Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Agent/Author Jennifer Unter and Melissa Dassori Guest Post & Query Critique & JR Silver Writes Her World Giveaway on 7/11/2022
  • Jazmia Young Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 7/13/2022
  • Alex Slater Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 7/20/2022

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • All Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated as of 7/15/2020, and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for them to be fully updated in 2023.


Today I’m so thrilled to have Chuck Sambuchino here to share about his new book, CREATE YOUR WRITER PLATFORM: THE KEY TO BUILDING AN AUDIENCE, SELLING MORE BOOKS AND FINDING SUCCESS AS AN AUTHOR, which was released November 23, 2012. This is such a fantastic book that tells you why it’s important to have writer platform and how to use avenues like blogging, Twitter, and Facebook to build your platform. It’s definitely got me thinking about what I need to do and I know that I’ll be referring to this book in the future. I can’t recommend it enough. 

Chuck Sambuchino of Writer's Digest Books edits the GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS and the CHILDREN'S WRITER'S & ILLUSTRATOR'S MARKET. His Guide to Literary Agents Blog is one of the largest blogs in publishing.
    His 2010 humor book, HOWTO SURVIVE A GARDEN GNOME ATTACK, was optioned by Sony Pictures. His second humor book, RED DOG / BLUE DOG (2012), is a humorous photo collection of dogs doing liberal and conservative things. His books have been mentioned in Reader’s Digest, USA Today, the New York Times, The Huffington Post, Variety, and more.
    Chuck has also written the writing guides FORMATTING & SUBMITTING YOUR MANUSCRIPT and CREATE YOUR WRITER PLATFORM (2012).
    Besides that, he is a freelancebook & query editor, husband, sleep-deprived new father, and owner of a flabby-yet-lovable dog named Graham. Find Chuck on Twitter and on Facebook.

Here’s a description of CREATE YOUR WRITER PLATFORM from Goodreads:

Creating a platform isn't just beneficial--"it's essential"!In today's world of blogging, websites, Twitter feeds, and Facebook updates, building a writer platform from the ground up can seem a daunting task. Never fear--author and editor Chuck Sambuchino provides expert, practical advice for increasing your visibility, selling more books, and launching a successful career. In "Create Your Writer Platform," you'll learn: The definition of a platform--and why you should start building one "now."How to harness the 12 Fundamental Principles of Platform."Old School" and "New School" approaches to platform, from article writing and conference speaking to website development, blog posts, and social media avenues.How to develop a platform for nonfiction, fiction, and memoir. In addition to Chuck's invaluable insights, you'll also find 12 case studies from authors with effective platforms, as well as professional advice from literary agents. If you're serious about building a platform tailored to "you" and "your writing"--a platform that's going to help you succeed as a writer--look no further than "Create Your Writer Platform.
Hi Chuck. Thanks so very much for joining us.
1.  Tell us a bit about yourself, how you started working at Writer’s Digest, and how you became a writer.

I started at Writer’s Digest magazine in 2005. A year later, a position opened up on the books side of WD working on their annual market books. My job since then has evolved to handling whatever they ask me to do—including e-commerce stuff, tweeting, blogging, speaking at conferences, and editing my two market books. It’s a grand adventure, but all aspects of my job focus on helping writers get published—something I enjoy deeply.
I started writing seriously when I was in college. I began in journalism and playwriting. Now I just try to write whatever I can, be it books or screenplays or articles or anything else. I’ve also started a freelance editing business for queries, synopses and manuscripts. I think the variety of assignments helps keep me interested. (I have mad A.D.D.)
2.  I think you have a dream job for a writer. Share about your blog and how you’ve made it grow over the years you’ve been blogging.

The Guide to Literary Agents Blog began 5 years ago and has been quite a journey. I feel like I’ve learned so much along the way, so I’ll just be short. As the years went on, I started to pay attention to different things, such as what readers responded to, what kinds of posts generated more page views, and how to get others to contribute content to me. These 3 things, along with a ton of other factors, have helped it grow from nothing into one of the biggest blogs in publishing. Every month, I get e-mails from multiple people saying they used the blog to get an agent. 

For people out there considering creating a blog, one easy tip I can share with you is to simply look at what other similar bloggers are doing and learn from them. If they have success with book reviews, can you do the same? If they have success holding contests, can you do the same? If they get more comments on posts that end with a question, can you do the same? Don’t reinvent the wheel. Study why others find success and mimic them in some way.

