February 2014 Issue
Free Writing Downloads
Workshops Starting March 13th
- Creative Writing 101
- Query Letter in 14 Days
- Essentials of Science Fiction & Fantasy
- The Art of Storytelling 102
- Essentials of Mystery Writing
- Grammar & Mechanics
- Advanced Poetry
Workshops Starting March 20th
- Creative Writing 101
Is Your Manuscript Publication-Ready?
Is Your Manuscript Publication-Ready?
Get professional feedback from 2nd Draft Critique Services.
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.
Submit Your Manuscript
Editing Services are also available.
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 used to be an actor. Then I became a fiction writer. This transition had very little to do with a spine-injuring production of The Tempest. Neither swords nor backstage ghosts were involved, whatever rumors you might have heard. In any case, several theatrical skills and lessons turned out to be useful in my new profession. I hereby present three of my favorites:
1) You can’t be the actor and the director at the same time. Let me clarify: You can direct and perform in the same show. But you cannot do so at the same time. You must switch hats. Sometimes it helps to use actual hats. Do not attempt to wear both hats at once. Read more
Literary Agent Kate McKean Teaches “Awesome First Pages: How to Start Your Story Right” — Webinar With Critique on Nov. 15, 2012
No longer can writers compose books that “really start to cook on page 40.” Books must start strong from the very first page. Your first paragraph, your first sentence, your first few pages — they all must have momentum and conflict and purpose. They cannot be fluff. Weak starts to stories is one of the most frequent reasons agents & editors reject submissions. Lucky for us, we have an expert on the subject. One of our most popular webinar instructors, literary agent Kate McKean, has returned to teach “Awesome First Pages: How to Start Your Story Right” on November 15, 2012. Read more
About Gemma: She is a new agent at The Bent Agency, run by Jenny Bent. In her own words: “Although I’m in London now, I lived in NYC for three years and regularly visit, so I’m going to be representing authors from the UK and the US. I look forward to reading your work and really appreciate you sharing it with me.”
She is seeking: All kinds of books for children. See more on the page. Read more
You may have noticed a major slowdown in blog content lately. It is not without good reason. The incredible news is that my first child — baby Geneva Rose — was born on Oct. 31, 2012. She is adorable and healthy and will grow up to play a mean bass guitar. (The last part was speculation.) Below find some images of her. Thank you for bearing with me as I get back to work and get great content up on here for you. Oh my goodness, I am a father … holy cow. Read more
This interview features literary agent Helen Zimmermann of Helen Zimmermann Literary Agency. She seeks writers of fiction and nonfiction. After more than 20 years in publishing—from the marketing department of Random House to Director of Advertising and Promotion for one of their imprints (The Crown Publishing Group) to Author Events Director at an independent bookstore, she founded her boutique agency in 2003 and enjoyed early success with the New York Times bestseller Chosen by A Horse. Read more
Previously, I attended the Writer Idol Event at Boston Book Fest. It was not for the faint of heart, but for those willing to brave public ridicule, it was a great way to get helpful feedback. This is how it worked: An actress picked manuscripts at random and read the first 250 words out loud for the panel and the audience. If at any point a panelist felt he would stop reading, he raised his hand. The actress read until two or more panelists raised their hands, at which point the panel discussed the reasons they stopped, or in cases where the actress read to the end, they discussed what worked. (This guest column by Livia Blackburne.) Read more
It’s easy to start a novel but difficult to finish. You have to have enough momentum to carry you through the entire front-to-back process. Starting on Nov. 8, author G. Miki Hayden will be teaching “12 Weeks to a First Draft” – all about how to break down your novel writing process into three months of work and tackle it step by step. Each week, students will be assigned a portion of their story and will delve into subjects such as pace, plot, character, setting, style, exposition, dialogue, and tension. Read more
1. Rejection letters take you out of submission limbo. Familiar with that hell whose name is Waiting? Is the agent reading your submission? Chortling with her cronies over it? Using it as a doorstop or drink coaster? With that rejection letter in hand, you now know where you stand. No more wondering. No more worry. Of course no more hope either. Time to move on. Next.
