July/August 2014 Issue
Free Writing Downloads
Workshops Starting July 24th
- Writing Personal Essays
- Fundamentals of Nonfiction
- Creative Writing 101
- Essentials of Business Writing
- Fitting Writing Into Your Life
- Writing Online Content
Workshops Starting July 31st
- Writing Personal Essays
Is Your Manuscript Ready for Publication?
Is Your Manuscript Ready for Publication?
After an evaluation of your submission, one of the professional 2nd Draft critiquers will provide feedback and advice. You’ll not only learn what’s working in your writing, but what’s not, and—most important—how to fix it.
2nd Draft provides a high-level review of your writing, pointing out reasons your work may be getting rejected, or may not meet the standards of traditional publication.
Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents Blog
Chuck Sambuchino is an editor and published author who runs the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, one of the biggest blogs in publishing. His site has instruction and information on literary agents, literary agencies, query letters, submissions, publishing, author platform, book marketing, and more.
I was ready. I had an edited manuscript. I had a tiered list of agents. I had a spreadsheet. I’d read every scrap of information about getting an agent, and I was prepared, at last, to submit my novel. The process could take months, maybe years, I’d heard. I was in for the long haul, baby. The good news is it didn’t take years to get an offer of representation. The even better news: That offer came in the form of four magic words, words I’d been told to wait for by all the experts: I love your book.
Not just a Facebook-worthy thumbs up, not a “I think I can sell this.” Love. The reason you wait for true love in publishing is because publishing requires it, and not just from the author. Remember the feverish crush that helped fuel your first draft? Your agent needs that same big-eyed reverence for your book to take it out to editors, hoping for another love connection. So how do you snag one of these lovey-doveys for yourself?
GIVEAWAY: Lori 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. Read more
She is seeking: Siobhan is actively seeking voice driven narratives whether Fiction, Memoir, or Non-Fiction. She holds a strong interest in Literary and Gothic Fiction, Horror, Paranormal, Adult Dystopian, Mystery/Crime, Thrillers (bonus points if they’re psychological), Historical, daring Young Adult, and narratives with philosophical undertones. For Memoir and Nonfiction titles, she seeks Investigative, True Crime, and dark/bizarre History. Siobhan enjoys the dark, macabre aspects of life where paranormal fiction and horror are viewed an under appreciated art forms deeply rooted in psychology, and looks for authors unafraid to delve into these inner workings of the human psyche. Read more
WD Has Awesome Writers’ Conferences in both NYC and LA in August 2014. The NYC Event Has a 50-Agent Pitch Slam!
As we do each year, Writer’s Digest is putting on some awesome (and HUGE) writers conferences on both coasts of the country. These conferences bring together writers from all over the country, and lead to all kinds of good things, like signing with agents, meeting your writer friends for life, keeping your finger on the pulse of the industry, and/or simply recharging your writing bat. Read on for more info. We hope to see you there. (The NYC event is from Aug. 1-3, 2014, while the LA event is from Aug 15-17, 2014.) Read more
3. Come in through the side door. If you are too on the nose, you lose your reader. Coming in through the front door means your piece is about exactly what it says it is about. But our pleasure in reading is figuring things out. Set up the writing so your reader gets to be smart; trust that she truly wants to figure things out. Write so that the words point to your point but don’t spell it out directly. Readers are brilliant. And powerful writing creates an envelop for the reader to slip into. When writing about despair and meaninglessness, start with a bug. When writing about transcendent love, start with something as unexpectedly to the side as a sandwich.
GIVEAWAY: Heather is excited to give away a free copy of her book, CHAPTER BY CHAPTER, 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. Read more
Welcome to the 16th (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 middle grade fiction, this 16th contest is for you! (The contest is live through EOD, Wednesday, July 30, 2014.) Read more
She is seeking: Her taste in nonfiction extends beyond science books to memoirs, lost histories, epic sports narratives, true crime and gift/lifestyle books. She is particularly interested in projects with a strong narrative and a female bend. She represents select adult and YA fiction projects, as well. Her favorite novels are almost always dark, visceral reads focused on the complexities of being a human. Think Breaking Bad and The Wire but in book form. She also represents illustrators (with or without book projects of their own). In the end, all she wants is to be told a good story. Read more
Be Your Own Editor: Tips For Self-Editing Your Own Work — July 15 Discount Webinar by Harold Underdown
If you write for children or teens, whether you are a complete beginner or a published author, you know how important it is to make your manuscript be the best it can be before you send it out. How can you do that? Editing your own writing is difficult—how can you be objective about the plot and characters you created? How can you polish the final draft and find the mistakes you missed earlier? You can turn to others for feedback, and use a variety of techniques that help you get a new view of your manuscript. In this all-new webinar on self-editing titled “Be Your Own Editor: Tips For Self-Editing Your Own Work,” instructor Harold Underdown (The Purple Crown website) will teach you these techniques—ones he uses in his own work as an editor. He’ll also point you to more useful resources to make sure you feel confident revising your work before submission.
