There Are No Rules Blog by the Editors of Writer’s Digest

Get on the cutting edge of today’s publishing trends and how authors can succeed in a world of fast-paced technological change, guided by the editors of Writer’s Digest. You’ll get an inside look at the work, play, and passion of the publishing business and find practical tools for success.


Midlist Nonfiction Books: Too Much Effort for Too Little Return?

Pictured above: A slide from Margaret Atwood’s marvelous presentation at TOC on the future for authors When it comes to non-narrative nonfiction books, I don’t think of the authors of these books as authors. I think of them as experts, entrepreneurs or business professionals who are interested in authoring a book because of the...

How to Start a Successful Newsletter

Next week, I’m teaching an online class on how to start a successful e-mail newsletter. This is a topic I’ve covered here at No Rules before, but this class will allow me to show you in-depth how to get started, discuss strategies, and go behind the scenes with free services so you see how...

Is It OK If Writing Is Also Your Day Job?

It’s something I’ve often said to young writers: Study or work at anything but writing. Go lead a separate life, and learn or do something that will enrich whatever you end up writing later. In the latest Glimmer Train bulletin, Iowa grad Anna North offers a different and compelling perspective. Here’s a snippet: I...

How to Build Your Website Without Knowing Code

Today I sent out the latest issue of my e-mail newsletter, which I call “3 Happy Things.” Each issue has a different theme, and this one focused on how to build a website for free, without knowing code, in less than an hour. Click here to view the newsletter on codeless websites. Also, there’s...

Best Tweets for Writers (week ending 4/29/11)

I watch Twitter, so you don’t have to. Visit each Sunday for the week’s best Tweets. If I missed a great Tweet, leave it in the comments. Also: Check out these upcoming online classes from Writer’s Digest: I’ll be presenting How to Start a Successful E-mail Newsletter on May 12. How to Find Grants...

Why Do We Think Talent Ought to Be Rewarded?

I’ve been having conversations on Twitter about whether determination is more important than talent. (It was sparked by this recent blog post.) These seem to be the key concepts at stake: Talent. I’d define this as what you’re born with, what doesn’t change. When you have talent, it may lead nowhere if you don’t...

Friday Mish-Mash of Cool Things

A lot of things have crossed my desk lately, so let me share them all at once. Above: Edgar Award winners Ruth Rendell, Lawrence Block, Peter Blauner, and others discuss their writing and what they consider the ultimate reward for penning a great mystery novel. StoryADay May Writing Challenge. This is an annual event...

Determination: More Important to Success Than Talent

Now that I’m a full-time teacher, one of the greatest pleasures I have is supporting the talent of my students. When I was in college, I often wondered if my writing professors could tell which students would “make it.” I thought it was connected to raw talent—and that professors could see the shape and...

Everyone Wants to "Help" Writers. But Whose Help Do You Really Need?

You’ve probably heard the “Wild West” cliche more than once this year in reference to all the changes happening in the publishing industry. For starters, there’s the Borders bankruptcy, the Amanda Hocking self-pub success story, the Eisler defection, and Amazon striking deals with New York houses for print distribution of their Encore titles. (If...

Ask the Agent: Kelly Mortimer

In the March/April 2011 issue of Writer’s Digest, you’ll find Kelly Mortimer featured in my Ask the Agent column. Kelly went above and beyond the call of duty in answering my questions, and I felt bad that I had to cut most of what she had to say. So I promised her that after...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Rachel Friedman

This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers at any stage of their career can talk about seven things they’ve learned along their writing journey that they wish they knew at the beginning. This installment is from writer Rachel Friedman. Rachel Friedman is the author of The Good...

Best Tweets for Writers (week ending 4/22/11)

I watch Twitter, so you don’t have to. Visit each Sunday for the week’s best Tweets. If I missed a great Tweet, leave it in the comments. Best of Best My letter to beginning science-fiction writers; 2,000 words of advice@RobertJSawyer Read this and work out whether you should rewrite that scene by @internspills @dirtywhitecandy...

