Video: How To Write a Biography

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Site of Interest : Writer Beware

This weeks site of interest is also known as Writer Beware.

Writer Beware is the public face of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America’s Committee on Writing Scams. We also receive sponsorship from the Mystery Writers of America. Like many genre-focused writers’ groups, SFWA and MWA are concerned not just with issues that affect professional authors, but with the problems and pitfalls that face aspiring writers. Writer Beware, founded in 1998, reflects that concern.

Although SFWA and MWA are US-based organizations of professional fiction authors, Writer Beware’s efforts aren’t limited by country, genre, or publication history. The Writer Beware website and blog can be used by any writer, new or established, regardless of subject, style, genre, or nationality.

“Writer Beware” is a service mark of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

Writer Beware is a volunteer effort. Our staff:

A.C. Crispin

A.C. Crispin, founder and Chair of SFWA’s Committee on Writing Scams, has been active in SFWA since 1983. She served as Eastern Regional Director for almost ten years, and as Vice-President for two more. With her husband, two-time SFWA President Michael Capobianco, she’s a 2006 recipient of the SFWA Service Award. Her more than twenty novels include the bestselling Han Solo Trilogy; top-selling Star Trek novels Yesterday’s Son, Time for Yesterday, The Eyes of the Beholders, and Sarek; and, most recently, the original fantasy novel Storms of Destiny. She also has many freelance credits, including articles in Writer’s Digest and the SFWA Bulletin. Visit her at

Victoria Strauss

Victoria Strauss, co-founder and Vice-Chair of SFWA’s Committee on Writing Scams, is the author of seven fantasy novels, including The Burning Land and The Awakened City. She has written hundreds of book reviews for publications such as SF Site, and her articles on writing have appeared in Writer’s Digest and elsewhere. In 2006, she served as a judge for the World Fantasy Awards, and in 2009 she received the SFWA Service Award for her work with Writer Beware. She’s webmistress of the Writer Beware website, which she also created, and maintains the Writer Beware database and blog. Visit her at

Richard C. White

Richard C. White is the author of a fantasy novel, Gauntlet Dark Legacy: Paths of Evil, as well as several short stories and novellas, and an original comic series that’s currently being marketed to publishers. Among other interesting jobs, he has worked as a journalist, a substitute teacher, an independent comics publisher, an analyst for the military, and, currently, as a technical writer. Rich is an active member of SFWA. Visit him at

What Does Writer Beware® Do?

Writer Beware’s mission is to track, expose, and raise awareness of the prevalence of fraud and other questionable activities in and around the publishing industry.

  • We maintain and continually update the Writer Beware website with the latest information on literary schemes, scams, and pitfalls, and the most current information on what writers can do to protect themselves.
  • To complement the general advice and warnings on the Writer Beware website, Writer Beware’s popular blog provides up-to-the-minute information on specific scams and schemes–along with advice for writers, industry news, and a special focus on the weird and wacky things that happen at the fringes of the publishing world.
  • We constantly research the problems we discuss, reading trade publications and subscribing to professional newsletters and mailing lists in order to keep current with issues and changes in the publishing industry. We’re in regular touch with reputable agents and editors, so we can better contrast their business practices to the nonstandard practices we warn against.
  • We maintain an extensive database of questionable literary agents, publishers, independent editors, writers’ services, contests, publicity services, and others. This database has been assembled thanks to the hundreds of writers and publishing professionals who have contacted us to share their experiences and to provide us with documentation. Our database is the most complete of its kind in the world.
  • We offer a free research service for writers with questions about agents, publishers, and others (e-mail us The information we provide on questionable agents and publishers is supported by multiple similar advisories and complaints from writers, by documentation, or, in most cases, by both.
  • We assist law enforcement agencies with investigations of questionable agents, publishers, and others. Writer Beware has been instrumental in the convictions of a number of literary scammers.
  • We help build public awareness of literary fraud by writing articles (our work has appeared in the SFWA Bulletin andWriters’ Digest, among others), appearing at writers’ conventions and industry events such as Book Expo America, conducting workshops and classes, and participating in online writers’ discussion groups and message boards.
Contact Writer Beware®

We welcome questions, comments, and especially documentation. Here’s how to contact us:

  • Email:
  • Fax: 413-549-6363
  • Snail mail: PO Box 1216, Amherst MA 01004
We accept email attachments. If you send us paper documentation (correspondence, contracts, invoices, brochures, etc.), we will gladly reimburse your photocopying and/or postage expense.

