Changes at BoB headquarters

7FA3062D-8026-480F-8DCD-BD7F0D667304As some of you may know, we have had some big life changes here at B.O.B. headquarters. First, Kerry up and moved to London—after a year in Mexico no less. Now, Jen has happily accepted her first full-time job in more than a decade: She is the new Editorial Director of Sasquatch Books in Seattle.

What does this mean for The Business of Books? Well, we’ll be a little less accessible for the next little bit. But we have faith in you and your DIY skills! To help support you on your path to publication, we’re offering a special on our Publishing Toolkit PDF. Normally $99, we’re offering a special sale price of $59 to make sure you have what you need to keep your book project moving forward. The Toolkit is more than 100 pages of publishing know-how at your fingertips, including a step-by-step plan to writing your proposal, an overview of publishing contracts and royalties, sample queries and proposals, and much more. We highly recommend this invaluable resource for anyone hoping to publish.

In addition, Kerry will continue to take on a limited number of long-distance clients on a case-by-case basis. Contact her at if you are looking for one-on-one help with your proposal, query letter, or submission list.

We will certainly miss doing our in-person talks and writers’ conference sessions, but we continue to be inspired by the hundreds of writers we’ve worked with, a good number of whom have become published authors. If you’re ever feeling stuck, check out some of our inspiring client success stories and know that you could be next. Get out there and submit your work. We’re rooting for you all the way!


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Client Success Story: New author Steve Murphy and the importance of perseverance

52058821-DA8C-4725-9229-BD6A07813915There is no one-size-fits-all publishing path for our clients. Steve Murphy is proof of that. When he took our course, we thought his book—never-before-published memoirs of George W. Quimby, a Civil War scout—had tremendous potential. Even more so after we discovered Steve’s connection to the material (he discovered the diary in 1989 in the attic of his father-in-law, a hoarder).

With admirable perseverance, he found the right home for it, and The Perfect Scout: A Soldier’s Memoir of the Great March to the Sea and the Campaign of the Carolinas was published in January 2018 by the University of Alabama Press. He talked with us about his journey to publication.

Would you share some insights you gathered during your journey to publication?
I conducted a web search to identify potential agents or publishers. I received over 50 rejections, and worked with one agent, who pitched it for 1.5 years to no avail. During the process, I took a Business of Books seminar on how to create a winning proposal, and then hired Jen and Kerry to conduct a 2-on-1 proposal review. They suggested retitling the project to The Perfect Scout. Working with Jen and Kerry was instrumental to my efforts.

Did you seek out professional services or other help along the way?
I engaged some legal services for assistance with copyright issues, contracts and MOU, in addition to taking a Business of Books class.

What surprised you during the publishing process?
The slow pace of the publishing industry! It was seven years from my first serious attempt—and four years after acceptance of the book by University of Alabama Press—to publication.

What’s been the best aspect about getting a book deal?
Actually getting this story to publication.

Did you find any creative avenues for marketing and publicity?
I joined the Puget Sound Civil War Roundtable four years ago. It’s a great place for spreading the word about the book.

What one piece of advice would you offer to burgeoning authors?
Persevere, be patient, never give up.

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No matter the continent, we’re here to help you get published

Uk-USA flagsAs some of you may know if you follow us on social networks, Kerry and her family have relocated to London for the immediate future. But not to fear! We are still very much in business – Kerry has basically opened our European office – and ready to help you realize your publishing goals.

We currently offer our Publishing Toolkit PDF if you are ready to create a book proposal, our popular two-on-one proposal review if you have a proposal ready to go, and expanded consults customized to your needs that will walk you through the proposal process. We can also help you compile a submission list and write a cover or query letter.

For more info, shoot us an email at We’ve taught hundreds of writers and seen a good number of them become published authors. Check out some of our inspiring client success stories. We want to help you make your publishing dreams take flight!

Write on! Tally ho!


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Success Stories Make Us Happy!

We’ve been extra-jazzed here at Business of Books headquarters the past few weeks, thanks to the successes of previous clients in Seattle.

This just in yesterday from Victor Rodriguez, who took our proposal-writing class at UW: “I just wanted you both to know; since I took your class, my short fiction has been accepted by three different publishers! I owe that success to you and the art of the well-crafted proposal. Thank you! What you taught us works like a charm.” We all know it’s tough to place short fiction, and we are thrilled for Victor’s success.

