Cover image for 100 things every writer needs to know \
100 things every writer needs to know \
Edelstein, Scott.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York, N.Y. : Perigee Books, 1999.
Physical Description:
ix, 245 pages ; 21 cm
What this book can do for you -- Basic wisdom -- The writing process -- Building your writing skills -- Making money from your writing -- The writer's life -- Useful resources for writers.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN147 .E24 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PN147 .E24 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Writer, editor, and literary agent Scott Edelstein has done it all--and now this industry insider brings his valuable secrets to both beginning and established writers. Covering everything from building writing skills to dealing with editors to starting a writing business, this all-important guide will get you started and point you in the right direction. With matter-of-fact advice and encouragement from an expert, you'll get the information, inspiration, and guidance you need to write your best and begin a successful writing career.

Author Notes

Scott Edelstein has been a book, magazine, and newspaper editor; a literary agent; a magazine and newspaper journalist; a writing and publishing consultant; a freelance writer, editor, and ghostwriter, a magazine columnist; an arts reviewer; a manuscript critic; a writer of material for businesses and non-profits; and a writing teacher at many colleges and universities. He has published more than a dozen books and over 100 short stories and articles. He frequently gives talks and workshops for beginning writers at universities and writers' centers, and works one-on-one with writers to help them publish their work and build their writing careers. He currently works as a writer, editor, literary agent, and professor of writing at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

In spite of the first title's rather murky subtitle, the books under review will be of immense help to both beginning and semiprofessional writers. For fiction writers who actually get past all the usual obstacles, such as writer's block, lack of time, and little or no inspiration, the biggest challenge lies ahead--getting published. Many sincere and serious novelists may be naive about what it takes to get published. Camenson and Cook describe the pathways (query letters, synopses, writers' conferences) and the pitfalls (unscrupulous agents, rejections). The book takes readers through all the steps from finding an agent and publisher, writing query letters and synopses, and working with agents and editors. Our only complaint is that the publishing contract is given short shrift, but there are other books (by lawyers) that deal with that topic in more depth. This is a very useful book for those writers with a finished product looking for a buyer who will turn them into published authors. Edelstein's guide is for the beginning writer who sincerely wants to write, and sometimes does, but needs a nudge to get going. The book is divided into five parts: Basic Wisdom, The Writing Process, Building Your Writing Skills, Making Money from Your Writing, and The Writer's Life. There are some good tips here. For writers who have a little more experience under their belts, the best information is in the second half of the book. For example, in #79 Edelstein warns that some literary agents operate scams on naive and eager to publish writers--a harsh but true reality. Edelstein is a writer, writing instructor, and literary agent, so he brings a good combination of viewpoints to this book. He is somewhat discouraging for those who are only interested in the fiction market. Still, Edelstein has something to offer most writers who are fortunate enough to pick up his book. For writers who never seem to find the time to write, Golub offers more than solace--practical guidance. The issue of finding time is a universal problem for writers whether they work in fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. No matter how talented the writer, it's simply easier to wash the car or even the dog than to sit in front of a blank computer screen or stare at an empty piece of paper. Golub advises that making writing a serious priority and a regularly scheduled activity (if only 20 minutes a day) is mandatory. Her chapters are short and to the point. As with most useful books on writing, this one includes doable exercises. Golub's exercises require writers to organize, think, and write--all basic requirements to get started writing. This is a handy tool for writers at all stages of writer's block or those who really want to make writing a regular hobby or even a career. --Marlene Chamberlain

