Thursday, November 03, 2011

What are your resources?

How do you keep up with the industry? How do you know what marketing is outmoded and what type of publishing is the best deal? How do you know what genre is hot (i.e., young adult) and which theme (i.e., vampires) is not? When do you need an agent and when do you self-publish?

Of course, there isn't one resource that tells you all the answers. We have to sift and choose who and what advice to follow. However, you do need to spend a percentage of your writing life reading and studying the ways of the industry not to mention who's still alive and kicking in the industry. My personal advice to you . . .

1. Pick one writer's magazine and subscribe. The most obvious in the USA are Writer's Digest, The Writer, and Poets & Writers.

2. Pick a reference guide for agents and/or publishers.Writers' Market is one - both online and in book form. But so is Publishers Marketplace since it lists current information, updated daily. Guide to Literary Agents is great.

3. Select one reference guide for magazines and periodicals. The Best of the Magazine Markets for Writers is one of my favorites. Writer's Market already listed above is also good. I also like the online database of Worldwide Freelance. It is international in flavor, but also covers US markets. I find it maintained well.

4. Pick three newsletters or blogs to follow. Follow them for a month. Then choose three more, culling those you already had that aren't doing you any good. Do not get caught up in trying to read them all. Pick a day a month in which you analyze whether to keep or add new resources like this. Find ten tops, unless you are writing full-time. These can be genre related, as in fantasy or children's writing. Or they can be marketing related, or self-publishing related. Just don't think you have to follow everyone. Be selective.

5. Join a writer's organization. Don't try to join a dozen. You won't have the time to become active in more than one yet still find time to write. Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators if you write children's books. Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America - Mystery Writers of America - International Thriller Writers Association - Romance Writers of America. There are groups for copywriters, journalists and editors. Go to my website and look at Professional Organization on a hidden links page I still maintain. You'll find dozens.

Yes, there are gobs of resources. No, you don't have to subscribe to all of them. Pick and choose. One magazine, one database, one resource book, one writers organization. You need to stay somewhat up to date, but you don't have to become an expert. Writing is time consuming, but if you don't know what to do with it once it's written, then where are you? Just know enough to know where to look when a need arises.

GIVEAWAY NOTICE: I'd like to give a gift subscription to Writer's Digest Magazine to one lucky commenter. To be considered, leave a comment below as to your favorite writing resource, so others can learn as well. Deadline Sunday, November 6, midnight. Winner announced in Monday's blog post - November 7.

UPDATE - WINNER: Steve Spohn is the winner of the Writer's Digest magazine subscription. Congrats, Steve!


Steve Spohn said...

Great post. One of the things that I use to help with #4 is Google reader. With Google reader you can keep track of 10 – 20 blogs with relative ease all on one page. Simply check that page once a day every day to keep up on all your favorite blogs. and grammar girl are my favorite sources for keeping the rules of writing fresh in my mind with the new reminder such as "10 adjectives that are overused" or "why you should call out the person's name every time they speak."

And my favorite writers blog is - he's a former pulp writer who has published over 100 books and thousands of short stories. This guy pretty has the opposite philosophies as Hope, which is why it's very important to read multiple sources-you can get something different out of each one.

Hope teaches you to never give up and keep making your writing better. Dean teaches that writers write, meaning you should always follow his favorite phrase "write it and then mail it or publish" - his philosophy is if you revise something too munch you revise the story right out of it.

And the best part about following blogs is you can follow the blogs that they talk about and decide if it's worth following them too!

Unknown said...

This is a great starter list for new (and not-so-new) writers to learn the industry side of writing.

I already subscribe to the Writer, Writer's Digest, and several blogs. Recently, I decided to add Publisher's Weekly to my writing research agenda. I've already gleaned more than expected from that investment.

Angela Foster said...

I like to read Peter Selgin's blog spot about first pages. He analyzes the first page of manuscripts and lets you know if you're on the right track. I've learned a lot from his blog.

Anonymous said...

Good morning, Hope.

Thanks for sharing your suggestions. Several of them I'm already doing. I love the Guide to Literary Agents (the articles at the beginning are very helpful).

Like Steve mentioned in his comment, I also follow blogs via RSS (I use Feedreader and Google). It's a quick way to scroll through and check out the day's blog posts.

Also, I've created "private" Twitter lists and have all the industry experts I follow in one place. Actually, you don't have to "follow" to put a person into a list on Twitter, so you can keep track anonymously if that's your preference.

Thanks again for this list! Have a great day. :)

Cheryl Barker said...

