Thursday, July 28, 2022

Writers Supporting Writers—Are We Competitors?

How do you feel about supporting other authors? There are a lot of us fiction writers around, and we all have stories to tell. Will all of us be successful? In part, that depends on our definition of success. If that definition relies solely on book sales, developing a huge fan base, and making enough money to live the "good life," we might not succeed. 

On the other hand, if our goal is to write a great book that appeals to a variety of readers; if our stories touch the hearts of those who are struggling with a contentious mate or rebellious children; if they provide a rest stop for a weary traveler who is overwhelmed by the potholes she (or he) faces on life's road; if our characters are fighting similar battles against those our reader encounters; or if the reader has lost a dear friend or loved one in death, we may indeed succeed.

Of course, our genre(s) of choice will likely have a significant impact on the scenarios listed above, which is only a short list of the numerous possibilities. Also, our writing style plays a role in the effectiveness of our messages—and yes, many stories contain messages, whether they are subtle or overt. 

Intent, too, affects the presentation of our story, as does the response of the reader. Do we write a lighthearted book intended to entertain the reader, or have we broached a serious topic that has tainted the lives of many people today? Are we taking a side on an issue that affects s significant number of the reading public? Are we striving to create one of the first stories that brings solace to many victims of a recent catastrophe—hurricanes, tornados, school shootings, acts of war, etc.? If so, does this make us competitors?

If we are entering a writing contest, we are definitely competing with fellow authors. Is the same true if we write a story about, say, child abuse and scores of others are writing or have written similar stories? Are we competing with them? Not necessarily. We all bring something different to a tale about sexually abused children. Our characters typically are unique to us, and the way we present the story will likely be equally unique. 

Let's consider for a moment The Carousel by Belva Plain. First published in 1995, the book was described by the Kirkus Review as "bound for the winner's circle." A selection of the Literary Guild and the Doubleday Book Club, the story tackles the sensitive and often hidden subject of sexual child abuse. In its pages, Oliver Grey appears to be a candidate for father of the year, a respected businessman, and an outstanding humanitarian. Behind closed doors, however, he is a pedophile. 

The number of children who have endured this horrendous type of assault is mind-boggling, and the number of its victims seems to grow every year. Does this make it a good topic for a serious novel? Obviously, it can be, but the topic must be handled with the proverbial kid gloves. 

Would an author who chooses to tackle the subject be competing with every other writer who has written on it? No. Each story is different just as each victim is different. Would it be appropriate to support a writer of such a novel? That's a personal choice, but the writer would likely appreciate the encouragement, especially if personal experience is the impetus behind its writing.

What do you think? Are we competitors? Or are we part of a cheering section? Are we comfortable enough in our skill as a writer not to be intimidated by another storyteller? 

Writing is a solitary profession, and interaction among those similarly inclined can be the encouragement one or more of us need to carry on—or lack of it can be the final nail in the coffin of our literary dreams. Who knows? One of us just may be the one to produce a bestseller. 

Editor Linda Lane has returned to her first love—writing—while still doing occasional editing. Her character-driven novels, although somewhat literary in nature, remind the reader of genre fiction because of their quick pace. They also contain elements of romance, mystery, and thrillers. You can contact her through her website: 

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

A long road to publication

Amanda Blackwood at her recent book signing at Barnes & Noble, Westminster, CO

When I first started this journey I had no idea where it would take me. I knew I had to tell my story of surviving human trafficking but I had no idea how it would turn out.

I started telling pieces of my story many years ago on a blog of my own. Eventually some of the more involved, lengthy stories were taken down from the blog and turned into small books. That was the start of everything for me. I’d always wanted to write a book but never saw it as being a possibility. The very idea of writing an entire book seemed so daunting and overwhelming. When I took down a couple of continuation blogs and put them into a single document, I discovered that not only had I already accomplished one of my bucket list items, but that I had something I was proud of.

At first I did try to seek out traditional publishing. I had an acquaintance with connections in the publishing industry and I almost got a foot in the door, until one day things went sideways. My acquaintance informed me that unless I quit my job and moved to Texas to be his wife he would no longer help me with chasing my dreams. I was crushed! More determined than ever, I started looking into and researching the self-publishing route. Without asking for help from anyone, and without knowing where to turn for resources, I dove in head first and figured it out as I went along. The idea of “Mandolin Publishing” was born as I sipped my raspberry tea overlooking the Pacific ocean, less than 2 hours after that fateful blow. That was ten books ago.