2. All it takes is one rejection letter to make you an instant life member of a club whose luminaries include Walt Whitman, J.K. Rowling and Dr. Seuss. What published writer has never received a rejection letter? These are our badges of determination. Read more
Word count is something I don’t think about too often until I travel to a writers’ conference, and then someone asks a simple, innocent question and a firestorm follows. With that in mind, I’ve tried to put together the definitive post on word count for fiction (novels, young adult, middle grade and even memoir). Read more
Pooja represents: Pooja is actively seeking to build her client list. She’s looking for compelling writing with an easy flow, a timely pacing, a unique perspective, and strong voices. She enjoys literary, commercial, historical, and upmarket women’s fiction; but is particularly drawn to stories with an international flavor, vibrant characters, multicultural themes, and lush settings. She has a soft spot for fantasy novels that are original and layered, with worlds as real and alive as the ones created by Philip Pullman and J.K. Rowling. In YA, she’s eagerly looking for submissions across all genres. Pooja is also acquiring nonfiction adventure and travel memoirs, journalism and human interest stories, and self-help books addressing relationships and the human psychology from a fresh perspective. Read more
Literary Agent Mary Kole Shows You How to Write Young Adult and Middle Grade Novels That Will Sell — Oct. 25, 2012 Webinar With Critique
Our most in-demand webinar instructor of all time is literary agent Mary Kole (formerly of Andrea Brown Literary and now with Movable Type Management). Mary’s webinars on writing & selling books for kids have regularly drawn hundreds of attendees. Why? Simply put, the woman knows her stuff and she just plain loves kids books. She runs Kidlit.com, one of the biggest websites for writers of juvenile books. She’s the author of the new resource, Writing Irresistible Kidlit (fall 2012). And she always offers a personalized, helpful critique for every webinar attendee who signs up. That’s why we’re excited that Mary is back to teach “Crafting Young Adult & Middle Grade Novels That Sell” — an intensive webinar on Oct. 25, 2012. Read more
Here are the winners of Writer’s Digest’s TUNESDAY: VOLUME 1. Yes, I said winners with an S. That’s because the rules have changed, and there’s more ways to win. CHANGE IN RULES: The rules clearly state what prizes await the winner and how the winner is chosen. But I’m adding more winners. If you’re not the winner but your entry guessed 2/3 or more of the riffs correctly, you got entered into a drawing for a free WD book. So note this change in rules moving forward if you found yourself figuring out several riffs but then giving up. Read more
One of my biggest tips when teaching people how to pitch is to avoid generalities. Because a generality could mean anything, it fails to draw us in to the story because it’s not clear what you’re getting at. If you’re ever wondering about what constitutes a generality in a pitch, look no further than this example. Do not do what they’re doing. General = bad. Read more
1. Participate in other art forms. While writing is indeed an all-consuming, infinite endeavor, it can be helpful to engage in other art forms as well. Any kind of creative enterprise helps keep the flow of creativity vibrant and strong. Plus the guiding principles of all art are basically the same–theme, light and dark, repetition … For me, dance and painting/collage inform my writing and push it in new directions.
GIVEAWAY: Carolyn 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: Rendon won.) Read more
Learn to Plot & Structure Your Story. New Webinar on Oct. 18, 2012 Shows Story Physics and Engineering.
What are the most important moments of your story? Do you have a low point? The climax mapped out? The inciting incident that gets the story moving? These are the questions being addressed by Story Engineering author Larry Brooks (a true master of plotting, in WD’s opinion) for his new webinar on Oct. 18, 2012. Larry is teaching “Story Physics: How to Hit the Most Important Moments In Your Story Out of the Park.” If you want to map out a good story, learn about plot & structure by taking this webinar. Read more
He is seeking: “I’m looking for a select few, outstanding projects that grab me and won’t let me go until I place them with a publisher. For fiction, this means a memorable blend of characters, setting, and storyline—delivered with carefully crafted prose. For nonfiction, a unique way of addressing a real need with an authority readers will recognize. And for both, the individual’s desire to grow in the craft of writing and to undertake the required discipline to promote their work for others’ benefit.” Read more
Agent judge Sarah LaPolla of Curtis Brown has finished judging all the entries for the 12th free “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest. The contest was for writers of adult and YA mysteries. Here are her three winners (in no order): A Boat Against the Current by Amy Makechnie, Fingers Crossed by Marie Langager, and Warwick Hall by Kristina Pérez. Read more
The curse of a vivid imagination is that you can almost always imagine something that would make the situation worse. This is why if there is a sudden lurch on a flight, you can count on me to grip my armrest, mentally picturing the wing suddenly falling off of the plane. Strange noise in the middle of the night? Zombie apocalypse. Hacking cough and sniffle? No doubt the beginning of Ebola. It makes my life anxious, but it’s great for writing fiction. Most fiction suffers from not enough conflict, not too much. With every book and every scene, ask yourself “what would make this worse?” One way to do this is to take common conflict resolution techniques and turn them upside down.
GIVEAWAY: Eileen 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: sefmac20 won.) Read more
Enjoy a little rock & roll music from time to time? Who doesn’t? Well I’m trying something fun and different today as a Monday pick-me-up to try and get your week going. It’s my own crazy variation of NAME THAT TUNE and I’m calling it WD’S TUNESDAY (possibly Volume 1, if people dig it). The rules and the gist are simple. Watch the video. I play 15 riffs on my guitar. You try to name as many of them as you can, and e-mail me your answers to literaryagent at fwmedia dot com (Contest Deadline: EOD, Oct 19, 2012). The person who names the most correct answers gets lots of cool prizes (see below). It’s a great excuse to call upon friends and relatives to help you ID the songs, as they are from different decades. It’s also a great excuse to blow off whatever dull work you’re doing and listen to music instead. And if you can’t name all 15 songs, feel free to enter anyway! If no one can name all 15, the closest number wins. You think you got what it takes? Need a little rock & roll music to liven up your day? Then listen in as I try to do these riffs justice on my guitar… Read more