If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our September Author Interviews--9/6 Kathleen Valenti, 9/13 David Burnsworth, 9/20 Jeri Westerson, 9/27 Frances Brody. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

September Saturday Guest Bloggers: 9/2--Anne Bannon, 9/9 WWK Bloggers, 9/16 Margaret S. Hamilton, 9/23 Kait Carson, and on 9/30 Trixie Stiletto.


“May 16, 2017 – The Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) today announced the finalists of the second annual Star Award, given to authors of published women’s fiction. Six finalists were chosen in two categories, General and Outstanding Debut. The winners of the Star Award will be announced at the WFWA Retreat in Albuquerque, New Mexico on September 23, 2017.” In the general category, WWK’s Carla Damron was one of three finalist for her novel, The Stone Necklace. Go to Carladamron.com for more information. Congratulations, Carla!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Sight Unseen" in Fish Out of Water, Guppie (SinC) anthology, just released, and "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.
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Monday, March 6, 2017

Advice About Publishing Your Novel


Linda Rodriguez wrote this blog three years ago. It contains vital information for all new writers or those who are trying to get published. For the benefit of our community of writers, we are happy to republish today.                     E. B. Davis

I receive emails regularly from people who’ve read one of my novels, such as Every Hidden Fear, or have even just read about them, in which they ask me how to get their own novels published. Usually, they know just about nothing of the business of publishing, which surprises me. If you took a year or so to write a book that you hoped to publish and sell, wouldn’t you owe it to yourself to research and learn something about the business of publishing that you hope to join?

I always try to answer with a detailed listing of things they can do to educate themselves about the business and to begin to connect with the professional literary community. I have posted information on my own blog about various such resources and contests for unpublished manuscripts, but since I know we have a number of aspiring writers, many of them Guppies, reading Writers Who Kill, I’ve decided to write this blog post.

I would hope that most of those who’ve been involved with Sisters in Crime and their Guppies chapter would have learned most of this information, but I’m constantly surprised to find people whom I thought would have this information who don’t. The world of mystery writers is much more welcoming than other literary worlds, I know, but even here I think it can be easy for those of us who have been around for a while to assume that our aspiring writer friends know more than they do. And it’s hard for someone to ask even generous friends about something they’ve never heard of. So if this is all stuff you know, congratulations. This post is for those who may not have had as much chance to learn about the business as you have.

Here’s my resource guide to publishing a novel. It won’t get you published, but it will give you a good foundation in the business of publishing/being a professional novelist and get you started in the right direction.

Pitching a novel to a major publisher today can be very difficult without an agent. Most of the New York trade publishers won’t look at novels unless they’re represented by an agent. Smaller specialized presses, literary presses, and university presses will take unagented queries during their open submissions period, if they have one. Often they can be the best bet for a first novel that’s not necessarily a commercial or genre novel. Poets & Writers has a database of small, literary, and university presses.


Many of these won’t do novels, so you’ll have to sort through them.

Here’s a list of 16 small presses that do novels. 

You can also do an internet search for small presses that specialize in your particular genre of novel, if you write in one of the genres.

For agents, I would suggest that you check the website of the Association of Author’s Representatives. http://aaronline.org/    
This is the professional association of reputable agents. It’s very easy to get involved with folks who call themselves agents and are really running scams to part authors from their money. Members of AAR have sworn not to do this stuff and are kicked out if they do, so you can trust them.

Another good site to educate yourself and protect yourself from scammers is Writer Beware. http://www.sfwa.org/for-authors/writer-beware/http://www.sfwa.org/other-resources/for-authors/writer-beware/  
This is a site provided by the SFWA, with support from MWA, as a service for all authors, science fiction, mystery, or not.

But the first thing you want to do is to get current copies of Poets & Writers, Writer’s Digest, and The Writer magazines. These magazines often talk about which publishers are looking for what kinds of books at the moment. P&W focuses more on the academic and literary writer, while WD focuses more on the commercial or freelance writer. If your library has them, also read back issues of P&W, The Writer, and WD. You’ll learn a lot about the business that way.

