publishing or self-publishing — you must make an effort to connect with other people. That’s the whole point of social media like Twitter and Facebook — to connect with readers and writers. But fundamentally more important than social media is simply having a comprehensive author website. That’s why we’ve enlisted eMedia professor and guru Jane Friedman to teach the webinar “Create an Author Website in 24 Hours or Less” at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, September 20, 2012. The intensive class lasts two hours. Read more

The Value of Free: Writing For Non-Paying Markets

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I’ve come to realize I’m in a unique position to provide perspective on one of the hottest hot-button writing issues of the internet age: namely, the edict that (cue echo effect) The Writer Must Be Paid.

It’s such an obvious rule-of-thumb, only a fool would argue against it. Turns out, I am just that fool. ‘Cause as far as I’m concerned, sometimes (like buskers, ice-cream shops, and Anthony Kiedis) you gotta give it away.

Now, I’m no expert, and I’m not one to prescribe, preach, or proselytize; at best, all I can say is what’s worked for me. Thing is, (judiciously) giving some (short) fiction away has for-seriously worked for me. Read more

Stephen King Goes to the Movies: The Author’s Best (& Worst) Cameos

Here, for your moment of Friday Zen (… or your Freaky Friday, I suppose), are all the Stephen King film and TV cameos I could rustle up on YouTube. King frequently makes … Read more

Think Like a Producer to Get More Media Interviews

If you want to get more media interviews, put yourself in the position of a producer. The producer is the decision-maker behind most radio and TV programs whose responsible for planning the topics and booking guests. If you’re a producer, would you rather be approached by authors who are just trying to get airtime to promote their books? Or, would you rather be approached by an author who acts like an expert on a topic that’s relevant to the audience? From the producer’s perspective, one approach feels selfish, while the other feels helpful. Read more

Can Your Day Job Lead to Better Writing?

For some writers, a day job is a means to an end—and something they dream of one day quitting to pursue a dream of writing full time. (So much so that here … Read more

5 Marketing Lessons from Fly-Fishing

By Rob Eagar In the last year, I took up fly-fishing as a hobby. There’s something surreal and invigorating about standing in the middle of a river. However, catching rainbow trout is no … Read more

The 2013 Guide to Literary Agents is Out! Here are 28 Reasons to Buy It (and a Giveaway Contest)

2013 Guide to Literary Agents

The new 2013 edition of the Guide to Literary Agents is out, all updated and packed with info. I realize there are other places you can turn to for information on agents, but the Guide to Literary Agents has always prided itself as being the biggest (we list almost every agent) and the most thorough (guidelines, sales, agent by agent breakdowns, etc.). That’s why it’s been around for 22 years and that’s why it’s sold more than 300,000 copies. It works—and if you keep reading, I’ll prove it to you.

THE GIVEAWAY!!! Comment on this post and just say anything nice about any element of Writer’s Digest you enjoy — from a blog post to a class or a book or anything else. In two weeks, I will pick 3 winners randomly to win a copy of the book! It’s that easy. (Thank you to all who entered. The winners are Nicole Evelina, Robin.Deffendall and Julia Monroe Martin.) Read more

Learn How to Plot and Structure Your Story — Sept. 13 Webinar Taught by “Plot Whisperer” Martha Alderson


Once you get past the process of hooking an agent with your pitch and query, the next major test is hooking an agent with the manuscript itself. Creating an excellent story requires voice, great characters, a command of the language, and most certainly an excellent plot. Does your novel have a complex yet understandable structure? Does it begin well? Is the conclusion satisfying? Are there high and low points to take readers on an emotional journey? These are the crucial questions of plot and structure. And to answer these questions and many more, we’ve brought in “The Plot Whisperer” Martha Alderson to teach an all-new webinar called “Secrets of Story Structure & Plot” on Thursday, September 13, 2012. Read on to learn more… Read more

3 Steps to Successful Book Marketing – Part 3

By Rob Eagar Earlier, I covered parts one and two of this 3-part series called “3 Successful Steps to Marketing.” To summarize, I’ve explained how effective marketing can be boiled down to three fundamental questions. Whether … Read more

How to Edit Your Book in 4 Steps

By Guest Columnist Mike Nappa Mike Nappa is founder of Nappaland Literary Agency, and author of 77 Reasons Why Your Book Was Rejected, available wherever books are sold. * The woman asked … Read more

New Literary Agent Alert: Pam van Hylckama Vlieg of Foreword Literary (formerly of Larsen Pomada Literary)


Reminder: Newer agents are golden opportunities for new writers because they’re likely building their client list; however, always make sure your work is as perfect as it can be before submitting, and only query agencies that are a great fit for your work. Otherwise, you’re just wasting time and postage.

She is seeking: young adult and middle grade children’s book authors, and adult romance & new adult fiction authors. Read more

Get an Agent: 25 Literary Agents Looking for New Clients

Even if you’ve done your homework and prepared your query letter and other submission materials by the book, the task of finding out everything you really want to know about how to … Read more

Check Out Agent Michelle Wolfson’s “Query Letter Intensive” Webinar on Sept. 27, 2012 (All Attendees Get a Query Critique)

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“How to Write a Query Letter” is probably one of the most important and common topics that we discuss here at Writer’s Digest. After all, a query is your all-important tool to get an agent to request more of your work, and eventually sign you as a client and sell your book. Your query letter must be short, but it must also explain what your book is about and hook the reader in. With all that in mind, we’re very excited to announce an all-new webinar called “Query Letter Intensive” taught by literary agent Michelle Wolfson (Wolfson Literary) on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012. All attendees get their query critiqued. Keep reading to learn more.
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3 Steps to Successful Book Marketing – Part 2

By Rob Eagar Previously, I covered part one of a 3-part series called “Successful Steps to Marketing.” The gist is that effective marketing can be boiled down to three fundamental questions. Whether you’re … Read more

Writing 21st Century Fiction: A Sneak Peek

Donald Maass, bestselling author of Writing the Breakout Novel and The Fire in Fiction, now takes an in-depth, comprehensive look at the craft and method of writing 21st century fiction. You might … Read more

Top 10 Essentials to a Writer’s Life

This week, I finished Erik Larson’s latest narrative nonfiction, In the Garden of Beasts, which is still dominating The New York Times bestseller list. Excellent read. A few years back, I got … Read more

3 Steps to Successful Book Marketing

By Rob Eagar Marketing is a simple process when you boil it down to the fundamentals. Whether you’re a fiction or non-fiction author, you can achieve marketing success following these three simple … Read more

Snippets From a 1966 Interview With Helen Gurley Brown

Helen Gurley Brown, author and longtime editor of Cosmopolitan, died at age 90 yesterday. Her bestselling nonfiction book, Sex and the Single Girl, which took her career to the next level in … Read more

Stop, Look, and Listen for Better Book Marketing

By Rob Eagar Young children are often taught to “stop, look, and listen” before they cross the street. Stop to see what’s in front of you. Look both ways to make sure … Read more

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