Nobody Knows Anything

Nobody Knows Anything “Nobody knows anything…… Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what’s going to work. Every time out it’s a guess and, if you’re lucky, an educated one.” ― William Goldman, Adventures in the Screen Trade   I’ve always liked this quote, because it’s so true—and it applies to publishing, too. We don’t know how a book will do until it goes on sale, or sometimes, until it’s been on sale several months or even years.   Publishing companies and Hollywood studios routinely produce works they predict will sell based on past success of similar works. It’s a flawed method of decision making, but it’s the best we’ve got.   Besides analyzing past experience, what can we do to predict future...
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Lessons from the Gym

Lessons from the Gym If you know me at all, you probably know I have this annoying little habit of getting out for exercise everyday. Either the gym, or outside for a hike or bike ride. I admit I love my exercise. But not for the reasons you might think. I mean, physical health is important and all, but honestly, would that be enough to motivate me? No way.   The truth is, I go to the gym for YOU. When I’m at the gym, I have all kinds of insights about the writing life, then I come back and share them on my blog and you might think these things just sort of come to me, but they wouldn’t if I hadn’t been at the gym.   Case in point. I’ve been thinking lately about the fact that there are parts of a writing career that writers don’t enjoy. It’s different for each...
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Finding Comparable Books

Finding Comparable Books 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 if you give readers a frame of reference in the form of similar books.   One of the most common questions I’m regularly asked is, “How do I figure out what books to include in my comps?” People get all hung up on it, especially with fiction. Do I look for books with the same premise or plot? Same time period? Same writing style? How do I know what to include?   I’m going to make it easy...
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How to Talk with Publishers and Agents

How to Talk with Publishers and Agents As a literary agent, I love attending conferences and meeting authors. My career is about helping writers share their words with the world, and at conferences I get to sit down with them and spend a few minutes getting to know what they’re passionate about. There’s nothing more rewarding. When I meet with you, my goal is to get to know you and your book idea. I’m rooting for you as you sit down and we begin our conversation. Every writer has something valuable to offer, and I’m always on the lookout for the golden nugget you’ll share. But what if you’re nervous? Many writers feel self-conscious when sitting down with a publisher or literary agent. In any social situation, the key to reducing butterflies is to take the focus off yourself. (Tweet...
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Winners!

Winners! Chuck Sambuchino and the Writers Digest team have chosen the three winners of the Worst Storyline Ever Contest 2.0. Here are the winners, and their winning Worst Storylines. Drum roll please…   Linda Hofke After his wife leaves him, an old, bald, former 80s rock star goes on a quest to reunite with his first love— his hair–but is he brave enough to endure a hair transplant or must he settle for a cheap wig in order to sport those big, long locks once again? Jennifer Ruth Jackson Karl wants nothing more than to watch the kitchen linoleum curl all summer long but, when his wife insists on doing a time-lapse project of the event, Karl’s “me time” becomes a forced “we time” he soon resents. Lyndsay Johnson When a family intervention forces hemophobic vampire...
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