Look for professional authors groups to join. There are groups for children’s writers, mystery writers, romance writers, sf/fantasy writers, etc. These groups are usually tremendously helpful in learning the publishing business and making useful contacts. If there is a chapter of a professional writer’s organization near you and it’s not your kind of writing, it can still be useful to you in learning the business. I once belonged to the local chapter of RWA, Romance Writers of America, though I didn’t write romance. I learned about agents, what editors want, what is and is not acceptable behavior in the publishing world, what are and are not good contracts, and tons of other things that became useful to me. Now, we have a chapter of Sisters in Crime here, and I’m active in it, but that time in RWA laid a very good foundation for me. The same goes for SFWA or any of the others. The purposes of these organizations are to help their members with the business of publishing and being a professional—and that’s very similar across the boards.

A book I always recommend to students and aspiring writers is Carolyn See’s Making a Literary Life. I’ve written about this book before on this blog.


It’s the best book I’ve seen for looking at how to be a professional writer and work on getting published, how to get established within the literary community, how to make a career as a writer without living in NYC, and much else.

If I were you, friend with a book manuscript under your arm, I’d start with these resources. I’d also go to every writer’s appearance/reading/event that occurs in your town if it’s a small one or a good selection if you live in a big city with an active literary community. Buy a book, if you can. Introduce yourself to the writer. Follow up with emails or mailed notes talking about what you liked about their reading or book—not asking for help with your own. Friend writers on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter. Don’t spam them about your own book. What you’re doing is building relationships within the community of writers. These are the folks who can answer questions for you or later (if you’ve built a good, real relationship) give blurbs that will help your book sell. Basically, my advice is to educate yourself about publishing and become a contributing member of the community. Getting a novel published is a long, hard haul, so arm yourself with information and allies.

The best single piece of advice I could give, however, is this—make sure you write a good novel. Get professional feedback and revise, revise, revise until it shines before you ever try to send it out. I suspect that a certain number of folks who are looking for a publisher for their novel have never had anyone professional look at it and haven’t done much with revision. (I know that’s not the case with our Guppies readers, fortunately.) Writing is an art and a profession. Learn about publishing, the business, while you learn about writing, the art and craft. Editors and agents have long memories. They know each other and talk to each other. Don’t stick out in their memories or get your reputation from sending an amateurish manuscript out. Make sure that what you send is the very best it can be, submitted in the most knowledgeable and professional way you can.

Best of luck!

29 comments:

James Montgomery Jackson said...

Good advice, Linda. The other piece of advice I would always add is that one needs to continually improve one’s writing and that one must be persistent. It is amazing how few writers are discovered who haven’t already been writing for many years before their "instant success."

~ Jim

Margaret Turkevich said...

Thanks, Linda! Just what I need to read right now.

Warren Bull said...

Excellent advice. Even the already published could gain from reading this blog.

KM Rockwood said...

Thanks, Linda. That's a lot of very useful information! It puts things in perspective for those of us just starting out (like don't rush it!) and is a good reminder for any of us who are already published.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Jim, you're so right. There are few successful writers who don't have years of persistence before that success showed up.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Margaret, I'm so glad you found it helpful.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Warren, I remember my agent, who was also Adrienne Rich's agent telling about the time the already long-published Rich asked, "What would an agent do for me?" The agent replied, "Well, what was your last advance?" and Rich asked, "What's an advance?" Even established writers can learn about the business.

Linda Rodriguez said...

KM, I think the most important thing a novelist can know when starting out (other than write a damn good book) is take the long view because it'll take a long time.

E. B. Davis said...

Carolyn See's book has been recommended to me three times. I guess three times is the charm or just enough knocks on my hard head to download it. Thank you for the advice, Linda. Doesn't hurt if you win the St. Martin's award, either! My current WIP isn't traditional. Oh, well. I'll query.

Gloria Alden said...

Great blog, Linda, with so much good advice. I wonder if you could get it published in one of the writer's magazines out there. I'll bet they'd be interested in it.