Gosh, it's hard to pick a favorite so I'll just go with one category. The reference guide I use the most is Christian Writers' Market Guide.

Thanks for the giveaway opportunity, Hope. Would love to win! :)

Kristi's Book Nook said...

Hello, I follow your blog and receive your newsletter. I am also a member of the SCBWI. I work often to improve my writing skills and love to learn more about the writing world. I would love to be considered for your giveaway subscription. Thanks.

Agata said...

In addition to Funds for Writers (of course!) I really like Writing for Dollars (, WritersWeekly (, and Duotrope ( -- this one is best for literary fiction markets and poetry. There is also a very good list of Canadian writing resources over at It would probably be of interest to US writers, too.

Unknown said...

I love using Duotrope for help in finding short story markets. I subscribe to their weekly newsletter and take the time to go through and see if there are any new calls for submissions that appeal to me.

I also use Google Reader to keep track of blogs that I read. My tip for that is to set up folders to categorize all of the blog feeds.

Jordan Clary said...

I find it helpful to find a regional group to belong to. It's a great way to network and stay connected beginning with your own locale. When I lived in southern California, I was a member of IWOSC (Independent Writers of Southern California). As well as their newsletter, they offered lots of great seminars with agents or on craft of writing.

LAR1975 said...

First, thanks for the list, Hope. Number 4 is particularly relevant to me.

Second, Steve Spohn above gives some great advice about reading a range of sources with diverse viewpoints.

It's hard to choose a favorite resource. I could list a ton of helpful sources, but I'll try to keep it short & limited to the ones I use the most (in no particular order).

1. Christina Katz ~ The Writer's Workout Coach
2. Funds for Writers (naturally)!
3. The Renegade Writer
4. The Chicago Manual of Style (in addition to the guide, the Q & A sections are helpful)
5. Copyblogger
6. Poets & Writers magazine & Web site


Great post! I would be lost without Google Reader. At one time I was a faithful reader of Guide to Literary but with a boatload of agent rejections to contend with I needed a break from all of that "getting it perfect for the almighty agent" stuff. I think I'm ready to resubscribe now. I like Grammar Girl and Poets & Writers. I'm new to this site and so far so good. :)

Jennifer Fitz said...

My favorite writing resources:

Your blog, Hope, because it is just enough info and stern words, not too much.

The Catholic Writers Guild's online conferences, because they fit all my requirements:
-It's free, no-obligation;
-I can actually get to one for a week a year and still be home watching the kids, zero travel cost;
-The content is about right for a beginning writer.

[If anyone's wondering, there's no religion-checker at the door. Some of the courses are specifically on Catholic/Christian genre, but by no means all. The guild itself has a statement of faith, but the conferences thus far have been open to the public.]

Hope Clark said...

Great resources, y'all. BTW, I believe I might be participating in the Catholic Writers Guild online conference in 2012. I've put off using Google Reader and get my blogs via email. Y'all make it sound so time efficient.

MaDonna Maurer said...

I also use Google Reader, like many others have mentioned. I can scroll down and pick Titles that I'm interested to read in only a few minutes. I open them and then read them throughout the day for a little "break".
I enjoy It is by various published authors from WordServe Literary.

Chryselle said...

Good post, Hope.

I'm in India, so a lot of my resources tend to be online. I subscribe to a zillion writing-related newsletters and use Google Reader to stay updated. I find your Total FFW newsletter really good for those high paying markets. I also get a lot of leads from journalism forums. Sometimes, just an off-the-cuff remark made on a site can lead you to an assignment.

We don't have writing magazines in India, but online listings like Caferati give us updates on calls for submissions and new markets.

widdershins said...

Favourite resource! There are a few at the top of my list, but as a SF/F writer, I'll have to go with Magical Words. It's consistently excellent. All the contributors are SF/F writers but the info is for all writers.

Lynnanne said...

Duotrope: I believe this is the one my ol' poetry prof highly recommended.

I find myself going through Jane Friedman's website quite often. And, here at Hope's blog, there are lots of nice links to references. (Thanks, Hope!) And if you're wanting some humor from a romance writer, visit the blog "Don't Pet Me, I'm Writing" at

BECKY said...

Hi Hope. Great post, as always!
I really like The Muffin, from

They have articles that really resonate with me, contest info, workshops, classes,writer's markets, etc.

Nikki said...

I'm going to go and add Writer's Digest to my Christmas wishlist - been meaning to do that for a while. Thanks for the reminder!
I'm writing mostly kid's fiction now, so I like the SCBWI publication. It has great stuff for anyone writing short or long fiction for kids. Of course, you have to be a member to get it.
Love your blog, Hope.

