The Biggest Book Fair You’ve Never Heard Of

November 7, 2019 § 4 Comments

2.5 million.

I thought I’d misheard the number when the Consul General of the United States mentioned the attendance of the eleven-day Sharjah International Book Fair in his welcome speech at the American Authors Reception. The same number showed up on Wikipedia—I figured maybe it was inflated for PR purposes.

“Where would they all park?” asked my agent.

Then I read the program. Almost 2000 exhibitors are here—publishers, distributors, government culture agencies, bookstores. (If you’ve been to the annual AWP Conference, they have around 500 exhibitors. So multiply that overwhelm by 4.) Admission is free. There’s a Comic Station, a Cookery Corner, and a Social Media Station, a weird blue cube in which I talked to a deeply attentive audience about writing for social media. The main lobby outside was so crowd-loud I needed a handheld mic in what was functionally a closed room. Today’s Women in Publishing Summit is expected to have nearly 300 people, including yours truly.

The entire publishing industries of the Middle East and North Africa are here; two full days are devoted to international rights sales. The region includes 411 million people; it’s not a stretch to imagine six-tenths of a percent of them work in publishing or government agencies promoting their national literary tradition. Throw in India (at least 80 Indian publishers are here) and you’re selecting bookstore owners, editors and readers from another 1.3 billion people. And they don’t need to park—most of them flew here and Uber-ed to the convention center. Many of the locals have drivers.

On the exhibit floor, there were books in Arabic, English, Hindi, French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese. A local chain bookstore displayed new books at 40% off. A historic publisher from the UK displayed priceless engraved first editions in glass cases. Here, Borders still lives and they’ve got a booth. There are names I’ve heard: Anita Nair, Steve Harvey, Orhan Pamuk, Bernice McFadden, Amitabh Bachchan, Macmillan, Amazon, the American Library Association. Vikram Seth explained to a hall packed with schoolchildren that he’d have written more books if he stopped playing Candy Crush.

There are a lot more names I haven’t heard, Arabic, Indian and Persian authors packing the auditorium, their book-signing lines snaking through the cavernous main hall. Then again, I hadn’t heard of Sharjah until I moved to Dubai. The United Arab Emirates is actually seven independent units—I’d call them city-states if they weren’t plopped in the middle of spacious desert, but the principle is the same. Everyone’s heard of Dubai and most people know Abu Dhabi. There’s also Ras al Khaimah, Ajman, Fujairah, Umm al Quain, and Sharjah. Sharjah is next-door to Dubai, it’s 100% dry (no alcohol or rain), and it loves books.



UNESCO named Sharjah the World Book Capital for 2019, recognizing “the best city program aimed at promoting books.” The Book Fair is under the patronage of the ruler of Sharjah, Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi. The Sheikh (who holds doctorates in History and Political Geography) not only opened the Book Fair and hung out (or whatever one calls casual royal interaction), he welcomed the American authors at a reception at the US Consul General’s house.

Can you imagine the highest government official in your home country not only making time for the big cultural event photo op, but sticking around to enjoy the scene, then heading over to a house party to personally welcome another country’s visiting authors? (Maybe if you’re Icelandic.)

This gives me hope in the world. That even in an absolute monarchy, in a region of the world where human rights as we conceive them in the West are not a particularly high priority, even in a place where a lot of women write books because it’s a socially acceptable activity when you live with your parents until you get married and something’s gotta fill that time, there is a love of literature so profound that high society, top officials, royalty, Nobel laureates and movie stars have all showed up to celebrate it.

It also gives me hope that keynote speaker Steve Harvey earned a negative review for his “outdated views about family and the roles of men and women” in local paper The National. Free speech is not a right in the UAE. Newspaper stories are approved, and people with power are condoning that statement. Books published locally go through a three-permit process, including submitting one’s manuscript for government approval—but plenty of books published elsewhere are distributed in the Emirates. We all know words can change the world, bring communities together and cross international borders. Honoring literature is honoring ideas, and it’s moving to watch that happen here.


Allison K Williams is Brevity‘s Social Media Editor. She’s hosting a writing retreat (including a full manuscript read) in Dubai Feb 26-Mar 4. Two places are still open if you’d like to check it out.


