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"Any first time author can be made to look "fabulous" -- it's all about how an agent, author and publisher present the author. Every author has a background and a story, which can be told to the book- sellers and public in a boring way or a way that is spectacular."

  Barbara   Zitwer

STEP 1: Tough Love Advice and Notes

     Though many don't wish to hear it, we provide nonetheless.

               - Michael Neff

  • Tens of thousands in the U.S. are striving to write first novels, but you don't have to worry about 99.9 percent of them because they will never be published. Most are motivated by bad advice and false optimism. You only have to worry about the top two hundred or so who are crack writers, because they are your real competition. You need every possible edge you can get. Tenacity wins.

  • Algonkian does not attempt to create a feel-good atmosphere. The goal is to determine what you MUST do to stand a realistic chance of getting published. It does not matter what your writer group at home thinks of your ms. You are starting at ground zero.

  • Writer groups can be both harmful and helpful. Beware advice from amateur writers in groups and at conferences. A single piece of bad advice can forever prevent you from being published.

  • Beware craft advice from agents who are not writers.

  • Many agents and/or their readers make thumbs up/down decisions about your entire ms after reading only a few paragraphs (or even less) of your first page. Some make a decision based only on your title and first line (even if they do not admit it).

  • For the most part, manuscripts fail because they showcase ineptitude. Pros recognize structural and narrative flaws instantly because they see them ad nauseum.

  • PLATFORM, PREMISE, EXECUTION -- if all three of these are 120%, you WILL be published. It is that simple, and that difficult.

  • Do not write "quiet" novels. Strive for verve. Do not write predictable or unoriginal narrative. Strive to be original.

  • If you motto is From the Heart, you will never be published. If your motto is From the Heart, but Smart, you have a realistic chance.

  • Never be impatient with your novel. Be nurturing. Redraft the same page 20 times (or more) till you make it healthy. You will evolve as a writer, but only if you can admit your mistakes, keep up your morale, study your craft and learn to effectively self-edit.

  • Know that writing fiction is an art form, and all art forms require you to perform a lengthy apprenticeship. Truman Capote, one of America's finest authors, never stopped studying his craft. He always felt there was more to learn, even after many years of successful publication.

  • Never, never, never send your manuscript out until a professional fiction editor has read it and given you a detailed evaluation. Smart screenplay writers always use consultants. Why shouldn't you? Put the ego on the shelf. If necessary, tame it with meditation.



Interview with Algonkian attendee, Candy Somoza: "The preparation work got us thinking about the book in the store, how it got there, what makes it sell. While we read works and studied the writing, we also focused on the outside, so to speak, the marketing, and that was essential to prepare us."   Read More...

Interview with Algonkian attendee, author Julie Kaewert: "Because I was changing agents, I knew it was important to learn how to package the MS effectively ... When I saw the Seven Mountains Writers Conference on the website, it looked like just the thing. In fact, it far exceeded my expectations in every way."   Read More...

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