3.  Guys, I love Chuck's blog. It's another great resource besides here for finding out about new agents to query. I highly recommend you follow it. And that's a great tip, Chuck, to study other successful blogs.  

In your book, you differentiate between publicity and platform. What are the differences between the two and why is developing a platform so important?

Platform is the connections & avenues you develop before you need help spreading the word about your book. Publicity is when your book is out and you ask other people, many of whom you do not know well, to cover your book in the media. 

Publicity is very hit & miss—almost alarmingly so. You never know when or where someone will discuss your book. Platform is guaranteed. If you’ve created a newsletter with 10,000 subscribers, that is your platform to control, and it is guaranteed that you can mention your book every newsletter. 

Think about it like this: When your book comes out, what options are available for you right now that are guaranteed to help you? That’s platform. What options exist that you hope will help you when you contact them? That’s publicity. The difference between the former and latter is huge

4.  Platform sounds way more important and what I'm planning on focusing on. You also discuss the 12 fundamental principles of building a platform. Share a few of the critical ones with us.

The first two are pretty darn important. #1 is “It is in giving that we receive.” In other words, you must offer other people distinct value to get them to follow you. Make them smile; inform them; cull together information; teach them how to change a tire; create some website that makes their lives easier. If you can do this on a website or in person or through social media, then you will gain followers and fans and contacts. Thus, you will create networks of people who trust you and will consider buying your book(s). That’s platform! Most people simply tweet about what’s happening in their day because that is the easiest thing to do. But that information is of no mass value to people, so a platform never materializes. Remember that providing real value to people is often difficult.
#2 is “You don’t have to go it alone.” Team up with others to accomplish your goals. Contribute to existing websites and blogs and magazines if starting your own seems too daunting. Co-write with people. Get people to contribute to your site/blog. Help other people with their endeavors so they will help you with yours. Rise together with other rising writers.

5.  Those two principles are so important to focus on. Wow! I can attest to how great it is to team up with other bloggers. Joining Casey as a blog partner was one of the best things I've done. She's been a great mentor in my blogging and already had followers.

You stress in your book that it’s essential for a nonfiction writer to have a strong platform before trying to find a publisher while it is less important for fiction writers, who need to finish the best book they can write. Most of us here are aspiring middle grade and YA fiction writers trying to build our platform. What are the essential steps we should take now to build our platforms?

First, I advise you not to step into this world half-heartedly. If you are going to reluctantly blog or reluctantly tweet or reluctantly speak to local groups of people, then this is not the best path for you. Your dispassion will come through in your work, and a following will not manifest. And that’s OK. After all, fiction writers don’t need platform…

…But they should want platform. Because platform = book sales, and book sales = a long and successful writing career. 

One of the first things you need to do is figure out what you will talk about when online or in person. In other words, what value/information will you try to share/provide? In my platform book, I lay out the three most common approaches of fiction writers in the platform arena:

  1. The “loose connection” niche: This is where you talk about a subject that has a loose connection to your book(s). An example would be an author who writes crime fiction with a Native-American protagonist. This author could blog about legislation and news affecting Native communities.
  2. The “altogether different” niche. This is where you develop a platform focusing on whatever you like—perhaps something like a capella singing or mountain biking. You attempt to develop a platform large in size, so that some of your large following will also have an interest in books—and those people will buy your novel.
  3. The “writing focus” niche. This is where you discuss writing and books and publishing. Beware, though. Many people take this approach, and only the hardest working, most original approaches succeed. Remember that talking about your own publishing journey is often not of high value. You must bring more to the table—reviews, news, interviews, etc.

6.  For most of us aspiring authors who don’t have a big name behind us like Writer’s Digest or aren’t experts in a nonfiction field, the way we increase our blog followings (besides providing good content) is following other blogs. Many who get a fair amount of comments offer giveaways (like I do with my author interviews) and/or spend hours a day following other blogs and commenting on them. Many bloggers are saying that the blogging is taking too much time and are cutting back on their blogging to allow more time for writing, which is of course very important. I also see a lot of authors who stop following blogs once they get their publishing contract and then they lose many of their followers. What are your thoughts on this trend of cutting back and what are your recommendations for making our blogs grow and increasing our blog followings?

