Goodreads asked Michelle Richmond:

What’s your advice for aspiring writers?

Michelle Richmond 1. Read widely and well. Read in multiple genres.

2. Send your work out. Once you have written, revised, and polished a story, don't be shy: submit it to a few literary journals.

3. Consider rejections to be a part of the business, not a personal affront. Most stories get rejected by literary journals, and most novels get rejected by agents and publishers. It's not you; it's just a tough business. If you go into each submission with the idea that you have a one in thirty chance of getting a positive response, you'll be better prepared to deal with rejection when it comes, and then to move on. THE YEAR OF FOG was rejected by pretty much every publisher in New York and elsewhere before my wonderful agent sold it to Bantam for a small advance. It went on to sell more than half a million copies in the US. A lot of rejection came before success. You have to have the commitment to revise and polish, and faith that your best work will find a home, even if it takes a long time.

4. Take a class! You don't need an MFA to be a writer, but you do need to know how to craft a story using the basic building blocks of narrative. Many colleges and universities offer creative writing classes through their continuing education programs; this is a great way to meet other aspiring writers and to learn what you need to know to get started. Many writers offer small classes online or in person (see mine here:

5. Yes, you need a literary agent if. You don't need an agent to submit to literary journals, but you do need an agent to publish a book with a major publisher. Even if the book you want to publish is a novel, you can get your name out there by publishing short stories in reputable literary journals. Not only can this lead to your being discovered by an agent who reads journals to find new talent; it also makes the query letter you send to agents seeking representation more enticing.

6. Keep writing.

7. Know your genre when you submit your book to an agent. Even if you don't want to be "labeled," the industry runs on labels. It's difficult to publish a book without knowing what to call it. Your cover letter should state the genre; some common genres are literary fiction, suspense, psychological thriller, coming-of-age, and women's fiction. Nobody puts baby in a corner, true, but Baby should at least be able to identify the corners!

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