Susan Shapiro

Susan Shapiro, an award-winning writer and professor, freelances for the NY Times, Washington Post, WSJ, LA Times, NY Magazine, Salon, Elle, Oprah, Wired & New Yorker online. She's the bestselling author/coauthor of 18 books her family hates like Five Men Who Broke My Heart, Lighting Up, Unhooked, The Bosnia List and her recent memoir The Forgiveness Tour. She lives with her scriptwriter husband in Manhattan and uses her writing/publishing guides The Book Bible and Byline Bible to teach her wildly popular "instant gratification takes too long" courses at The New School, NYU, Columbia University and in private classes & seminars - now online. Follow her on Twitter at @susanshapironet, Instagram at @Profsue123 or email


The Sergeant on CNN’s Jake Tapper
Booklist starred review of Book Bible
Library Journal starred review of World In Between
Book List starred review of World In Between
Publishers Weekly Starred Review of Forgiveness Tour
Business Insider ❤️s The Byline Bible & Sue’s Zoom class

Winner of 2023 ASJA book Award

Winner of 2019 ASJA Book Award
Winner of 2018 Best Book Award for Writing & Publishing

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Purchase at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell's, Books-A-Million

“A brilliant, witty, and inspiring guide”
The Rumpus

“A must for anyone trying to break into the writing business”
NY Post

Forbes Q & A
Sue on "Mom's Don't Have Time to Read Books" Podcast
The Debutante Ball Q & A
Blood From A Door Nail -The Rumpus
WSJ Op-Ed Higher Education
KABC L.A. Talk Radio interview with Sue
New York Post’s Weeks Best Books
Publishers Weekly review
The Revealer Reading Recommendations
The TUE/DO List
18 Ways To Write Funnier Faster excerpt
The Worst and Best Things That’ll Happen excerpt
Undercover: 21 Tips For a Perfect Cover Letter excerpt
Detroit News Q & A
The Art of Following Up: Quartz excerpt
How Not to Deal With Rejection exerpt
The Brooklyn Rail book review
Heliotrope Magazine Q & A excerpt
Literary Hub excerpt
Our Town Book Review by a former student
What Would Virginia Woolf Do
New School Q & A
RedHook Star Revue
Write About Now Podcast

Shapiro, Susan.
The Byline Bible: Get Published in Five Weeks.
Writer’s Digest. Aug. 2018. 256p. illus.
ISBN 9781440353680. pap. $19.99. COMM

According to award-winning writing professor and best-selling author ­Shapiro (What’s Never Said), “The best way to break into publishing is with a great three-page double-spaced personal essay.” Combining hard-won experience, practical lessons from teaching more than 25,000 students (who have since published 150 books), Shapiro exemplifies the truism that simplicity is indeed the last thing found—and offers her own: “Instant Gratification Takes Too Long.” Considering the book’s subtitle, readers with impatient literary ambitions will learn not only how to identify and “target” editors but when, why, and what to pitch. Shapiro’s work is distinguished by providing actual student-written service pieces, op-eds, essays, plus the author’s own successful pitch letters. An oft-noted criticism is that few universities teach students how to employ writing and editing skills. And while the New School offered the author an opportunity to change that, she is quick to add that so long as one has a potent idea, three great pages, and a seasoned editor or guide, nothing else—higher education, experience—matters. The worst that will happen, notes New York Times editor Peter Catapano, is “No, thank you.” VERDICT For novice writers and professionals alike, this comprehensive desk reference will prove invaluable.
William Grabowski, Library Journal

Byline Bible... is great, it's super practical, super readable,
funny and it gives really solid nuts and bolts advice
about what type of stories editors are looking for.
Jonathan Small, Write About Now Podcast

There’s so much wisdom in Byline Bible.
If you write and want to see your words in print, you need this book.
Andrea Askowitz, Writing Class Radio Podcast

Word Lovers' Valentine Publishing Panel
Susan Shapiro’s "instant gratification takes too long" classes, taught at New York University, the New School, and in private seminars, task her students with writing and publishing a piece by the end of the course—for added incentive, attendees are encouraged to pay the fee with newly earned funds from published works. The author will gather an insightful group of gatekeepers to share trade secrets on breaking into the magazine and publishing worlds. Speakers include the Times editor Peter Catapano, the Beacon Press book editor Rakia Clark, and the Rolling Stone editor Jerry Portwood.
The New Yorker
The Byline Bible: Get Published in 5 Weeks
by Susan Shapiro

Writer’s Digest, $17.99 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-44035-368-0
In clear, energetic, and forthright language, writer and teacher Shapiro (Only as Good as Your Word) provides a nuts-and-bolts guide to getting a piece of nonfiction writing published, whether in print or online. She focuses on producing short, confessional essays, which she proclaims are the “best way to break into publishing,” though she also includes advice on op-ed and humor pieces, among others. There are no shortcuts, however, despite the gimmicky subtitle. Shapiro constantly reminds her readers to do their homework and thoroughly read up on the genre they’re trying to break into, and the publications they’re planning on approaching. She emphasizes timeliness and originality in choosing subject matter, the importance of feedback and revising when writing, and openness to learning from rejection while approaching editors and publishers. Succinct lists throughout of dos and don’ts (“Don’t arrogantly tell the editor that his readers will surely love your brilliant piece”) will help the potential scribe keep all of Shapiro’s points in order and to hand. Her book is not a full substitute for taking a writing class and learning with a pro, but her insights are excellent starting points for beginners and good reminders for veterans. (Aug.)
Publishers Weekly

Susan Shapiro’s The Byline Bible is a thorough resource for writers in need of guidance. The longtime writing professor lists practical tips and tricks for crafting a great nonfiction piece, composing an excellent pitch to the correct editor and figuring out what to do after it’s been accepted (or rejected). By including dozens of examples of stories her students published in magazines and even in The New York Times, Shapiro establishes her authority as the right person to trust to finally break into the writing business. Aspiring writers on a budget won’t be disappointed with this $20 purchase.
Gurjit Kaur
Northwestern University
Medill Journalism School’s Medill Reports

Byline Bible will teach aspiring authors everything they need to know about writing and selling short nonfiction as a freelancer.
Bustle Magazine Best Books On Writing

The Byline Bible by Susan Shapiro
A Worthwhile Addition to a Writer’s Nonfiction Shelf

In this wholly entertaining guide for freelance writers looking to climb the publication ladder, professor and scribe Susan Shapiro transfers her highly successful, results-oriented course to print in a lively new release.
Serving up various writing assignments that can help you find out where your strengths lie, from mining your life for irresistible personal essay fodder to locating someone to pitch it to (as well as how to respond to a critique and the most common reactions to expect), Shapiro guides old and new freelancers through the entire process from submit to print.
Reminding writers that the fastest way to burn a bridge is to respond to an email in anger, she offers another practical reason to bite one’s tongue, as charming someone on the staff of a publication with your sincerity, reliability, and professionalism might make an editor far more willing to work with you to get your piece publication-ready than a total stranger would be.
With decades of proven experience to back her up both personally as a writer and professionally as a teacher, Shapiro includes countless columns and articles penned by her students over the years as examples throughout.
Giving it to you straight while maintaining a healthy sense of relatable optimism and dry wit that keeps you flipping pages, Susan Shapiro’s compellingly readable Byline Bible makes a worthwhile addition to your nonfiction shelf.
Cinemabelle in Bookish

Copyright 2004-2024 Susan Shapiro. All Rights Reserved.
Fix-Up Fanatic cover art by Mary Lynn Blasutta