Advice for writers, or everything Jeaniene knows about getting published

I’m still buried under deadline, but I thought I’d do a consolidated post on everything I know about getting published. Why? Well, about one in every four emails I receive is from writers asking for advice on how to get published. Believe me, I understand their frustration over the process. It’s a HARD process, make no mistake. If getting published were easy, everyone who wrote a book would have one on the shelves. When I was first querying back in 2004, I scoured the internet looking for advice, and while there were scam places galore just waiting to pounce on unwary writers, the pickings for practical advice were slim.

I’m not saying I know all there is to know about publishing. Far from it. Writers should not treat this post as one-stop-shopping for publishing information, so by all means, scour the internet and book stores to find as much additional information as you can. That way, you won’t make some of the same mistakes I did starting out. But hopefully, some of my trial and error will turn out to be useful for you, which is my goal behind this post.

With that in mind…


On writing advice: My writing advice is simple – write. The more you write, the better you’ll get at it. Read a lot. Be prepared to revise your novel, because revising is part of the process. Then, once you’ve polished a novel, gotten a second (or third) constructive critical opinion on it, revised, and polished again, start agent hunting. But until you’ve finished a novel and really gone over it several times, don’t look for an agent. Write first. Make sure you love it. Then jump into the publishing world :)


On how I got published:


Timeline of exactly how long it took:


My process when I write a book:


A writer’s Q&A on literary agents, querying, self-publishing, and scams to avoid:


When to get a critique, and when not to:


More on scams and why writers should always, always remember Yog’s law: Money flows TOWARD the writer:


More on why I think getting an agent is important:


On rejection:


What do authors get paid?:


Examples of successful query letters that landed the authors of Fangs, Fur, and Fey their former/current agents here (scroll all the way down to see them all):


Examples of queries critiqued by agent Janet Reid:


Absolute Write, a great place where writers share information / warn against scam agencies & publishers:


What about self-publishing? I hear you don’t even need traditional publishers anymore.

Self-publishing has indeed boomed in recent years, with many self-pubbed authors hitting bestseller lists alongside traditionally-published authors. However, for every success story, there are tens of thousands of writers who rushed to self-publish thinking it’s their Golden Ticket to Wonka-land, only to find out it’s an arduous track to Obscurity-ville instead. Not that this doesn’t happen with traditional publishing, too – it does. That’s the whole point. There is no magic fast lane to success with publishing, whether self-pubbing or traditional. So if you’re interested in self-publishing because you have the time, savvy, and energy to devote to being your own marketing team, publicity team, art department, editorial staff, tech support and distributor, then yes, it’s a viable alternative to traditional publishing. But a word to the wise: Don’t fall for the fallacy that it’s “easier” to self-publish. It’s harder, and if you don’t take my word for it, perhaps you’ll listen to self-publishing superstar Amanda Hocking here and here. I’d also point you to author Chuck Wendig’s funny, informative post comparing the pros and cons of self-pubbing versus traditional publishing here so you can better decide if this is the best path for you. For some people, it will be.

If, however, you’re looking into self-publishing because those stoopid New York houses hate original material and wouldn’t know good writing if it bit them in the butt, plus no one’s going to make you revise your perfect, precious gem of a story…well. I’d say good luck, but I’m not optimistic for you.


On me reading your manuscript / query letter: I’m sorry, but due to time, legal, and ethical constraints, I cannot read your query letter or partial/full manuscript. Before you get mad at me for saying no, please read this:

All right, if you’ve read through all the above and you’ve still not found anything helpful, try Author Cassandra Clare’s comprehensive Q&A for aspiring authors on her website. There are several more helpful links inside the post, too:

And finally, a book for writers I’d recommend is ON WRITING, by Stephen King.

Best of luck to you, writers!



  1. says

    I haven’t read it, but my crit partner said that Stephen King’s book ON WRITING was the best book she’d ever read on perfecting your craft! I also agree that getting a first, second, and third opinion is vital when polishing a MS. Great post!