I knew my first book would likely flop. People wouldn’t care. They’d never want to read it. But I put it out there anyway in hopes that someone would. Now, no matter how good or bad that book did, I can’t ever regret it. The book is what helped introduce me to my now best friend and launched my entire side gig as a published author. As I learned the ins and outs of it all, I started helping others to follow their passions, too. Several of my dear friends have decided to write books now, based on the encouragement and truth that I’ve shared with them. To see the excitement in their faces when they talk about their works in progress has been tremendously rewarding for me. My best friend has even fashioned a character in her novel based on me (though the character in the book sounds much more elegant and beautiful than I could ever aspire to be) and I couldn’t be more humbled. That character is the main supporting character and she’s awesome. I've promised to help her navigate the world of self publishing if she goes that route once she's completed her manuscript. Knowing she has options available to her has given her more of a drive to complete this adventurous story she thought up over a decade ago.

It’s been quite a journey, learning how to do it all on my own. Eventually I wrote my full autobiography as a survivor of human trafficking and published Custom Justice last year. 

 I have been able to accomplish incredible things since then as a result. After spending two decades wondering if I’d ever find love, I finally found what I wanted most. In January of this year I married an amazing guy and we merged our families into one big, happy home. I’ve walked my own path for a long time but this was a healing journey nobody could predict. The ability to express and discuss what happened to me in the world of abuse and trauma has not only healed me, but helped others.

I’ve finally branched out away from writing just about my own experiences. On June 30th of this year I released my latest book The Road We Left Behind as a tribute to my grandmother. It takes place in the 1930s and 1940s, spanning Prohibition, the Great Depression, and World War II. My grandmother and her first boyfriend, Arthur, had some pretty fantastic adventures together. The book was inspired by her true story. 

This September I have the third book in a Science Fiction post-apocalyptic trilogy being released. The series tells of a group of unlikely survivors trying to flee Los Angeles after an apocalyptic event occurs and society turns on itself. Having lived in Los Angeles myself for fourteen years in my past, and having lived through what I’ve lived through, I often tell people that I feel quite qualified to tell the story. Who better to predict the end of the world than someone who's already lived through it?

For the first time in my life, I have the freedom to chase my dreams. I’m doing what I love. I wake up in the morning, EXCITED to work for twelve hours a day. Thanks to the loving support of my amazing husband, I am now a full-time author and I’m watching my dreams all come true.

In preparation for my book signing tour here in Colorado, my husband and I got a six-foot banner made to display at the table, and it has this massive image of my face on it. At first I saw it and thought “people will think I’m narcissistic.” Now I look at it and think “people will think I’m a professional author.” Because I am. 

This is a proud moment for me. I’ve come a long way from the damaged, abused, sheltered little girl hiding from her own shadow.

I am not a former victim.

I am not just a survivor of trafficking.

I am not what my past said I was.

I am not unworthy of love.

I can follow my dreams.

I am a professional, PUBLISHED author.

(Ten times and counting!)

Photo by Rustic Knot Photography

Amanda Blackwood is a survivor of human trafficking. A portion of every book sale goes to help fight human trafficking and to help those still being trafficked. Amanda lives in Denver, Colorado with her rescue cats and supportive husband who keep her sane.

Visit Amanda's website at

Follow Amanda on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Interview: Writer Jack Castle on Giving Back to the Writing Community

I have taken the path in recent years of helping others achieve their dreams. I find it more rewarding than my own writing and have met many wonderful people along the way who also generously give back to the writing community.

It has been one of my greatest pleasures to meet and now work with writer Jack Castle on his upcoming series. Jack Castle's thriller novels were traditionally published but he decided to self-publish his Sci-Fi/Fantasy series Stranger World. He has learned the ins and out of both paths and spends his spare time giving lectures to groups across the country on writing and publishing.

Jack Castle has had a fascinating varied career. He started out as a stuntman hand selected by George Lucas to play a Han Solo look-a-like for Disney's Hollywood Studios. While living in Alaska, he worked as a tour guide, police officer, and Response Team Commander on a remote island in the Aleutian Islands. And in Idaho he created thrilling and award-winning rides and shows for the Pacific Northwest’s Silverwood Theme Park. For nearly a decade he guided millions of guests through his beloved and popular live adventure stories.

Recently, he returned home to Central Florida to get back to his roots and write full time. When he isn’t writing, or going on adventures with his family to fuel his next book, he enjoys helping others get published by teaching literary workshops at local colleges.

