Category Archives: Tools for Writers

5 Tips to Help You Get Published


The question I’m most often asked is: Can you help me to get published? If you mean can I connect you with specific publishers, editors or agents to help you get published, my answer is no. But I can give you five quick tips that might help.

1, Do you need an agent? The short answer is it depends.

Whether or not you need an agent depends on what you are trying to sell to a publisher. If you hope to publish your work with a well-known trade book publisher (The “Big 5” in the U.S. are Hachette Book Group, Harper-Collins, Macmillan, Penguin/Random House, Simon & Schuster) then you definitely need an agent; but, if you are aiming for a small or niche publisher, you might not need one.

Most publishers post guidelines for submissions on their web pages. If a publisher does not accept unsolicited manuscripts, you may only approach them through an agent. is the best tool for finding publishers and their guidelines. (Subscribe online for $5.99/month and cancel any time.)

2. Fiction and nonfiction have different paths to publication.

31d444fc17ab9e199629f67ac4dd9cb3d1b71875_hqAn agent will often want to see a complete manuscript for a work of fiction or a memoir, but for most nonfiction works, a book proposal will be enough. Before you pitch either to an agent, make sure that you are submitting your best work. If you aren’t familiar with writing a solid, convincing book proposal, then learn to write one before you approach an agent. I can’t stress enough how important this is!

Research agents to find which accept the kind of work you are submitting. A good place to start is (Subscription: $25/month, no long-term commitment.)

3. Be meticulous when preparing your submission.

Depending on
* what you are submitting,
* the publisher’s guidelines
* and an agent’s requirements,
you might be asked for any of the following: a query letter, a book proposal, a synopsis and sample chapters. Again—if you aren’t proficient in writing a query letter, proposal and synopsis, learn to do so! These items are KEY to getting your book published.

4. Self-publishing is an option.

Woman holding traditional book and e-book readerOnline services exist that make it relatively easy and inexpensive for authors to self-publish their books and make them available as e-books and also paperbacks. Some of the more popular services are Amazon KDP, PronounDraft2Digital, and CreateSpace.

Self-publishing allows you to make all the decisions. You are not only the author, but also your editor and marketing manager.

5. Getting published takes work—long, hard work! My most important tip is DO YOUR RESEARCH. Don’t rush. Plan your path to publication.

In my opinion, one of the best starting points for researching how to get published is Jane Friedman’s blog. (I often repost her articles on my Facebook author page.) Jane’s site is a goldmine of detailed information. I suggest making it your starting point. Go there, and spend time reading and learning about the business of publishing.


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Filed under Aspiring Writers, The Business of Writing, Tools for Writers, Uncategorized, Writing goals, Writing Tips

7 Online Tools for Improving Your Writing

toolsHere are seven simple online tools to help you become a better writer. All are free and don’t require a download.

  1. Word Counter

Maybe you have a habit of overusing a word or words. Word Counter can help. Simply enter your text, and Word Counter will show repeated words.

  1. Cliché Finder

There_s nothing inherently wrong with clichés. They_re just . . . tired. Stale. Overused.Overused clichés are part of our everyday speech; so common that they slip into your writing unnoticed. Cliché Finder will identify clichés. To use this tool, delete the text in the box and replace it with your own.

The Oxford Dictionary blog offers an excellent article on avoiding clichés. Find it HERE.

  1. Rhyme Zone

If you write for children or if you’re a poet or songwriter, Rhyme Zone suggests rhyming words for your text. Enter a word to find a list of its rhymes. The drop down menu offers many additional options like finding lyrics and poems, similar sounding words, related words . . .

  1. Capitalize My Title

Paste in the title for a chapter or blog post, and Capitalize My Title will automatically correct any capitalization errors. You can choose from APA, Chicago, AP, or MLA styles.

  1. Portent’s Content Idea Generator

This tool turns any subject you enter into an idea generating title. For example, say you want to write a blog post on the subject of dinner. Type in the word “dinner” and the idea generator suggests titles to direct your content: “Unbelievable Dinner Success Stories”, ”Why Dinner Beats Peanut Butter on Pancakes”, “How Dinner Made Me a Better Person.” Have fun playing with this one!

  1. The Hemingway App

46062-Ernest-Hemingway-Quote-All-you-have-to-do-is-write-one-trueThis tool has so much to offer! It analyzes your writing for adverbs and weak phrases, complex words, passive voice, and hard to read sentences. The Hemingway App also shows word count and readability. To use, delete the text under the header and enter your own. A desktop app is also available.

  1. Read-O-Meter

According to Time Magazine, in this fast paced age of technology humans have a shorter attention span than a goldfish! Is your article or blog post too long to hold your readers’ attention? Paste in your text, and Read-O-Meter will estimate the reading time.

Check out THESE attention span statistics from StatisticBrain.Com

Do you have a favorite online writing tool? Share it in a comment.


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Filed under Tools for Writers, Uncategorized

How NOT to Dread Deadlines


Why are deadlines important? Because publishing is a schedule based business. When a book receives a publication date, everything moves toward the date when that book goes to the printer. If the book isn’t ready, printing presses stand idle, and time is money.

Many authors feel enslaved by deadlines. But what if how they think about them could change that? On his leadership web page, author and motivational speaker, Stan Toler, offers five positive ways to perceive deadlines. He says:

Deadlines are friends. You created them to assist you. Treat them with respect and they will be loyal to you. Ignore them and they may haunt you. They are not there to harass you; they are there to help you. Like a friend, you check on them, give them space, and remember their birthdates and anniversaries.

Deadlines are property lines. They are the imaginary spaces where your ideas and ideals live. As property lines, they need to be detailed, recorded, and guarded from intruders—such as time-wasters or attention-grabbers.

Deadlines are destination points. Like entering a travel location on your GPS, you create a deadline so you can journey toward it. There may be “points of interest” along the way, but their destination is your end goal.

Deadlines are managers. You gave them permission to keep you on the straight and narrow. In return, they give you friendly reminders of neglect, lack of focus, or impulsive behavior. You don’t need to fear them. They are not immovable. And if they are not flexible, they may need to be replaced.

Deadlines are volunteer staff. You appointed them, not vice versa. They are the stagehands, but you run the show. They embody your vision. You are only bound to them by loyalty. They have no overruling authority.”

Incorporate Toler’s suggestions when you write and revise. Remember–you control deadlines; they don’t control you. Meeting, even exceeding, them is a sure way to forge a great relationship with your publisher.


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and inspiration for writers.


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Filed under Deadlines, The Business of Writing, Tools for Writers, Uncategorized, working with editors, Writer's responsibility