If you want to write a book, stop before you start

The calls start innocently enough. “I found you online while searching for an editor. I want to write a book.” Then I’m regaled for a couple of minutes—sometimes much longer than that—about the content of this ethereal, would-be, much-desired future book. But I don’t need to know all that much about the content of your… Read More »

What Happens When an Editor Writes Her First Novel? An Interview with Shayla Raquel on the Launch of “The Suicide Tree”

I believe I “met” Shayla Raquel after being invited to an editors-only Facebook group that she and a co-conspirator launched a few years ago. Since I was just beginning my career as a freelance editor, I relished that group’s insight, camaraderie, and helpfulness. Whenever I felt stuck, I asked that group. The fact that I… Read More »

Mary Oliver: “The most regretful people on earth”

  “The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.” —Mary Oliver, Upstream

Why Stephanie Chandler wrote The Nonfiction Book Publishing Plan

I first became aware of the impressive depth and breadth of work that Stephanie Chandler was doing when she was a fellow speaker for a major online event aimed at self-publishers. Interested by her talk, I visited her website and learned of an organization she’d founded: the Nonfiction Authors Association. I’d never heard of it… Read More »

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 »