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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.


Avoid Rip-Offs and Publishing Sharks: For Writers, Songwriters, Poets, Etc.

Once or twice a month I receive a letter or an email from a songwriter informing me that they have become the victim of a scam, and more often than not the … Read more

Values and Message: Integrating Themes Into Your Nonfiction

The following is a guest post from the grand prize winner of our 21st Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards. For more information about the upcoming 22nd Self-Pub Awards, click here. Former … Read more

Why I Published 4 Novels in 6 Months

Hi, WD community! Today we’re sharing a guest post from J.E. Fishman, a former editor and literary agent turned author. He has penned Dynamite: A Concise History of the NYPD Bomb Squad and … Read more

“How to Find and Keep a Literary Agent” — Agent One-on-One Boot Camp With Awesome Critique Starts March 24, 2014

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How do you hook an agent right away, keep them hooked, and make the most of your new publishing relationship? In this all-new March 2014 Boot Camp, “How to Find and Keep a Literary Agent,” you’ll learn how to get a literary agent’s attention through a great submission, and also how to navigate the process of working successfully with an agent. After hearing instruction from the agents at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency, you’ll also work with an agent online to review and refine your all-important query letter and the first five pages of your novel with the agents. Read more

Ask Us Anything! Join Our Reddit AMA (Mar 21, 2pm EDT)

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On Friday, March 21 at 2 p.m. EDT, editors from our Ohio office will answer reader and community questions on Reddit. We’re conducting the “Ask Me Anything” session in /r/writing, Reddit’s writing-discussion-only … Read more

They Turned My Book into a Movie

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BY BRENT HARTINGER There’s definitely something about having your book turned into a movie. My friends have all known for years that I make my living as a writer of fiction. But … Read more

14th Free “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest: Contemporary Middle Grade Fiction

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Welcome to the 14th (free!) “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest on the GLA blog. This is a recurring online contest with agent judges and super-cool prizes. Here’s the deal: With every contest, the details are essentially the same, but the niche itself changes—meaning each contest is focused around a specific category or two. So if you’re writing contemporary middle grade fiction, this 14th contest is for you! (The contest is live through EOD, March 18, 2014.) Read more

The Five W’s (and One H) of Soliciting Feedback

Allen Ginsberg may have written by the mantra of “First thought, best thought,” but when it comes to many of us, intense bouts of revision allows the “best thought” to rise to … Read more

Why Agents Say No: The 20 Manuscript Mistakes That Keep You from Getting Published — Feb. 13 Webinar by Agent Kate McKean

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You are probably making a lot of mistakes in your novel — right now. But that’s OK, because many other writers are doing that, too, especially in their first drafts. But how do you know what mistakes you’re making, and how do you fix them before you show it to an editor or agent? How do you prevent your manuscript from being rejected because of common writer’s pitfalls that can be easily fixed? This live webinar will show you the 20 most common mistakes novelists of any and every genre make, whether it’s your first or 21 novel.

Is your main character sympathetic? Are you sure? Do you know if you’re using too much detail? Too little? Do you know which darlings to kill? In this webinar, you’ll learn how to assess your manuscript like an agent or editor and recognize the most common mistakes that get between a writer and publication. If you think you’re not guilty of even a few of these things, think again. Are you sure? To answer these questions, literary agent Kate McKean is teaching “Why Agents Say No: The 20 Manuscript Mistakes That Keep You from Getting Published.” It’s a new webinar that goes down at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, and lasts 90 minutes. All attendees get a personalized critique. Read more

“Plot Your Book Scene by Scene” — Feb. 6 Webinar (With Critique) by Jordan Rosenfeld

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Over-plotter, under-plotter? Struggles with plot are common among writers at all levels. This live webinar, “Plot Your Book: Scene by Scene,” will take the guess-work out of plotting by teaching you the key scenes that build your plot backbone, providing a refresher on the elements of a scene, and breaking down the specific kinds of scenes you’ll need at each of the three key Acts of a novel. Plots, after all, are simply stories comprised of well-placed and stylized scenes.

