Resources for Writers

I often receive messages from writers looking for advice: on publishing, on agents, and on writing and how to write. Here are some random ‘vicebits’:

There are many, many resources available for writers, both online, as blogs and websites, and in bookstores. Check out the Web first.

In the United States, the Authors’ Guild and the Associated Writing Programs (AWP) have a lot of information. The Writers’ Union of Canada (www.writersunion.ca) is a good source.

There are many organizations devoted to specific kinds of writing: thrillers, crime, romance, horror, SF, young adult, etc. If it’s a category in a bookstore, there’s probably an association for it!

There are many writing and publishing courses offered at universities and colleges. There are also some online courses. An individual one is

www.storyisastateofmind.com Walks you through, encourages you, practically feeds you muffins, and more.

There are a lot of book festivals and writers’ festivals… often a good way to see other writers in action, and to make connections.


If submitting to an agent, magazine, or publisher, have a digital file… But first, do some research. Who are their present-day authors/clients? Are they remotely like you? If not, maybe try someone else?

Be aware of smaller publishers, should the bigger ones not see the glory of your ways. They may want and need you. Go with the one who loves you, not the one with the biggest gold buttons.

Some writers self-publish successfully. Many don’t. Take advice. You will find a lot of good practical tips (and swear words) on www.terribleminds.com

My own book on writing is not an advice book as such, but it does talk about writers, readers, books, money, and the relationships among them: Negotiating With the Dead.

If invited to read at a festival, try not to get drunk, hit people, throw up onstage, smite the sound technician, etc. Such incidents make colourful gossip, and it’s a small world.

Your best friend at a reading is a good sound system. Check it before starting. Your next best friend is your big-numbers watch. Don’t hog time. People need to eat, drink and pee sometimes. (Not only you. Audience members.)

If working with a publicist, remember: they are not your slaves, bellhops, or playgirls. They are there to help you with your professional career. Do not chase them around hotel rooms, as was done a lot in the 60s. Smiling is work, and they put in a lot of that work during the day. Respect their tired smile muscles. Be clear in your communications with them. You both have the same goal.

Yes, your paranoias are all justified, and more – there IS an animated fuzzball coming to life in your closet – but try to keep them to yourself. Other folks have some of their own. Colliding paranoias cause thunderstorms. It’s the I-ams rubbing together that create the electrical charges. I learned that in Physics.

It’s tough out there in Bookworld. Tread carefully. Don’t speak so softly that you can’t be heard, nor so loudly that you’re deafening. Carry a medium-sized shtick.

And avoid wearing mini-skirts up on stage unless you have very good legs. Zip your lower front apertures. What happens in Vegas no longer stays in Vegas. People have cameras.