Registration Open for Two New Spring Offerings!

FullSizeRenderAs February comes to a close, we’re reflecting fondly on our fabulous Women & Words at Willows Lodge publishing retreat. What a weekend it was! Thanks to everyone who made it possible, from the inspiring attendees (who had terrific book ideas!) to the team at the amazing Willows Lodge in Woodinville. We’re warming up on this chilly afternoon with survey feedback from our attendees, who gave us an overwhelmingly positive response—including a 100% satisfaction rate and a unanimous rating of “excellent”! (Aw, shucks.) The retreat was a real pleasure for us too. We love helping burgeoning writers navigate their path to publication—and we admit, we don’t mind doing it in five-star FullSizeRender (1)accommodations. (After all, great ideas are often born in a deep-soaking bathtub!)

While you’ll have to wait until next January for the next Willows Lodge retreat, we have some other motivating options in the meantime. We hope you’ll join us in May for our new four-week course, Publishing Your Book in Today’s Marketplace, via University of Washington’s Professional & Continuing Education (UWPCE). This hands-on and results-oriented class takes place on the UW Seattle campus on Thursday evenings, 5/7-5/28. Give us a month, we’ll get your book proposal ready to submit! Registration is open now and space is limited. Click here for more info or to register.

From June 25-28, we’re excited to be in Bellingham for the 2015 Chuckanut Writers Conference! As a special prequel to the festivities, we’re offering a “master class” on our core curriculum, Secrets of a Successful Proposal, on Thursday, June 25, from 1-5pm. Space is limited! Then we’ll show you how to Build a Killer Author Platform on June 27. Check out all the literary luminaries on the schedule: Erik Larson, Elizabeth George, Stephanie Kallos, Molly Wizenberg, Kate Lebo, and more. It’s going to be good. Click here for more info or to register.

Remember, spring is a great time to recharge your writing project. Hope to see you soon!

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5 Things You Need to Know to Get a Book Deal

During our six years of publishing consulting and 40-plus years of combined publishing experience, we’ve culled some tips that might seem obvious at first blush but are often overlooked in the rush to submit what you are sure is a guaranteed best seller.

Slow down there, boss, and take a breath.

Review our tips and strengthen your submission and chances of a book deal.

1.      Do your homework.
Research other books that could be considered competion, become an expert in your genre and on your topic, visit bookstores or libraries (yes, in person!), and learn which publishing houses and agents specializing in your particular genre or subject matter.

2.      Do think of publishing as a business.
Your book is your baby, yes, but it’s also a product to be bought and sold in a marketplace filled not only with books but other forms of entertainment (apps, movies, music, etc.). It’s critical to be business savvy and approach a publisher with a compelling pitch and attitude that conveys that you are ready to partner with them on a lucrative business venture (i.e. your book).

3.      Do have confidence.
You have got to believe in your idea and your vision! Don’t be shy. Sell it. If you are not absolutely committed to your book project, why would anyone else be? But a note of caution: being confident is terrific, being cocky is not. Don’t claim it’s a “guaranteed best-seller that will outsell The Lord of the Rings Trilogy/50 Shades of Grey/The DaVinci Code;” rather, explain with specifics why your book will perform well for a particular publisher. Is it similar to another book on their list that has done well? Will it appeal to a demographic that the publisher already dominates? The more specific you can get about why you are approaching them in particular, the better.

4.      Do persevere!
Every famous author from Dr. Seuss to J.K. Rowling to F. Scott Fitzgerald has had multiple rejections. Keep going. This is where that confidence and unwavering belief in your project comes into play. We always remind writers that publishers and agents are looking for you, too, and first-time authors get book deals every single day. We have the success stories to prove it—our clients have killer book deals in a variety of genres, ranging from children’s picture books to memoir to fiction to coffee table books to nonfiction.
5.      Do write a killer book proposal.
Your proposal is your business plan. Creating a great one is vital to selling your book in today’s market. This is why we’re offering our first-ever overnight intensive retreat, Women & Words at Willows Lodge, from January 31–February 1. It’s a publishing, rather than writing, retreat. Hopeful authors spend so much time on the craft of writing, but almost zero on the business. That doesn’t work anymore. And that’s where we come in.
Whether you have a glimmer of a concept or a polished draft, our weekend retreat will help you get published, no matter your genre. During this practical and inspirational weekend, you’ll be treated to hands-on workshops and receive individual attention to move your book project forward in a significant way. It all takes place at Woodinville’s acclaimed (and cozy) Willows Lodge, where distractions feel a world away.