The Writer’s Desk

November 4, 2019 § 24 Comments

felicia schneiderhanBy Felicia Schneiderhan

In my junior year of college, I took refuge in a basement indie bookstore in Evanston, Illinois. I was trying to figure out what to do with my life when I found The Writer’s Desk, a slim book of photos by Jill Krementz. There was E.B. White at a typewriter in a barn overlooking water, there was Rita Dove at a podium, pen in hand. The writers briefly described how they worked; Eudora Welty wanted a full day with no interruptions, Phillip Roth didn’t want to discuss stopping for lunch. I spent hours studying it (rather than writing), and made my decision: I would write!

I needed a writer’s tools and bought a desk for $30. It seems exorbitant to me now, to buy an old cruddy desk for $30 in 1996. The drawers are heavy, the leg opening narrow and too low to fit my legs comfortably. I covered the top in green contact paper. It remains there to this day.

Two years later when I enrolled in an MFA program, I set up the desk in my Chicago courtyard apartment, overlooking a nest filled with baby squirrels and teenagers running drugs on the street below. I set a bookshelf beside the desk, a philodendron cascading over it. I photographed the desk and taped the developed photo into the back of The Writers’ Desk. It was official; I was a writer.

The desk became a repository of paper.

Instead, I wrote in workshop circles, on el trains, at bars beside glasses of wine or whiskey. I wrote in bed or at the kitchen counter. I sat at the desk only when I needed to enter my notes into the desktop computer. And when I got a laptop, I didn’t need to go to the desk at all.

I visited another writer in her studio. Her desk was a white piece of plywood stretched over cinder blocks, before a window, surrounded by neatly arranged shelves of books, the clean straight lines of everything, the stool she sat atop to write, where she actually did write, and I thought I should be more like her, I should get my own studio, I should get a boyfriend who would build me a desk.

Instead, I married a man who lived on a boat and moved on board with him. I gave away all my furniture, putting it piece by piece into the alley, each item taken before I returned with the next one. But the desk – the one item I never used – I put into storage. I couldn’t give it away; it might mean I was no longer a writer.

For three years I wrote on the fly bridge, the aft cabin deck, the forward cabin V-berth, the galley table. I wrote in cafes or libraries, because at that time being around people when I wrote did not bother me.

We moved to land in northern Minnesota, our U-Haul terrifically small; the desk was our only furniture.

Ten years and three kids later, the desk still stands in my house. I still do not write at it. I have added to my writing spot repertoire:

  • The floors of my children’s rooms
  • My minivan, parked at the lake, the forest, parking lots, street corners, while I sit among lost Legos, discarded wrappers, fruit snacks and M&Ms which would be eaten should they be found.
  • The garage, the backyard shed, the basement.
  • The bathroom floor.
  • Our closet.

I wonder sometimes if I would be better served by getting the perfect desk. But after two decades working as a writer, I no longer believe I need the perfect environment to evoke the deities of creativity. The spigot is always open, though the quality of the inspiration is debatable. I write everywhere – and why wouldn’t I? Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote in the cockpit. Maybe instead of the perfect desk, I’m ready to give up its heavy weight altogether, now that I know the life of the writer is more about flying.

Felicia Schneiderhan’s memoir Newlyweds Afloat (Breakaway Books, 2015) details the three years she lived aboard a boat in downtown Chicago. Her essays and short stories appear in magazines and journals including Real Simple, Parents, the Great Lakes Review, Sport Literate, Hypertext, and Literary Mama. She is currently working on a novel, supported in part by a Minnesota State Arts Board fellowship.

First Book: A Typeset Reverie

October 28, 2019 § 8 Comments

riberaBy Jessica Ribera

Memoir writing is intense. I’ve taken the very hardest things that ever happened to me, dissected them, and laid them out on the surgical tray for everyone to see. No one forced me (well, I do feel that there was some spiritual prompting, but that’s different); I’ve done it with purpose.

I’ve done it so that I and my children will always remember the important ways I came to be who and how I am as their mom. I’ve done it to get the attention of a world that hurt me. I’ve done it, as my dedication says, for “young children with big ideas doing hard work.” And I’ve done it to give other people permission to do it too, to search and share from their hearts, to throw off shame and fear of worthlessness.

It’s bold, and I fear that I’m stepping into a role, grasping some right to empower others that no one ever said was mine. But maybe Someone did? Maybe the burning need to show and tell, maybe “a way with words,” maybe a romantic heart all add up to be a passport to step into other people’s thoughts and give them new language. So gutsy. So scary. Hopefully not so stupid.

