Getting Started in Writing Fiction With Evan Marshall

on October 31, 2009 in Ghostwriting / Books

Today in our "Getting Started" series, we'll hear from novelist, literary agent, and nonfiction author Evan Marshall. If you'd like writing fiction to be a part of your future, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better brain to pick on the topic. I've personally been a big fan of his Marshall Plan for Novel Writing for years (a book, workbook, and software package are all available). If you've decided to pursue novel writing, I wholeheartedly recommend The Marshall Plan as a jumping off point to help you get things outlined and get a rough draft completed.

In the meantime, here's what Marshall had to say about how he became an author and what you should keep in mind if you'd like to do the same:

On How he Became a Novelist...

"I started writing novels when I was eleven, but it wasn't until years later that it finally dawned on me that I was creating novels only for myself and wasn't truly thinking about publishers' and readers' needs. So I started from scratch, cold-bloodedly studied the market, targeted a genre in which editors were aggressively buying, and came up with a fresh angle. These were my Jane Stuart and Winky mysteries--cozies featuring an amateur sleuth no one had done before: a literary agent. I created a proposal and within a month had a three-book contract. I'm currently at work on my tenth novel, which will be published in late 2010."

On Needing Specialized Education or Experience Before Starting...

"I'm constantly reading cozy mysteries to see what's being done and what isn't. That's the most important kind of education--knowing the market inside and out. Experience helps, of course (I based my first series on my own experience as an agent), but thorough research can take the place of experience. My current series, the Hidden Manhattan Mysteries, feature a New York Sanitation Department supervisor. I've had a ball researching--touring SDNY garages, interviewing personnel, and so on."

On How Writers can get Started in Novel Writing...

"At any given time it's important to find out the genres in which editors are currently actively buying. Of course, the genre also needs to appeal to you. Right now, for example, paranormal is huge, so fresh ideas in this genre are welcome."

On Things Prospective Novelists Should Know Up Front...

"1. You will probably not be able to make a living solely from your writing any time soon, if ever.


2. It takes a while to build a readership, so you must be patient and keep at it.

3. There may be times when you have to change course--start a new series, change your name, change publishers. It's how this business goes."

On Evan Marshall...

evan marshallEvan Marshall is the author of a number of popular mystery novels; recently released in his Hidden Manhattan mystery series are Death is Disposable and Evil Justice; coming in March 2010 is Dark Alley. Learn more about Evan's mysteries at He is president of the Evan Marshall Agency, a literary management firm specializing in fiction, and is a former book editor and packager. Evan is also the author of the bestselling Marshall Plan® writers' guides. Recently he and coauthor Martha Jewett released The Marshall Plan® Novel Writing Software, based on this series. Visit and download Evan’s free 77-page Fiction Makeover guide, packed with tips and ideas for writing a great novel.

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.

She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.

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1 Comment

  1. Meghan July 28, 2010 Reply

    Hello I’m 11years old I just finished my first book at 86pgs it’s a horror. This site helped me thank you for that. People try tell me to change my book my creation. I tell them make your book your plot your taste remeber as long as it’s your book no matter what anyone says its never bad.-Meghan .O

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