Copyright 2007

For distribution contact: Gary



Helpful Tips for Writers


Gary Bennett




As writers, we have obstacles to overcome, from learning all of the inís and outís of our profession, to finding agents and publishers and determining which ones are good and which ones are bad. The web sites below are tools that we can use to do this with. I have attempted to organize these sites by category, and I have included comments based on my experience with them.


Absolute Write is a fantastic site that offers help in a very wide range of subjects to the writer with many useful help forums and a chat room. Registration is free. The first site, the water cooler, offers most of the help and discussion topics. The second site, share your work, is where you may post short stories or parts of larger works for comments and critiques. You can navigate to either site from the other. I have received really valuable help from these fine folks and I highly recommend them to you!

Another writers site that may be useful, though I must admit I havenít used it much due to Absolute Write meeting all of my needs, is Write Fine. They offer many help topics and a chat room also.

Writing West is a place to post essays and non-fiction. It has been idle for awhile, but is in the process of being revitalized by good friends of mine.

Hereís another group started by very good friends of mine, some mighty nice folks here!

Forward Motion for Writers, another group I have on my computer that I havenít used for the same reason as Writers Fine, i.e. Absolute Write.

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language offers word reference services and more, it comes with a Google Search in it also.

Unsure about what a copyright is and how it affects you? This site has everything you need to know about copyrights.


While there are many small independent presses out there that still accept author submissions, most of the big boy publishers wonít accept manuscript submissions from anyone but agents. There are other reasons for having an agent also, a good agent knows the publishing business and which publisher would not only be the most suitable for your particular work, but (this is a very big but) which publishers pay the most.

Since Agents work for a percentage, plus expenses, of your pay for your work, the above is a good motivating factor for them to get you the largest possible amount.

WARNING: There are a lot of dirt-bag scam artists out there that call themselves Literary and/or Writers Agents that are running rackets. They are usually identified by wanting "up front" money from you. This is how the dastards make their living, off of any money they collect from YOU.

A simple rule to follow: MONEY FLOWS TO THE WRITER, NOT FROM THE WRITER. Avoid any agent wanting money from you.

Reputable agents make their money from the sales they make for you, AFTER the fact of the sale. Their commission is a mutually agreed-on percentage and reasonable expenses they incur promoting your product. They do not charge reading fees - another trick of scam-artist agents who will take your money and do nothing else for you.

"Well, geeze, are there any easy ways to tell the good agents from the bad ones, other than the facts noted above?" You may well ask.

NO. This is something you have to do research on for each individual agent you may consider. Fortunately, there is help out there to do this.

The standards set by The Association of Authorsí Representatives are good ones. The members of AAR are held to strict guidelines and rules of the association such as ethics and NOT charging reading fees, etc. Read their informative postings about, and how to find, good agents. They list their membership of Agents for easy referral.

Ok, so are all of the good agents in the AAR? No, they arenít for different reasons; Some may not as of yet qualify for membership, others are just ornery and donít want to belong to any organization and there are many well established and reputable agencies that fall into this category, they are so successful that they donít need to belong to AAR, there are other reasons also.

The below listed sites are the ones I use the most to check out an agent:

Preditors and Editors provides listings of Publishers and Agents that are annotated. These annotations provide useful information, especially warnings about bad agents/publishers, plus much more helpful info for writers. I usually start my agent research here first.

Writers Beware is a site hosted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of American, Inc. A very good site.

Absolute Writers Bewares and Background Checks. Great Info here!

Please use these sites, or others like them, to properly research an agent.

Agents receive hundreds to thousands of submissions queries each month from writers. Some agencies will deal only with established authors. Naturally, there are more rejections than acceptances. A good query letter is absolutely essential to catch the agentís attention.

Simply use your search engine with the topic of "How to write a good query letter" or "Query Letters" and youíll come up with more sites on this subject that you can shake a stick at. Not all of them agree on format or content, I suggest reading a few and using your own common sense to combine what the best ideas are into your own query letter. some of the best sites are the organizations under ĎGeneral Helpí above, that not only tell you how to write a query letter but let you post it for critique.

If you are rejected, DONíT GIVE UP! Many successful authorsí had to make well over a hundred agent queries/submissions before their work was accepted and eventually sold. First time writers, such as many of us are, have the roughest row to hoe - KEEP TRYING!


These are listings of Agents/Agencies and Iíve found to date. Some are better than others, many have some obsolete entries, a lot of them have duplicate information on Agents/Agencies. Remember, each agent you consider should be researched thoroughly by you, BEFORE you attempt to contact them via a query letter.

Check for possible web sites they may have. These will tell you what genres/types of work that particular agent/agencies prefer - many of them are very highly selective in that matter. They will also inform you of exactly how they prefer you to contact them. Most want a query letter first - without any of your work being attached to it. Some will accept e-mail queries and submissions which is a boon to us in the savings of paper, ink and postage. Otherís will only accept snail mail. LOL, Iím saving them for the last resort.

Current editions of Jeff Hermanís Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, & Literary Agents and Novel and Short Story Writerís Market books (as well as many others) are also valuable tools.

Writing is easy - itís the editing of your work and finding a good agent that is where the real work is! Again, RESEARCH EACH AGENT!


While most of the above references include publisher listings as well as agents, hereís an couple of extra ones you may find of use.

BellaOnline is featured as the "voice of women". They also have a very good site for the submission of magazine articles, etc. Check it out!

This site contains links to a variety of publishers.

Considering freelance writing? Check out this site.

Never thought youíd reach the end of this, huh? Well you have!

My final words are: Remember, a writer should do all in his/her power to help other writers as much as possible. If you come across addition web sites and/or printed media that can be helpful, by all means, pass it on to us!


Gary M. Bennett


Prepared for Hattiesburg Writers Group, 1 Dec 07