If it’s too much trouble to blog, start a blog with multiple people so you all work together. Or
contribute to an existing blog. That will help you get some visibility but cut back on your workload.
If commenting on many blogs is an issue, then simply stop commenting on so many blogs.
And yes, you cannot stop your platform building and social media once you get a contract. This perplexes me. What’s the point of making connections and friends if you’re going to give up on those connections in the timeframe right before you need them the most (when your book comes out)?
This all comes down to a lack of time for people. And the answer to that problem is to always be trying to work smarter.

7.  I so agree with you that you can't give up on the connections you make, which is why I think it's a mistake to stop blogging and reading blogs if you have a following. Working smarter sounds like a great approach to handling the time constraint issues.

How should we define whether our blogs are successful—comments or page views—and why?

Both. Page views show your wide reach. Comments are more reflective of how many hardcore followers you have. Obviously, hardcore followers will be shoo-ins to buy your book, and that’s great. (They will also spread the word about your book when it comes out to help you—this proving Fundamental Principle #2.) But you can’t just market your book to the same 50-200 loyal readers. You’ve got to meet new readers and show up on Google searches. That kind of success is reflective in growing page views. 

8.  I hadn't thought of the importance of page views, but I'm going to focus on them more in the future.

Let’s talk about Twitter for a bit. I confess that I’m not on Twitter yet because I spend a lot of time already on my blog and reading other people’s blogs. I work full-time and have a family and barely have time to write with all this. But you’ve convinced me in your book that I need to join Twitter soon. Share what are the best ways aspiring authors can utilize Twitter to build our platforms and how to use it once we have a book being released. How much time should we spend on this and blogging, especially if we have other jobs?

One thing people need to understand is that your first goal when joining Twitter is to listen. It is an information-sharing site, so go on there, follow people, and read what they are sharing. There is more great tutelage and instruction going around than can be consumed. 

If you want to join Twitter to build your platform and expand your influence beyond the hemisphere of friends & relatives, then it’s very simple … you must provide value and give people an incentive to follow you. You can’t just talk about yourself. You have to share good info or make people laugh or teach people something. We’re back to all-important Fundamental Principle #1. If you give people a reason to follow you on Twitter, they will indeed follow you. A lot of writers find success by passing around good Internet articles on writing. That is incentive for other writers to follow them. To see examples of this in action, check out the Twitter accounts of Joanna Penn, Debbie Ohi, Jane Friedman and myself. 

9.  I'm going to check them all out before I go on Twitter. Share how we can use some of the tools like Google analytics to gauge how successful we are in growing our platform.

Google Analytics can start to show you which posts are getting the most attention. From there, you can try to analyze why this is so. Perhaps you had a great blog post title; perhaps someone famous blogged about your article and sent new people your way; perhaps you happen to be the only person on the planet blogging about left-handed writers born in Romania (so you should continue on the topic!). 

A big part of building your platform is to evolve and analyze. See what’s working, and learn from that. Also, continue to make small tweaks to work more effectively. 

10. What books are you working on now?

I’m editing the 2014 GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS and the 2014 CHILDREN’S WRITER’S & ILLUSTRATOR’S MARKET. Outside of that, my agent and I are shopping proposals for my next guide on writing as well as my next pop humor book. Hopefully I will have good news to share in 2013. I love meeting writers, so please stay in touch with me through Twitter (@chucksambuchino) and my website, chucksambuchino.com
Okay, I’ll stop here because I’ve asked you a ton of questions. Thanks so much for all your great advice. You have got me really thinking about so much about my platform. I hope everyone else has gotten as much out of Chuck's advice.

Chuck generously offered a copy of CREATE YOUR WRITER PLATFORM for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by midnight on March 2nd. I’ll announce the winner on March 4th. If your e-mail is not on Blogger, please list it in your comment.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. International entries are welcome.

Here's what's coming up:

Tomorrow I'll be doing a cover reveal for my friend Terry Johnson. I hope you'll stop by and congratulate her on her awesome cover.

Friday Casey has a guest post on love and romance in YA books.

Next Monday I have an interview with a high school teen for my ASK THE EXPERT series and will be sharing and giving away THE CADET OF TILDOR, a fantastic debut fantasy and OBSIDIAN MIRROR, an urban fantasy by Catherine Fisher, one of my favorite authors. Even if you don't love the fantasy genre, I think you'll really enjoy these books because they don't have much magic and just great stories.

