INTERNET RESOURCES FOR WRITERS:
1. First, I highly recommend that every aspiring and new writer join these writing communities:
- If you’re an author: Backspace, the Writers’ Place: http://www.bksp.org/
Backspace is a message board for pre-published and published authors. Editors and agents are also members. You can post any question on any aspect of writing and publishing and two dozen informed answers in a day. It’s also a great, supportive community that exchanges and critiques work. There is a one-time $30 fee to join.
- If you’re an author: Murder Must Advertise – a free Yahoo list that discusses publishing and book promotion. No matter what your genre, you can benefit from this wealth of information.
- If you’re a TV writer: TVwriter.com (free) http://tvwriter.com/
Message board and contests for aspiring TV writers.
- If you’re a screenwriter: Wordplayer.com, http://wordplayer.com/ Zoetrope.com (both free)
- And specifically for horror writers: Shocklines.com (free)
These communities of writers will point you toward a wealth of other resources.
If you've sold your first book (congratulations!)and are looking for information on what you will need to do to promote it, I highly recommend Jacqueline Deval's excellent: PUBLICIZE YOUR BOOK,
2. You should also join the professional organization in your genre (s) – and think inclusively about which genres you belong to. Most of these organizations have an associate membership status for pre-published writers – although some do not. RWA and Sisters in Crime do not require professional credits.
- Sisters in Crime
- Mystery Writers of America
- International Thriller Writers http://www.thrillerwriters.org/index.php
- Horror Writers of America http://www.horror.org/
- Romance Writers of America
- Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers
- Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators
Once you have joined one of these organizations, you can join local chapters and/or online chapters, news groups, and reading groups in your own genre. I particularly recommend the Guppies (Great Unpublished) group, which you can join once you join Sisters in Crime, and which has propelled dozens of members to published status.
3. Here are just some great general blogs on various aspects of the publishing business. These and more are also conveniently compiled at Murderati: http://www.murderati.typepad.com/
- Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind http://www.sarahweinman.com/
- A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/
- Bookbitch http://bookbitch.blogspot.com/
- Evil Editor http://evileditor.blogspot.com/
- Buzz, Balls and Hype http://mjroseblog.typepad.com/buzz_balls_hype/
4. And every aspiring author should also go to Publisher’s Weekly http://www.publishersweekly.com/ and sign up for e newsletters in your particular field (sign up at bottom of home page), particularly Publisher's Lunch (free).
FINDING AN AGENT
Here are some great resources to consult when you start looking for an agent:
1. Again, the Backspace forums: http://bksp.org
2. Here's a site with over 1500 agent listings and software to keep track of your queries: http://www.querytracker.net/
3. Subscribe to Publishers' Lunch, a free newsletter that you can sign up for on the Publishers' Weekly site, and start a notebook in which you list agents who have sold books in your genre that week and the editors and publishing houses they have sold to.
3. Continue to build your targeted list of agents by finding 10 or 20 books in your genre and finding the names of those authors' agents in the ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS.
4. If you need help finding current, successful books in your genre, ask your local librarians and independent booksellers, who are your best friends.
5. litmatch.net. contains hundreds of agent names--and can single out agents in specific genres such as "mystery" and "thriller". It also lists each agent's requirements for submission.
6. Always check with Writer Beware to make sure that other agents you're approaching are legit: http://www.sfwa.org/beware/
7. Go to writing conventions in your genre that agents will be attending, especially if you can sign up for pitch sessions. Meeting agents face to face in these situations is the best way to establish the connection that can lead to signing with an agency. Google the Shaw Guides for a list of conferences and conventions, nationwide; and/or Jacqueline Deval's excellent book PUBLICIZE YOUR BOOK has a comprehensive list of conventions in the back.
HOW TO WRITE A QUERY LETTER:
Check out this post on the perfect query letter: http://foliolit.blogspot.com/2008/04/on-query-letters.html
And then go ahead and delve into the other posts!
