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

The Priceless Value of Old

One of the saddest things I ever witnessed happened in a jewelry shop. I was waiting in line to make a purchase, when I noticed the artisan behind the counter doing some sort of work with his hands. Thinking he was crafting some stunning piece of jewelry, I stepped over to where I could have a look. To my horror, the jeweler was ... Read More

Writing Your Novel: Forego Irrelevant Description

Remember when your English teacher told you that good writing is descriptive writing, showing not telling, rich in the details of sensory experience? While this is true to a degree, there’s an important caveat to that advice that typically writing teachers forget to mention. We book editors, however, deal every day with the writing mistakes the missing information causes. So ... Read More