Tag Archives: publishing

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 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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Only a few spots left! Register NOW for our May Class: Craft a Winning Book Proposal

bookstackDue to popular demand, we’ve teamed with with the Queen Anne Writers Studio to bring you our book proposal workshop! To date, we’ve had many students turn their dream of publishing into a reality, and this class is where many of them started. One student even said, “I went from feeling hopeless to hopeful.” Our classes have a tendency to do that to people.

Here’s the thing: You may have a terrific book idea ready to set the publishing world on fire. Alas, without a spot-on book proposal, it may never see the light of day. Don’t let this happen to you! Learn how to create a savvy and professional proposal that will make publishers and agents sit up and take notice. During our 4-hour workshop, we will walk you through the key elements of any successful proposal—including title/subtitle, opening pitch, author bio, and marketing plan—and help you polish each one with hands-on exercises and individual feedback. Class size is small so you and your idea will get plenty of attention.

Make no mistake: Crafting a killer, on-point proposal is absolutely essential to succeeding in the current marketplace no matter what publishing route you take. You’ll leave this workshop not only committed to getting the book deal of your dreams, but with a concrete start to every section of your proposal. Don’t you feel more hopeful already?

When: Saturday, May 14, 1–5pm

Where: Tulinda Yoga Studio, 618 McGraw Street, Queen Anne

Who: Suitable for any writers actively working on or thinking about a book. No matter the genre, where you are in the writing process, or how you’d ideally like to publish, this class will ensure you have the best shot at publication. (While book proposals are expected for nonfiction titles, we encourage all aspiring authors to write a proposal, as it will make their submission—and their book—stronger.)

Fee: $199. You can register via PayPal here. Your payment in full confirms your registration and reserves your spot. Space is limited to 15, so register early.

What to bring: Bring something on which to write, be it laptop or pen and paper. (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. We’ll have coffee, tea, and water on hand.

(photo: craftbuds.com)

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New Author Success Story: Anne McTiernan

Anne McTiernan took our UW class last spring to work on her proposal, and we were thrilled to hear that she scored a book deal for her memoir, StarvedFH_AnneMcTiernan_2616Writers, remember: book deals DO happen, and they happen every day. We share these success stories to give you insights from real people going through the publishing process, and to inspire and motivate you to keep going! Here’s Anne’s story.

What is the title of your book, and who will be publishing it?
Starved: A Nutrition Doctor’s Journey from Empty to Full by Anne McTiernan, MD, PhD. It’s a poignant memoir of a girl who endured childhood emotional and physical deprivation, a binge-eating disorder, and abuse, to find love, strength, and happiness.It will be published by Central Recovery Press in November 2016.

Tell us how this book came about. What inspired you?
After reading Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes, a memoir of his miserable Irish Catholic upbringing, I was inspired to write about my miserable Irish-American Catholic upbringing.

Can you share some insights on the chain of events that lead to your book deal?
I sent queries to many agents, received some positive responses, and went with an excellent agent who was ready to work with me without a delay of several months. I received many rejections—that seems to be unavoidable in this business.

How did you handle any challenges you faced? Did you seek out professional services or other help along the way?
There’s a saying among doctors in training: “See one, do one, teach one.” I naively thought that I’d be able to whip off my memoir, but soon found out that creative writing requires a lot of learning and practice. So I sought help. I took the University of Washington Certificate Program in Memoir with Theo Nestor, and also took her Advanced Memoir course. Then, when I had a completed manuscript, I worked with two excellent book advisors/editors: Claire Dederer and Jennifer D. Munro. Finally, when I was ready to find an agent and publisher, I took Jen & Kerry’s UW course, “Publishing Your Book in Today’s Marketplace.”

What surprised you during the publishing process?
I had previously published a health advice book (Breast Fitness: An Optimal Exercise and Health Plan for Reducing Your Risk of Breast Cancer, St. Martin’s Press, 2000), and was surprised at how much more challenging and competitive the business has become. Another surprising thing I learned with both books is that the author has to be actively marketing the book, and can’t expect that the publisher will do all of that.

