‘What’s Wrong with My Query Letter?’

Something is amiss. You’ve written a great novel. You’ve sent your query letter to over sixty agents, and still you’ve had no requests to see the entire manuscript. Why isn’t your query letter working? As a book editor and writing doctor, I get emails from first-time novelists telling me this common tale of woe. When they send me their query ... Read More

Authors: Beware the Fake-Quotation Trap!

For authors, the Internet offers broad vistas of knowledge and opportunity, but scattered in between are a few beds of quicksand. One of these is the fake-quotation quagmire: the growing trend of popular "quotation websites" to feature made-up quotes. The quagmire deepens each time a self-publishing author casually decides to decorate her writing with "something inspirational." She goes to one ... Read More

Self-Published Book Contests & The Eric Hoffer Award—Horse of a Different Color

Most legitimate book-award contests don't allow submissions by self-publishing authors. There are, of course, the book contests for self-publishers that hand out awards like candy. Nearly every contestant wins something—including a shiny sticker they can display on their book cover to make buyers think they have written something of quality. Fortunately, there’s at least one book contest out there for ... Read More

Why Only Old Folks Should Publish Memoirs

That sounds like a trick title, right? You’re expecting me to follow it up with a punch line. But guess what: publishing your memoirs or autobiography is no joking matter. In many cases, it makes you vulnerable to libel lawsuits and financial devastation. You think I’m overstating the risk? Think again. If you’re writing or planning to write a memoir, ... Read More

Do You Need a Pen Name? One Writer’s Surprising Answer

In centuries past, authors used pen names. We all remember stories of America’s Founding Fathers (James Madison, Alexander Hamilton) and their underground writings, inciting the citizens to rebel against England. Pen names hid their identity in order to save their lives. Then there were the female Victorian authors (George Elliot, the Bronte sisters) who used men’s names to land a ... Read More