Got a book idea but short on time? Our publishing retreat is just the thing

Are you full of big ideas but have a busy schedule? We feel your pain and have the cure for what ails you. Join us for Get Published!, an intensive and results-oriented weekend workshop for aspiring authors on January 23 & 24, 2016. In just 36 hours, writers will leave with all the tools they need to craft a successful proposal and pitch their book to agents and publishers with confidence.

Writers of all genres and levels are welcome. Whether attendees have a glimmer of an idea or a polished draft, this immersive workshop will push you to move your book project forward in a significant way—and enlighten you on how the business of publishing really works.

Click here for more information, or contact Shaina Phillips at 425-424-2965 or to reserve your spot.


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Get Published! The lowdown on our writers retreat at Willows Lodge

Willows3We’re thrilled at the early interest in Get Published!, the Business of Books 2nd annual publishing retreat, and we hope you and your book project can join us January 23–24, 2016. The overnight retreat will take place at the beautiful and serene Willows Lodge in Woodinville and features in-depth seminars on specific topics relating to the book business and developing a book proposal. Because of the intimate size, all attendees receive personal attention and direct feedback on their individual projects. The two-day event will cover:

  • All nine elements of a successful book proposal, with hands-on exercises and workshopping that result in a working proposal document by the close of the retreat
  • How to create a targeted book marketing plan and build an author platform
  • Insider intel on the publishing business, including critical do’s and don’ts
  • How to craft an impactful cover letter and develop a targeted submission list

Writers of all genres and levels are welcome. Whether attendees have a glimmer of an idea or a polished draft, our one-of-a-kind immersive workshop will push you to move your book project forward in a significant way—and enlighten you on how the business of publishing really works.

“This retreat gave me exactly what I needed to start getting my writing out into the world,” says 2015 attendee Heather LeRoss. “The combination of insider insights, step-by-step how-to’s and the belief from Jen and Kerry that I could do it, gave me the confidence to put my writing out there and think of myself as an author. Since attending, I’ve had more than 10 articles published and my children’s book is out to publishers for review. Thank you, Jen and Kerry.”

In addition to luxurious accommodations, guests will receive a welcome amenity, meals courtesy of the renowned Barking Frog, and all workshops, as well as our exclusive Publishing Toolkit (a $99 value) to take home.

Book early! Through December 15, earlybird pricing for “Get Published!” starts at $870 per person including tax and is based on double occupancy. Complete details can be viewed on the Willows Lodge website here. After December 15, prices increase $100 per person. To make reservations, please contact Shaina Phillips at 425-424-2965 or  


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5 Things You Need to Know to Score a Book Deal

During our years of publishing experience, both as acquisitions editors and authors, we’ve culled some key tips for those looking to get published. While these may seem simple at first glance, we find time and again that they are 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. Need help? Contact us or register for our second annual overnight intensive retreat, Get Published: A Writer’s Retreat at Willows Lodge, January 23–24. 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.


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Start your book proposal before you finish your manuscript

It’s true. It’s a smart idea to start your book proposal even while your manuscript is still in progress.

To that end, join us for Get Published!, an intensive and results-oriented weekend workshop for aspiring authors on January 23 & 24, 2016! In just 36 hours, writers will leave with all the tools they need to craft a successful proposal and pitch their book to agents and publishers with confidence. For more information on the retreat, check out this video:

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4 Reasons Aspiring Authors Should Get to a Bookstore

elliottbaybooksWe were thrilled to write a guest post for the Hedgebrook blog. We love this magical writers’ residency for women on Whidbey Island and wanted to share some publishing intel to help aspiring authors create compelling proposals and targeted submission lists. Going to a bookstore can help. We promise. Read the post here.

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Get Published! A Retreat for Aspiring Authors at Willows Lodge

bookstackOver the weekend of January 23–24, 2016, join us for a one-of-a-kind publishing retreat for aspiring authors at Woodinville’s award-winning Willows Lodge! Whether you have a glimmer of a concept or a polished draft, we have structured the two-day 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. You’ll leave the weekend with your proposal, query letter, and submission plan well under way.

To make your reservation, please contact Shaina Phillips at 425-424-2965 or via e-mail at

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: Eric Ford

We have had all sorts of writers in our class, writing for all different audiences. We help authors realize their dreams of publishing with one of the “Big 6” houses in New York, sure, but it’s most important to find the right home for your project. And that just might be with an academic or medical publisher. Eric Ford, an Associate Professor at the University of Washington’s Department of Radiation Oncology, came to our courses because he was working on a novel in his spare time (he’s quite the Renaissance Man). But he used the intel gathered during our class to pitch and publish a reference guide for medical professionals to a well-respected academic press. He talks about his path to publication, shares tips for collaboration, and discusses why a proposal is so darn important, no matter how you are publishing your book.

Can you tell us about this book and how it came about?
Practical Radiation Oncology Physics is a reference guide for medical professionals working in oncology (cancer care). It focuses on technical aspects of radiation treatments. Since about half of all cancer patients receive radiation therapy, we are talking about a pretty substantial segment of healthcare. The idea for the book arose out of discussions that a colleague and I were having about four years ago. We were frustrated at not having a handy reference source for the increasingly vast amount of information for practitioners in our field. So that is what we came up with. A practical guidebook. I think the marketing copy says it best: “An indispensable guide to radiation oncology physics!” Anytime your book is an “indispensable guide” to anything that is good. Plus, I love the exclamation mark.

