How's my driving?
And we’re live! For those who have followed me here from my Mailchimp newsletter, and to readers who have joined us from Substack, hello to you all, and welcome to my “Before and After the Book Deal” newsletter launch!
A few years ago, I set out to answer all the questions I’d been too embarrassed to ask about the writing and publishing industry when I was coming up in one handy, affordable place: inside a paperback. To get as many sides to the story as possible, I interviewed over 200 people from all corners of the literary world— agents, editors, bestsellers, one-book-wonders, translators, foreign scouts, film scouts, voiceover actors, booksellers, you name it. Whether you feared losing intellectual property rights over your material, firing an agent, losing an editor halfway through a project, getting through terrible book events, understanding how to write a blurb (or ask for one), if it involved vulnerability, a little bit of competitiveness, fear, hope, and creativity, I set out to explore it.
“Before and After the Book Deal” turned out to be a success, and it put me on the map as a writer, educator, and book coach who tells it like it is, not because I enjoy scaring people or gossiping about the industry, but rather because I don’t think that anyone creates well from a state of limbo. When we don’t understand the rules and expectations of the industry we’re writing toward, we write scared and we write blind. There is a time and a place for writing blind (it’s called the first and second draft). But for people who want to publish traditionally in America (and by that I mean: secure an agent and a traditional book deal), I do think that you’ll feel more empowered on the way toward your goals if you’re given a flashlight, and you know, maybe some snacks.
Let me be the person who gives you that flashlight. I’ll also give you snacks.
Here’s how I think this whole thing will go:
Twice a month on Sundays, (I’m aiming for the first and third Sunday of the month), I’ll send out industry advice— either a craft or industry-centered newsletter that will give you the tools you need to get ahead in some way. (Picture “How to write a memoir synopsis” or “Three things you’re doing wrong in your query letter” posts.) If you’ve read “Before and After the Book Deal” or follow me on social media, you know how passionate I am about artists being paid fairly for their work. Accordingly, these posts will live behind a paywall. I’ll be doling out advice accrued from decades of experience, so I do hope you’ll consider upgrading to a paid subscription so that you can have access to inside-baseball level advice.
Every Wednesday, I’ll send out a new feature: “What to read when.” One book every week, calibrated to a certain mood or theme. We’ll start that tomorrow!
On Fridays, I’ll start holding office hours. I’m not quite ready to do this yet because I need to learn a little bit more about all of Substack’s offerings, but at some point in the future, we’ll be looking at paid subscribers’ queries, artist statements, and other one-page documents live together to learn the kinds of things we need to be doing in our promotional materials to get ahead in a competitive marketplace. This service will also be exclusive to paid subscribers.
And we’ll start with that. Please feel free to send me your burning questions about writing, revising, and the publishing industry at large, as well as topics you’d like to see covered in future posts.
In the meantime, if you received this but didn’t want to, or you received it twice, please forgive me. I’m not known for my technical prowess, so I do apologize if I bumble anything in these first few weeks.
In the meantime, I’m so glad to have you here. Summer is a hard time to concentrate on writing and writing-related goals, but together, we can hold each other accountable and cheer each other on.