I have read through this book so many times that I am often sick of it. All the editing and spelling checks, agonizing over word choice, choosing epigraphs, looking up rules can be tiresome. I grew somewhat numb to the content over the last few months. Then today, my editor sent me the typeset version to check and comb through.

My words, but more than that, my life, my capital “S” Story shone at me from my screen, looking like a book, something to be kept, to be shared, to be alive long after I die. I read for a while and saw it fresh: the story of a girl I learned to love. I felt so very proud of myself, the girl who had to live through all the crap before she could write about it, and I wept. I think about all the people I’ve fallen in love with, all the mothers, sisters, and friends I’ve clutched to my heart, writers of random books. I used to read the antique books my mom had out as decoration. I love to grab a used book I’ve never heard of from the Goodwill or bookstore shelf. Oh, how I hope to be someone’s sister-friend, to surprise them with how well I know them someday when I’m dead.

This process is hard. To be successful as an artist, you have to trust your instincts, try things that other people are too embarrassed to do, and make the offensive claim to the right to create. There’s an old ghost of a voice in my head that says, “Such a show-off. You should feel guilty for thinking so highly of yourself. How dare you tell the rest of us what to think.” I have to give myself some credit for these fears; even this year I’ve been called self-obsessed, navel-gazing. It felt so terrible; if that’s what I’m being by trying to be a writer, I’d honestly rather die (but not really because I figure my children would prefer a selfish bitch mother to no mother at all!).

So I fight the voices inside and the ones outside. I know the risk I’m taking. Some readers feel like cliffs. Sharing my words, my life is risky. It’s a jump off a bridge, and I won’t know until after I jump whether I’m headed into warm, Hawaiian waters or spiky stones. I might be hurt. I already have been. But not every time. Some of my advanced readers have let me fall into the bubble bath of their validation, their receptivity, their gratitude.

Writing cannot be about what other people think, and I fought through the whole writing process to listen carefully for my own small voice. But, now that the book is coming out, the first thing I have to do is try to get other people to think about it! I have to self-promote, to guess at how to curry favor and build platform while also staying committed to who I am. I have to humbly ask for blurbs and reviews. My ambitions yell, “the sky’s the limit!” while my budget and time constraints say, “oh, would you please calm down.”

But I’m loving it. Seeing these pages with their chapter headings and breaks, with my name and ISBN number feels like a miracle. “Launch” is the right word. I feel all the excitement and fear of a pilgrim voyager, eager to see the other side of the ocean.

Jessica Ribera‘s first book, The Almost Dancerwill be available this November from White Blackbird Books. Other work has appeared on Scary Mommy, The Mighty, Red Tricycle, The Brevity Blog, Fathom Magazine, and her own blog, She’d like to be a comedian someday.


Your First Book: When the Cheering Stops 

October 16, 2019 § 21 Comments

tallmadgeBy Alice Tallmadge

At first, you barely notice the drop-off. You still check your personal email a dozen times an hour, just in case someone has weighed in. You pull up your website email daily and hover over Facebook, counting likes. You track your Amazon page more than once a week, hoping for one more 5-star review.

Yes, there’s not quite the input there was a couple of months ago, when your pub date loomed, your on-line essay showed up on Huff Po, and your photo appeared above the fold of the Sunday paper’s arts section. You got used to the kudos from supporters, the notes from strangers. The flurry was so unexpected you didn’t have time to stand back and consider how ephemeral it would be. If you had, you would have told yourself of course it won’t last. But you didn’t. Instead you learned to swim, even enjoy, those new waters. Although nerve-wracking at first—a face-to-face confrontation with an angry reader, an email rant from another, the first radio interview—you came to relish being tossed from wave to wave, having to gather your words, respond to questions, to share with others the arduous process of birthing your book.

But months pass and you finally get it. Your FB messages and website email dry up. Local book clubs no longer seek you out. The number of Amazon reviews doesn’t budge. Book sales flat-line. No more emails from grateful strangers or appreciative friends show up in your inbox. The cheering has indeed stopped.

Your friends stop asking how the book is doing, and ask about your next project. But your writing mind is as empty as a flat pocket. You can’t imagine writing another paragraph, ever. You say are taking a break. And you do. You look around your yard and realize tiny suckers have grown into veritable trees while you were fact-checking your manuscript, filling out tipsheets and tracking down chapter notes. The fence along one side of the yard leans like a warped wall. A prickly plague of blackberries covers half your backyard. The lower limbs of the front yard pine have gone yellow and vestigial.