  2. Shannon says

    I think the 1st book of the Vampire Huntress series has got to be the best I’ve ever read. The next 3 are just as good. Then the 5th book Drop of Crimson & looks like the next books there’s barely any of Cat & Bones in them. The are the best books because of Cat & Bones relationship & adventures.
    I have read from many websites that people want to read about Cat & Bones. Just because she quit her job doesn’t mean her story ends! I can see writing about her friends & the other characters but can’t we get more Cat & Bones?
    Big Fan, Shannon

    • Jeaniene says

      Shannon, if you look on the home page of my website, you’ll see that I *am* writing more Cat and Bones books :). Their next book comes out February 22nd, 2011, with another C&B book (#6)out later in 2011, and at least one more after that. So never fear, I am not done telling Cat and Bones’s story. Thanks!

  3. says

    Hi,just found your Blog when i google something and wonder what webhosting do you use for your blog,the speed is more faster than my web site, i really need it.will back to check it out,many thanks!

  4. Ben says

    Please let me know any tips you have for getting published in local publications. I live in Columbus,Ohio and have been under the impression that you hasd to have an agent to get published.

    Please let me know…

    Thank you for your time.

    • Jeaniene says

      Ben, when you say you’re trying to get published is “local publications” do you mean newspapers or magazines? Because if so, I don’t believe you do need an agent for that (agents are mostly for trying to get a full-length novel published). However, I’m afraid that I don’t have any advice on getting newspaper or magazine articles published. I was never published in those venues prior to my first full length novel coming out.

      I’d still suggest Writers Market. I believe there’s a section on short stories / magazine publications.

  5. says

    why do you stop writing about Spade and Denise? You write alot of books for Cat but you dont go on with Spade and denise. even if you just make one more book about them. I would love to see more.

  6. Kelly-May says

    Your advice is amazing it has actually help me avoid to scams that I nearly fell prey to. So I owe you one for that. But I was wondering if you had any suggestions, my problem is I have written a story and i know I need it to be read for critique analysis, only the people I get to read give me feedback like ‘its really good’ or ‘you have improved’ its nothing really strutural and my friends and family I guess say nice things regardless. How can I get some solid feedback that will help me? Any ideas? Thanks a lot.

    • Jeaniene says

      Kelly, I would recommend that you join the Absolute Write forums. It’s a great site for writers with tons of information. In addition to that, they have a subsection called “Beta readers, mentors, and writing buddies” that can hook up writers looking for critique partners, critique groups, or beta readers. Good luck!

  7. Christina O'Connor says

    I am not a novelist, poetry is my passion and I have always been awed by written art, such as your books, but I’m finding it difficult to follow my aspirations of being a writer.

  8. Beth Cillian says

    Great Side. Hope I can use some of the advices even as a writer from Germany.

    I followed your first advice: WRITE and got my first novel published only a month ago …

  9. Elisabel Castrejon says

    Hi, I’m desperate to know about your books published for the Spanish reading market. I can only find the first one halfway to the grave (besos de sangre) but that is it. Will the rest of them be published because I can’t find this information anywhere?? Many thanks

    • Jeaniene says

      Hi Eliabel, unfortunately Spain declined to purchase more of my books. That’s why only the first book is available in Spanish.

  10. Diana says

    One question, please! What do you think are the chances for an outsider (by that I mean someone who’s not living in the US – I’m actually from Romania, at only 30 miles from Poienari Castle)to get published overseas? I’ve written a novel, had it revised now I’m re-re-reading it, trying to gather the courage I need in order to try and get it published. Of course is written in English. I would really appreciate your opinion on that one.
    And thanks for Once burned. It’s nice to see Vlad portrayed more closely to his real self than the vampire fantasy all the world knows. To us, he is a HERO!

    • Jeaniene says

      Hi Diana,

      Non-American authors get published in the US all the time. This is because they either acquire a US agent who sells them to a New York publishing house, or because they are first published in their own country and then a US publisher acquires rights to their book(s). Best of luck to you!

  11. Robyn says

    Thanks a lot for taking the time to write these! Its so hard to find clear advice from pure non sense on the net, this has everything you need to know with links that are really helpful.

    Love your books, you inspire me to write my own, published or not :)

  12. Melody says

    jeaniene, i just wanted to thank you for all the work you did making such a wonderful writer’s resource section. i just keep coming back for more!


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