For Writers


If you’re an aspiring writer or a writer who just wants to brush up on marketing, etc, this is the page for you.

Commonly Asked Questions from Aspiring Writers
by Shelia M. Goss

Below are commonly asked questions received from aspiring writers. Hopefully, it’ll answer some of your questions. If you’re not a writer but know someone who is interested in becoming one, please refer them to this page.

I have a good story. I’m learning fast that people don’t or won’t help you. Why is that?

I don’t want you to have the misconception of authors not wanting to help…many of us do. You also have to keep in mind of your approach. Have you ever contacted this particular author before? Have you ever bought one of their books? My question is, why would you ask for advice from an author if you’ve never purchased or read one of their books? I don’t ask for advice from just anyone. You best believe any writer I approached in the past, I’ve read their entire book; not just an excerpt off their website.

Will you read my unpublished manuscript and give me feedback?

For legal reasons, a lot of authors will not read the work of people they don’t already have a relationship with in some capacity. As a writer, we have to protect ourselves because there are too many “sue-happy” folks out there. Please keep that in mind the next time you ask the question and don’t get the response you want. Don’t hold it against the writer. Also, most writers do not have the time to read other people’s manuscripts because they are too busy working on their own and trying to meet deadlines. I would suggest joining a writing group where some of the members may be able to assist with critiquing your work.

I’ve finished my book. What’s next?

What do you want to do next? Are you looking for an agent or a publisher? If you are looking for either one, you will need to know about the submission process. Most require a query letter, synopsis, and the first three chapters.

Are you looking to self-publish? If so, then there are other things you need to consider. For example, will you outright self-publish or will you be using a Print on Demand (POD) service.

Be sure you’ve done your homework and know exactly what you want to do. You will probably get more responses if you ask specific questions, such as “How do I write a query letter?” or “How do I get an ISBN?” than asking a generic question.

Here are two links to get you started:
Query Letter
Formatting Your Manuscript

What steps do I need to go through in order to be published?

It can be a long and tedious process and its hard to sum it up here–its not an easy route. The best advice I can give is to do your research. Google is your friend. Whatever question you have about publishing can be found by putting it in the google search tool.

There’s no magic formula. Write a good book. Seek an agent or publisher and pray that it gets picked up.

I would suggest writing a query letter and a synopsis and following the submission guidelines that agents usually display on their websites. Some publishers accept submissions directly; while others only accept submissions from an agent. Also see my response to the previous question.

Can you help me write my life story?

Yes, for a price; but most people don’t want to hear that. They expect you to do something for free. Writing is a passion for most of us but it’s also a business. Don’t get upset if you get turned flat down because you’re not willing to pay for the writer’s time.

Also, keep in mind that if you live long enough, there’s a story within all of us; but not every life story is meant to be told (meaning, just because your life is interesting to you doesn’t mean we all want to read about it). That’s one reason why I write fiction. Nobody wants to hear about the ins and outs of my life (that’s what blogging is for…lol).

Will you write a blurb for my book?

It depends. Have we ever communicated before? Belonging to literary groups is great for networking so don’t forget to join a few online and offline. You don’t have to wait until your manuscript is finished to do it.

Depending on the author’s schedule, he or she will want to read the entire manuscript before attaching their name to your book. At the very least, they will want to read several chapters if they are unfamiliar with your writing style. If said author doesn’t write a blurb, do not hold it against them.

How can I find an agent?

Agents are found via conferences, referrals or by using other resources such as books like the Writer’s Market and online websites. Bookmark the following website because it gives information on what agents are looking for and their contact information:

Be sure to only send them what they are requesting.

When should I start marketing my book?

I would start marketing the moment I knew the book was going to be published. Once you have an official publishing date and your ISBN from your publisher, I would suggest submitting your galleys to print publications and reviewers. The goal is to inform or make book readers and book buyers aware of your book. You want them to be familiar with the title so once it’s released and they see it on the shelves or while browsing on the Internet, they may take a chance and purchase it. Scroll down the page for tips on promoting your book.

Does paying for reviews help or hurt your review rating?

I’m really not sure. I submit my book to publications and sites that read books in my genre; whether their actual review of my book makes it to the publication or site is at their discretion. I don’t, however, pay for book reviews. Most of the reviews I’ve received lately are from individual readers who purchased the book and either liked or disliked the book. I personally tend to shy away from review sites that charge; however, there are several reputable sites that do charge. Hopefully that answered your question.

How do you find time to write?

I don’t. I make time. Life is what it is. If you wait to find time to write, you never will. Something can or will get in the way if you don’t make a conscious effort to fit writing into your schedule. You have to make time. Set aside a certain amount of time a day or a week to write. Even if you only write an hour a week, you’re closer to your goal than waiting to find time to write.

