Newsletter Archives

When An Editor Wants A Rewrite

When An Editor Wants A Rewrite

Consider this common dilemma: you send a piece to an editor, who emails you back saying they basically like it, but need you to make some changes. As you review those changes, however, you realize you disagree with most of them. What do you do? Most people think they have four options: Option 1: swallow hard, take a deep breath

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The Paradox of Timing

The Paradox of Timing

“Timing is everything,” I often hear editors and writers say. “What’s hot today could be cold tomorrow, and what’s stone-cold today could be red-hot a year from now. The trick is to time things right.” I take issue with this idea — not because it isn’t true, but because it’s a truth that’s ultimately useless. Here’s why: Most publishers are extremely

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Writing a Nonfiction Book? Don’t Be Misled

Writing a Nonfiction Book?  Don’t Be Misled

Does the following advice — which is exactly half right and half wrong — seem familiar?
“If you’ve written a nonfiction book or book proposal, you need to write a detailed sales document to accompany it. Explain who will buy your book and why; what makes it different from its competition, including a book-by-book analysis of […]

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Protecting Yourself and Your Writing

Protecting Yourself and Your Writing

As a writer, you’ve probably been offered the well-intentioned advice to “Never let yourself be exploited” or “Make sure you don’t get taken.” These are worthy sentiments, but in practice they have about as much value as “Don’t get cancer” and “Don’t wreck your car.”
In this newsletter I will get much more practical and specific. […]

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When Payday is Publication Day

When Payday is Publication Day

You’ve gotten some good news: Hypothetical Magazine wants to publish your newest piece, and will pay you a reasonable sum for it. Congratulations! But pay close attention to the terms HM offers you—and if it wants to pay you on publication, don’t agree to it. Publishers often try to pay writers on publication—or, as we say in the business, on pub—for the

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Turning an Offer Into a Deal

Turning an Offer Into a Deal

Negotiating a publication contract is partly an art and partly a science, but mostly a dance. Sometimes when you request more money or better terms, you get exactly what you ask for; sometimes the other side won’t budge an inch; most of the time, though, the two sides are able to compromise. Forging such a compromise often involves each party

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The Biggest and Most Common Misunderstanding About Book Publishing

The Biggest and Most Common Misunderstanding  About Book Publishing

If you’re about to send a book or book proposal to publishers, your contacts will be acquisition editors—that is, people who acquire books for their organizations. (In Britain, the term is commissioning editors; in Canada, both variations are used.)
Most writers (and most readers) imagine that  acquisition editors decide which manuscripts to turn down and which […]

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How to Write a Bestseller, Get on Oprah, and Walk on the Moon

How to Write a Bestseller, Get on Oprah, and Walk on the Moon

We Americans are obsessive optimists. We think we can achieve anything, if only we learn the right technique, study the right role models, get to know the right people, wear the right clothes, and maintain the right attitude. We imagine there’s a recipe, formula, or step-by-step process for achieving everything.
But it’s a delusion. Were there […]

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