This is a special discounted webinar (about half the price of normal webinars), so take advantage of the lower cost, and the chance to ask Harold questions. It all happens at 1 p.m., ET, on Tuesday, July 15, 2014, and lasts 60 minutes. Read more
Keeping your character(’s) traits consistent is very a important step in polishing your manuscript, especially if it’s written from multiple points of view (POVs). For example, if you have one character who constantly swears, and has a tendency to lose his/her temper at the drop of a hat, you do not want your other characters behaving in the same way. If this happens, your characters will blend together, and your readers will have trouble being able to tell them apart. You don’t want your readers having to back track to be sure they have understood who is speaking/narrating. They should just know. And readers know by identifying your characters from the way they speak, move, and behave. For instance, if you are familiar with The Lord of the Rings, you definitely know when Sam’s talking, and you never confuse him with Pippin or Merry even though they’re all Hobbits…
GIVEAWAY: Jessica is excited to give away a free copy of her latest guide 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. Read more
You’ve written a book. You know what it is to work with the elements, to muster something slippery and intangible into something with form. Likely, you’ve sweated on it and dreamt it.
Finishing my first novel, The Untold, felt to me like crawling out of a dark room after a winter that lasted too many seasons. Draft after draft, revision after revision, I had remained in that dark room determined that what was on the page would eventually match the vision I held for it. These things take time, as it happens, so much time. And it must be a solo process. I don’t know any writers that work well with their legs or arms twisted around another. So, aside from the inherent challenges of actually writing a novel, you must also get very good at spending long periods of time with yourself. For better or worse. There are times when I felt that I had aged a year in a day and that the book might actually bury me. But it didn’t. I finished it. The winter ended… Read more
About Paul: Paul Lamb of Howard Morhaim Literary Agency is a graduate of DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, and was a recipient of a POSSE Scholarship. Paul joins the agency after nearly a decade in Marketing at both Penguin and Random House, with various imprints. Owing to his professional experience in trade publishing, Paul has a strong sense of publishers’ needs, and a unique insight into the representation of authors.
He is seeking: His tastes lie strongly with nonfiction in a wide variety of genres and subjects, notably business, political science, sociology, memoir, travel writing, sports, pop culture, and music. He is also interested in crime, mystery, and literary fiction. Read more
In the fall of 1986, I was ten years old, and I found myself sleeping on the muddy ground of a temperate rainforest on an island in Washington State. The muddy bed was supposed to be temporary. My alcoholic Salvadoran stepfather was building a wooden pyramid for us to live in, one that would channel the occult magic of ancient Egypt. My mother was convinced he was the messianic revolutionary hero she had foretold in clairvoyant visions.
Before the pyramid could reach its glorious completion, however, my stepfather threatened to kill the neighbors in a drunken rage. We had to break camp hurriedly, before the cops arrived, struggling down the trail with our most prized possessions. The first thing I evacuated out of the mud was my crate of journals, the repositories for my creative writing and poetry. My correspondence with myself was often my only form of friendship, my only mechanism for processing the chaos and violence around me, and, most fundamentally, the only proof that I ever existed. I wrote to live… Read more
How to Write and Sell Great Children’s Books: July 15 Agent One-on-One Boot Camp with Awesome Critique for Attendees
WD’s July 2014 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 July 15, 2014, 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 (75, and it reached capacity last time it was done), and WD Boot Camps frequently sell out, so sign up quickly. Read more
“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Jessica Arnold, author of THE LOOKING GLASS. These columns are great ways for you to learn how to find a literary agent. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good luck and quick signings.
GIVEAWAY: Jessica 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. (An international winner would get an e-book.) You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. Read more
She is seeking: Whitley is primarily interested in Young Adult, Middle Grade, and select Upmarket Women’s fiction. She likes characters who are relatable yet flawed, hooks that offer new points of view and exciting adventures, vibrant settings that become active characters in their own right, and a story that sticks with the reader long after turning the last page, be it contemporary or historical, realistic or supernatural, tragic or quirky.
She loves mythology and literary re-imaginings, heartbreaking contemporary novels, historical suspense, and craving cute romantic comedies for YA through adult (ex: Sophie Kinsella, Lauren Morrill, Stephanie Perkins).