Anne McTiernan was in that same class, working on her memoir, Starved. Her book was published recently by Central Recovery Press to terrific reviews; beloved writing instructor and author Claire Dederer says: “Starved is an absorbing, and sometimes shattering, primer on abuse and resilience. Anne McTiernan mines her past to bring up the painful, real details that make this memoir sing—even as it breaks our hearts.” Wow. Congratulations to Anne!

Finally, our friend Geraldine DeRuiter, otherwise known as The Everywhereist, will see her memoir, All Over the Place, published in May. She kicks things off with an appearance at prestigious Town Hall in Seattle on May 4 (Seattle writers, you should totally come! Here’s the link for tickets.) You can read more about Geraldine’s path to publication here on our blog.

Remember writers, the process of finding the right match for your work can feel daunting if not impossible at times. But it DOES happen. Keep submitting and write on!

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Publishing Toolkit NOW ON SALE!

art Toolkit cover_265wideAs part of Small Business Saturday, we are offering our popular Publishing Toolkit at a 50% discount until Saturday at midnight. For $49, get 100+ pages of publishing intel and a step-by-step plan for creating a kick-ass proposal that will make publishers and agents sit up and take notice.

Purchase the PDF Publishing Toolkit here.


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One Day Only: Publishing Toolkit is 50% off!

art Toolkit cover_265wideThe Business of Books is the epitome of a small business: two friends and former colleagues sharing their experience and knowledge to help burgeoning authors realize their publishing dreams. From the beginning, we’ve relied on word-of-mouth recommendations to generate clients and fill our classes. We’d like to give back to our community on Small Business Saturday by offering our ever-popular Publishing Toolkit at 50% off: $49, instead of $99. This happens just once a year, and it’s Saturday, November 26, 2016.

In case you’re new to our services, the Publishing Toolkit is your best DIY resource on your path to publication. It’s an organized, comprehensive PDF of 100-plus pages of our insider intel to help you get published. This essential resource includes step-by-step instructions on how to craft a book proposal that will make agents and editors sit up and take notice, as well as an overview of important contract points, advances and royalties, how to create an author platform, and more. You’ll find worksheets and exercises to get the creativity flowing. It even includes two sample proposals to use as templates! Our clients rave about it.

Buy it as a meaningful gift for yourself or for any writer in your life. Just remember to buy it on Saturday! We’ll post the PayPal link here, on Facebook and Twitter on Saturday morning!


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Write now. Here’s why.

There is always an excuse not to write. Not to finish that book you’ve been working on for so long, or pursue that glimmer of a story idea. Not to bother.


Work. Kids. Stress. Fatigue. Fear. Feelings of inadequacy. THE ELECTION. Whatever else is going on in your life, in the world, that makes the act of writing feel futile, or even impossible.

How can you be expected to write when you are so overwhelmed?

Of course, this is exactly when you should write. The world needs your art. You need your art. The most difficult times are also the most important ones for expressing yourself. Write your truth. Write through your pain, your worry, your anger, your fear. Make yourself do it, if only—at first—to distract yourself for a while. Then remember how writing helps you figure things out. How it makes you see things in a new way. Write to help yourself, to help others, to share your feelings with a loved one or with the world. Write to connect. Write to heal. Write to empower. Write to learn. Write, write, write.

Cheryl Strayed recently shared this quote from James Baldwin:  “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.

Go forth and write, writers. We will try to do the same. Let’s encourage and support each other to keep at it. Share your progress in the comments!

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Kerry goes to Mexico! Publishing Toolkit goes on sale!

art Toolkit cover_265wideSummer is wrapping up and it’s likely your thoughts are turning to fall, sweaters, and books (hopefully your own!). Meanwhile, some exciting news is happening here at BoB headquarters. Kerry has decided to relocate to Merida, Mexico, with her family from September 2016–June 2017. She plans to learn Spanish (or at least her kids will!), travel, experience a new culture, and work on her own writing.