At one of my book signings a young woman came up to me and wondered how to get published. I asked her what she wrote and she said a couple of essays in high school. I suggested that she come to the local writers group I belong to. She never did.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Elaine, there are four different St. Martin first-book awards, and only one requires a traditional mystery. One requires a private eye protagonist. One requires a Southwestern setting. One only requires a major crime.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Gloria, I know what you mean. I've told people about professional writers' organizations with branches in their town and about critique groups, but they usually don't take advantage of them. They seem to want a magic key to the published state. There isn't one. There's only work hard at being the best writer you can be with all the feedback and help you can get, learn everything you can about how the business works and what's expected of a professional, and become a contributing member of the professional community. And that adds up to a lot of work, I'm afraid. Not what some aspiring writers want to hear or face.

E. B. Davis said...

Do you mean the Best First, Linda?

Linda Rodriguez said...

Elaine, St. Martin's has four Best First Mystery Novel contests. The St. Martin's/Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel is just one of them.

Shari Randall said...

Perhaps people get conditioned to think about writers by television shows like CASTLE - which I love, Castle supporters! Mega-selling author Richard Castle attends glittering book launch parties, plays poker with Michael Connolly, and solves crimes with his beautiful costar, but he is never shown actually writing anything. At least we used to see Jessica Fletcher typing….
I'm going to get a copy of Carolyn See's book right now. Thank you, Linda.

Sarah Henning said...

Good advice as always, Linda! And Jim is spot-on with it taking years and years before "instant success." Patience and persistence are everything!

Kara Cerise said...

Thank you, Linda. I appreciate all the information and your helpful advice!

Polly Iyer said...

I might add that those of us who have chosen to self-published must do all the same things, and more. We start with others' perceptions that we weren't good enough to get a contract with any publisher. For that reason we have to work twice as hard to make sure our covers are professional along with the content of the book. We have to make the same connections as traditionally published authors.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Yes, Shari. A life like Castle's might be fun, but there's no place or time for actual writing.

Linda Rodriguez said...

The two Ps, for sure, Sarah. Sometimes I think they're what we need most as writers.

Linda Rodriguez said...

I'm glad you found it helpful, Kara.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Yes, most of the advice for writers looking for traditional publication applies to those self-publishing, as well. You're right, Polly.

Grace Topping said...

Linda, thank you again for your wise counsel. I cringe when I think of my first submission to agents. My work, while free of errors, wasn't the best work. After a number of rejections and no response from most of the agents I queried, I took a long hard look at my manuscript, started reading every book I could find at my local library on writing and publishing, took a number of classes in writing, exchanged manuscripts with other writers, and revised my manuscript as I went. Since then I've written 34 major versions of my manuscript, and I think its finally ready for prime time.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Grace, I think almost every published novelist I know has at least one of those novels they worked on for years and years back in their past, so you're in good company. As Nathaniel Hawthorne said, "Easy reading is damn hard writing."

Margaret Turkevich said...

A great reminder.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Thanks, Margaret.

E. B. Davis said...

I looked at a lot of your links when I was first starting to get published, Linda, getting to know of ropes. Like Grace, I've reworked my novels, but I'm bored with them and am starting a new project. I'm in the middle of reading Donald Maas's new book, The Emotional Craft of Fiction. It's making me think about emotions in an entirely new way--the depth of various feelings, not just the central one, and how we simultaneously have different feelings coursing through us. If captured, those dynamics add depth to characters and involve readers.

When I think of trying to master this craft, I wonder how anyone gets published. No matter what you write, it always can be improved. I'm a small drop of writer in a sea of writers. I'm never satisfied by my work. On one hand, I think that's a good thing. I don't want my first published book to be mediocre. There are enough of those around. But at the same time--I do want to get published in the novel market. I guess it goes back to How To Write A Damn Good Mystery--write the best you can--I haven't accomplished that yet.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Elaine, yes emotional complexity is a key aspect of great writing. I always try to tell my students to think of all these multiple aspects they must juggle as layers. I encourage them to work that way--the most fundamental, big-picture items first, and gradually honing in to finer and finer detail until the final line edit for style. It makes the whole huge, complex project of a really good novel seem less overwhelming.

Kait said...

What great advice, Linda. E.B., thank you for reposting. This is advice that's always timely and we all need a bit of reminder from time to time, no matter where we are in our writing careers.Printing!!!!!! The resources are never stale.