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.
About Laura: Laura Zats graduated from Grinnell College with degrees in English and anthropology. While completing her studies, she took advantage of her love of Young Adult (YA) literature and wrote a thesis on identity formation in YA. She’s been working as an editor for several years and has held positions at companies in both the US and the UK. In 2013, Laura joined Red Sofa Literary as an Associate Agent in 2013. In her free time, Laura likes to craft, swing dance, bake, and binge on Netflix marathons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Doctor Who.
She is seeking: Young adult and middle grade (especially contemporary for both), romance, new adult, contemporary women’s fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, and erotica. Read more
You’ve decided this is it, the year to attend a writer’s conference. Forms are filled, hotel and plane tickets are booked, and a satisfied warmth fills you at pulling the trigger on this writing milestone.
But as the day approaches, your brain buzzes. What to wear? What to bring? You look in your closet and suddenly forget what looks good together, what fits, and what shoes work with which pants. The jeans you love seem too run down. That skirt you wanted to bring is too dressy. Or is it? Maybe you could wear it to the pitch you scheduled. And then it hits: FULL BLOWN PANIC. You forgot about the pitch you booked while high on the glow of finally taking the leap. Read more
7. If you meet a writer and you like their work and you like them as a person, never let them go. Maintain that friendship at all costs. Across time and geography. Support them in everything they do. Celebrate their every victory (even if it coincides with your loss) and mourn their every loss (even if you were the winner). Offer them feedback, send them relevant submission calls and job postings, buy them drinks, let them sleep on your couch. A network of good writers who are also good people — reliable collaborators, strong editors, fun and sympathetic friends — will advance your career and enrich your life more than anything else.
GIVEAWAY: Kim 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: Burrowswrite won.) Read more
The Art of Revision: Perfecting Your Book For Submission: Jan. 16, 2014 Webinar With Agent Michelle Brower
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
She is seeking: women’s fiction, southern fiction, multicultural literary fiction, upmarket African-American fiction, steam funk, romance (all kinds except category, military and espionage thrillers, historical fiction, non-fiction with a strong platform and academic assessments of popular culture. Additionally, Nikki seeks graphic novels, Manga, YA, MG and children’s picture books.
Nikki is especially interested in time travel, reincarnation, mythology, ancient civilizations, magical and animist realism, Japan, American history (especially hidden African-American history, interesting women in history, as well as the antebellum period, and the Civil and Revolutionary wars), the military (all branches, but especially the U.S. Marine Corp, Army and all Special Forces), espionage, martial arts, narrative nonfiction about food and beverage (especially organic food, wine and coffee), travel or expat life, international relations and foreign policy,and prescriptive nonfiction on spirituality, parenting, health and well-being. 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!)
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
Are you singing the rejection blues because your book (or poem or screenplay) has been rejected by a publisher (or magazine or production company)? Here are some things to consider when your writing project has been rejected.
1. Are you being realistic enough about the quality of your writing? Giving your essay or play or whatever you’ve written to your mother to read and having her hand it back to you with a gold star doesn’t cut it. You need an objective critique from someone reasonably knowledgeable about the genre in which you’re writing. Is there someone you trust to give you open and honest feedback? Is there a writing group you can join? If not, think about forming one yourself. One hundred percent open, honest comments may sting, but they’re invaluable in helping you become a better writer. Read more
A little less than four years ago, around the same time our youngest child was toilet-trained and sleeping (mostly) through the night, my husband and I took a bold step and decided to add to our family. Almost everyone told us we were crazy to do it, but we were determined. There was something missing from our lives—we just knew it.
So we got a dog.
GIVEAWAY: Jennifer is excited to give away a free copy of her novel (hard copy or digital) 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: Cathy won.) Read more
Jan 13 Agent One-on-One Boot Camp (With Critique): Crafting Queries, Opening Pages, Synopses, and Nonfiction That Get Noticed
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
1. We must build a shelter with our truth. Other writers working on memoirs often ask me, “But why would anyone care about my story?” When I was struggling to write Unremarried Widow, I asked a memoirist friend the same thing. She said, “We must build a structure with our truth so that other people can shelter there.” We often forget that by offering up our stories we help others understand their own. In this way, memoir is not self-indulgent but a road map for the human experience. Read more
“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Kirsten Chen, author of SOY SAUCE FOR BEGINNERS. Her agent is Michelle Brower of Folio Literary. 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: Kirsten 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: vrundell won.) Read more
If you’ve been writing long enough, you’ve probably considered getting a Masters in Fine Arts degree. Perhaps you checked the tuition costs, choked, and wondered: Is it really worth it? That’s a tough call. Plenty of successful writers do not have advanced degrees. And plenty of MFA grads never publish a book. If you’re on the fence, here are a few pros and cons to consider.
