Latest Articles

Annual Free Edit Contest

Watch this space: Coming in September, I will post more details about Threepenny’s annual free edit contest. The prize will be a free notes-and-critique service the first week of February 2017. In the meantime, polish those query letters and first 50 pages! Eligible writers include novelists in any genre who have never worked with me before. Please share this teaser on…

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Put Your Manuscript on a Diet: 3 Steps to Reduce Your Word Count

Listen to your instinct, improve your writing, and reduce word count. Debut novels are usually 80,000 to 90,000 words. YA novels are often less than that. Having edited an unusually high number of overlong manuscripts this year, here are some top cuts to reduce word count that I find myself recommending in almost every project.    1. Reduce word count by paring down dialogue and…

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Client Spotlight: C. E. Tobisman (DOUBT)

Coming in August! Debut author Cindy Tobisman will see DOUBT, the first novel in a series of Caroline Auden legal thrillers, launched by Amazon’s Thomas & Mercer publishing company. Congratulations! About the book: When Caroline Auden lands a job at a top law firm in Los Angeles, she’s excited for the challenge—and grateful for the chance to put her dark past as…

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Why Am I Getting Rejected?

Getting rejected is useful feedback. First drafts get written by ignoring the critical voices in your head. Good novels happen when you listen to those voices, weigh the criticism, and plan a revision. But in a competitive market, only the great novels get published.  Getting rejected hurts, but it signals a chance to see your novel with new eyes and make smart…

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Two huge announcements!

Threepenny welcomes short story editor Janice Obuchowski: The Threepenny Editor is thrilled to welcome Janice Obuchowski to our editing team. Janice is a fiction editor at the New England Review and has served on the admissions board for the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She has been a lecturer in creative writing at the University of Vermont and Middlebury College. Her fiction appears in Gettysburg Review, Passages North, Slice,…

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New service: The $200 layout!

Page layout for novels & ebooks: Threepenny’s partner and pro book designer Phillip Gessert has developed a new, trimmer approach to page layout. It lets us do the biggest design job in publishing at a third of the normal cost. For novels, we can do ebook+print layout for $200. They’re bundled because Phillip builds them both in tandem. The quality is comparable with his custom work, but…

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Writing Contest: Winner Announced

I’m delighted to congratulate Siel Ju on winning this year’s writing contest. Siel holds a Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Southern California. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks: Feelings Are Chemicals in Transit from Dancing Girl Press and Might Club from Horse Less Press. Her poems and stories appear in Denver Quarterly, Drunken Boat, The Missouri Review, ZYZZYVA, Hobart, LIT, and other places. Siel’s…

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Writing contest: Win a free edit!

In honor of my business’s upcoming birthday on February 1, 2016, I am proud to offer a chance to win a free critique-and-notes manuscript evaluation from me. No strings attached–just submit your query and first two chapters by October 15, and one manuscript will receive $1,200 of editing work from The Threepenny Editor for $0. **3/20/16 Note: the deadline for this year’s contest…

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Project 2015, Part 7: Being mysterious isn’t the same as writing good drama.

What do we mean by “writing good drama?” Recently, a great conversation with a client prompted us both to articulate an important principle of fiction writing: being mysterious isn’t the same thing as writing good drama. In other words, when the narrator deliberately withholds information from the reader for the sake of creating a “compelling” sense of mystery, it usually fails. It…

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Project 2015, Part 6: Earned Emotion

Earn Those Feels If you’re a writer, it should keep you up at night: the knowledge that readers will never lack a good book to read. If your own manuscript starts to go all flat and hollow, the reader can put it down and find something better. Who among us doesn’t have a long to-read list on Goodreads or the Kindle, or a good…

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