Can you offer up any tips for collaborating with co-authors?
I think a clear leadership plan is essential. What do you do when deadlines inevitably slip? How do you keep each other motivated? A big book project like this is a lot like running a marathon (or so I am told). It is very helpful to be running alongside others, having them push you along and vice versa.

What do you think is unique to academic and medical publishing that it would be helpful for writers to know?
The profit margins on academic texts are very thin, so when you are pitching the idea, it is really helpful to have a solid business case. Who is the audience? How big of a market are you expecting? The publisher may not do that legwork for you.

Another difference is that academicians almost never work with an agent (I do not know of anyone who has an agent). Therefore, you will be dealing directly with the publisher. There are pluses and minuses to this, but one advantage you have is that, comparatively speaking, publishers are not used to dealing with people who are familiar with the publishing world. They almost never receive a formal book proposal, and if they do, then it generally violates nearly every principles of good proposal writing. If you can write a decent proposal, it is a huge advantage in this context.

How did your Business of Books course help you in the publishing process?
Our publication deal had its origins in Hurricane Sandy. I was stuck at a conference in Boston for a week and at one point I found myself more or less randomly wandering the convention center when I bumped into someone from Elsevier (an academic publisher of scientific and medical publications). “Hey, I’ve got a book idea you might be interested in,” I told her. “Can I run it by you?” That got our foot in the door, but it was really the book proposal that got us the contract. Writing a good proposal was something I learned in the Business of Books class. Prior to that, I had essentially no idea what a book proposal was.  A week after I spoke to the woman in Boston (Kate was her name), we had a proposal in to them. The publishers were very impressed and it helped Kate to advocate for it within her company. I’m convinced that we would not have gotten the contract without the proposal.

What other book projects are you working on?
I’m working on a novel. It is a “mathematical thriller” about a frustrated engineer who uses the exponential formula to save the world (or tries to anyway).

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Gearing up for an exciting 2015-16!

coming-attractionsAs summer draws to a close (boo hoo!), we’re looking forward to a productive and satisfying year ahead for The Business of Books. We still have a few surprises up our sleeve, but here’s a sneak peek of what we have brewing.

Due to popular demand, we will be expanding our individual offerings to clients. That means in addition to our in-depth 2-on-1 Proposal Review, we’ll offer new services like proposal development, submission list development, query letter help, and editing/selection of sample copy. Stay tuned for more information on that; we’ll be announcing it here shortly.

Looking ahead to January, we’ll be hosting another overnight publishing retreat at the beautiful Willows Lodge in Woodinville. This was a highlight of our year–if you missed it before, you should join us this time! It makes a great Christmas gift to yourself and helps you kick-start that resolution to pitch and sell your book.

We are thrilled to be invited to speak at the San Miguel Writers Conference in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, in February! The conference has an amazing lineup (hello, Joyce Carol Oates!) and who doesn’t want to go to Mexico with us? Check it out!

What classes or services would you like to see us offer? What’s new on your book project? Keep in touch by following our blog, following us on Facebook and Twitter, or dropping us an e-mail. We’d love to hear from you!

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Join us at the Chuckanut Writers Conference June 25-28!

Jen & Kerry at the 2013 Whidbey Island Writers Conference

Jen & Kerry at the Whidbey Island Writers Conference

To paraphrase Shakespeare, get thee to a writers conference! Conferences are an excellent way to reinvigorate your writing and meet like-minded literary types, and they are offered throughout the year and in various geographic locations—including charming Bellingham, WA, home to the Chuckanut Writers Conference. We’ll be there June 25-27 as part of an amazing lineup of authors (Erik Larson! Stephanie Kallos! Molly Wizenberg! So many more!), as well as agents, publishing pros, and other wonderful folks. Our “master class,” Secrets of a Successful Proposal, (June 25) is a great way to get our core curriculum in one mind-bending afternoon.

Note: Early-bird registration ends May 28! Register now for the best rates.

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Be Our Next Success Story!

Things people say to us ALL THE TIME:

“Isn’t traditional publishing dead?”

“It’s impossible for first-time authors to get a book deal.”

“Why bother? It will never happen to me.”

Have you said these things to yourself? Well, stop it. Yes, writing is hard and publishing is competitive. But the truth is this: books are acquired every day from first-time authors. Why not you?

To inspire you, here is a sampling of recent author success stories across all genres: fiction, nonfiction, memoir. What do they have in common? Each of these writers was a Business of Books client (toot! toot!), wrote a killer proposal, and found a home at a traditional publishing house. Want to be next? REGISTER NOW for our May class at UW: Publishing Your Book in Today’s Marketplace. Give us four Thursday evenings–just four!–and you’ll learn the ins and outs of publishing, plus have a completed draft of an on-point proposal to sell your book. Get it out there, people!

Seafood Lovers Pacific Northwest (2)Karen Gaudette Brewer‘s Seafood Lover’s Pacific Northwest features the best eats and can’t-miss festivals for your next road trip, along with cooking inspiration and personal stories of the interesting characters in the seafood industry.


Mike Curato is living the dream. After signing a three-book deal (!) with Macmillan for his cupcake-loving elephant, he’s receiving tons of accolades for Little Elliot, Big City and getting ready to launch the sequel, Little Elliot, Big Family.

Seattle-based writer and performer Joe Guppy’s electrifying and wryly lo res lMFGcover 3comic memoir, My Flourescent God, details a period of paranoid psychosis–including time spent in a Seattle mental ward and his subsequent struggle toward sanity.


New York graphic designer John Clifford saw the need in the marketplace for a book he wanted himself: a compendium of visionaries in the field of modern graphic design. The result is the beautiful Graphic Icons.

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