ESTABLISHING A WEB PRESENCE FOR YOURSELF
Every author needs a professional website and/or blog. You should set this up BEFORE you publish, because many editors and agents are now immediately Googling new authors who submit to see if they have a web presence.
- To set up a website:
- Network Solutions (networksolutions.com) is a low-cost, build-it-yourself web hosting and software service with great customer support that requires no knowledge of code. Believe me, if I can do it, you can.
- If you have more money to spend, Cincinnatimedia.com is the best professional author website designer I've found at the lowest cost. They did my website http://alexandrasokoloff.com and I can't say enough good things about them. There are other examples here: http://www.cincinnatimedia.com/portfolio.html
- To set up a blog:
Blogger.com and Typepad.com are two of the most popular free blog sites - most authors I know use one or the other. If you're writing YA or Children's books, LiveJournal and Myspace are useful. Check out other author blog sites for examples:
- Alexandra Sokoloff- http://thedarksalon.blogspot.com/
- JT Ellison
- Joe Konrath (prime example of informational blogging and the power of giving away free stuff - plus a goldmine of info on marketing and publishing. Good for fiction and non-fiction http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/
- Heather Brewer (http://www.heatherbrewer.com/bleedingink/ ; (Heather also does a blog from her character’s POV)
- Tess Gerritsen (bestselling) http://www.tessgerritsen.com/blog/
- Allison Brennan (new romantic suspense) http://www.allisonbrennan.com/blog/index.php
- Crimespot (links to all major and not-so-major mystery blogs) http://www.crimespot.net/
- Joining or creating a group blog (grog) takes the pressure of constantly creating blog posts off you, and also gives you more exposure.
Check out these very popular examples of grogs (which are also great resources for publishing and marketing information)
- Murderati (mystery, horror, includes TV and film info as well as publishing) - http://www.murderati.typepad.com/ ;
- Naked Authors (nystery) http://www.nakedauthors.com/index.html
- Hey, There's a Dead Guy in the Living Room (mystery, and includes a publicist and bookseller in the lineup)
- The Lipstick Chronicles (chick lit)
- Squawk Radio (romance) http://squawkradio.com/
- The Debutante Ball (mainstream women’s fiction)
- Another great way to start establishing an Internet presence is simply to comment on other popular blogs in your genre.
Commenting intelligently on other blogs will get your own blog linked to higher-traffic blogs, and might get you invited to join one of the more popular group blogs. Posting on message boards like Backspace (all genres and non-fiction) and Shocklines. com (horror and dark fantasy) also helps build your Internet presence.
CONTESTS FOR ASPIRING SCREEN AND TELEVISION WRITERS:
One of the best roads in to screen and TV writing is to win a fellowship or one of the major contests. I’ve listed titles and descriptions here – please Google for more info.
- The Nicholl Fellowship - the most prestigious and best breakthough screenwriting contest out there, and many pros say it's about the only contest that can lead to a professional career. http://www.oscars.org/nicholl/index.html
- The Disney Fellowship and Nickelodeon Writing Fellowship – winners get an actual job and hands-on training. The Nick Fellowship grooms writers to work on one of their shows.
- The Warner Bros Drama Writers Workshop and Comedy Writers Workshop – a fast-track way into TV staffing. You write your hour spec and submit. The get about 600 scripts a year; they pick 25 to interview, and choose 13 for the program. You write a second spec under their supervision, and they get you interviews with current CW netword and studio projects. About half of any given class gets hired on staff out of the program. Being in the program can get you a good agent if you don’t have one.
- For University of California students and alumni, The Goldwyn Award is also major. There is huge industry competition for the first-place winner, and the Goldwyns heavily promote the winners. Just about every winner becomes a WGA member and is working in the industry within a year of winning.
- TVwriter.com and WriteSafe contests: many winners of these contests have gone on to industry jobs.
If you were at the Write2Publish panel yesterday, please feel free to post specific questions!