The Flattery of Friends Doth Not a Writer Make

I just finished critiquing a story for an aspiring author who was very surprised at the feedback he received. In contacting me, he said he had written several novels he hadn’t yet tried to publish. He wanted to add some polish to one before sending it out to agents, hence his decision to reach out. I read the first chapter, ... Read More

The Lowdown on Appendixes/ Appendices

Sometimes nonfiction authors get confused about appendices: what they are, how to do them, when they are needed … and how to spell them! An appendix is supplementary material (usually an article, form, or list) that an author adds to the back of the book. It can be anything you want your readers to …

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The Almost-Great Novel: A True Cautionary Tale

I recently struck up a friendship with a first-time author I met in an online writers’ forum. He had written a YA novel that was soon to be published by a small publishing house. He hoped it would be the first of a trilogy …

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‘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” …

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