One day you walk into the back shed and the chaotic interior stops you cold—where did this mess come from? You spend hours culling, tossing and sweeping. It’s dusty labor, but therapeutic. You find the leak in the roof, the source of the nasty smell (cat pee on black plastic), the box of party lights you thought you had thrown out.

You do all this work with gusto, but your mind clatters away. You comb through your decisions, what you didn’t do, what you wished you had done, what you wish someone had told you, whether you should do more, and what that should be. The dust covers your arms, legs and face like a second skin.

In the 18 months since your pub date, one writing friend polishes off a long essay and three short stories. Another announces she found a publisher for her chapbook. Another says she expects her book will be done by December.  Another says her manuscript is being considered by a university press. You are honestly delighted for all of them, but as they talk you feel formless and drifty. You talk about your growing brush pile, how tough it’s been to find someone to trim your trees, how you need to re-seal your backyard deck.

One day you run into a former yoga teacher, a young woman who looks frail but is rooted as an old oak, and has gathered far more wisdom than her years belie. She tells you she closed her studio, then stopped teaching classes. Now she works at a farm stand, which she loves because, she says, it brings her close to the earth.

“Sometimes you just have to let it all go, to get to the next step,” she tells me, her eyes a dancing sea of blue. “It’s tough because that’s who you’ve been for all those years, and it’s like, ‘without that, who am I now?’ But still, you just have to let it all go.” She spreads her long arms like a heron either about to take flight, or about to land.

You gather up your six ears of corn and a fat red pepper. You wave good-bye. You go home and make corn chowder and pick the last of the blackberries. You don’t wonder where you are on the spectrum – whether you’ve let it all go, or are at the beginning, or somewhere between the two. But you feel at peace. A few days later, you sit down, and begin to write.

Alice Tallmadge has been a journalist and essayist for three decades. Her memoir, Now I Can See the Moon: A Story of a Social Panic, False Memories, and a Life Cut Short was published in 2018 by She Writes Press. Her essays and stories have appeared in the Oregonian, Portland Magazine, Forest Magazine, Oregon Humanities, the Register- Guard, Oregon Quarterly, The New York Times and on Huffington Post. She is currently a grant-writer, free-lance editor, and committed cheerleader for first-time authors. Find her at




Taking a Social Media-Free Day

October 14, 2019 § 3 Comments

Manzella photoBy Abby Manzella

Today is a social media-free day.

What that means is I will get through a solid draft of this essay without my mind straying. What that means is I won’t have little hazy moments when my focus drifts to blankness as I pretend that I can multi-task.

I used to remind my students that you can’t actually multi-task. Science has shown that you’re never truly doing two things at once. Instead, as you shift back and forth between two ideas, you lose a great deal of time because each move requires your brain to readjust, leaving you with two tasks much more poorly done than if you’d done them separately. This is not surprising. This is true.

This is true, I again remind myself.

As I watch the words build without the distracting shot of adrenaline from the phone’s vibration and the laptop’s beep, I think of Pavlov, and how well we’ve been trained like dogs to retreat to our treats. I long for the blue light that sometimes flashes on my phone. Our phones have trained us to receive a dopamine burst even through a signal light. Many of our senses are covered: sound, sight, and touch. If programmers could only figure out how to deliver taste and smell, our food-centered selves would do nothing but tweet.

As I complain, though, I watch the words accumulating and do not open another desktop window.

Now you may not have words that you need to write. Instead, you may have a book to read. Numbers to crunch. Children to tend. The point is still the same. At the end of the day I can count the lost hours to hearts and likes. At the end of the day, I know a great deal of trivia, and I feel a great deal of anger from the political rants I’ve read. I also suffer the fear that we are sharing with those who don’t wish us well. In this regard, I mostly worry about money scammers, but there are many forms of evil lurking on the other sides of our screens. Mostly, though, I worry about the depth of the conversations we’re having, the bubbles we’re creating, and the rage we’re spreading without seeking on-the-ground solutions.

All that said, note that I stated that today is a social media-free DAY—not week, not forever. Maybe not even through the evening. I protect myself in whatever ways I can and hope that the government might step up some more protections for us, as well, but for now, I’m staying online because there is still so much that I get from social media.

