Writers are tasked with a phenomenal research project before the entire industry, and I always appreciate a list to help me get started.
Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of creating and compiling a number of resources about the publishing industry, query letters, and good fiction and non-fiction writing, among other things.
The below is not a comprehensive list, by any means, but provides select resources–first about the publishing industry, then about the querying-agenting process, and finally about craft, all essential theoretical bodies for the best of writers.
Pub Industry: An Intro
- Former literary agent Nathan Bransford has one of the best scaffolds for wrapping your mind around the entire industry. Check out this blog, and if you have the time, read through everything, left to right, top to bottom.
- Here is an introductory summary of an agent’s tasks, to contextualize the role of a literary agent in the publishing business.
Pub Industry: Cont.
- Literary agent Kristin Nelson has another terrific blog about publishing, including theory about agents and contracts, the vetting of query letters, and otherwise. Literary agent Rachelle Gardner also covers a huge amount of publishing turf on her blog, found here. Another agency, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret, has a great archived blog, which covers many questions of the publishing industry.
- In a particular way, former-literary-agent-turned-freelance-editor Mary Kole has one of the industry’s best blogs about kidlit (or books for kids: picture books, middle grade novels, young adult novels).
- Here’s a basic introduction from me to the link between a writer’s query letter, an agent’s pitch letter to editors, and the contract negotiation and demand.
- Here’s a brief introduction to ‘book deals’ (what exactly constitutes one, and how they are reported, etc.).
- Check out Scrivener, a downloadable/purchasable writing platform that aides manuscript development.
- NaNoWriMo is an annual event hosted for writers, the challenge undertaken to complete 50,000 words over the course of a month.
Queries, First Pages & Agents
- See one example of some ‘vetting’ that I did of queries and first pages for a contest here, for an example of the internal logic agents may use to determine the quality of the query and pages excerpt before them.
- Literary agent Janet Reid has a great blog about query letters and their vetting. Literary agent-author Eric Smith also shares some great pitches on his blog here.
- Here is a collection of resources created for classes that I teach regularly during Chuck Sambuchino’s Writing Day Workshops. I recommend these workshops highly. Resources for “From A to Z: Strategies for Plotting, Pacing and Structure” are here. Resources for “On Compact Writing: Using Words Intentionally & Strategically” are here.
- In 2019, I taught a class at DFWCon that introduced human psychology and emotions as they relate to the human person. The class outline, with the recommended book list on top, is here.
- Check out former literary agent Nathan Bransford’s collection of posts about writing (all of those under the section “Writing tips”), as well as the works of literary agent Donald Maass on crafting; between the books and his workbooks, you have some terrific, well-rounded guides to crafting theory.
- Check out a more extended blog post on plotting and pacing.
- Check out a more extended blog post on compact writing, with case studies from YA novels.
- Decisions with regards to freelance editorial work can be/often are complex, moreso than I can contextualize here. If you are in need of a recommendation of this kind of work and are working on speculative or crime fiction, consider checking out former Tor editor Marco Palmieri, or former Saga editor Navah Wolfe; former-literary-agent-turned-freelance-editor Mary Kole is now offering editorial work for children’s manuscripts.