First, can you tell us how you got traditionally published?

Any writer who has been traditionally published will tell you that writing a book is one thing but getting picked up by a traditional publisher is way harder.

Before I sent my manuscript to a publisher, I remember thinking I was going to research getting published with the same tenacity, arduous research, and methodology I had used as a police officer and as an investigator. 

The first thing I discovered was how most authors of the “How to Get Published” books had never actually been published before. So instead of reading books written by people who had never succeeded in what I was attempting, I decided to go straight to the source. Using my law enforcement interview skills, I started calling and talking to real, honest-to-goodness agents, acquisition editors, and publishers over the phone. I would cyberstalk them on Facebook and read, watch, and listen to every interview they ever did. That was only the beginning.

Your research must have paid off because your first query for Europa Journal was picked up by Edge, one of the largest publishers of SciFi and Fantasy in North America. And on the first day of its release, Europa Journal became the #1 bestselling book on Amazon.

No one is more shocked by any of that than me. I continued to publish with Edge with two more titles. It was a valuable learning experience. With Stranger World, our vision didn't mesh, so I decided to self-publish the series. That was another deep learning curve. I learned there are two people worth paying: a great editor and a great cover designer. Then it is all about marketing. I managed to get a Barnes & Noble book tour for Stranger World which resulted in growing a fan base that included cosplayers and inspired fan art and a few plushies.

What got you into teaching and helping others?

Mostly I think it had to do with Vanity Presses passing themselves off as traditional publishers. I was getting tired of hearing about friends and friends of friends who were paying vanity presses $3,000 to $20,000 dollars to essentially upload their book on Amazon, something they could do themselves for free on KDP (Kindle direct publishing) and other self-publishing platforms.

Back in 2016, a local college in Idaho asked me to fill in for a teacher who had a personal tragedy in her life and couldn’t finish her course. So, with less than four hours notice, I gathered my notes and gave my first class. It was so successful, and the college got so many requests for another one, that I’ve been teaching literary workshops at colleges ever since.

You’ve written How to Get Published: A True Story. What made you decide to write it?

I’ve been teaching literary workshops at colleges, libraries and at book stores for nearly a decade now. Every time we advertise one of these things, I would get messages and emails from friends and readers of my books saying how they’d love to go the classes but they were either too far away or couldn’t afford the class. Also, the classes are great, but there’s only so much time to cover everything. This book is everything I have learned over the last decade about being a bestselling, traditionally published and self-published author. It is everything I would tell my best friend.

You can check out his upcoming events on his website:

What is next for you?

I think the thing I am most excited about is on August 15th, on the 5 year anniversary of the first Stranger World book, we are releasing a Stranger World omnibus e-book that will include all five books. The new cover is fantastic, and my new editor/formatter is unparalleled. There are so many little additional Easter eggs I’ve been inserting over the years that this edition is like the Zack Snyder cut of Stranger World. If you’ve ever wanted to visit, I can’t think of a better time.


Thank you for helping others achieve their goals. I think it is one of the best things writers can do to further their careers as well as support the dreams of other writers. Stranger World has become one of my all time favorite series. It is about a soldier who is blown up  in Afghanistan and wakes up in a dystopian full-immersion worldwide theme park where the attractions run the show and the humans are the entertainment. With Disney starting to offer full-immersion experiences, the topic has never been more relevant. I highly recommend the series. You can check out all of Jack's books  on his author page on Amazon

You can pick up a copy of his "how to" book here:

My own passion for sharing my research and resources turned into a 20 book Story Building Blocks series. The majority of the information is also available on my blog and website for free. Here are the links to the blog topics and free information on my website. I am always open for questions and happy to assist. You can find me on Facebook and can email me at

Posted by Diana Hurwitz, author of Story Building Blocks: The Four Layers of Conflict, Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict, Story Building Blocks III: The Revision Layers, and the YA adventure series Mythikas Island. Her weekly blog, Game On: Crafting Believable Conflict explores how characters behave and misbehave. Visit for more information and free writing tools. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Writer Be Aware

The title for this post that first came to mind when I decided on a topic was "Writer Beware." Then after thinking about it for a bit, I realized that awareness of simple mistakes we all make at one time or another was more apt. 

Ever since a writer friend posted a comment on Twitter that maybe characters in our stories don’t need to nod all the time I’ve become super-sensitive to that movement. In a book I’m currently reading there’s a lot of nodding going on, and I have to wonder if I would’ve noticed that before the Twitter posting.

