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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.


How to Find the Perfect Names for Your Characters

No matter what genre of fiction you write, be it horror like King or Lovecraft, crime like Patterson or Spillane, or more literary fare like Sontag, Roth, or Updike, there’s one very … Read more

Write Great Openings for Young Adult or Middle Grade Novels: Oct. 3 Webinar (With Critique!) by Agent Carlie Webber

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The opening of your novel sets the stage for everything you want to accomplish. You only have one chance to establish a memorable voice and get readers to follow your characters into your story. Writing YA or MG presents the additional challenge of an audience of discriminating, impatient readers who won’t wait until page 40 for your book to get good.

That’s why we have literary agent Carlie Webber (CK Webber Literary) teaching the new webinar, “Writing Great Openings for Young Adult or Middle Grade Novels” at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013. It lasts 90 minutes. After sharing her own best practices, Carlie will use opening pages from published books to show you the dos and don’ts of opening your YA or MG novel (including: never start with your main character getting out of bed), and the common mistakes that stop agents from reading beyond your first page.

Don’t forget that multiple agents have signed writers after critiquing their work as part of a WD webinar. Also, all attendees receive a critique from Carlie. Read more

13 Quirky Workplaces of Famous Writers

The following piece by Celia Blue Johnson is currently in the October 2013 issue of Writer’s Digest. Check out the full issue here.   Many great writers have found creative comfort while … Read more

Querying 101: Putting Your Best Book Forward — New Sept. 26 Webinar (With Critique) by Agent Jennifer De Chiara

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Maybe you’re the next Stephen King, maybe you’ve written a New York Times bestseller, but if you don’t know how to query, no one will ever know. Learning how to write a great query, one that will not only make an agent want to read your book but pick up the phone and call you the minute he/she reads your query, is essential if you want to be a published author.

Literary agent Jennifer De Chiara will guide you, step by step, in writing the perfect pitch for your book. She’ll offer do’s and don’ts from her 16+ years of agenting and share queries that got her attention and those that didn’t. De Chiara will also give tips on how to find the right agents to query – if you’ve written a dynamite query, it’s still worthless if you’re not sending it to the right agents. It’s all part of her new webinar: “Querying 101: Putting Your Best Book Forward.” The webinar happens at 1 p.m. EST, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, and lasts 90 minutes. All attendees receive a query critique. Don’t forget that at least 4 agents have signed writers after critiquing their work as part of a WD boot camp or webinar. Read more

Live Query-a-Thon With Agents Kate McKean & Jim McCarthy: Sept. 17 Webinar With Query Critique

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In this live webinar, literary agents Kate McKean (Howard Morhaim Literary) and Jim McCarthy (Dystel & Goderich) invite you to peek behind the curtain and watch exactly what happens when an agent considers your query. Working from the submissions they receive (all names on queries will be removed), participants will have the chance to read along with them as they decide whether to stop reading or carry on. You’ll see the exact moment in query letters that each perks up or passes. Think of it like AMERICAN IDOL: QUERY EDITION. Along the way, you’ll garner helpful tips on what to avoid as you write your own query, how to stand out from the pack (in a good way), and what goes on in an agent’s mind as they consider your material.

We’re calling this webinar “What an Agent Really Thinks While Reading Queries: A Live Query-A-Thon.” It happens at 1 p.m. EST, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2013, and lasts 90 minutes. All attendees will get a query critique from the literary agent instructors. Don’t forget that multiple literary agents have signed writers after reading their work as part of a WD webinar! Read more

Voice in Writing: Developing a Unique Writing Voice

Finding a writing voice can be a struggle, whether you’re writing a novel, short story, flash fiction or a blog post. Some may even wonder, what is voice in writing? A writer’s … Read more

Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction: An Interview with Philip Athans

With the release of our updated edition of Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, I figured it was the perfect time to catch up with one of our newest contributors to this classic … Read more

How to Write, Sell, and Market Your Memoir – Sept. 12, 2013 Webinar (With Critique) by Agent Regina Brooks

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Writing a memoir or your life story? Get it published! Instructor Regina Brooks is a literary agent as well as the author of You Should Really Write A Book: Write, Sell And Market Your Memoir. On Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013, at 1 p.m. EST, she is teaching her signature webinar called “Write & Sell Your Memoir.” It’s an intensive all about memoir writing and publishing, and lasts 90 minutes.

All attendees get an awesome critique — a review of their proposal! Don’t forget that agents Louise Fury, Barbara Poelle and Kathleen Ortiz have all signed writers after reviewing their work as part of a WD webinar. Ortiz recently sold that client’s first 2 books! Read more

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Writing a Fiction Series

One of the main concerns writers should have when planning and writing a series is consistency. But what does it mean to be consistent? It’s more than just keeping track of the … Read more

How to Write and Sell Great Children’s Books: Sept. 9 Agent One-on-One Boot Camp with Awesome Critique for Attendees

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WD’s September 2013 Agent One-on-One Boot Camp is shaping up to be an awesome opportunity for writers of children’s books. The new topic is “How to Write and Sell Great Children’s Books: From Toddler to Teen,” and this boot camp is for writers of picture books, middle grade novels, and young adult novels.