Jordan E. Rosenfeld brings over a decade of experience in teaching students how to use scenes to transform writing. She believes that scenes are fiction’s “magic ingredient” – activating writing so that your readers are drawn palpably into the experience of your character’s story, versus the flat habits of summarizing and expository writing. A former freelance journalist, she can help you to learn the difference between passive “telling” of a story and powerful, active demonstrating of a fantastic plot. All attendees get an individualized critique. Read more

When Authors Become Publishers: Creating a DIY Literary Anthology

There are many reasons to publish a literary anthology. Maybe you’re in touch with a lot of talented writers who deserve more attention. Maybe there’s a very specific and overlooked sub-genre that … Read more

The Setback: How to Successfully Start Writing Again

If you’re anything like me, part of your New Year’s Resolution (that’s still a thing, right?) was to write more. It might’ve been to hit a certain word or page count in … Read more

How to Get Published: Land a Book Deal in 2014 — Jan. 30 Webinar With Jane Friedman

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If you want to get your book traditionally published in 2014—be it fiction, nonfiction, a children’s book, or memoir—increase your chances by knowing how to evaluate the commercial potential of your work and learning the best way to approach editors, agents, and publishers. Book publishing is undergoing a dramatic transformation as e-book sales increase and physical bookstores decrease in number. These changes affect the traditional book deals that get made—meaning that authors have to adjust their strategies to adapt to a risk-averse and uncertain industry.

This intensive and information-filled 90-minute webinar — titled “How to Get Published: Land a Book Deal in 2014″ – helps you think like an industry insider who makes decisions every day on what work merits print publication. You’ll get practical advice and tools to help you develop strong pitch letters and proposal materials for both fiction and nonfiction—plus back-door methods for networking with agents and editors. Avoid frustration—don’t embark on the submission process in 2014 without being fully educated about how the industry works, from an impartial point of view. You will better focus your time and energy, increase your chances of success, and learn to decipher the language of industry professionals. It all happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, and lasts 90 minutes. Read more

Create Your Writer Platform — Jan. 21 Webinar All About How to Sell More Books

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Do you have questions about how to sell more books and make more money as a writer? That’s all part of building your writer platform and increasing your book’s discoverability. You can get your questions about selling books answered at a special Writer’s Digest live webinar called “Create Your Writer Platform,” taught by Chuck Sambuchino, editor of Guide to Literary Agents and author of Create Your Writer Platform.

With so many books competing for attention in the marketplace, having an effective writer platform has never been more important than it is right now. This session will explore the process of gaining visibility in the marketplace so you can market your books effectively and efficiently. No matter if you’re traditionally published or self-published, writing fiction or nonfiction, if you have a book out now or will in the future — you need to understand the necessity of building your author platform so you can sell more copies and launch a successful career as an author. You’ll learn about selling books through blogging, public speaking, and more. It all happens at 1 p.m., EST, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014, and lasts 90 minutes. Read more

The Art of Revision: Perfecting Your Book For Submission: Jan. 16, 2014 Webinar With Agent Michelle Brower

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All published authors can tell you that their first draft looks nothing like the finished book they sign at bookstores. How do they edit their material to take their work to a professional level? What are agents/editors looking for today in terms of a polished manuscript? Is grammar all that important, or should the story speak for itself? How many revisions should a manuscript go through before it’s considered “ready”? What are some principles on cutting down your word count and streamlining your story?

In this popular, intensive webinar, “The Art of Revision: Perfecting Your Book For Submission,” literary agent Michelle Brower will answer these questions and more. The event happens at 1 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014, and lasts 90 minutes. All attendees will get a personal critique from Michelle. You can submit either a one-page synopsis or the first two double-spaced pages of your novel. (Remember that several agents — including Barbara Poelle, Louise Fury and Kathleen Ortiz — have signed writers after critiquing their work through a WD webinar.) Read more

Create Your Own Bad Guys and Sleazy Protagonists

The following is a guest post by our WD intern, Laura Wooffitt. When writing any genre, the character that takes center stage, and often most of the beginning writer’s attention, is a … Read more

6 Writing Lessons from Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window

It has gotten to the point where I can’t watch a film or TV show, read a book, listen to a song, or play a video game without thinking…What can this teach … Read more

The 2014 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market Is Out — And Here Are 8 Darn Good Reasons to Buy It (and Naturally I’m Giving Away Books!)

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The new 2014 edition of the Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market is updated and packed with info. Now in its 26th year, the newest edition still provides great market and submission/contact information for book publishers, art reps, international publishers, literary agents, contests, magazines, conferences and more. Read on to hear from several best-selling authors who endorse the book, including Meg Cabot (The Princess Diaries), Jay Asher (13 Reasons Why), and many more.