In reply to his tweet I commented that when we have a character nod, we don't have to say “nodded his or her head,” pointing out that there really isn’t another part of the body that one would nod. Of course, if we write sci-fi and have an alien species without a head, that character might nod an elbow or a knee, but for those of us who people our books with humans, we do know what part of the body is used for nodding.

Many of the other comments on his original Tweet made it clear that a lot of people were now becoming more aware of how often they were having a character nod. A few of the responders even left a smiley-face emoji, admitting that they always write “nodded his head.” 

Within a few minutes of reading that Tweet, and a few of the comments, I closed down Twitter to try to be a bit more productive that day. I opened the file for my current WIP, and what to my wondering eye should appear but a whole lot of nodding. 

Thankfully, I didn't often make the mistake that I call the “double assent.” It goes something like this: You have a character nod “in assent” or acknowledgment of something, and then follow that with wordage such as: Sarah nodded, “I agree,” she said. However, I cringed when I did find a few of those.

Writers shared many comments on that Tweet about their chagrin upon discovering gestures that they tend to use a way too much in their stories. Some examples of those pesky repetitive movements: Rubbing a hand through his thick hair, wiping a hand across the bristles of his cheek, sucking in a breath, and one that drove me absolutely nuts when I first started reading Faye Kellerman’s wonderful mysteries was “blowing out a breath.” It seemed like every time her detective reacted to something he would blow out a breath. Thankfully she dropped that after a few books and gave Decker a whole lot of other movements and gestures to use as he reacted to things.

I’ll admit that I have a few gestures that I overuse in my first drafts. That is to be expected in that first step of the writing when we're just trying to get the story down because we all write what is most familiar in terms of language and phraseology, awkward gestures and wordage repeats included. In the rewrite, we can change all those worn-out movements into something fresh.

The same goes for words that are overused and could do with a bit of a refresh. Just one example is the word “amazing.” If everything is amazing, then nothing is. Save the word for great vistas, or works of art, or surprising revelations from a character. The word loses its potency when ascribed to a yummy desert in one chapter, then used in response to seeing Mt. Everest for the first time.  Likewise, “beautiful” and “great” are words that lose their power when used too often in too many instances.

While doing a Google search for more information on overused words, I came across this fun post at Buzzfeed where authors share some of their realizations about some of their bloopers. Here are just a couple of the comments, and I hope you check out the article to read them all. It's a quick read and worth a chuckle or two.

"Mine are shrugging, raising their eyebrows, running a hand through their hair or shifting their weight. It’s like bloody am-dram." Jodie Chapman  author of  Another Life

"My characters have scrunched their eyes in confusion so often they look like Zelda from Terrahawks.

I also keep deleting "indeed" as a condescending response, which leaves just a hundred or so in my portfolio 😂"  John Drake  author of Zoomers

Now I must be off to do some more editing to find the rest of my bloopers. If you care to share some of yours, please do in the comments.

Maryann Miller is a novelist, editor, and sometimes an actress. She's written a number of mysteries, including the critically-acclaimed Seasons Mystery Series that debuted with Open Season. Information about her books and her editing rates is available on her website.


Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Interview: How a business coach can write and publish a book quickly


Elle Carter Neal interviewed by Angela Sedran of Heads Over Heels, talking about how business coaches, public speakers, or small business owners can learn to write and publish a book on their topics of expertise - even if they don't consider themselves "writers". Elle shares tips for pulling together content quickly and (relatively) painlessly, and discusses the three main considerations to take into account when deciding between traditional- and self-publishing.

Learn more at Fully Booked Author, and subscribe to the FBA Vault for access to a new free guidebook, checklist, or video tip each week.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

2022 July to September Writers Conferences and Workshops


Whether a one day session, one week conference, or a month-long writing workshop, writing related events are a good way to commune with other writers. They are opportunities to network and get your name out there. In some instances, you can meet and mingle with editors and agents. Some offer critiques or pitching sessions. Nowhere will you find a higher concentration of introverts enjoying each other's company. Local conferences are a good place to meet potential critique groups or recruit members. Note that information for this list is accurate as to what was available in December 2021. Dates and formats may change. Some events may be postponed or cancelled.

Some are free. Some require a fee. Some are more social than others. Many are for new writers, but a few dig deep into craft. You should choose an event that speaks to your needs and desires.