What’s been the best aspect about getting a book deal?
It’s very rewarding to have a publisher get excited about my book, and to commit to share it with the world.

What’s next for you?
I’m learning a lot about marketing! I’m also working on a memoir about my medical school years.

Anything else you’d like to share?
I highly recommend the information provided by Business of Books—Jen and Kerry covered exactly the things I needed to know for developing a query letter and book proposal.
(Thanks, Anne!)

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New Services to Help YOU Get Published

publishSpring is in the air, new ideas are blooming, and business is booming here at Business of Books headquarters. Due to popular demand, we’re rolling out some exciting new individual offerings for our clients. As always, our mission is to help you put your best foot forward with agents and publishers—and get the book deal you deserve. We encourage you to check out our services to make sure your proposal, query/cover letter, and submission list are spot on and have the absolute best chance for representation and/or a publishing deal.

NEW! Comprehensive Proposal Development & Consult Package
This new service takes you step-by-step through the proposal process, including a personalized kickoff meeting to set a schedule and parameters for your project, regular check-ins to review progress and keep you on track, and guidance throughout your proposal’s development. It culminates with our 2-on-1 proposal review for a perfectly on-point proposal, as well as a review of your query letter, cover letter, and submission list. $2,000.

NEW! Query Letter, Cover Letter & Submission List Review
Even if your proposal is good to go, you still need a compelling and salable query and cover letter—not to mention the right people to pitch it to. This service entails a comprehensive electronic review and detailed feedback on your cover letter, query letter, and agent/publisher submission list. $499

2-on-1 Proposal Review
This popular service provides our professional advice and concrete revisions to ensure your proposal rises out of the slush pile. You send us your draft proposal electronically; we add our comments and suggestions right into the file. We also provide a detailed overall assessment that covers every section of the proposal. $599

Publishing Toolkit
Are you a DIY type? Do you wish you had Jen & Kerry around as a desktop reference? Then our Publishing Toolkit is for you. This invaluable resource, available as a binder or PDF, will walk you through the proposal process and beyond, including insider tips on submissions, contracts, publisher relations, and more. With 100-plus pages of publishing intel plus exercises, worksheets, and two sample nonfiction proposals, it’s a steal at $99.

Looking for something other than what you see here? We’re happy to discuss the unique needs of your project. Email us for rates and details.

(Photo: adirondackcenterforwriting.com)

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Get Published! A look back at our Willows Lodge retreat

Willows 2016They came, they learned, they polished their already strong book ideas.

Fresh off our Get Published! Writers Retreat at the luxe Willows Lodge, we are in awe and inspired by each and every one of our attendees.

From children’s picture books to memoir to alternative history, these aspiring authors dove in from the get-go, developing book proposals and query letters, and in the process strengthening their projects.

Based on the feedback and the energy in the room, we helped each and every one of them.

In return, they inspired us. Every single time we teach a class or host a retreat, we get invested in helping our clients’ and students’ books be all they can be. Some folks come in with a polished, “finished” manuscript and yet we help them step away and look at their project with fresh eyes, which inevitably leads to a more thought-out and creative submission. Other writers are still kicking around several ideas but almost immediately, they focus in on the one that feels right for them and the marketplace. Regardless of where they were starting from, all left with a proposal-in-progress and the beginnings of a compelling query or cover letter.

As for the two of us, we left more committed than ever to helping writers realize their publishing dreams. To that end, we’ll be scheduling more workshops in the coming months and expanding our offerings to include individual consultations, proposal writing, and more!

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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 specialize 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. Contact us at jenandkerry@gmail.com to learn about upcoming events, 2-on-1 proposal reviews, our Publishing Toolkit, and other services we offer to help you write the best possible proposal. We’re here to help your publishing dreams become a reality!

 

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How to Get Seattle’s Talent into Print

Nicole Brodeur 122015We are thrilled that Nicole Brodeur mentioned The Business of Books and our upcoming retreat in her Sunday column. If you have a book idea but don’t know how to get published, come to our January publishing retreat at Willows Lodge. Read the article here.

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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 Shaina.phillips@willowslodge.com 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 shaina.phillips@willowslodge.com.  

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