Dave Cullen, author of Columbine

Advice for Writers & Journalists

I get asked frequently for advice or tips—often in a tweet. I have no magic words to convey into 140 characters, but if you're serious about it, I have encountered a whole lot of helpful stuff that I can share below.

If some of the categories sound Greek (What the hell is a query letter?) then I suggest you start with one of the books or overviews down there. Publishing is a complex business, and can be baffling at first, but those links are to people who are great at sorting it out.

If you're just getting started writing, I highly recommend a writing program, or at least a writing course to start. Writing is something you have to plunge in and do—not something I can tell you how to do in an email or tweet. But a great guide, who can help you unlock your own talent, and push you in ways you never imagined—priceless.






  • How to break into publishing. A quick summary I composed to help a friend trying to break into the biz. (It's geared to nonfiction, with a note on how fiction differs.)
  • How to get published. Agent Rachelle Gardner's excellent summary, with more details and links.

Editors' advice

Query letters

These are the best brief how-to guide's I've found:

  • Query Letter Mad Lib: Ignore the cute title. This is a great intro post, that lays out what a query should be, with everything to leave in and out. It's agent Nathan Bransford, who has a great reputation on this stuff.
  • Examples of a Good Query Letter: Three great examples, with analysis, by agent Nathan Bransford.
  • How to Write a Query Letter: A slightly different approach, by agent Rachelle Gardner.
  • 23 Successful agent query letters: From GalleyCat.

  • For related links, see the margins of all those posts. The agents who created them have all sorts of great links in their sidebars.

Agent websites with great advice

  • Betsy Lerner
  • Nathan Bransford
  • Rachelle Gardner

  • If you want to publish with a major book publisher, you need an agent. Those three sites have permanent links with good advice on how to go about finding one. They are a great place to start.

Selling your book: Using the web / social media