Latest Articles

Infographic: Three Kinds of Writing Success

Writing Success, Defined Every author struggles for writing success on three levels: career success, project success, and process success. I’ve seen writers spend YEARS trying to create writing career success before realizing that it is mostly out of their control. If you don’t find an editor, agent, and publisher who firmly understand your goals and vision, you might be setting yourself up for failure (both real and perceived). In any case,…

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How to Use Publishers Marketplace When Querying

I often tell clients to invest $25 a month in a PublishersMarketplace.com subscription when they begin querying. Unfortunately, though, this advice isn’t as intuitive as other querying advice (e.g., read the novels the agent represents, follow the submission guidelines, follow the #MSWL or #PitMad threads on Twitter). Here is a short Publishers Marketplace tutorial on how to get the most…

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Why is hiring an editor so expensive?

When I started my business fifteen years ago, I wanted to offer really good services that I could afford. At the time, I thought $6 burritos were expensive and lived in my landlord’s attic. Small-business wisdom says that this type of thinking is a bad idea. Instead, supposedly, I should have charged as much as I possibly could. The sky’s the limit! I didn’t like…

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Threepenny Editor Annual Writing Contest: Announcing the Winner!

Congratulations, Christine Evans! This year’s contest entries were, if possible, even stronger than last year’s. It was difficult to choose just one, and I agonized for several days over the four finalists’ writing. What finally captured me was an excerpt of NADIA, Christine Evans’ novel-in-progress. NADIA is a novel of love, terror and redemption set in 1990s London. Nadia is a young refugee…

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Beats: Anatomy of a Scene’s Emotional Development

Editing is full of weird coincidences and fortuitous juxtapositions. When the same issue crops up in two or three unrelated manuscripts in a row, it’s time to take it to the blog. I’d like to deconstruct a scene and talk about beats, interior dialogue, and clarity. First, some working definitions. A beat is a minor emotional turning point in a scene between the…

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Enter the 2016-17 Free Edit Contest: Rules and Guidelines

**Update: Results will be announced on November 10, due to the high volume of excellent submissions. Stay tuned!** In honor of my business’s upcoming birthday on February 1, 2017, I am proud to offer a chance to win free novel editing from me. No strings attached–just submit your query and first two chapters by October 15, and one manuscript will win free editing services…

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What news! I’m teaching a submissions class in Oakland!

Make Your Query Letter and First Pages Pop: All About Voice (Impact Hub Oakland, Sept. 24, 2016) Agents and editors want to discover authors who write with a “fresh voice.” But what does that actually mean, and how do you add that secret ingredient to your query letter and manuscript? Join us for an interactive, high-energy three hours on Saturday,…

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Happy book-birthday to three Threepenny clients!

This week we’re celebrating the book launch of these three Threepenny clients. Love yourself an author today by buying a book, leaving a review, or spreading the word to your book-loving friends! These books are already hot commodities. Georgia Clark Don’t take it from me… Sara Shepard, #1 New York Times bestselling author of PRETTY LITTLE LIARS and THE HEIRESSES says, “THE…

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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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