The Big Lesson I Learned This Year As a Professor

It’s all about structure! In my guest post this month for Writer Unboxed, I offer 3 specific ways to add more structure into your writing life. I also point to free worksheets and exercises, as well as the most helpful online articles I’ve seen on goal-setting. Click here to read the post: 3 Ways...

My Thoughts on Drinking + Life + Writing

This week, I’m the featured interview over at Drinking Diaries, a site devoted to women’s experiences with alcohol. I had 2 thoughts when I was invited to participate: Oh, fun!!! Oh no. The stereotype of the alcoholic writer always makes me a little self-conscious when I talk about drinking, or liking to drink. I’m...

Back to Basics: Writing & Publishing Memoir

It can be very difficult to sell a memoir when you’re not famous. Without a celebrity’s fan base, or a loyal and captive audience, then you need to write like a master, or have such a fantastical story that no one can divert their attention from it! The other question that often arises with...

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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Glen Retief

This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers at any stage of their career can talk about seven things they’ve learned along their writing journey that they wish they knew at the beginning. This installment is from writer Glen Retief. Glen Retief is the author of The...

The Two Rules for Successful Freelance Pricing

Today’s guest post is from Laurie Lewis, who has had a freelance medical writing business for more than 25 years. She is the author of What to Charge: Pricing Strategies for Freelancers and Consultants. I know a guest should be gracious to a hostess, so I hate to disagree with Jane. But I dispute...

Best Tweets for Writers (week ending 4/15/11)

I watch Twitter, so you don’t have to. Visit each Sunday for the week’s best Tweets. If I missed a great Tweet, leave it in the comments. Getting Published + Agents/Editors Excellent advice!–>Top Five Mistakes Writers Make at Conferences, by @RoniLoren@inkyelbows In the Future, Everyone Will Have a Chance. (But Not All Chances Will...

Writing a Life

Today’s guest post is by the lovely Darrelyn Saloom. Follow her on Twitter, or read her previous posts for NO RULES. Pictured above: Garden Cottage at Bay Breeze Guest House— Why write? Not for the money. You may hit the big time, some do. Most don’t. So why spend years and years cranking out...

5 Innovative Poets to Watch & Learn From

As everyone knows, you can’t make a living from writing and selling poetry. Or can you? Well, it IS next to impossible to make a living by only writing poems. Sometimes I wonder if that’s why poets seem to be the ones I see most often experimenting and innovating. They know that large-scale publication...

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How I Found My Agent: Susan Pohlman

"How I Got My Agent" is a recurring feature on the GLA blog. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good luck and quick signings. If you have a literary agent and would be interested in writing a short guest column for this GLA blog, e-mail me at...

Helpful Insights for Self-Publishing Novelists

I moderated a panel at SXSW called The Self-Publishing Novelist, which included insights from 3 experienced experts: John Sundman. Read an interview with John here, Building an Enthusiastic Fan Base as a Self-Published Author. Carolyn McCray. Read her helpful articles over at Digital Book World, including Best Practices for Amazon E-Book Sales, How to...

My E-Book Production Process

Over at Christina Katz’s blog, I offer an inside look at how I produced my e-book, The Future of Publishing. Here’s a snippet: Writing an e-book that is high-enough quality to charge money for is not an easy undertaking. You must have had some concerns at the outset. Would you be willing to share...

Your Most Embarrassing Moment As a Writer (Part 2)

If you enjoyed my embarrassing story from last week, here’s another one. I was taking one of my very first trips to New York City, to meet with literary agents, in my early years as an acquisitions editor at F+W Media. One of the meetings involved dinner at an upscale Asian restaurant. I’m a...

Best Tweets for Writers (week ending 4/8/11)

I watch Twitter, so you don’t have to. Visit each Sunday for the week’s best Tweets. If I missed a great Tweet, leave it in the comments. Best of the Best What Grabs Readers versus What Keeps Them @cerebralgrump Thinking of self-e-publishing? 3 questions to ask first@annerallen Elements of a Successful Fiction Platform @thewritermama...