And next Wednesday, Casey and I have a super awesome 3000 follower mega giveaway. You won't want to miss it. 

The following Monday I'm interviewing Carrie Harris about writing humor and platform and giving away her new book BAD HAIR DAY and BAD TASTE IN BOYS. Carrie has a great knack in creating funny, really likeable characters. I went to her book signing for BAD HAIR DAY and discovered she lives in my town. I was SO excited to find that out and I'm excited to share her books with you.

And Wednesday that week I'm thrilled to interview Shannon Messenger about her new YA book LET THE SKY FALL. I'm part of her blog tour and the tour is sponsoring a giveaway. And because Shannon's my friend and I loved her book, I have a giveaway too.

And don't forget our Tuesday Tips and Casey's Thursday agent spotlights.

Hope to see you on Monday!


  1. What a wealth of tips. I and my garden gnome thank you.

  2. Wonderful interview! I love the Twitter information. This is where my platform blows chunks. Thanks for the tips!

  3. Great information here. So much to keep in mind.

  4. Thanks for the interview - it's fun to see Chuck from a different angle.

  5. Chuck is awesome, so is his blog, his advice is smart, and he's a great public speaker, too!!!

    *waves to Chuck and Natalie*

  6. Chuck? Now there's an alpha male if ever I saw one. Good information too.

    Thanks for sharing.


  7. Chuck is fabulous. Such a wealth of information here. Looking forward to having him in Greece in 2014 if he can make it to the retreat again! :-)

  8. Thanks thanks for this! I am trying to figure out how to keep the blogging going--I like the idea of doing it as a team, helps lessen the blogging you need to do, plus I love team work. Thanks for the giveaway too!

  9. Wow, what a thorough, informative interview. I have followed Chuck's blog for over 3 years. His Garden Gnome book was a fun read, so I really must get his new one.

  10. What a great interview! Thank you Chuck for the advice and Natalie for some excellent questions :)

  11. Thanks for the interview! I am new to blogging and the information was extremely helpful. I'm also excited for the giveaway!!

  12. Good interview, Natalie!! I did Tweet it to my followers, as well--and will share on FB, also. Hugs!

  13. Great interview. And love easy contests. =)

    elizabeth(dot)arroyo5 (at) gmail (dot) com

  14. I have always found Chuck's site full of info for writers. Thanks for this wonderful interview.

  15. I've followed Chuck's blog for awhile now. Thanks for sharing more of his advice!

  16. Wonderful interview! Chuck's blog is amazing.

  17. Wow, such a great post! And Chuck, I can't believe your blog is only in year 5! I assumed it must be older as you've build it up so incredibly well! Kudos!

    Thanks for all the knowledge you've shared here--great value for all bloggers and writers. :)

    Angela Ackerman

  18. Several years ago a writer friend told me, "If you only have time to read one thing from the writing world per day, read Chuck's blog."

  19. Thanks for all the tips, Chuck. I especially liked the tip about joining with other bloggers to lighten the load, because blogging can be very time consuming.

    Natalie, I resisted joining Twitter because I thought it was just one more thing I had to do. But really Twitter doesn't take much time and it's a great networking resource.

  20. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  21. I like what you said about doing thing reluctantly. If you're going to do it, you need to do it well.

  22. Great interview and great tips. I'm not crazy about twitter, but I have met some great people through it. As for building a platform, I'm not sure why readers wouldn't want to do that!

    No need to consider me for the book giveaway. I already have a copy:) But thanks Natalie and Chuck for this wonderful interview.

  23. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  24. Some good stuff!
    My blog is definitely an "altogether different" niche platform. Good to know I did something right with it.

  25. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  26. I read Chuck's Guide to Literary Agents, and found it to be pretty informative. His new book looks like it'll be worth picking up as well.

  27. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  28. Did anyone else just feel like they were drinking up all this information!?!!? This is a post worth re-reading multiple times. I am still writing/revising/revising/revising right now, but this has definitely taught me of the work that comes after publication. Thanks for a great interview!

