Writing

Should you enter writing contests?

  ✍🏼 It’s a personal decision, but there are a few good reasons writers enter contests. ✍🏼 First, the prize money! That’s always nice. ✍🏼 But what if you don’t win? Was your time spent entering the contest wasted? ✍🏼 Entering the right contests can be helpful for writers of both fiction and non-fiction. The…
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How Do I Find Comps for My Book?

The dreaded comps! When you’re trying to interest an agent or publisher in your book, you’re often asked to provide “comps” — other books that could be compared to yours, or books that might compete with yours. A good book proposal always has a “Competition” or “Comparable Books” section, and even if you’re self-publishing, it helps…
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Can I Use Song Lyrics in My Book?

Song lyrics! It’s oh-so-tempting to use them in your novel, isn’t it? Or your memoir. Songs can be so evocative… they can express that exact right feeling in the exact right way. But hold up. Sometimes it’s not the best idea. If you’re going to include lyrics – or excerpts from poetry – you’ll need…
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Why Would Someone Want to Read Your Book?

You probably know why you’re writing your book. But do you have a good handle on what would make someone want to read it? It’s important for you to not only know this, but make sure it comes through any time you’re talking about your book — pitching it, writing a query, writing a proposal…
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Help! Someone is Using My Book Title!

  Book titles! Here’s the important thing to remember: **YOU CANNOT COPYRIGHT A TITLE.** This is why you see the same titles on multiple books, movies, songs, albums – any creative work. Nobody has a claim on any particular title. You want to name your book The Godfather? Go for it. When you’re thinking about…
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Why is it so Hard to Find an Agent?

Ah, the age-old dilemma. How to get an agent? Why does it seem like such an uphill battle? It even sometimes feels like agents are actively trying to keep you out! Exactly WHY is it so hard? First, let me be clear: we agents love nothing more than saying YES. Our favorite things are finding…
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How Long Should My Book Be?

Word counts! Here are some ideal word count ranges. If you’re trying to break in, stay within these guidelines to decrease your obstacles to getting published. Adult fiction: 75k-100k words (sweet spot is 80-90) Sci-fi or fantasy can be up to 120k. YA fiction: 50-90k Nonfiction: 70-80k Memoir: 75-95k Self-help: 40-55k Children’s picture books: 300-1000…
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Will an Agent Be Interested in My Self-Published Book?

So you have an indie-published book and you’re thinking about pursuing traditional publishing? That’s fantastic. Welcome! Most agents and publishers aren’t interested in your already-published book. Instead, we want to see your NEXT book. I’ve seen wonderful indie-published books that have sold units in the six figures, and traditional publishers still didn’t bite. Why? Partly…
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Do Debut Authors Have a Chance at Getting Published?

New writers often worry that there’s no place for them in publishing. I constantly hear writers calling it a catch-22. “You can’t get published if you’ve never been published.” That couldn’t be further from the truth! Publishers are in constant need of fresh voices, so they’re always looking for a strong debut author. In fact,…
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How do I Know if I Need a Literary Agent?

There are different kinds of publishers you can approach – from traditional, full-service publishers that operate on the advance + royalty model; to smaller publishers that use a co-op or hybrid model (author and publisher share costs); to self-publishing companies in which the author pays the costs. Most of the publishers in the first group,…
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What’s the Secret to a Great Query Letter?

Query letters! We all have to write them (yes, even agents) and they’re SO important. What’s the secret? It’s understanding this most important point: The purpose of a query is get someone to want to read your manuscript. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s not to explain your whole book or tell your whole story. It’s…
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What is Considered a Strong Author Platform These Days?

Platform! Everyone’s favorite subject. If you’re writing a nonfiction book, you’ll need to build a platform before getting a publisher and ideally, before you submit to agents. Think of platform as a fun and positive part of the journey. Your goal is to build a community, to engage in conversations, and to become a trusted…
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Do I Need to Write My Whole Book Before Finding a Publisher?

Should you write the whole book first? Quick answer: Fiction: Yes, a complete manuscript is required (assuming you’re a debut author) Nonfiction: You typically need three solid chapters along with a book proposal. You don’t have to write the whole book. Some notes based on my experience: If you’re only sending 3 chapters, make sure…
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There is no rejection, only redirection

This is a quote from author Matt Haig in his book “The Midnight Library.” But I think — maybe? — he wrote it with a wink toward his fellow writers. Isn’t it freeing to think of rejection as REDIRECTION? I’ve always said that every “no” gets you that much closer to a YES. Every “no”…
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