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To help the author develop and create the best book possible. Material that has both commercial appeal and long-term value.

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To help the author determine the next best step in their writing career. Giving counsel regarding the subtleties of the marketplace as well as the realities of the publishing community.

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Recent Posts

Seasons of the Writing Life

Once upon a time, a writer spent his or her time writing. With a quill. At a desk. In a forest glen, surrounded by songbirds and burbling streams. And then, when a new book was released, doing a few public readings and book signings before going back to writing.

Those days are gone.

These days, I encourage writers to think in terms of writing seasons.

Writing season

When you’re planning and writing your debut nonfiction book or novel (please don’t call a novel a “fiction novel,” that’s just all kinds of wrong), you’re in a demanding but often intoxicating writing season. The world is your oyster, so to speak; and your main task is to write. In that season, you will also learn to write a strong proposal or two … or three, since many authors’ first book to be published was actually their second or third book to pitch and/or write.

Platform-building season

Unlike the “once upon a time” days referred to above, however, another season coincides with that writing season; let’s call it “the platform season.” During this season, you experiment with various attempts to enlarge your reach and increase your engagement with readers, potential readers, fans, and followers. You work to build an audience, regularly doing something—big or small—so when your debut project is pitched, an editor and publisher can see that you get it, that you understand part of your job as an author is to be enlarging and engaging with a following. Pro tip: This season never ends.

Pitching season

When your proposal (and, sometimes, full manuscript) is ready, having been critiqued, edited, and proofread  repeatedly, you’ll enter the networking and pitching phase. You may ask your well-published writer friends who represents them, what publishers and editors they most enjoyed working with, what are their recommendations, etc. You might email agents or meet with agents and editors at writers conferences to get to know them, show them your work, and see what doors open to you. Pro tip: This season ebbs and flows, but also never ends, though it does change if and when you begin working with an agent.

Editing season

Soon after your book is accepted for publication, before it makes you rich and famous, you’ll enter an editing season. This season overlaps and infiltrates (and sometimes upends) the above seasons. But it’s important nonetheless. You’ll enjoy and/or endure multiple exchanges with an editor about changes to your manuscript and will review numerous incarnations of your work, possibly culminating in the careful review of galleys, or page proofs, which will be your last chance to find and correct mistakes or make changes.

Marketing season

Once you have a book scheduled for release, you begin a marketing season, which will overlap the above seasons but will occupy a greater percentage of your time and effort as release day approaches and comes and your book becomes available. It is always in your interest to partner with your book’s publisher to make sure it sells many, many copies, because your sales history will become a crucial part of future pitches.

Writing season

Long before most of the above seasons have played out, you’ll enter a new writing season in which you start or continue work on the next book. And maybe the one after that. Pro tip: This season never ends.

What about you? Have you found it helpful (or not) to think of your writing life in terms of “seasons?”

 

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Resist the Urge to Explain Your Title

For fiction writers, there is an important self-editing technique called RUE (Resist the Urge to Explain). The problem occurs when an author overwrites a scene and explains every thought, movement, etc., or fails to allow the reader to fill in the details, thereby ruining the reading experience. The concept is …

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Fun Fridays – February 8, 2019

Almost a million and a half people have viewed this video already; but if you haven’t, be prepared to laugh. The comedian Jon Crist created this bit called “If Bible Characters Had iPhones.” There are some wild anachronisms in movies, but they probably weren’t intentional. This satire is great fun. Enjoy!

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Real Feelings

Novels should tap into emotions. If a reader doesn’t react to your book, she’s likely to put it aside in favor of another book that touches her heart and mind. One-star book reviews hurt; but at least if a reviewer passionately hates your book, you’ve evoked emotion. In some ways, …

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