  29. Already a follower. Would love to win a great writer/blogger book! Thanks for the interview and contest.

  30. Fantastic interview! Just the information I need right now.

  31. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  32. I've been waiting for this review since you first told me about the book, Natalie. :) I definitely need to check it out. And I really need to get back to Twitter. I got turned off it by all the self promotion going on. :P

  33. Always find Chuck's blog so informative and this is a great interview! Also loved the garden gnome thing ;)

  34. Great post - would love to read the book - thanks!

  35. Thanks for the chance to win Chuck's book. I have a review blog on Wordpress, where I review debut authors. When I went on Twitter, it blew up! I have more requests than I can handle and had to stop taking new requests. I am at the beginning stages of my debut novel but have 1674 followers already and several authors that said they will read and review my book when it comes out..so an early platform is a really good idea. :)

    1. That's awesome, Rebecca. You and Chuck are inspiring me to join Twitter.

  36. Thanks for the interesting and informative interview!!

  37. You've posted one of the best interviews I've ever read online. Thanks to you both.

  38. This is a nice big slice of great info. Thanks, Natalie!

  39. This is a great interview, and I absolutely love your site--always full of great information. Thanks so much!

  40. Awesome interview, and my head is bursting with all that information. I'm looking forward to checking out the people he suggested on twitter. (I've heard Debbie Ohi speak, and she's fun!) Thanks for all the great advice.

  41. Thanks for the interview. I always like reading thoughts and ideas from successful writers.

  42. Awesome interview; Now to digest and implement all this new information. Thanks Natalie and Chuck!

  43. Wow. Yes, I will be referring back to this. Twitter and Writer's Digest has helped recently with writer's block. Hmmm, what to do... find inspiring articles on twitter!Email me at katwomanfifi@yahoo.com

  44. Excellent advice; I'll be referring to this post often to brush up.

  45. Fantastic interview. I've bookmarked it so that I can come back to it to reread.

  46. Chuck always has great information - and his gnome book was hilarious!

    Tweeted: https://twitter.com/Margay/status/303174330609717249

  47. I met Chuck at OWFI last May. He's served as a wealth of information for me in this publishing journey. Thanks for the interview!

  48. whoa. Lot's of new information. I'll have to check back again to fully digest it all.

  49. Great interview, with lots of useful advice! Thanks!

  50. I keep coming across Chuck's contributions to Writer's Digest, so it's nice to see more useful info here!

  51. WOW! Thanks for the great information!

  52. Thanks for sharing!


  53. Awesome! I came to check out the giveaway, but I'm glad I found you! Love it! (p.s. I also tweeted the giveaway)


  54. Lovely interview!

    Thank you for sharing your expertise, Chuck :)

  55. This looks like an excellent resource.

  56. I think Terry Johnson is the most common name in America sometimes. I know three others. Two of them dated each other!

    Regarding Twitter, something I've been doing is to interact with fans/followers of other authors who I think might be interested in my manuscript. I work to find out why they're a fan of that author. To be a successful writer, we really can't write for just ourselves. We must take potential readers into consideration just as much as what other writers have to say. I both listen to the pros who post as well as to those I would like to read my books.

    alysbcohen and I use gmail. You can figure that out. :)

  57. There's a lot of information packed into a very small space up there! Mr. Sambuchino's blog is always informative. I agree with him on the importance of Twitter as a tool for learning the ropes and promoting one's work. I personally enjoy the challenge of squeezing a complex thought into 140 characters. :D

    Great interview!

    Peter Frahm

  58. Thank you so much for the post, can't wait to read the book and gain more insights.

  59. Great post! I follow Chuck already and regularly read his articles. elaine at empowell dot com

  60. Following. Tweeted. Wanting to win this one!


  61. I would be thrilled to win this book. Thanks for all you do!

  62. Thanks for the in-depth, informative interview. Lots to think about!

  63. Great interview! I follow @chucksambuchino and he's right, give people a reason to follow you! I've already started implementing many of his suggestions. Would love a copy of his book!
    *I tweeted this contest too

  64. I don't have a cell phone and can't twitter, but I'd love the book :)

  65. Would love to have a copy of Create Your Writer Platform. I am a new follower. Thank you for the opportunity.

  66. I left the above comment, Nikki L'. For some reason my blogger email isn't working. My alternate email is nikkiandlinzi@cox.net. If anybody knows how to remedy this I could sure use some help.;)

  67. Great interview - Chuck always has such great advice in his articles!

  68. Looks like a great resource. Great interview and post overall.


  69. Great interview with great advice. Bookmarked this post for future reference. TheAppForPC

  70. Wow What a great interview...Thanks for sharing and keep updating.