Unfortunately, with the pandemic, many in person events have been cancelled. Some have been replaced with virtual events, podcasts, or online classes and lectures. Virtual events allow for a wider audience and lower costs since attendance does not require travel and lodging. Many plans remain up in the air as the situation shifts.

July 7 - 10, 2022 SleuthFest at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, Deerfield Beach in Boca Raton, Florida will be held virtually this year.

July 16 - 26, 2022 The Pacific University Residency Writers Conference will be at the Pacific University’s 170-year-old campus in Forest Grove.

July 16 - 18, 2022 Sun Valley Writers Conference in Ketchum, Idaho. Check site for updates and status.

July 17 - 30, 2022  Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop, Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio. Visit the site for online reservation.

July 17 - 24, 2022 Port Townsend Writers Conference in Fort Worden State Park, Port Townsend, WA

July 20 - 23, 2022 Midwest Writers Workshop, Muncie, Indiana, check site for up to date information.

July 24 - 29, 2022 Napa Valley Writers Conference will be held in Napa California at the Napa campus of Napa Valley College

August  4 - 6, 2022 Mendocino Coast Publishing Boot Camp will be an in-person event.

August  5 - 7, 2022 Greater Los Angeles Writers Conference, Los Angeles, Hilton Los Angeles Westside, California is a live event.

August  14 - 21, 2022 Postgraduate Writers Conference, Vermont College of Fine Arts, Montpelier, Vermont. As we launch the 2022 cycle, we are planning on an in-person event. If public health and safety considerations should dictate a different course as summer approaches, this page will provide current updates and information.

August 18 - 22, 2021 Killer Nashville in Franklin, Tennessee is scheduled to be an in-person event. 

September 8 - 11, 2022 Boucheron will be held at the Hilton Minneapolis, Minnesota.

September 8 - 11, 2022 Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Workshop will be held at the Hyatt -Regency Aurora-Denver Conference Center.

September 23 - 25, 2022 PNWA Annual Writer's Conference will be held at the Hyatt Regency Lake Washington as an in-person event.

September 28 - October 2, 2022 Historical Romance Retreat will be held at the Westgate Hotel in San Diego, California.

Posted by Diana Hurwitz, author of Story Building Blocks: The Four Layers of Conflict, Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict, Story Building Blocks III: The Revision Layers, and the YA adventure series Mythikas Island. Her weekly blog, Game On: Crafting Believable Conflict explores how characters behave and misbehave. Visit for more information and free writing tools. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Literary Agents and How To Find Them


A literary agent is someone who shops your manuscript to acquisition editors at publishing houses. They are notoriously difficult to approach and to get them to champion your book, so why should you bother to have one? How does it benefit you?

If you wish to go the traditional publishing route, they are necessary. Agents have connections with the Big 5 publishers and their multiple imprints and smaller publishers. Most of the Big 5 publishers will only accept agented submissions. The agency is expected to vet your work before they try to sell it.

Agents have a finger on the pulse of publishing markets. They know what is hot, what is not, and what is probably coming down the pipeline. Agents negotiate on your behalf to make sure you are getting the best deal. They also negotiate foreign edition, audiobook, movie, and merchandising rights. Some of the larger agencies have film and television departments for shopping your rights. They know the legal ins and outs of intellectual property contracts. As your advocate, they will help you find marketing and publicity opportunities and keep you from getting ripped off. Publishing is a cutthroat business.

Agents make money when you make money. They earn a percentage of your book advance and royalties. They often work hard on projects that never see the light of day and therefor they don't get paid for all that time and effort. The majority really earn their percentage. But there are rogue agents who are not professional and some who have actually stolen from their clients. That is why it is extremely important to vet your agent. Don't just see the title and think you have won the lotto. It is critical to know who you are going into business with because they will make money off of your books even if they leave the agency, retire, or abscond to the Bahamas.

Agents are never paid up front. If an agent asks for money, shut it down. Agents do not publish your book to KDP or other self-publishing platforms. That is not their job. If they tell you they will publish your book, then they are acting as a publisher not an agent. They are then advocating for themselves, not you.

Where do you find legitimate agents? Do your research and make sure they are an agent with a legitimate agency. It is much easier to find an agent these days thanks to the internet and social media. The place to start is the MS Wishlist at There you will find agents who are open to submissions and what they are looking for. It is more up to date than the Writer's Marketplace, but I would still go to the individual's page or site and make certain nothing has changed and that they are still open to submissions. Sometimes their workload is so heavy, they have to push the pause button. Not now does not mean never. Check out their Twitter feed and website for more information. I recommend thoroughly researching them before pitching. Read their instructions carefully and follow them. This is your first impression. There are readers going through huge piles of manuscripts looking for a reason to cut one from the pile. Don't give it to them. Don't do something cute or outrageous. That will not get you the good kind of attention. Be professional. It's like a job interview.