Correspondence and documentation sent to Writer Beware is held in strict confidence. Your name and contact information will never be shared, publicly posted, or otherwise disclosed except to appropriate law enforcement agencies, in response to an enforceable subpoena, or as directed by counsel.

We cannot accept anonymous complaints, complaints that don’t name the individual or company, or second-hand complaints (i.e., your report of your friend’s bad experience with his publisher–your friend needs to contact us himself). Any documentation you send must be original and complete (i.e., send us the entire email, not cut-and-pasted text).

Please do not send us your manuscripts or query letters! Writer Beware is glad to share information and answer questions, but we are not agents or publishers, and we cannot read or critique manuscripts, query letters, or any other form of writing. Emails with attached manuscripts or writing samples will be deleted.

Writer Beware does not accept donations. If you’d like to help support the organizations that sponsor us, please consider donating to SFWA’s benevolent funds or to MWA’s scholarship programs.
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Writers Can Reach Multitudes

In 2002, not yet a year after the historic atrocity in which fanatical suicide volunteers killed 3,000 Americans, the Bush administration began urging an invasion of Iraq. Elderly West Virginia senator Robert Byrd was incensed. He saw the proposed war as unnecessary, pointless, ruinous. He began writing and delivering eloquent Senate speeches against the invasion. He said there was no real evidence of horror weapons in Iraq, despite White House claims. He said Iraq had no connection to the 9/11 attack. Byrd said America shouldn't invade a nation that did nothing to provoke it, just on suspicion.

