Practical advice on writing and publishing for aspiring authors

Dear Author Enablers,
I have written a historical children’s book. Are there any publishers who would consider this type of unusual but enlightening book? This book discovers and twists around a first lady and her homemade craft, her philanthropy through her craft, how to master this craft and her pattern, lessons on how to write your own life history book and most of all how to help others unselfishly through your own passion. This book also demonstrates how adults can document a family craft into a book when a family member is under home hospice care. Needing your help and guidance.

Shirley Lewis
Mt. Vernon, Indiana 


It’s possible that a publisher would consider such a book if you could present a clearer description. In marketing, the term “elevator pitch” refers to an imaginary circumstance in which you’ve got just a few moments to sell your idea to a big shot. What do you say? You need a short, one-sentence description that instantly summarizes and sells your book. This pitch has got to be some of the tightest writing you’ve ever done. 

Something that all authors must remember is that publishing is a business. We may write for love, but the people who publish our books do so to make money. We recommend that you read How to Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larsen. This book, and the act of writing a book proposal, will help you clarify the nature of your own book—and how to sell it.

Dear Author Enablers,

Is self-publishing the death blow to a writing career? I published my first novel, Heartfelt Cases, when I was in college. The process was so easy that I published another novel, Ashlynn’s Dreams. Have I sealed my own doom? Also, are there any authors who write in very different genres? I write Christian fiction, YA fiction and science fiction, and I wanted to know if that’s odd.

Julie Gilbert

New Jersey


Sam was just in a meeting in which an acquisitions editor expressed strong interest in an author. Exhibit A: copies of the author’s self-published books. Self-publishing is not a death knell for a writing career; in some cases it is a writing career, since some authors, especially in recent months, are doing just fine publishing themselves. Keys to getting a publisher’s attention with self-published works are documentable sales and a growing platform.

Once established, many authors branch out into different genres. What allows them to do this is proven success. It’s a lot of work to establish a writing career; for now, you should concentrate on getting one well-written book published.

We asked Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Four Ms. Bradwells, how she remembers ideas that come at odd times and places:

“I’m the world’s worst rememberer. Phone numbers, even my own. Names. And those great ideas that come just as I’m falling asleep, or out for a run, in the shower, at the theater. My solution for the ideas: always, always, always write them down.

“This means always always always having paper and pencil or pen at hand. I used to ‘borrow’ pencils from libraries and golf courses. When I discovered boxes of them at the office supply store, though, I started taking them to the library and leaving them there. A smartphone works, too: You can just email ideas to yourself. But my fingers are more adept with the little pencil than the little keyboard, and I prefer the feel of a pencil in hand anyway. I’d often like to say to folks I’ve just met, ‘Hold on while I write down your names,’ but sadly, that doesn’t work quite as well.”

Email your questions about writing to Please include your name and hometown.

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