Willows1Here’s what you’ll experience during this one-of-a-kind retreat:

  • On Saturday, we’ll focus on your book project and guide you step-by-step in creating a killer proposal in a hands-on workshop. Meet other writers over drinks and dinner from the Barking Frog, before gathering for a late-night writing jam in your pajamas.
  • On Sunday, we’ll turn our attention to the submission process and the ultimate goal of getting published. Brainstorm in a book marketing workshop; fun exercises will result in a creative marketing campaign for your book and a solid author platform that you can present to publishers. We’ll end the day by providing intel about submissions, query letters, and staying focused and motivated through the process.
    For details, visit Willows Lodge’s event page.

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What’s your publishing resolution for 2015? Talking books on New Day Northwest

New Day Northwest picWe had the pleasure of talking with Margaret Larson on New Day Northwest this morning about resolutions that matter, namely getting a book deal in 2015! To that end, we talked about our upcoming retreat, Women & Words at Willows Lodge. From January 31–February 1, women are invited to come to the Willows Lodge in Woodinville and refocus on their book project.

No matter your genre or where you are in the writing process, our publishing retreat will give you all the tools and intel to complete a slammin’ proposal and submit with confidence in short order. Nothing makes us sadder than thinking about unsubmitted manuscripts. We demystify the process and break everything down into doable, digestible tasks you can complete in just a few weeks. We promise. Check out our New Day Northwest segment here.

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Give the gift of publication with our January publishing retreat

We’ve got the perfect gift for you or the writer in your life!

With the holidays behind you, refocus on you and your book proposal in the new year. We are hosting a publishing/writing retreat at Willows Lodge in Woodinville, WA from January 31-February 1, 2015. Whether you have a glimmer of a book idea or a polished draft ready to send to an agent, this weekend retreat will be both practical and motivational. Attendees will be treated to insightful, hands on workshops to move their book project forward, as well as time to put new ideas into action and onto the page. Find out more here.


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Publishing tip o’ the week: What is a book proposal?

Your path to publication all starts with a solid book proposal. Here, we offer our manifesto on the importance of a book proposal, the roadmap for your publishing journey.

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Publishing tip o’ the week: Creating a submission list

We are rolling out weekly video tips to guide you on your path to publication. First up, an insider tip on how to develop a targeted submission list! How do you go about targeting agents and editors?

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6 ways to create a great writers’ group

GroupWritingBeing a writer can be a lonely business. You, your computer, your cup of coffee–it’s no wonder you get stuck, and find yourself unsure if the last thing you wrote is brilliant or drivel. If you have a book project you’re trying to move forward, a writers group can be invaluable.  Sure, many writers cringe at the idea of sharing their own work and holding it up for critique. But if your goal is for your writing to eventually reach an audience (which includes reviewers), you might as well get used to that idea now. A trusted group of peers can offer encouragement, constructive criticism, and insights into your work that you simply couldn’t see before. Plus, the structure it provides gives members something perhaps even more vital–deadlines.  Here are some tips to keep in mind when forming your own writing group. (If you’re already in one, we’d love to hear your own–and what you’ve learned along the way.)

1. Keep expectations realistic. It’s great to be motivated enough to envision weekly meetings with your group, but it’s probably not doable. Think about monthly meetings to start.

2. Choose wisely. Tempting as it may be to populate your group with friends, think long and hard about who will be the best asset to your group–and who will be committed to it. Ideally, group members have a similar experience level, are comfortable giving and receiving honest feedback, and have opinions you trust. If you’ve taken a writing class, cherry-pick from your classmates.

3. Size matters. How many people to include in your group is a subjective call. A good number to start with about six to eight. Think of it this way: Chances are, at least one member will miss each meeting, and you want at least four other people reviewing your work in order to ensure the best possible discussion. Too many voices and the conversation can get muddled.

4. Give and take. Don’t expect to have your work reviewed every single time you meet. This is a group endeavor, and you’ll need to commit time and energy to other people’s writing. Plan to create a workshop schedule and alternate who is submitting work and who is reviewing it. You may also want to assign a workshop leader for each piece, so someone is responsible for kicking off the discussion and keeping it on track.

5. Manage your time. If your writers’ group routinely runs overtime, you’ll lose members. To keep everyone on task, have a time limit for talking about each person’s work before you move on, and stick to your schedule.