Please note: The Internet is your friend. Use any one of the search engines and it will pull up a ton of information on any topic. The more specific you can be when asking a question to an author, the better chances you’ll get a response. It shows that you’ve done your homework and you’re really interested in pursuing a writing career.

If you have a question that hasn’t been addressed here or if you feel the answers helped, Shelia would love to hear from you.

Shelia M Goss is the ESSENCE MAGAZINE & Black Expressions Bestselling Author of My Invisible Husband, Roses are thorns, Violets are true, Paige’s Web and Double Platinum. With unique storylines, her goal is to create stories with a twist. Shelia was the recipient of three Shades of Romance Magazine Readers Choice Multi-Cultural Awards. Her articles and short stories have appeared in national magazines such as Black Romance, Bronze Thrills, Tribes Magazine, Jolie, etc. Be sure to pick up a copy of one of her books or order online by clicking on one of the links.

Other Helpful Links



How to do a website on a budget?
Shelia M. Goss ©2007 All Rights Reserved.

  If you’re a published author, soon to be published or even thinking about being a published writer, then you should have a website. No one thought the World Wide Web would be used in the capacity it’s being used now. Well, correction, some folks did (smile).



There’s no excuse for NOT having a website. If you’re unsure of how you want your website to look, I suggest surfing the net. Go to and enter in a few authors names to get an idea.

If you’re unable to hire a web designer to create your home on the web, then do it yourself.

If creating a website scares you, then halt. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe. If you have yahoo, AOL or any one of the many other internet providers, then you have access to creating a website. Bravenet (, Angelfire(, GeoCities (, or Homestead ( offer free or low costing web space with handy tutorials.

As an author, you need to choose a domain name. What is a domain name? It’s an identifier or the information you type in your web browser to pull up a website. For example, if you want to pull up the Shades of Romance website, you will enter the domain The most important thing to remember when deciding on a domain name (your new website address) is to choose something that is easy for your current and future readers to remember. For example, if your name is Jane Doe, then use the domain There will be instances where your name is already taken and you might have to add an initial or some other identifier. Some authors use there book title as their website address. This is fine if you plan on that being the only book you’ll publish or if you can have it forward to your main website (i.e.,

Once you purchase your domain name, it’s yours for the allotted time. You can buy it yearly or whatever terms you and the provider set up. In the past, I’ve seen it for as low as $2.95. The price will depend on the web host site you choose.

There are so many sites that offer web services and it’s easy to get lost and frustrated while trying to find the one for you. Here’s a website that I hope will make it easier for you. The page identifies the web space and price: Thank goodness there is software out there that doesn’t require you to know HTML. Frontpage is one of them. I use it constantly and it’s simple. You can create your page in Microsoft Word and paste it directly into Frontpage. If you have Microsoft Office, Frontpage may already be on your computer. (Note: I recently read somewhere that Microsoft has a new software taking the place of Frontpage, so do your research when deciding on what software to purchase.) What should you include on your web site once you’ve decided on your domain name and web server? At the minimum, make sure the following are included:

  • Book Information (Title, price, where to purchase your book, sample chapter, etc)
  • Bio
  • How to Contact You (Email or contact sheet)
  • Mailing List
  • Guest Book

I’ve been doing my own website for quite some time now. If I can do it, you can too. My website is Take a look around and check out the headings.

One day I’ll turn over the reign to someone else, but in the meantime, I’m always trying to come up with different looks. What you see today will probably be different six months from now.

Remember, having your own website doesn’t have to cost much, you just have to shop around.

Shelia M Goss is the ESSENCE MAGAZINE & Black Expressions Bestselling Author of My Invisible Husband, Roses are thorns, Violets are true, Paige’s Web and Double Platinum. With unique storylines, her goal is to create stories with a twist. Shelia was the recipient of three 2003 Shades of Romance Magazine Readers Choice Multi-Cultural Awards. Her articles and short stories have appeared in national magazines such as Black Romance, Bronze Thrills, Tribes Magazine, Jolie, etc. Be sure to pick up a copy of one of her books or order online by clicking on one of the links.

I hope you enjoyed the free excerpt. It’s just a snippet of what to expect from the Writer Workshops now available as an e-book.

Characters to Life provide quick tips that will help the writer develop three dimensional characters.

Here are five questions to ask yourself as you’re developing your characters:

1. Do my characters seem real? Do they have any flaws? Some of the most unforgettable characters are those with flaws.
2. What’s the driving force behind my character’s action?
3. Are my secondary characters supporting my main story objective?
4. Am I spending too much time on my minor characters?
5. Am I writing from my character’s point of view or mine?

Whether you’re with a major publisher or self-published, you are responsible for promoting your book.

You may have written the best book ever, but if people don’t know about it, it’ll sit around and collect dust.

The information in Book Marketing & Promotions on a Budget is to help ease some of the book promotions anxiety plus give you some marketing tips meant to fit any budget.



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