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. (UPDATE: zippydoodah, Sheryl Davis-Troller & authoralyssamayley won.) Read more

Jan 13 Agent One-on-One Boot Camp (With Critique): Crafting Queries, Opening Pages, Synopses, and Nonfiction That Get Noticed

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When your submission materials arrive in an agent’s inbox, they land among hundreds of others. Authors who get rejected tend to fall in one of two categories when submitting materials: they try too hard, or not enough. This Writer’s Digest One-on-One Agent Boot Camp, taught by the literary agents of Kimberley Cameron & Associates, is designed to help you streamline your submission materials to stand out in a good way. Attendees will learn how to write a dynamite query letter, tackle a one-page synopsis, craft dynamite first pages, and more. The instructing literary agents will also explain the importance of author platform in addition to basic etiquette in dealing with an agent and manuscript basics.

Lastly, all attendees will have an opportunity to interact one-on-one with an agent and submit several double-spaced pages of their manuscript and a query letter for valuable feedback provided by the agent instructors. It all starts on Jan. 13, 2014. All WD boot camps have a limited number of seats, and plenty max out, so sign up now. Read more

New Year, New Query: How to Write a Great Letter That Gets Attention — Jan. 9 Webinar With Query Critique

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It’s no secret that a writer’s query letter is extremely important in their quest to get a literary agent and get published. Agents evaluate dozens of queries a day, and make requests for more material from the few letters that impress them. They’re crucial, and that’s why people never get enough articles or advice or samples concerning them. If you’re having trouble with your query letter, why not let a literary agent not only instruct you, but also critique your letter, as well? Sounds pretty sweet to me. The agent in question is the awesome Kate McKean of Howard Morhaim Literary, and the webinar is “The Anatomy of a Query Letter” at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. Don’t forget that at least 3 agents have signed clients after critiquing their work as part of a WD webinar! Read more

Create an Author Website in 24 Hours or Less — Webinar With Jane Friedman on Sept. 11, 2014

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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 sites like Twitter and Facebook — to connect with readers and writers. But fundamentally more important than social media is simply having a (free) comprehensive author website. That’s why we’ve enlisted eMedia professor and guru Jane Friedman to teach the webinar ,b>“Create an Author Website in 24 Hours or Less” at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, September 11, 2014.,/b> The intensive class lasts two hours.

Speaking from an editor’s perspective, I can tell you that having a simple, neat website is absolutely essential. You must have something show up when people Google you or try to connect with you. All webinar attendees get to ask Jane as many questions as she wants, and no question goes unanswered. Read more

7 Tips for Revising a Novel

I spent my December revising a noir/crime novel and I also had a productive discussion with two other writers this weekend about the revision process. Both occurrences brought to mind some tips … Read more

You Should Really Write a Memoir — Webinar by Agent Regina Brooks (With Proposal Critique), Jan. 6, 2014

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If you’ve ever been told that “you should really write a book about your life” and you’ve decide to give it a try, this webinar is for you! Instructor and literary agent Regina Brooks will hone in on the three key measures necessary for aspiring authors to conceptualize and pitch their memoir to an agent or editor.

It’s all part of Regina’s webinar on Jan. 6, 2014 called “You Should Really Write a Memoir: How to Write, Sell, and Market Your Memoir.” It lasts 90 minutes, and starts at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Jan. 6. All attendees will get a critique of their memoir proposal. Don’t forget at least four literary agents have signed writers after seeing their work as part of a WD webinar or boot camp. Read more

The Art of the Query — Dec. 19 Webinar by Agent Michelle Brower (Comes With a Query Critique!)

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It’s no secret that the query letter is a difficult monster to tame. Plenty of people say that writing a concise, compelling query is not much easier than writing the manuscript itself. Because a query is your all-important first contact with publishing professionals, and because literary agents read the most queries, we’ve secured agent Michelle Brower (Folio Literary) for our next webinar: “The Art of the Query: Winning an Agent From the Very First Page.” It happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013, and lasts 90 minutes. All attendees get their query critiqued by Michelle. She may even request more material if she loves your pitch. Read more

Register Now for “The High-Concept Novel” Bootcamp

The idea is paramount. If you can build your story around a unique and compelling idea, your odds of selling it increase dramatically. Too many perfectly good projects never sell because their … Read more

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