She is not interested in vampires, werewolves, angels, zombies, dystopian societies, steampunk, or epic fantasy. Please no paranormal / fantasy for adults. Read more
When I first got the idea to bring Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow back to life in a young adult novel, I was faced with multiple dilemmas:
• Write it in a modern day or historic setting?
• Portray the outlaw couple as monsters…or humans who made mistakes?
• Create a love triangle, a love ‘em and leave ‘em story, or skip romance altogether?
• Who should tell this story––Bonnie, Clyde, or someone else?
• Do modern teens even know who Bonnie & Clyde are?
GIVEAWAY: Kym 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: Maureen A. won.) Read more
Coming up fast on September 6, 2014 is my appearance at the Minnesota Writing Workshop. (This is my first time teaching in Minnesota, so I am pumped.) This is a special one-day “How to Get Published” writing workshop on Sept. 6, 2014, at Subtext Books in St. Paul, MN. In other words, it’s one day full of classes and instruction designed to give you the best advice concerning how to get your writing & books published. No matter what you’re writing — fiction or nonfiction — the day’s classes will help point you in the right direction. Writers of all genres and writers for all age groups are welcome. Read more
This series is called “Successful Queries” and I’m posting actual query letter examples that succeeded in getting writers signed with agents. In addition to posting these query letter samples, we will also get to hear thoughts from the writer’s literary agent as to why the letter worked.
The 68th installment in this series is with agent Allison Hunter (Inkwell Management) for Megan Mulry’s romance, A ROYAL PAIN (2012, Sourcebooks Landmark, part of the Unruly Royals series), which, in a starred review, Publishers Weekly called “a delightful love story… worth reading again and again.” Read more
Someone once told me, “You can’t get by on just being nice.” But in the publishing world, if you’re nice to readers they will adore you and you’ll sell more books. Here’s proof.
I had no intention of buying John Searles’ novel Help for the Haunted when he visited Colorado recently. I have two shelves full of books by local authors I want to support. But I haven’t read them all. (You’re a reader and writer, so you own these lonely books, too. Admit it.) Read more
Alexander is seeking: Alexander is interested in children’s, middle grade, and young adult fiction and nonfiction, from new and established authors. As he says, “I’m looking for projects that will rise above the rest…characters you’ll remember well past childhood…books that translate well to film because within them contain incredible stories, not because they’re the latest trend.” He particularly loves authors like Frank Portman, Jim Shepard, Jenny Han, and Rainbow Rowell. Read more
“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Kristi Belcamino, author of BLESSED ARE THE DEAD. These columns are great ways for you to learn how to find a literary agent. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good luck and quick signings. If you have a literary agent and would be interested in writing a short guest column for this GLA blog, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll talk specifics.
GIVEAWAY: Kristi 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: Must Love Musty Pages won.) Read more
Revise for Publication: Revision Strategies That Will Improve Any Draft — June 26 Webinar (w/Critique!) by Jordan Rosenfeld
So you want to be published? It’s been said that after the wild creative outpouring, real writing happens in the art of revision. Your best chance of attracting readers is through strong revision, or “re-seeing” of your work, to appeal to readers of all stripes. Writers who learn to love revision are more likely to write publishable work that wins readers and leads to deeper satisfaction in the writer’s craft. This live webinar, called “Revise for Publication: Revision Strategies That Will Improve Any Draft,” will help any writer with the goal of publication learn to love revision. You can learn to enjoy revision by breaking it down into simple, successful “waves,” and easy-to-use “tools” that you’ll use over and over.
By the end of this webinar you will not only have tackled revision issues within your work but will be able to embrace remaining revision with a positive attitude. The webinar happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, June 26, 2014, and lasts 90 minutes. Read more
5. Read your work aloud. You may sound full of yourself, but this is the best way to listen for rhythm–or lack of it, to zone in on klutzy spots and to hear words you may overuse: all, always, just, so, usually, very, perhaps, really… If you repeat words, be intentional about it. This reminds me…
GIVEAWAY: Sally 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: Sunshine1117 won.) Read more
“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Natalia Sylvester, author of CHASING THE SUN. These columns are great ways for you to learn how to find a literary agent. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good luck and quick signings.
GIVEAWAY: Natalia 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: Pizzos3 won.) Read more
She is seeking: Mary represents literary fiction, creative nonfiction, and realistic YA that pays close attention to craft and voice. She is especially drawn to new and emerging writers who seek to push boundaries of form and content, and she responds most strongly to writing that reaches great emotional and psychological depths. She is equally interested in work that illuminates through humor or by playing with genre. Her other interests include psychology, art, and design. Read more