But do not fear! Even though she’s freaking out about Kerry’s run for the border, Jen will be holding down the BoB fort here in Seattle, and our popular 2-on-1 proposal reviews will still be available. If you’ve been considering this service, be sure to book early, as our availability may be a bit more limited. If you’d like to know more about these reviews, click here. (FYI: Jen will be teaching an author platform class as part of the Seattle Public Library’s Seattle Writes program on September 17 and December 10. More on those free workshops here.)

We’d also like to get you back in the swing of proposal progress by giving you a special offer. Our essential Publishing Toolkit is 100-plus pages of insider intel, including all sorts of publishing information, worksheets, key book contract info, marketing and author platform advice, and two complete proposals to use as templates. It is the best possible DIY guide for whipping your proposal into shape, and we recommend it to anyone planning to pitch a book. Until Sept. 15, we’re offering the Toolkit as a downloadable PDF for $69.

It’s rare that we put our $99 Toolkit on sale, so don’t miss the window—click here to order!

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New class from Nicole Hardy & Suzanne Morrison!

Some of you may be familiar with authors, writing instructors, and forces of nature Nicole Hardy and Suzanne Morrison. Some of you may have even taken their class, The Art of Getting Started. Well, they’re doing again, and this time bringing all new prompts to the table.

On July 16, this talented and insightful pair with host a one-day workshop designed to get the juices and words flowing. For anyone who’s stuck or just needs to jump-start their writing, this is the perfect way back into your work.

Here are the deets:

The Art of Getting Started Redux, with Nicole Hardy and Suzanne Morrison

In this one-day generative class, we’ll focus on how and where and why to begin. Both instructors will provide writing prompts, short readings, and discussion topics in a five-hour attempt to face down the blank white page. We’ll keep in mind what Hemingway said—“I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of sh*t. I try to put the sh*t in the wastebasket”—and fill our notebooks to brimming. Who knows what surprises we’ll find as we create the starts (or middles, or ends) of several new pieces.

When: July 16, 11am–4pm
Where: Tulinda Yoga Studio, 618 West McGraw Street, Queen Anne
Who: Suitable for beginning and emerging writers of fiction and creative non-fiction
How much: $200
: BYO, or buy nearby

To register: Send name, phone, and email to Payment arrangements will be made upon receipt, via Paypal, Venmo,  or personal check. Your payment in full confirms your registration and reserves your spot.

What to bring: Bring something on which to write, be it paper and pencil or laptop. (Please charge up before coming and bring your power cord, and we’ll do our best to accommodate your charging needs.) Please also bring your mobile coffee mug or water bottle and beverage of choice. And an extra layer always helps keep everyone in the room comfortable.

 Teachers: Nicole Hardy‘s memoir, Confessions of a Latter-Day Virgin, was a finalist for the 2014 Washington State Book Award. Her other books include the poetry collections This Blonde and Mud Flap Girl’s XX Guide to Facial Profiling, a chapbook of pop-culture inspired sonnets. Her work has appeared in literary journals and newspapers including The New York Times, and has been adapted for radio and stage. Her essay, “Single, Female, Mormon, Alone,” was noted in 2012’s Best American Essays. She earned her MFA at the Bennington College Writing Seminars, and serves on the board at Mineral School Artist Residency. Learn more at

Suzanne Morrison is the author of Yoga Bitch (Random House/Three Rivers Press), which was a Crosscut Best Northwest Book of 2011 and has been translated into six languages. A recipient of 4Culture and Artist Trust grants, Suzanne is at work on a new memoir and a collection of short fiction. Her fiction and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Litro, Salt HillWashington Square, Printers Row, The Huffington Post, and elsewhere. She teaches memoir and fiction at Hugo House and at Veteran Centers through the Red Badge Program. Learn more at

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New Author Success Story: Geraldine DeRuiter

Geraldine DeRuiter is a Seattle-based writer and admittedly hapless traveler who founded the awesome travel blog, The EvGeraldine DeRuiter Picerywhereist. We were excited to learn she landed her first book deal—and to hear her tale of multiple rejections, confusing feedback, despair, perseverance, and finally, success! She’s a great reminder of the thick skin we all need to develop if we want to find the right home for our books. Read her story, pass it on, get inspired. You could be next!

What’s the title of the book and who’s publishing it?
The working title is ALL OVER THE PLACE—a humorous guide to life from a travel expert who finds out that if you are trying to find yourself, getting lost is a great place to start. It will be published by Public Affairs in summer 2017, because sometimes god gets drunk and dreams come true.