6. Set clear goals. In order for any group to work, you have to have to know your purpose. Some writers’ groups meet simply to write, without any more structure than that. Others meet to work on predetermined writing exercises, to talk about the writing process, or to workshop each other’s works-in-progress. Decide what your own goals are at the get-go, and revisit them with your group as necessary.

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Two days only: Publishing Toolkit 50% off!

art Toolkit cover_265wideDid you know you could get all of our publishing insight and guidance in one crisp white binder? It’s true! What’s even better is that, in honor of Small Business Saturday, we are offering to our Business of Books community this weekend only for the unheard of price of $49!

The Business of Books’ Publishing Toolkit is chock-full of information on researching your idea, developing the key sections of a proposal, honing your submission list, sending out your proposal, and navigating contracts and the business of publishing, the Toolkit is a resource that can stand in for us and keep you focused and inspired. As one attendee said, “The toolkit has been extremely informative and helpful. It is an anchor that I’ll refer to again and again.”

Our Publishing Toolkit features:

  • A 30-day step by step plan to creating a book proposal ready for submission
  • Two actual proposals to use as templates
  • Worksheets
  • 5-minute challenges to move your project along
  • information to help you create a targeted submission list
  • details about the publishing process a
  • tools for contract negotiation
  • 100+ pages of material

For this weekend only, we’re offering the the Publishing Toolkit for $49 plus shipping for the physical binder or a cool $49 for the PDF version. We have never offered this proprietary program at such a low price. The handy binder provides 100+ pages of insider information and includes worksheets and proposals (rarely seen outside of publishing circles) to guide you on your path to publication.

>>Buy the hard copy of the Publishing Toolkit for $49 (+ $7 shipping)
>>Buy the PDF of the Publishing Toolkit for a cool $49

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January retreat! Women & Words at Willows Lodge

Willows3Saturday, January 31–Sunday, February 1, 2015

Do you dream of publishing a book, but aren’t sure what path to take—or even how to start? We’ve heard this a lot and we’re here to help. The good news is that it’s not that hard; in fact, it can be exhilarating, especially if you are guided and encouraged throughout the process!

To that end…

Start the new year by taking care of you and your book idea by coming to our one-of-a-kind retreat for women writers! Whether you have a glimmer of a concept or a polished draft, we have structured a weekend retreat to help you get published, no matter your genre. During this practical and inspirational weekend, you’ll be treated to hands-on workshops and receive individual attention to move your book project forward in a significant way. It all takes place at Woodinville’s acclaimed (and cozy) Willows Lodge, where distractions feel a world away.

Here’s what you’ll experience during this one-of-a-kind retreat:

  • On Saturday, we’ll focus on your book project and crafting a proposal. After a state of publishing overview, we’ll settle into the agenda, offering up-to-the-minute intel about what publishers and agents do and don’t want from new writers. After lunch, we’ll guide you step-by-step on how to create a killer proposal in a hands-on workshop. You’ll have a chance to meet other writers over drinks and dinner from the Barking Frog, before gathering for a late-night writing jam in your pajamas. We supply the milk and cookies and writing prompts!
  • On Sunday, we’ll turn our attention to the submission process and the ultimate goal of getting published. After an informal publishing chat and continental breakfast, get ready to brainstorm in a book marketing workshop. Fun exercises will result in a creative marketing campaign for your book and a solid author platform that you can present to publishers. We’ll end the day with an insightful and encouraging talk about submissions, query letters, and staying focused and motivated through the process.
  • Retreat attendees can add on optional activities, including a Sunday lunch or spa treatment.
  • A special room rate will be available for attendees who would like to arrive on Friday. We will be on hand Friday evening for an informal publishing chat and one-on-one time.

Rates starting at $756.50 per person (excluding tax and gratuity) based on double occupancy. To make your reservation, please contact Kathleen Boyd at 425-424-2589 or via e-mail

There will be a 7 day advance cancellation policy and package price will be charged at that time.

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New Author Success Story: Karen Gaudette Brewer

Karen_G_B_Headshots_Proofs-1 (2)We’ve been thrilled to hear of the recent success stories of our clients: several new book deals in the last few months, including children’s, memoir, and cookbooks! It’s exciting to see that our Business of Books gospel has been paying off for new writers across a variety of genres. We’ve asked these first-time authors to share their publishing stories with our community. 