I still get to hear from childhood friends and those I’ve met along the way. It’s even a nice way to stay up-to-date with those who are a little too busy even while they are merely across town. Online I’ve also built my own small platform for my writing—I hate the word “platform,” but thus it has been termed. (Feel free to follow me to see!) I learn about public events that do take concerns from my glowing screens to the streets. Through it all, I get to hear about how other people are coping with their everyday lives both professionally and personally. All of that is reassuring.

The personal connections seem more straightforward: it’s fun to see what a friend who moved to the West Coast is doing and to know that she’s in town for the week. On the professional front, though, some of the connections are less obvious. Yesterday, I read an article that theorized how we are currently analyzing television shows; it was helpful for my own work. Here is how I found out about it:  Someone I knew in graduate school—for a year almost twenty years ago—had asked on social media where he should publish a piece he had written. When someone else, whom I didn’t know offline, suggested a certain magazine, my grad school friend mentioned the greatness of a piece he’d read there…and off I clicked to read it because of its mention and his recommendation.

This find was something I was unlikely to have stumbled upon without the circuitous trails of social media. I appreciate that social media has kept me in touch with this former colleague and that such a connection continues to help me with my work. Thus, the digital space of social media is something that has become one of my popular culture research loops. You never quite know what is going to breed the next idea, but you follow that trail when it sparks a little something like Marie Kondo-ian joy inside of you, and off your typing fingers run.

Yes, I wish that I could figure out better ways to trash those scrolling things from the start that don’t spark joy, and I do some of that. Even so, there is a lot of unwanted garbage to wade through, but that is the case with much of our learning from the world around us and even the books we read.

So, while this is a social media-free day, tomorrow won’t be. I’d love to sit down to tea with you, but such is mostly not in our daily options. Instead, I’ll see what you’re up to on social media. I’ll give you a like, a heart, and a stray comment and hope we can continue to know each other.

See, I got through the whole draft without a single interruption. I feel a bit more refreshed from avoiding the ping-ponging of the beeps and lights. I might even go outside. As the sun sets, though, I know I’ll be back to some online research and more social media connections.

Abby Manzella is a writer and critic who has published with sites such as Lit Hub, The Rumpus, The MillionsBust, and Kenyon Review. Her scholarly book Migrating Fictions: Gender, Race, and Citizenship in U.S. Internal Migrations was named by Choice Reviews as an Outstanding Academic Title for the year. Follow her on Twitter @AbbyManzella or on Facebook @AbbyManzellaAuthor. She’ll be there–on and off.

Defining Your Book

October 10, 2019 § 5 Comments

Researching agents and working on queries brings up the key question, How should I describe my book?

Definitely with a plot summary. For queries, that’s a 1-2 paragraph description of the protagonist, their major problem, their biggest obstacle, and a couple of key events. For an elevator pitch, that’s 1-2 sentences like “In SITUATION, CHARACTER must ACTION against OBSTACLE towards GOAL or else STAKES.”

Queries thrive on comps—”My book will appeal to readers of Not-Super-Famous-But-Widely-Recognized-Book and Medium-Notable-Book.” With comps, don’t aim too high (Eat Pray Love is a phenomenon, not a comp), too low (a book that sold poorly is not a selling point), or overly aspirational (no Nobel-Prize winners).

Genre describes a book’s content, by what the label on the bookshelf says. Romance. Thriller. Fantasy. Genre is much less specific than Amazon listings with subrankings like “#3 in Memoir-Women Writers-Zookeepers-Penguin Specialists.” Memoir is a genre, but it will be shelved with Biography, or based on the written experiences, somewhere like Travel or Addiction and Recovery.

Tricky but useful, category helps us pick the right agents to query, and entice those agents to read our manuscript. Category is not content; it’s who will read this book. Young Adult is a category containing the genres YA Mystery, YA Romance, etc.

For memoirists and novelists, the most relevant categories are commercial, high-concept, book-club, upmarket and literary.