Amid the patriotic fervor of that time, the national press corps ignored Byrd's alarms. Television news and wire services didn't cover them. Our West Virginia newspaper did, but few paid attention. Byrd was the proverbial lost voice in the wilderness.
Then an amazing thing happened. That global marvel, the Internet, took command. War opponents began e-mailing Byrd's speeches to friends, who forwarded them to others. Before long, they had spread to thousands of Americans, plus more thousands overseas. His words blanketed the planet, spontaneously, spread by avid readers. They were posted on many Web sites for everyone to read. Byrd became an international hero to war-questioners. Our newspaper named him West Virginian of the Year for 2002. His speeches were assembled into a book: Losing America: Confronting a Reckless and Arrogant Presidency. Byrd died in 2010 -- widely respected, because his Iraq warning had proven accurate.
There's a lesson here for every writer (not a politics lesson, but one regarding how to deliver your words to the world).  It's a new ball game. The Internet is the mother of all outlets. Editors (like me) still decide what is printed on paper and broadcast on airwaves, but we don't control the wide-open, gigantic, all-reaching, worldwide conduit in Cyber Land. Traditional channels of information still exist, perhaps still dominate, but they aren't the only route. A brand-new way for writers to find multitudes of readers is available at the click of a mouse.
There's no money in it. You must be willing to donate your work, just for the satisfaction of communicating with many. But that's immensely rewarding. (Let's face it: There's little cash in freelance writing, anyway.  In addition to running West Virginia's largest newspaper, I've written nine books and seventy magazine essays. The books have modest sales (9,000 max) and I never got more than $1,500 advance for each.  I tell people that my private author career pays ten cents an hour.  Thank heaven for my day job.)
However, like most writers, I have a compulsion that never stops. I can't quit articulating ideas for people to read.  And now I'm funneling part of my output through the Internet. Here's how:
My private writing is mostly in the skeptic-agnostic-freethought-doubter-anticlerical zone. When I hatch a new essay, I offer it first to specialty magazines in that field: Free Inquiry (where I'm a senior editor), Freethought Today, Skeptic, The Humanist, American Atheist, Secular World, The Freethinker, Secular Humanist Bulletin, UU World, International Humanist News, etc. If none accepts it, I turn to a huge array of Web sites pushing the same mission.  It's almost effortless -- just hit "send," no postage required. I e-mail it to fifty, eighty or more. (There are so many I can't count them.) Numerous sites post my pieces, then other sites post "mirror" copies.
My last article, on the rapid rise of Americans who don't attend church, appeared in nearly a hundred Web sites, plus a couple of printed magazines. My latest, on the baffling enigma of zealots who kill themselves to commit mass murder, has spread to more than thirty sites so far. The essays draw comments, and readers send them to friends via "social networking."
The Internet contains hundreds of "online communities." In addition to skeptic sites, there are others for every imaginable interest: parakeet-lovers, human rights crusaders, backpackers, antique car buffs, Latvian-Americans, chess fiends, feminists, cigar aficionados, ex-convicts, Renaissance troubadour experts, spelunkers, the deaf, Pentecostal church members, gays, muzzle-loader gun shooters, archeology fans, poetry-lovers, families of murder victims, skydivers -- you name it.
Whatever your focus in writing, a ready-made outlet awaits. If magazine or book editors don't want your work, just fling it into the brave new digital realm. Search for sites that address your topic, then click the "contact" spot, and offer it to the world. In doing so, you escape the insolence of office, the arrogance of print-on-paper editors who never answer your inquiries or demand endless rewrites.
I'm chiefly absorbed in the nonfiction marketplace of ideas: the eternal tussle of beliefs, ideologies, social causes, worldviews. But the Internet offers just as many opportunities for fiction and feature writers. Hundreds of short story and poetry sites exist, along with all those topical groups -- all awaiting submissions.
Moliere said: "Writing is like prostitution. First you do it for the love of it, then you do it for a few friends, and finally you do it for money."  If you limit yourself to stages one and two, forgoing stage three, the Internet will let you reach multitudes, multitudes.
Guest post By James A. Haught. Haught is editor of The Charleston Gazette in West Virginia. He has won 20 national newswriting awards and is listed in Who's Who in America and Contemporary Authors. He can be reached by e-mail at, by phone at 304-348-5199 and by fax at 304-348-1233. His Web site is
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Video: How to Become a Better Writer

Becoming a better writer not only requires writing on a daily basis, but it also is done by reading a vast amount of books, articles, newspapers and stories. Read more, write more and edit personal works to become a better writer with information from a writing and communications specialist in this free video on writing.

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Site of Interest : The Write Jobs

This weeks site of interest is

A specialty job board and career resource for journalism, media, publishing and writing professionals. The Write JobsTM is part of Writers Write, Inc.'s network of resources for creative professionals which and

The site has clear lists for different types of jobs and is easy to search. Well worth a visit.
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Video: Advice for young writers

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Twitter resources and gaining followers

Nearly everyone now knows about the social media site twitter but not everyone knows what to do with it. One of the biggest issues new users face is how to get more followers.

The first step is to personalise your profile. You want people to know that your not an automated account and for it to be clear what your interests are and therefore what you'll be tweeting about.

Next you want to give them something for following you. You can do this by sending new followers a free gift (an ebook from your website is a good idea as gets them to visit your website, costs you nothing and makes them happy all in one simple move). You also want to make sure you give them something in your tweets. This can be advice or tips in your area of interest, useful blog posts your come across etc... Be the answer to their question.

Obviously you'll want to gain followers from outside twitter too. There are lots of ways to do this. Check out for some ideas. Follow buttons, Tweet buttons and various other widgets to draw in new followers from your website and blog visitors.

Adding a link to your emails is a good idea too and can easily be done using applications like
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2011 Writers of the Future Awards Event

Twenty-four writers and artists from around the globe were honored Sunday night at the 27th Annual L. Ron Hubbard Achievement Awards at the famed Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, in the very room the first Academy Awards was held.

