Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My favorite writing websites

There are a ton...a TON of great websites available for anyone interested in writing. I visit several different sites each week to learn about publishing, craft, trends, and much more.

Some of my favorites are listed below; just be aware that there are many, many, many more websites to explore (in fact, Writer's Digest lists 101 great sites annually!).

There Are No Rules: There are few people with a better understanding of the publishing industry than Jane Friedman. She's on the cutting edge of everything--social media, e-publishing--and has strong ideas on how authors and publishers can promote their work. On her blog through Writer's Digest, you'll find a treasure trove of information. And her "Best Tweets for Writers" wrap-up at the end of the week is invaluable. Find her on Facebook immediately! Oh...oh...she's a native Hoosier!

Nathan Bransford's Blog: Mr. Bransford is a former literary agent who is now "a publishing civilian working in the tech industry." His book Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow is due out very soon. Having worked as an agent, Mr. Bransford has an incredible amount of insight into the industry. When I read his posts, I usually walk away with a smile. His advice on query letters is especially helpful.

The Query Shark is not for the faint of heart; only the bravest (or dullest) writers should even consider wading into the choppy waters. The Shark will quickly turn any query letter into chum. The process is merciless and matter-of-fact. Criticism is always valid and never too mean-spirited. But even if you don't submit a letter for the shark to chew to pieces, simply going through the archives and seeing past query letters proves invaluable.

Duotrope's Digest: This is a fantastic resource, especially for short story writers. The updated, searchable database allows you to look for publications that fit your particular story genre. Do you have a crime fiction novella? You can search for publications that are looking for/accepting that very thing! The site also tracks publications' response times and acceptance so you have an idea what to expect. This site is targeted with laser-like focus on fans of comic books and superheroes. The person who runs the site is a former editorial assistant who likes to engage those who comment and participate. He'll also gladly open a review forum for any writers who would like to get feedback on their work. I emailed him a few chapters of one of my books and got some excellent feedback. The best thing about the site, though, is that it's packed with information that applies to any type of writing. You'll find priceless advice on queries, story synopses, coming up with titles, and avoiding the pitfalls of first-time writers. A truly great resource. If you have a finished novel...and ONLY if you have a finished novel...AND you've revised it...AND you've had it critiqued...THEN it's time to find an agent. Agency Query includes a database that allows you to search for representation by genre. So, if you're a science fiction writer, you can find agents who rep that genre. Combine the agent information with some Google sleuthing, and you should be able to assemble a good query letter.

Midwest Writers Workshop: If you live in Indiana and you like to write, there's no excuse for skipping the Midwest Writers Workshop. The event includes authors, agents, publishers, and other would-be authors hoping to perfect their craft. You can get a manuscript makeover, attend an intensive session, and much, much more. A truly invaluable experience.

Marcus Sakey: Mr. Sakey is a crime fiction writer. I once encountered him in the restroom at the Midwest Writers Workshop and tried not to turn it into an awkward moment. Anyway, he has some tremendously helpful advice on his website.

What about you? What are your favorite writing sites?