It all starts on September 9, 2013, and features the amazing agents at Full Circle Literary offering instruction and critiques to all attendees. Picture book writers get their entire book critiqued while MG & YA writers get a query critique and five-page critique. This is a great opportunity to get a professional’s thoughts on your work, and possibly attract the attention of an agent at the same time. There is a limited number of seats for this event, and WD Boot Camps frequently sell out, so sign up quickly. Read more

John Grisham’s 3 Must-Haves of Novel Writing

The following is a guest post by author Tony Vanderwarker: I spent two years writing a novel under the guidance of my friend and neighbor John Grisham. So in light of this … Read more

Worldbuilding for Fantasy and Science Fiction: Aug. 29 Webinar (with Critique) by Bestselling Author Philip Athans

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New York Times best-selling author and veteran editor Philip Athans, author of The Guide to Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction (Adams Media 2010), knows his stuff. He is a master of creative detailed worlds for his novels. That’s why we’re offering a new webinar from Philip on Aug. 29, 2013 called “How to Create Unique New Settings for Your Novels and Short Stories.” It all happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Aug. 29, and lasts 90 minutes. All attendees get a critique.

In this new webinar, Philip gets into some seriously detailed techniques for creating worlds for fantasy and science fiction stories, novels, screenplays, and games, drawing from a quarter century of experience in creating new worlds. You’ll get hands-on advice on where and how to start creating a fantasy or science fiction world. We’ll discuss research and sources of inspiration, and the importance of setting and following your own rules. Sign up for the webinar here, and make your novel stand out to agents & editors. Read more

8 Things Star Wars Can Teach Us About Writing

We recently featured a guest post by Thomas Smith on the “4 Things Star Trek Can Teach Us About Writing.” Nothing against Star Trek, but as a Star Wars nerd, I felt … Read more

August 26-29 Boot Camp: How to Submit Your Work. Agents at Kimberley Cameron Literary Critique Queries, Synopses, Manuscripts & More

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When your submission materials – a query letter, synopsis, manuscript, or book proposal – arrive in an agent’s inbox, they land among hundreds of others. Our all-new August 2013 Writer’s Digest Boot Camp 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 (for fiction) and a book proposal (for nonfiction). 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 at Kimberley Cameron & Associates and submit 10 double-spaced pages of materials (in any combination–query, synopsis, book proposal, first pages of your manuscript) for valuable feedback provided by successful literary agents. It all happens starting Aug. 26, 2013. WD Boot Camps often sell out, and there is a limited number of seats. Read more

Not in the Writing Mood?

Falling out of a writing mood can happen to the best of us, and getting back in can be tougher than talking your way into a secret, after-hours, invite-only nightclub. But if … Read more

Writing the Thriller: The Secrets to Keeping Readers Up All Night — Aug. 8 Webinar by James Scott Bell

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Thrillers are enormously popular today, constantly appearing on bestseller lists every week. To write them successfully you need more than a penchant for action—you must understand the foundations of what makes the best thrillers work every time. So why not get advice from a published thriller author who also teaches on writing and structure?

The result is the new webinar, “Writing the Thriller: The Secrets to Keeping Readers Up All Night,” at 4 p.m., EST, Thursday, Aug. 8. 2013. It lasts 90 minutes. By the time this webinar is over, attendees will understand what keeps readers turning the pages, common writing pitfalls in the genre, and how to attract the interest of thriller agents & editors. Read more

Expert Advice on How to Write a Query Letter: Literary Agent Kate McKean Explains How in Her Aug. 1, 2013 Webinar, and Critiques Attendees’ Queries

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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, and the webinar is “The Anatomy of a Query Letter” at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013. Don’t forget that at least 3 agents have signed clients after critiquing their work as part of a WD webinar! Read more

The Cocktail Genre: Writing With a Twist

Blending two differing genres into a new storytelling twist, or what I like to call a “cocktail genre,” has been a popular style for a while now. You have Max Brooks’ documentary/horror … Read more

Pitch Agents and Producers at our Writer’s Digest West Conference: Sept. 27-29, 2013 in Los Angeles

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The second annual Writer’s Digest West Conference is approaching quickly! We at WD are planning a grand event in Los Angeles from Sept. 27-29, 2013, at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza. The conference is actually 3 events in one. We have a traditional awesome writers conference, a screenwriting conference, and a self-publishing conference going on at the same time. Read on to learn all details. There are ample opportunities to not only meet speakers and sit in on sessions, but also pitch lots of literary agents and film pros. (Also, early bird pricing ends July 19, so sign up early for a discounted price.) Read more

Should I Self-Publish? – Part Three

If you’ve followed this series, you’ll notice that: a) I think most writers have a project that would make for a fun and possibly profitable self-published book, and b) Creating a successful … Read more

4 Things Star Trek Can Teach Us About Writing

The following is a guest post by Thomas Smith. Happy Friday. Over the years I’ve looked at what my dogs have taught me about writing, what Batman can teach us about writing, … Read more

Should I Self-Publish? – Part Two

In the previous post in this series, I discussed how we each have a great project buried in our computers, notebooks, or desk drawers that would make for a fun self-publishing project … Read more

The Art of Revision: Perfecting Your Book For Submission: June 20 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, June 20, 2013, 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

Unplug and Zero In: Could a Writing Retreat Be Standing Between You and a Finished Manuscript?

The following is a guest post from Jotham Burrello, publisher of Elephant Rock Books. * I arrived at Ragdale House on a sunny June morning in my rusty Saab. I’d packed my … Read more

What Are You Reading This Summer?

Ah, summer. Whether you’re planning to spend the sticky days of June poolside or within the refuge of your air-conditioned living room, the lazy days of summer are perfect for indulging in … Read more

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