1) Community: Writing is a solitary pursuit, and after spending hours alone with your thoughts, you might crave a tribe of writers. MFA programs offer exactly that: total immersion in a culture of books and writing to the exclusion of all else. (Call us fanatics. Call us bores. Guilty.) Read more
New Year, New Query: How to Write a Great Letter That Gets Attention — Jan. 9 Webinar With Query Critique
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
We all know writing is hard. But most of us also know that it isn’t really the writing that’s hard—it’s writing in the face of all the psychological crap around being a writer that’s hard. Multiply these everyday difficulties by the profound sense of powerlessness that comes with feeling like your writing career is in everyone’s hands but your own, and it’s a wonder anyone pursues a writing career at all. Sound familiar? If so, there’s a good chance you’re giving your power away as a writer.
This year is the year to take your power back. What do I mean by “giving your power away” as a writer? I’ll show you. Here’s a sampling of people and things to whom I have served my power on a silver platter…
GIVEAWAY: Alison 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: TJay91259 won.) Read more
She is seeking: Lara is a fan of smart and raw young adult fiction, character-driven middle grade fiction with a totally original, hilarious voice, and so-adorable-she-can’t-stand-it picture books, preferably with some age-appropriate emotional heft. She’s a sucker for a great mystery and is passionate about stories that teach her new things or open up new worlds. More than anything, she has a soft spot for the wonderfully weird, the idiosyncratic, and the entirely unexpected. Read more
You Should Really Write a Memoir — Webinar by Agent Regina Brooks (With Proposal Critique), Jan. 6, 2014
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 GLA Blog will be taking a small break during Christmas week, and starting back up again with daily posts as of Monday, December 30, 2013. It has been a fantastic record-setting year in terms of the blog’s page views and hits, and I’ll be celebrating with a contest early in the new year. Thank you for your support and continued readership. If you are in the query process and eager to meet agents or soak up writing advice, this blog has 6+ years of such information in its archives. Until next week, Happy Holidays, all! I’ll still be around Twitter — so find me there if need be: @chucksambuchino. Read more
2. Less is more. Everyone has their own style. Some prefer lean and muscular, others prefer something a little more florid. Both approaches have their merits, and their fans. That being said, I’ve never heard a reader say, “Gee, I wish there were more adverbs in this book,” and I’ve never read a review that says, “If only the author had found more synonyms for ‘said’.” There’s a reason for that, and I wish I’d figured it out sooner. These days, when I proofread a first draft, the number one thing I find myself doing is deleting adverbs and removing dialogue tagging, especially fancy dialogue tagging (of the “snapped, growled, interjected” variety.) My debut novel, DARKWALKER, was only just released, and already I see flab, extraneous words just begging to be nipped and tucked. My subsequent works are a lot trimmer.
GIVEAWAY:E.L. 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: Aristomas won.) Read more
“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Steve Weddle, author of COUNTRY HARDBALL. 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. Steve’s agent is Stacia Decker of Donald Maass Literary Agency.
GIVEAWAY: Steve is excited to give away a free copy of his 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: DanielR won.) Read more
Back in 2007, midway through querying my first novel and drafting my second, I attended the Viable Paradise Writer’s Workshop in Martha’s Vineyard. During the course of one intensive week, I attended a workshop by Jumper author Stephen Gould designed to help our select group of aspiring Science Fiction and Fantasy writers understand what life was like after publication.
At the time, this workshop seemed a waste of important writing time. Weren’t we all there because we were unpublished newbies? We just wanted to know how to write good queries, network, and get somebody—anybody—to read and love our little word-babies. A year and a half later, when my acceptance letter came, I wished I’d listened better to that lecture… Read more
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
About Katie: Katie obtained her Bachelor’s in English from California State University, Sacramento, but the most enlightening part of her college career was her internship with Andrea Hurst & Associates. There she discovered her passion for being part of the process that connects compelling stories with book-hungry readers. Katie resides in the small town of Durham, California with her incredible husband, her joyful son, and Snoodles, her loyal cat. Besides her addiction to reading, she is also a diehard Miami Heat fan and obsessed with all things Disney. She is seeking young adult fiction, many areas of adult fiction (including sci-fi and fantasy), and many areas of nonfiction (including memoir). Read more
4. “Getting the word out” can mean just about anything. Everyone knows about social media, but old-school “social” still works. I paid my fee and went to the BEA’s Blogger Conference, introduced myself to book bloggers and gave them ARCs. (I also sat in on a number of conferences where everyone talked about Twitter.) The first bookstores that sold my book were stores in my neighborhood—an obvious target demographic for a book with the ‘hood’s name in it—because I walked in and asked. Get out there.
GIVEAWAY: Bradley is excited to give away a free copy of his 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: AnneTano won.) Read more
“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Robert L. Owens, author of POINTMAN. 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. Robert’s literary agent is Faye Swetky of The Swetky Agency Read more