The next best place to meet agents is at writing workshops and conferences. Many of them hold pitching sessions or even do critiques of chapters. Meeting an agent in person, and making a good impression, will give you the greatest chance of being accepted as a client. I know one client that met her agent at a conference and that agent worked hard for ten years to get her project placed. The agent never gave up.

Here are some questions to ask:

Who do they work with? Are they a large agency or small agency? Is it a well-known agency with a good reputation or are they just beginning their career? Becoming a successful agent is harder to do if they haven't worked with larger agencies who have connections. Do they have any experience at all? If they work for a big agency, a new agent will have more openings for clients and they will be guided by the agency itself. So better to get a beginning agent within a larger company than a standalone agent attempting to strike out on their own.

Where have they successfully sold clients' work? What publishers do they have experience with? Have they ever negotiated with one of the Big 5? Not all agents are created equal. Many agents have left larger agencies to create smaller boutique agencies. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but it may not be a good thing either if they can't sell their projects on their own or have no experience selling your style of book.

Who have they represented successfully in the past? Look at their roster of clients. What type of books have they sold? What genres? To what imprints? How well have those projects sold? How long ago was their last successful sale?

Who do they plan to pitch your project to among the big five?

What kind of social media presence do they have: Twitter, Facebook, website, etc.

Did they reach out to you? Agents are not trolling social media looking for clients. If an agent approaches you, that is a big red flag. It may feel like a dream, but will most likely end as a nightmare. Agents pitch, publishers publish. They are likely one of the many predators out there. 

Here are some places you can research predators.

Predators are like the game Whack-A-Mole. When one gets shut down another pops up. Author House and their ilk have a million names.

The final question if you find an agent and they accept your submission is, can you work together? Do you have the same vision for your project? Are you simpatico? If not, then it is okay to move on.

There are no guarantees in the publishing business. Whether you traditionally publish or self-publish, you need to understand that once you have a product, the focus shifts to selling. If you hate selling, then you are in trouble because you will be expected to promote the book. Traditional publishers may set up many interviews and writing events you will need to attend. Though a lot is currently being done through Zoom, you may have to change into work clothes and leave the house, perhaps travel. Publishers have limited marketing budgets and if you don't help them sell the book, it won't succeed. Your agent cannot do that part for you. They can only hold your hand along the way.

It's important to do the research before submitting your manuscript. There is no point in trying to sell nuts to someone with a nut allergy. Look for an agent who loves the same type of book you write. Agents can be terrific cheerleaders if they love your story as much as you do.

A final thought is, don't be a difficult client. When they announce submission guidelines, follow them. That proves you will be easy to work with. Don't make unrealistic demands about where you expect your book to be placed or insist it needs to be a movie. Chances are, you will never get a movie deal, ever. Breaking into Hollywood is harder than breaking into Fort Knox and theft is rampant. If you see "agents" approaching you and telling you they can turn your novel into a "treatment" or get it looked at by the industry, run. That is a big fat lie. Even if they do craft a "treatment" for a screenplay, that thing will never be greenlit by movie makers. The industry just doesn't work that way. Even professional screenwriters have projects that go nowhere because they can't attach big name talent and the movie makers are investing in Star Wars #77.

 Acquiring a legitimate literary agent is a far better use of your time. Agents aren't your enemy. They love stories. They want stories. But they want stories they know they can sell. If you get a rejection, it doesn't necessarily reflect on the quality of your book. You just may not be the right fit for them or for the connections they sell to. The marketplace is very tight right now. No for now, doesn't mean no forever if you really want that golden ticket to traditional publishing.

So head on over to the MS Wishlist and see what is available. You may be surprised. They have made it so much easier to pitch an agent these days. No more snail mail and boxed typed manuscripts. It can be as easy as the push of a button.

Related posts:

The Query Letter, Making the Pitch

Agents and Conferences

Posted by Diana Hurwitz, author of Story Building Blocks: The Four Layers of Conflict, Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict, Story Building Blocks III: The Revision Layers, and the YA adventure series Mythikas Island. Her weekly blog, Game On: Crafting Believable Conflict explores how characters behave and misbehave. Visit for more information and free writing tools. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.