Tell us how this book came about. What inspired you?
I’ve been blogging for years on my site The Everywhereist, and the book felt like a natural counterpart to that. I realized I’d started withholding certain stories on the blog. At first, I was just stockpiling them for my therapist, but then I decided to compile them into a book, which I’m pretty sure is how the entire genre of memoirs originated.

Can you share some insights on the chain of events that lead to your book deal?
It has been a nonstop ride on an Emotional Roller Coaster followed by a spin on the Drama Ferris Wheel. And then a visit to the Funhouse of Rejection. (Metaphors, y’all.)

I started writing the book two years ago, and I sent a sample chapter out to various agents. The feedback on that one chapter was very positive (though there was one or two harsh rejections), and a few agents asked to read the entire manuscript. After that, the rejections just rolled in! It was like Christmas morning, and every gift was debilitating self-doubt! Most of them said that they felt my manuscript required too much work before they could pitch it to publishers.

The feedback was really inconsistent, which was pretty frustrating. I heard that it wasn’t unique enough, I heard that it was too esoteric. I heard that it tried to do too much (it was both a travel and a personal memoir) or that it did too little, and didn’t have a unique hook. No one could agree on what was wrong with the book and what needed to be fixed.

However, there were a few agents that were actually interested. The problem was, their visions for the book didn’t really match mine, or I didn’t really feel like they were someone I could work with. Weirdly, my eventual agent, Zoe Sandler, who is just wonderful, actually contacted me. She’d seen an article I’d written for Good Housekeeping, and from there she found my blog and saw that I was looking for representation. I really liked her. And she believed in my work.

I told Zoe I wanted to revise my draft before sending it to her, so I spent a few months polishing it up. She then read it and gave me some feedback and changes which I rolled into the manuscript, and she started pitching it to publishers early this year. The response, considering how many agents passed on the manuscript, was surprisingly good. And in the end, I had several interested parties, so the manuscript went to auction. So now there were different publishers bidding on a book that numerous agents had told me didn’t have a chance.

How did you handle the challenges along the way?
I cried and told my husband that I was never writing again and that I was a talentless hack who had wasted her life.

Seriously. (I take rejection really badly. I should have never become a writer.)

So I decided to throw myself back into blogging, which is what I had been doing for a while. One day, after getting a really brutal rejection, I decided to write a post and I told my husband it was going to go viral. And then it did. I got half a million visitors to my blog in less than a month. It was a good reminder that there were people out there—probably not normal people, but people nonetheless—who wanted to read what I had to say.

I also had an amazing support system and people to talk to. My husband, Rand, is my biggest fan, and he was so supportive to the point of being annoying (sometimes, you just want to wallow in self-doubt and misery, you know? And he did not let me.) And I swear I’m not saying this because it’s her website or because she bribed me with baked goods, but talking to Kerry Colburn (of Jen & Kerry fame) was super helpful and always picked me up. She reminded me that there were always ways to publish this book—I could even do it myself. Knowing that made the rejection easier to take.

What surprised you during the publishing process?
That in the end, the rejections are sort of irrelevant. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true. It’s like falling in love. You just need to find the one right person—the one right agent and the one right publisher—who thinks that you are amazing. That there will be lots of people who don’t think that your book is that great, and there will be a few who will think that it’s wonderful and they’re the ones who can make amazing things happen.

What’s one thing you’d like to say to other burgeoning authors?
You suck way less than you think you do. Trust me.

What’s next for you?
I’m currently in the editing process for ALL OVER THE PLACE, which is fun and agonizing. My manuscript should be completely done by this summer, and after that I’d like to get back to blogging. I also have a few other ideas for my next book. I think it’s going to be a feminist memoir, and the concept I’m toying with has the potential to be really unique and fun. I’m excited about it. But I need to get this one done first.

Anything else you’d like to share?
My husband said something to me recently that I really, really liked. I was having trouble with a chapter of the book, and I told him I wasn’t a good writer. And his reply was, “Of course you are. Just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean you are bad at it. Writing is hard even for good writers.”

That was sort of revelatory, because it reminded me that it’s the process itself that is difficult. So you just need to keep at it.


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