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No MFA? Never Took a Writing Class? 6 Ways to Write a Bestseller Anyway!

1. Write As If No One Is Watching. Let the story flow organically without feeling any pressure to reach a certain market, impress a specific agent, or hit a bestseller list. Write because it’s how you process the world around you. Write because it’s what you want to be doing when you aren’t writing. Write because you can’t imagine not being able to write, even if it’s during the wee hours of the morning when you should be sleeping. Then, and only then, is it worth sharing with others. GIVEAWAY: Julie is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: sspratt2010 won.)

1. Write As If No One Is Watching. Let the story flow organically without feeling any pressure to reach a certain market, impress a specific agent, or hit a bestseller list. Write because it’s how you process the world around you. Write because it’s what you want to be doing when you aren’t writing. Write because you can’t imagine not being able to write, even if it’s during the wee hours of the morning when you should be sleeping. Then, and only then, is it worth sharing with others.

GIVEAWAY: Julie is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: sspratt2010 won.)

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Guest column by New York Times and USA TODAY best-selling
author Julie Cantrell. Julie is the former editor-in-chief of the

Southern Literary Review. She has been a freelance writer for
10 years and has published two children’s books. She has contributed
to more than a dozen books, and her first novel, INTO THE FREE,
hit shelves February 1, 2012 (David C Cook). The sequel is scheduled
to release Spring 2013. Julie and her family live in Oxford, Mississippi
where they operate Valley House Farm.
Visit her website, her blog,
her Facebook page, or her Twitter.


2. Just Say Yes! Unless your name is JK Rowling, John Grisham, or Stephen King (in which case, why in the world are you reading this article? And, um, call me!), you are not too good to take that crummy writing gig. Take the job and learn from every assignment. Pen a local newspaper column. Pitch articles to magazines. Become a freelance writer for corporate clients. Even if the topic happens to be something completely unappealing (think foot fungus), you will learn important skills about word counts, deadlines, editors, fact checking, and more. Write. Publish. Learn. All those lessons will help you build a book worth pitching.

3. Build Your Bridges. Heed your grandmother’s advice. If you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all. If you’re honing your writing skills by posting book reviews, do the right thing. There’s nothing worse than a wannabe taking stabs at published authors. Believe it or not, most authors do read their reviews, and loyalty runs deep.

Learn more about online writing classes.

4. Rally the Troops. Writing conferences are great places to make connections with agents, publishers, and fellow writers. They also offer practical workshops and seminars that can launch your career. Of course, not everyone has the time, the money, or (let’s face it) the desire to do the conference hop. It’s still a good idea to find a peer group of writers. Whether in your local area or online, writers help writers be better writers. Share the love. (Everybody together now…group hug on the count of three!)

5. Double Dog Dare. When you’ve embraced the power of your creativity, survived your fair share of grunt work, admired those who blazed the trail before you, and mastered your craft, it is time to release all fear and take the leap. Research books similar to yours and note the agents involved. Make a wish list and start at the top. Aim high, maintaining a spreadsheet of agents you query along with the dates and responses. Not everyone will respond. Not everyone will request a proposal. But don’t let rejection get you down. Just keep trying until you find the right fit. I promise…before you know it, you will land an agent, secure a publishing deal, and see your book on shelves. It’s not only possible, it happens every single day.

6. Finally, Pay it Forward. When you do find your book on the New York Times Bestseller List, remember where you came from and offer to endorse a debut novelist. It just might be the best part of your entire journey.

GIVEAWAY: Julie is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: sspratt2010 won.)

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What could be better than one guide on crafting
fiction from wise agent Donald Maass? Two books!
We bundle them together at a discount in our shop.

Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:

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Want to build your visibility and sell more books?
Create Your Writer Platform shows you how to
promote yourself and your books through social
media, public speaking, article writing, branding,
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Order the book from WD at a discount.

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