Table of Contents

Introduction What This Book Can Do for Youp. 1
Basic Wisdom
1 Anyone who writes is a writerp. 5
2 Every writer starts out as a beginnerp. 6
3 Some writers are born, but most of us are trainedp. 7
4 Writing isn't inherently noble, painful, or glamorousp. 9
5 Writing is an act and a process, not a definition of who you arep. 11
6 The only way to discover whether you have writing talent is to writep. 12
7 There is no single "right" way to writep. 13
8 Nothing will teach you more about writing than the act of writing itselfp. 14
9 Each writer builds their skills at their own rate of speedp. 15
10 You can safely ignore most of the "have to's" you've been taught about writingp. 16
11 Outfit yourself with a few basic reference volumesp. 19
12 To get the most out of writing, write what you would enjoy readingp. 21
13 Getting published isn't hard, but getting published in prominent places isp. 23
14 Being published doesn't make you a better writer or personp. 25
15 Beware of anyone who wants money from you to read, represent, or publish your workp. 26
16 Unless you're rich or have substantial savings, don't quit your job to become a freelance writerp. 28
17 Ask yourself honestly what you want to get out of writing. Then make that your goalp. 30
18 If you don't like what you're writing--or the act of writing in general--you can always stopp. 33
The Writing Process
19 Each person's writing process is uniquep. 37
20 Discover the times, places, and circumstances that help you write at your bestp. 39
21 Some writers find it very helpful to keep a journal or notebookp. 42
22 You can start work on a piece of writing almost anywhere--with an event, a person, a quotation, an image, an idea, a setting, or just about anything elsep. 43
23 You don't have to know where your piece is going when you begin writing itp. 44
24 You don't have to write your piece in the same order in which people will ultimately read itp. 45
25 To help structure your piece or organize your ideas, try outlining or netliningp. 46
26 When you're not sure what word, phrase, or image to use, skip over itp. 52
27 Write more words than you need--then cut the excess laterp. 53
28 Be willing to take risks and make mistakesp. 54
29 Ignore the perfectionist, the worrier, and the nitpicker inside your headp. 56
30 Virtually all writers need to revise and edit their work--often many timesp. 57
31 Read your work aloud after each draft--and as you editp. 59
32 Put your piece aside overnight before each round of revising or editingp. 60
33 The final decisions on writing, revising, editing, and publishing anything you've created are yours and yours alonep. 61
34 It's fine to work on more than one piece at a timep. 62
35 Some writers develop their own distinct style; others change their style from piece to piecep. 63
36 "Writer's block" has many different causes--and at least as many solutionsp. 65
37 Never throw away anything you writep. 71
Building Your Writing Skills
38 Become familiar with some basic writing termsp. 75
39 Get in touch with what inspires youp. 94
40 Take time to meditate and ponderp. 97
41 Fantasize. Ask "What If?"p. 100
42 Show rather than tellp. 102
43 Involve your reader's sensesp. 104
44 Write multiple variations, versions, or scenariosp. 106
45 Combine unexpected elementsp. 108
46 Writing teachers, classes, and workshops range from wonderful to outright harmfulp. 110
47 Get feedback on your writing from people you trustp. 113
48 Consider carefully what others have to say about your writing--but never let their comments overrule your own judgmentp. 116
49 Follow your heart and gutp. 118
50 Let your writing find its own wayp. 119
Making Money from your Writing
51 Understand the difference between a salaried writer, a contract writer, and a freelancerp. 123
52 It's possible to get rich by writing--but it doesn't happen oftenp. 125
53 There is far more money in writing for businesses and nonprofits than there is in writing for publicationp. 128
54 Plan to start out small, then work your way up slowlyp. 130
55 Most communication fields (publishing, film, TV, etc.) are moderately to highly dysfunctionalp. 133
56 Nonfiction accounts for 95 percent of all published material, and 95 percent of all the money writers makep. 136
57 There are three ways to publish material in periodicals
1 Complete whatever pieces you desire, then submit them for publication
2 Pitch ideas for pieces to editors, then contract in advance to write them; and
3 Write whatever editors ask you to write, on assignmentp. 137
58 Unless you're dealing with the film or TV industries, you don't have to worry about people stealing your work or ideas. If you are dealing with Hollywood, there is a way to protect yourself and your workp. 148
59 You don't need to register your work with the Copyright Office, or mail a copy to yourself, or print a copyright notice on itp. 150
60 Unless you become famous, expect to be rejected much or most of the timep. 152
61 It's quite simple to establish a pen name for yourselfp. 154
62 If you're serious about marketing your writing, you must do your own thorough market researchp. 155
63 Use Writer's Market as one place to begin your market research, but only as a beginningp. 161
64 Some of the best-paying publications--and some of the easiest ones to get published in--can't be found at any bookstore or newsstandp. 164
65 It's essential to send your work not only to the right publishers, but to the right editors as wellp. 166
66 You may send the same manuscript to many different editors at oncep. 172
67 Avoid sending query letters to editors, publishers, and producersp. 174
68 Most editors and producers will not give you much feedback on your workp. 176
69 When editors and producers do give you feedback, don't take it too seriously most of the timep. 177
70 Treat editors, producers, agents, and other media professionals like normal human beingsp. 178
71 When an unexpected opportunity arises, don't be afraid to grab itp. 179
72 Virtually everything in a publishing contract is potentially negotiablep. 181
73 Don't be afraid to ask for what you want or needp. 184
74 Don't promise anything you can't deliverp. 185
75 Most published nonfiction books start out as book proposalsp. 187
76 You don't need a literary agent unless you wish to sell a book, a full-length play, or material for major TV or film productionp. 190
77 To get an agent, write a brief letter to twenty to twenty-five people selected from the resources listed in this chapterp. 191
78 Legitimate literary agents earn their money by selling writers' work and receiving a commission (usually 10-15 percent)--not through any other meansp. 196
79 Many of the people who call themselves literary agents operate scams and schemes that can cost you money and do you harmp. 198
80 Don't waste your time entering lots of literary contests, particularly those with entry feesp. 201
81 Paying a "vanity press" to publish your book actually discourages bookstores from buying itp. 203
82 Self-publishing is a viable option only if you know your market, are good at promotion and publicity, and are willing to devote at least twenty hours a week to promoting and marketing your bookp. 205
83 Be very wary of "copublishing" arrangementsp. 207
84 Avoid sending your work to poetry anthologies that advertise for submissionsp. 210
85 Plenty of jobs are available for writers and editors--but they're not easy to getp. 212
86 One of the best ways to land a writing or editing job is through an internship or assistant's positionp. 214
The Writer's Life
87 Building a successful writing career requires skill, time, patience, perseverance, and flexibility. Being good at marketing helps, toop. 219
88 Your successes and failures as a writer will be half the result of your own effort, half the result of luckp. 220
89 Writing is by nature a solitary activityp. 221
90 Most freelance writers have at least one other jobp. 222
91 Integrate your writing with the rest of your life. Don't neglect your family--or yourself--in favor of your writingp. 223
92 When you read something by a widely published writer and find yourself saying, "I can write better than that," you're probably rightp. 224
93 It is up to you to decide how much to network, schmooze, and socialize with other writersp. 226
94 The opinions of any two writers, editors, or writing teachers will often differp. 228
95 Expect some negative reviews, reactions, and opinionsp. 229
96 When the going gets tough, reward yourselfp. 230
97 There are real but limited benefits to joining writers' groups, centers, clubs, and organizationsp. 231
98 There's something unique to you and your writing that's every bit as important as the ninety-nine other tips and guidelines in this bookp. 232
99 Keep reminding yourself why you write and what you get out of writingp. 233
100 Enjoy yourself. The very best reason to write is for the pleasure of itp. 234
Appendix Useful Resources for Writersp. 235