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To Be Read: One Writer’s Fight Against His Ridiculous Reading Ambitions (August 2018)

Rather appropriately, Nick Hornby’s The Polysyllabic Spree bookended my time at the God’s Whisper Farm Writers’ Retreat in Radiant, Virginia, in late June of this year. I read his slim volume on both my departing and return flights. The book’s subtitle—which has to be a tagline rather than a subtitle because of its ridiculous yet… Read More »

Should I Self-Publish or Get an Agent?

Should I Self-Publish? In 2013, I self-published The Gospel According to Breaking Bad. At the time, I was thoroughly onboard with self-publishing as the only “smart” way to publish. The inevitable publishing path of the future seemed the wisest choice. Why would I want to give away so much control of my final product, along with… Read More »

“Audio is a popular shelf.” — Jim Seybert, nonfiction audiobook narrator

Jim Seybert is a nonfiction audiobook narrator. We were recently connected through a mutual friend in the publishing profession. After reviewing his site, I realized I’d seen his hilarious narration-blunder video before, which is embedded toward the end of this post. I reached out to Jim for this quick interview and was rewarded with more than… Read More »

The Problem with Memoir

In “Why Your Memoir Won’t Sell,” Jane Friedman offers seven reasons why a memoir won’t move copies. To paraphrase: It’s the first “legit” writing you’ve ever attempted. It’s an act of catharsis (a. k. a. emotional vomit). It’s a glorified diary. It’s a chronological autobiography. It’s a series of unrelated anecdotes from your life. It’s… Read More »

How Long Should My Book Be?

“My memoir is 270,000 words long.” I heard these words during a breakout session I led at a local writers conference. An editor friend of mine, Shayla Eaton with Curiouser Editing, was sitting in on the breakout. We gave each other knowing glances, and because I didn’t want to break this poor memoirist’s literary heart,… Read More »

Is Backstory Necessary?

“So when my students ask me how much backstory they’re permitted to include in a story, I say, ‘How about none?’” That’s Benjamin Percy in Thrill Me: Essays on Fiction, an excellent book on writing fiction. He expands on his backstory bashing: “None is a good start. Because it’s so often unnecessary. A reader intuits the… Read More »

The Art of Author Branding with Mary DeMuth

In preparation for her talk tomorrow, May 25, at 7 p.m. at Deep Vellum Books near downtown Dallas for the monthly meeting of the Dallas Nonfiction Authors Association, I interviewed Mary DeMuth about “The Art of Author Branding.” As an experienced and prolific author of more than thirty fiction and nonfiction books, she has keen… Read More »

The New Author's Conundrum: My Woeful Platform

“Start with the actual and build a bridge to the potential.” That’s lit agent Sharon Pelletier during her session, “The 10 Best Secrets for a Winning Nonfiction Book Proposal,” at DFWCon 2017. But before we get to what she’s talking about, let’s discuss the elephant in the publishing house: PLATFORM. Michael Hyatt didn’t coin the… Read More »

The Tone of Your Book Proposal

“Match the tone of your proposal to the tone of your book.” That’s lit agent Sharon Pelletier during her session, “The 10 Best Secrets for a Winning Nonfiction Book Proposal,” at DFWCon 2017. This piece of advice fell under her fourth point, that everything an author writes should display their ability to write. What did she… Read More »

The Brutal Truth about Earning Out

“Seventy percent of authors don’t earn out.” That’s publishing guru Jane Friedman during her excellent and information-laden workshop, “How to Get Your Book Traditionally Published” at DFWCon 2017. What does earning out mean? When an author signs a book deal with a publisher, the publisher pays the author in the form of an advance on… Read More »