  • Commercial means the book is not too hard to read—usually 7th-10th-grade level—and appeals to a wide range of readers. The DaVinci Code is commercial. Commercial books sell in grocery stores and airports as well as bookstores.
  • High-concept books can be summed up in one fresh, intriguing sentence: “A man’s wife frames him for her own murder” (Gone Girl). “An autistic boy solves the murder of a dog, told in his own voice” (Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime). Gone Girl is high-concept commercial domestic suspense; Curious Incident is high-concept book-club fiction. High-concept books often top libraries’ reserved lists, and have front-facing displays in bookstores.
  • Book-club books are commercially accessible, but showcase deep issues. The book’s themes or plot tie into a larger cultural question. The blurb for Jodi Picoult’s A Spark of Light (crisis in an abortion clinic from multiple conflicting perspectives) sums this up well: “…a complicated issue in this gripping and nuanced novel.” Enough meaty ideas for a club to wrestle with; not slanted too far to one side; a compelling plot readers don’t need an MFA to understand. These books show up in Oprah and Reese Witherspoon and Emma Watson’s lists, and as community-reading books.
  • Upmarket means smarter-than-average, but with wider appeal and more action than full-on literary fiction. Upmarket books are less likely to depend on a twist ending and are read for the quality of writing as much as for the story. Wolf Hall is upmarket historical fiction. H is for Hawk is upmarket memoir. These books show up in Booker Prize and National Book Award lists.
  • Literary is a quality of the writer’s voice rather than a genre or category. Sometimes literary means “written really well, but it’s hard to sum up the plot.” Literary novels tend to be “quiet” and character-driven with emphasis on theme and mood, but there are also literary mysteries and historical fiction. For querying, it can sound arrogant to call one’s own work “literary,” (and it begs judgement of your writing craft) so instead use literary comps, mention your literary previous publications, and in your personalization to the agent, stress your attraction to literary books they represent.

Upmarket, book club and literary works are usually shelved together in Fiction or Nonfiction unless they are specifically another genre; high-concept and commercial books are out on display tables. If you’re unsure how to classify your book, walk into a bookstore and notice where your book might be shelved. What else is on that shelf, and does your work fit in? If someone reads the most popular book on the same shelf, and they pick up your book next, will they feel like they’ve discovered something amazing in a realm they already love?

Write your book first, with no regard for how it will be classified or sold. Use your creative spirit to get your story on the page before worrying about labels. But once you’re ready to query, locate your book’s place in the world. Chances are it has some friends—and those book-companions will help you reach the readers who need your words.

Allison K Williams is Brevity‘s Social Media Editor. Her stable of work-in-progress includes one nonfiction writing reference, one commercial thriller, one YA book-club fiction, one YA literary thriller and a probably misplaced optimism about her ability to sell them all. On Instagram she writes book-club memoir—follow her @guerillamemoir.

Aaaaaaand We’re Back!

October 8, 2019 § 5 Comments

He’s so writing a memoir about this

Query letters. A necessary evil towards the great good of publication. A hoop to jump through towards representation; a lure to draw in the publisher perfect for our story.

Some lucky authors have essays go viral, build enormous social media platforms, or have NYT-bestselling cousins willing to refer us to their own agent. Most of us undertake the slog, often querying a hundred or more agents and revising our query and the manuscript itself many times along the way.

There are some terrific querying resources out there, notably Query Shark, which focuses on fiction but teaches powerful query-letter lessons for writers in all genres. Jane Friedman’s website has information on memoir and narrative nonfiction queries. Absolute Write’s forums are a place for honest chat about specific agencies. QueryTracker helps us chart our progress. Manuscript Wish List shows us which agents might be right for our book. And here at Brevity, we shared suggestions for the actual process of preparing and submitting to agents.

But it is generally more difficult to learn best practices for memoir, rather than fiction, queries—and Brevity is here to help.

The Brevity Podcast returns in November, featuring an interview with Grace Talusan, author of The Body Papers, and a conversation with the Query Shark herself, literary agent Janet Reid.

That’s where you come in.

Podcast host Allison K Williams will discuss memoir queries with Janet, using some examples from Brevity readers & podcast listeners. We’ll assess your clarity and style, how you cover the standard query-letter elements, and talk about what you might do differently (or are already doing well!) to increase your chances of representation.

If you’d like to send in your query for a shot at having it discussed on-air, please paste it into an email, followed by your first two manuscript pages (also pasted), to brevitymagpodcast at Deadline for consideration is October 20th. We won’t use author names on the air, but we will be reading all or part of the query letters chosen, so only submit if you’re willing to have your words read on the podcast, please.

Querying can be overwhelming, intimidating, and depressing. But you don’t have to do it alone, and you don’t have to do it without guidance. Help is out there—and it’s coming to your ears.

Brevity Podcast Host Allison K Williams, and Editor-in-Chief Dinty W. Moore will also be leading a retreat in Costa Rica in May 2020.



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