On January 25, author, Robert Daniher stopped by the blog to discuss the writing life. Today we continue that conversation.
BHPL: When asked for help by aspiring authors, reference librarians almost always recommend the Writers' Market, a reference book that has lists of publishers and agents and information about how to submit a manuscript. How did you learn how to format your manuscript and other technicalities of the profession?
Bob: A former screenwriting professor referred me to The Writers’ Market when I was in college. It was the first place I started looking for those answers myself and I still use it today. It's probably the most comprehensive publication out there for writers. It also comes in various separate editions for specific genres. They publish yearly volumes specifically for Poetry, Short Fiction as well as Novels. But when you are preparing a submission to a magazine or publishing house it's always advisable to double check with their website for the latest submission guidelines. Publishers can change them in between new editions of Writer's Market. I also advise people to look for any classes or seminars in their local areas where they might meet authors or editors who can offer tips for cover letters and manuscript formats. Libraries have author visits all the time. So look around and you might find something in your area. Another great thing to do is attend writing conferences. They usually have an attendance fee, but they are also worth it if you can afford them. You can learn a lot of tips and tricks from published authors as well as network with them. They hold them annually all over the state and country. NJ has a few. An organization called "Sisters In Crime" has a NJ chapter that has yearly writing weekends in NJ. Their website has information. I frequently attend the "Deadly Ink" conference each summer in Parsippany. They have a terrific mystery conference full of well-know authors. But they also cater to aspiring writers and offer many great panel discussions directed to them.
BHPL: I also point patrons who ask for help with writing in the direction of a magazine we get called the Writer and to various websites. Have you found any particular websites or publications useful?
Bob: Over the last 10 years or so there have been many sites on the Internet that also have up to date information on what format editors prefer. There is a great one at: http://www.shunn.net/format/story.html There are also a host of magazines in addition to The Writer that offer a wealth of information to writers to help with composing a solid cover letter, and what exactly editors are looking for with a submission. Writer’s Digest is another great magazine that covers all kinds of how-to information. I read both Writer’s Digest and The Writer regularly. Don’t be discouraged if most of the articles you read are targeted toward more advanced writers, however. They do feature plenty of material for beginners. You can check most of them out at your local library. Most libraries carry one or the other. It’s a great way to decide if you want to subscribe.
BHPL: Our conversation with Bob will continue next week. BHPL carries the Writer Magazine and the reference book, The Writer's Market (REF 070.5025 WRI). The latest copy is in the Reference Collection and last year's circulates. Back issues of The Writer circulate.