The annual event celebrated the winners in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers and Illustrators of the Future Contests ( before a packed hall and thousands more who were logged on to watch the event as it streamed live. The night's keynote speaker was Dr. Pete Worden, Director of the NASA Ames Research Center, who spoke of the relationship between science fiction as the inspiration that leads to science fact. He closed by saying, "I said at the beginning that science fiction writing has helped inspire NASA. I also like to think that what we do at NASA has helped inspire you—that our new discoveries provide the tools to open your imagination."

Each writing and illustrating contest winner was presented their trophy by contest judges at the ceremony and combined cash prizes and royalties of over $30,000. The Gold Award to the author of the Story of the Year was presented by Dr. Worden and K.D. Wentworth, Editor for Writers of the Future, to Richard Johnson of Melbourne, Australia, for his story "In Apprehension, How Like a God." The Gold Award for the Illustrator of the Year was presented to Irvin Rodriguez, of Bronx, New York, by Keir Graff, senior editor for Booklist Magazine of the American Library Association, and Ron Lindahn, a multiple award winning artist and Illustrator of the Future Contest coordinating judge.

Prior to the awards ceremony, the winners were flown in from as far away as Australia and South Africa to attend a week long workshop taught by contest judges —including New York Times bestselling author Kevin J. Anderson (Dune series), World Fantasy Award winner Tim Powers ("On Stranger Tides," adapted as the 4th Pirates of the Caribbean film), multiple Hugo and Nebula award winner Robert J. Sawyer (The WWW Trilogy), Hugo and Nebula award winning author Larry Niven (the Ringworld series), and internationally acclaimed artists, Dave Dorman (Star Wars and Batman artist), Stephen Hickman (over 350 book and magazine covers), Robert Castillo (S.P.I.C. The Storyboard of my Life), and Cliff Nielsen (cover artist for Chronicles of Narnia), the cover artist for this year's anthology—each one an experienced professional in the field providing sound advice based on hard-won experience.

The Writers of the Future writing contest ( was initiated by L. Ron Hubbard in 1983 to provide a means for aspiring writers to get that much-needed break. Due to the success of the Writing Contest, the companion Illustrators of the Future Contest was created in 1988. This year marks the Centennial anniversary (1911-2011) for Mr. Hubbard who was hailed by Publishers Weekly as "one of the greatest literary figures of the 20th century."

The intensive mentoring process has proven very successful. Past winners of the Writing Contest have published over 700 novels, 3,000 short stories and winners of the Illustrating Contest have had their art published in more than 500 books and magazines, with 4,500 illustrations, 350 comics and over 1.3 million art prints.
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Promote your book this Christmas!

I know it may seem early to start talking about Christmas but when it comes to book marketing it's never too soon to put some plans into place.

As has now become a tradition here at Writers and Authors, the annual Christmas Wish List feature will return in December. A whole month worth of suggestions for books as Christmas presents.

The aim is to offer a different type of book on each day to inspire gifts that will appeal to the different tastes of friends and family of all ages. Books featured can be available in any format (print, e-book, kindle etc...). In fact electronic versions can get last minute sales from shoppers who are running out of time and can't face the idea of yet more Christmas crowds or for those who have relatives or friends far away.

If you would like to have your book considered for the 2011 feature please email with the following information:
  • book title
  • author name
  • ISBN
  • publisher (self published also welcome)
  • formats available (print, kindle etc...)
  • genre
  • purchasing link(s)
  • book blurb
  • video trailer (embed code)
  • review of book with by-line of the reviewer (name and link to their site)
  •  jpeg of cover art

Please send all of the above, in order, in the body of an email with 'Christmas Wish List 2011' in the subject line. Jpeg of cover  art as attachment.

You will be notified of the day of posting when all information has be correctly sent. Please proofread your submission before sending as all information will be posted 'as is'.
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