IMPORTANT NOTE: The Newsletter Is Going on Hiatus

As a full year of writing Ask An Author draws to a close, I’ve decided a year of posts feels like a very good place to stop for now. Ask An Author will be going on hiatus near the end of April 2020, a year after it began.

I’m going to turn off paid subscriptions somewhere around late March — that means, if you want to see any of the locked archive posts, now’s your last chance! If you’d like to read or save any number of them for yourself, here’s how:

1) Hit this button:

2) Buy a monthly subscription for or a yearly subscription. Even after I turn off new subscriptions, you’ll continue to have access to the whole archive for the rest of your paid month / the rest of your paid year, even though after April 2020 there won’t be any new newsletters coming to your inbox.

3) I’ve asked Substack to ensure that auto-renew is turned off, since there isn’t going to be any new content. Thus, you’ll be able to read the archives for a month or a year, depending on which you choose, and then you’ll lose access to the locked content. Feel free to save any articles you’d like before then.

The email addresses and will stop working on April 22, but you can always get in touch with me at

(Below is the general information that doesn’t have to do with the hiatus.)

About the Column

This is an advice column for both aspiring and working fiction writers.

I’m your host, science fiction and fantasy author SL Huang, and I’m an agented, full-time novelist. I’m currently contracted under a six-figure multi-book deal with a Big Five publishing house, and before that, I made a living self-publishing. You can read more about me below.

Ask Me a Question!

Send your questions about writing and the business of working in fiction to

If you’d like your question behind the subscriber-lock for a tiny bit more privacy, you can request that in your email.

By sending in a question, you are agreeing to grant me all publishing rights to the text of your question. Although I may sometimes edit questions for length, clarity, or other reasons, please do not put anything in the text of your question that you would not want published (for example, use pseudonyms for any names you do not want shown).

Questions are published anonymously. I will never, ever publish a questioner’s name and email address or otherwise sell, use, or reveal that information, except where required by law.

Privacy Policy

For the full privacy and data collection policy associated with subscribing to Ask an Author or sending in questions, click here.

About the Author

Why start this newsletter?

Starting about the end of 2018, I began receiving around one email a week from fellow professional authors I knew asking if I would help them with business advice. The questions were often sticky ones: Should I leave my agent? Do you think I should switch genres? Would self-publishing be better for me?

I’m also on a variety of different writers’ forums and Slacks, where I’m constantly both learning more and sharing my own knowledge, and where I’ve answered people’s questions about contracts, copyedits, film options, diversity issues, querying, promotion, collaboration, and more.

Right now I’m in a uniquely useful place for writing a column like this: I’m not so far into my career that I’ve gotten out of touch with the changing norms of the industry, but at a few books into my traditional publishing career with a Big Five house (plus foreign deals and a movie option), I’m far enough along that I’ve aggregated quite a lot of industry knowledge. Plus I’ve also self-published, worked with small presses, and written a number of successful short stories — including multiple that have made it into best-of-the-genre anthologies. I like sharing what I’ve learned with people and I think the writing and publishing industry could benefit from a lot, lot more transparency and crosstalk.

What am I best at answering?

I try hard not to claim expertise outside the limits of my knowledge, and I’ll always try to make it clear how universal you should expect my advice to be. Here’s what I’m best at answering:

  • My genres are SFF and thriller, so I know most about them. However, I try to stay aware of what’s happening in adjacent genres as well, and many topics are cross-genre.

  • I’m queer and nonwhite, so I can speak about diversity, prejudice, and cultural appropriation from that perspective. (Note: Most questions on these topics will be subscriber-locked, because otherwise they tend to attract trolls.)

  • I can answer almost any Business of Writing 101 questions. The more advanced 102 questions are sometimes the ones that start getting split by genre, but they’re also my favorite questions to answer!

  • I’m happy to talk about promotion, social media, self-publishing, small presses, working with editors, movie options, foreign deals, advances, agents, signings, convention appearances, short fiction, and more.

  • Though this blog will skew toward the business of writing fiction, I’m also happy to answer any questions about craft.

My beliefs and biases

I firmly believe that:

  • If you write, you’re a writer.

  • Writers should talk to each other about the business aspects of the industry.

  • Writers should talk to each other about the financial aspects of the industry.

  • Writers should talk to each other about the way they’re treated.

This newsletter is an attempt to be a part of pushing all of those things within the industry.

I want to know more about your career! Where can I read your books?

You can check me out and find all my books and stories at my author website.

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Advice column on the business and craft of advancing your fiction career. Written by a full-time novelist.