This week, we spotlight Karen Gaudette Brewer, an award-winning food and lifestyle journalist who is endlessly fascinated by why and how we eat the things we do. Her new book is The Seafood Lover’s Pacific Northwest: Restaurants, Markets, Recipes & Traditions (Globe Pequot Press). Karen describes her book this way: “Armed with thisSeafood Lovers Pacific Northwest (2) guidebook, the Pacific Northwest and its magnificent seafood culture become your oyster. You’ll find the best eats and can’t-miss festivals for your next road trip; cooking inspiration for the salmon, halibut, and mussels you picked up at the market; and get to know the people, places, and traditions that make living here so enjoyable.” This beautiful book will be feted at a book launch, which is open to the public, at Seattle’s University Book Store on November 7 at 7pm.

Tell us how this book came about.
Twitter is the surprising genesis of this book. An acquisitions editor reached out to me after noticing my work and platform and pitched me this project. I was delighted but torn: I had (and still have) a) a day job b) an active toddler and  c) a spouse who travels often for work, so I knew I’d have to balance more than I ever had before to make this project a reality. I decided to take the challenge.

Why were you inspired to write this book?
I grew up in a small Northwest town. I realized this book was an opportunity to help many excellent, small, out-of-the-way businesses get the attention they crave. We have such a unique fusion of native and immigrant seafood traditions here in the Northwest and I knew digging into that culture would yield some fascinating stories and experiences. Plus, I loved the challenge of finding new experiences in my lifelong home. We truly do live in one of the best places for adventure.

What professional services did you seek out in the process?
This is my first book and much of the process took me by surprise. I wasn’t fully clear on when copy editing would take place, so I hired a copy editor to edit the first manuscript drop, to get a sense of whether my voice and style were working structurally (they were). That gave me a confidence boost through the rest of the project. Guidebook projects, I’ve heard, place a lot of content demands upon the author: art, mapmaking, gathering permissions for recipes and other submissions, etc.. About a third of the way through, I hired a talented, punctual friend to serve as my permissions editor. I just didn’t have the space in my head to think about permissions AND write the book. Best decision ever. What wasn’t a surprise: handling the pitch. The Business of Books class I took a couple years prior with Jen and Kerry gave me confidence to find my way through the process.

What surprised you during the publishing process?
How many people are involved, and how so much of the marketing falls into the author’s lap in this day and age. I had read that, but it’s different to experience it. I’m thankful I kept a running list of publicity ideas, another helpful hint gleaned from the Business of Books coursework.

What’s been the best aspect about getting published?
Since the first grade I’ve wanted to become a published author. Now, I am. And my mom and family are around to see it. That’s the best aspect personally. Professionally, I’m glad to introduce (or re-introduce) readers to eateries and people off the beaten track that they might never have encountered. I am a features writer through-and-through, and so enjoyed the chance to interview so many interesting folks and share their stories. There are so many family dynasties in the fishing, oystering, and restaurant industries. It’s fascinating to learn more about what drives people to keep the lineage unbroken despite such grueling work.

What one piece of advice would you offer to burgeoning authors?
Listen to time management advice from your friends who have already published books. Everyone told me to get a giant dry-erase board and to cover it in sticky notes as I built my book’s structure. Yeah, yeah, I thought. I’ve been a journalist and storyteller for years: I got this. Then, I realized just how challenging it is to see your book’s shape on the limited real estate of a laptop. The next time I write a nonfiction book, I’ll spend more time at the beginning on strategy, no matter how behind I feel, because in the end it will pay off. One example: had I thought ahead, I would have had video footage galore from all my research adventures. At the time, I kept thinking I’d have time to get back to all those places, but it was impossible when it came time to hit my writing deadline.

What’s next for you?
I’d like to find an agent and move forward with several nonfiction projects I’ve been noodling over the past few years–some in the food world, some not. I also need to make the time to work on some fiction (perhaps on my bus commute!). As a longtime journalist, writing fiction terrifies me. It’s been beaten into my skull not to make things up, to describe things as they are, not as I would like them to be. Fiction is like, make whatever you want to have happen, happen! It’s liberating and terrifying all at the same time.

Anything else you’d like to share?
My book launch party is at 7 p.m. on Friday, November 7, at University Book Store in Seattle’s University District. BeanFish, the nation’s first taiyaki food truck, will be serving piping hot Japanese-style sweet and savory waffles shaped like fish. It’s going to be a great time, and I hope to see you there.

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