Diva Jefferson said...

Hope, I love Writer's Digest magazine. Until recently, I've been getting it every month. It's especially been helpful with contracts and author's rights. Since I'm not actively looking for an agent, I haven't invested in the new Guide to Literary Agents, but I have the one from last year and it was so full of information! I loved it!

I definitely agree to joining an organization. It will help your platform as well as increase your potentials. Agents, editors, and publishers really do notice that information. (Under agents/publishers there is a listing for their preferred organizations when known in most Writer's Digest publications.)
Besides, once you are published and considered self-employed by tax reasons, you can use any fee used for joining as a write off. Cool, huh! :)

Happy writing!

-Diva Jefferson

Live, Laugh, Love- Always! said...

I love It's a site that helps artists raise money and fund their creative dreams. It isn't just for writing, it's for artists of all kind. Seeing as how I am a writer of not just novels but plays and films as well, it's a resource that appeals to all areas of my creative outlets. The site is fun, uplifting and gives hope to aspiring artists! Check it out if you want a new way to think about your art!

Margay Leah Justice said...

Some of my favorite resources are Funds For Writers, Practicing Writer, Writer's Digest and the blogs of MJ Rose and Joe Konrath.


Joni said...

There are so many resources out there but you are right about picking only a few of each kind or become overwhelmed. I recently subscribed to Poets and Writers for the first time and I love it! Joan Didion, one of my favorite NF writers is on the cover this month. This is also the first time I’ve read that particular magazine and I find it loaded with good information.

Cindy Kerschner said...

Thanks for the info, Hope. In print I subscribe to Writers Digest, The Writer, and Mystery Scene. I feel most blogs revolve around what the major publications are saying. I do subscribe to a few email newsletters, Funds for Writers and FFW Small Markets of course, also Writing for Dollars and the Muffin. I also belong to The Garden Writers Association, which not only helps promote and offers great resources but also hosts conferences locally and nationally where you get backstage passes of sorts to great sites.

Janet Hartman said...

Timely post, Hope. I started pruning the blogs and newsletters I follow the other week. I'm keeping Total Funds for Writers, Erika Dreifus' The Practicing Writer, and the free Publisher's Lunch. Via FeedReader, I follow your blog and Erika Dreifus. Others are still in my FeedReader list but I'm not actively reading them.

I subscribe to The Writer. I used to get Writer's Market, but this year I'm trying the Wooden Horse searchable magazine database because they have editorial calendars as well as guidelines.

I've never tried The Best of the Magazine Markets because I thought it had only low paying markets, but if you think it's good I'll give it a try.

Janet Hartman

Shell said...

Thanks for the pointers Hope. Your blog, newsletter, and Funds for Writers are my favorite resources at the moment. I attended my first writer’s convention here in Boise,Id and found some great resources as well such as

Shell Ochsner

Cari Galeziewski said...

Thanks for the great post Hope! I used to subscribe to Writer's Digest but found it hard to find time to read it. You've reminded me of the importance of keeping up with industry news.

Other than your blog, I follow Nathan Bransford's blog because he really has his pulse on the children's market and posts relevant information. I also like, where they answer questions about the craft of writing as well as the publishing industry. Casey McCormick's blog, Literary Rambles, has an Agent Spotlight that I follow. I also belong to SCBWI and subscribe to Children's Book Insider, a great monthly newsletter for children's book writers.

Miss Chivuss said...

I'm fond of Funds for Writers (of course) in addition to the Well-Fed Writer, Copyblogger, and Writer's Digest. I want to check out some of the suggestions above now, though.

And I don't know if this counts as a resource or not, but there's a writing program that really helps me focus and tune out the distraction of incessant email: OmmWriter.

D.G. Hudson said...

Coming late to the party... but wanted to say this is excellent advice, Hope.

I've done many of the things you suggest to educate myself, in addition to taking online courses with a couple of authors, and recently, a master class (live rather than online) with a NY lit agent.

Favorite resources: GLA, James Scott Bell's Revision and Self-Editing, and D. Maass' The Fire in Fiction.

This is the time of year that I assess what's good and what's not working. Then I set my writing goals for the next year.

Thanks for the reminder. BTW - are you including your Canadian followers in your draw?

DG Hudson - Rainforest Writing

Hope Clark said...

Yes, Canadian friends are invited to participate in the draw. I've been wanting to read James Scott Bell's book. Thanks for reminding me.

Kelly Robinson said...

I don't need a writer's magazine; I have your newsletter!

Hope Clark said...

Awww, Kelly. That's so sweet!!