Frequently Asked Questions

General FAQ (7)

Can I get a signed copy?

I wish you would! I’ll be signing at many bookstores and conferences throughout the year. Check my Events page often, as new dates are being added all the time. And if you can’t make it out to see me in person, check with the indie bookstores listed on my I Love Indies page – they often have signed copies in stock.

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Will you write another Ray Dudgeon book?

Ray Dudgeon ain’t dead, he’s just sleeping. Right now the stories in my head are not Ray Dudgeon stories, but when Ray wakes up, I’ll write more about him.  Meanwhile there’s a certain FBI agent in THE TRINITY GAME who readers of the Dudgeon books will recognize. And you can find some short stories featuring Ray (and Gravedigger) on my Other Books page.

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How do I become a published writer?

Hell, I don’t know.  Not sure anyone does – there’s no secret formula.  The main thing is, you write. Sounds obvious, yet it amazes me how many people say they want to be writers but don’t write.  Odd, that.  Anyway, you write, and then you write some more. You revise, and then you revise some more.  You show your work to others and you learn from their reactions.  And you read. I’m even more astounded by people who claim they want to write, but they don’t read.  Can you imagine a musician who doesn’t listen to music? Of course not. So you read a ton, you read constantly, and you read critically, with an eye to the workings of the craft. I don’t mean reading books about how to write – I mean reading fiction.  Should go without saying, really.

As for books about how to write – there are many worth reading, but don’t confuse reading books on the craft of writing with the act of writing. You must write.  And while it’s essential to learn the craft, in the end you must write your own story in your own voice.

That said, here are some excellent books on the craft of writing. You won’t agree with everything in them (I certainly don’t) but they all have valuable insights to share.

On Writing, by Stephen King

Stein on Writing and How To Grow a Novel, by Sol Stein

The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield (a great book for all artists, not just writers)

Writing the Novel: From Plot To Print, Telling Lies For Fun And Profit, and Spider Spin Me a Web, by Lawrence Block

If You Want To Write, by Brenda Ueland

Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction, by Patricia Highsmith

250 Things You Should Know About Writing, 500 Ways To Be A Better Writer, 500 More Ways To Be A Better Writer, by Chuck Wendig. NOTE: if you’re offended by salty language, be warned, Chuck has a terrible potty-mouth. Truly foul. But these books will improve your writing.

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How do I get an agent?

If you want to attract an agent, the first step is to make your manuscript as close to perfection as possible. That means you’ve revised it several times, showed it to beta readers, revised again, and it is as good as you can make it. Only then should you begin looking for an agent.

There are many sites like Publishers Marketplace and Agent Query which can help you search for agents. I suggest looking at the acknowledgements page of books similar to yours. All authors thank their agents. Make a list, and then visit the agents’ websites and review their submission guidelines.

You’ll also need to craft a query letter. My friend and fellow author, Marcus Sakey, has a great article about how to craft the killer query

Also, attend conferences and literary festivals, especially those that cater to your own writing genre. There you’ll meet editors and agents and published writers, and you’ll learn a ton about the business. See my events page for links to specific conferences.

Finally, I should note that many writers these days are going it on their own in the world of self-publishing, and some of these indie authors are doing quite well without an agent or a publishing house. The world of publishing is changing so quickly, and I don’t think anyone has a crystal ball. I know I don’t.

Whatever path you choose, follow it with passion. I wish you success, however you measure it, on your writing journey.

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Will you read my unpublished manuscript/play/screenplay/diary?

Nope. If I even think about reading it, a horde of zombie lawyers will descend upon my house, tear me to pieces, and devour my brain.

By which I mean: unfortunately, for legal reasons, I’m unable to read unpublished manuscripts.

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Will you blurb my soon-to-be-published novel?

That I might do. I love helping fellow writers, and believe me, I’m flattered that people want blurbs from me. But truthfully, I’m swamped, and I can only get to a small percentage of what is sent my way. Please contact my agent or publicist to ask about a blurb.

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Will you visit my book group/library/bookstore/prison?

Probably! I love talking to people who share my love of books, whether it’s in person, over the phone, or via Skype. Please direct inquiries to my publicist, Gracie Doyle, and we’ll try to work something out.

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