“Anything or anyone that does not bring you alive is too small for you” -David Whyte, The House of Belonging.
I found this quote in Brooke Warner’s book and it made me blink. Who me? Really? Ya’ talkin’ to me?
Yes, you. Stay with it.
Warner shares, “When we aren’t writing, we aren’t owning our writing.” I’m bowing in supplication as she calls my bluff. Aspiring authors simply have to believe they can write their book. It’s a duty.
So if everybody’s writing a book nowadays how does a writer know where to pitch a book proposal and get noticed?
Just ask Brooke. She’s a powerhouse author, coach, and editor, who graciously gave her time for MINI VIEWS this week. I found her through Dan Blank’s Grow Your Author Platform class. Warner conducts webinars and presents up- to- date trade secrets at the Self Publishing Summit in Berkeley.
Below is our conversation:
SR: Tell me about life as an author and editor.
BW: I got started in publishing working at North Atlantic Books as a project editor in 2000. I spent 13 years in traditional publishing before striking out on my own last year, in 2012. Now I work fulltime at my two businesses, Warner Coaching and She Writes Press.
I’m not, by any means, a fulltime author. I wrote my book, What’s Your Book?, because I felt I needed to capture what I knew about writing books and publishing into a book, and because I wanted to have the firsthand experience of writing a book.
My work with authors is largely editorial, but it’s also often emotional and psychological. I come to the process of writing a book from the vantage point of having been an editor, and from a background in traditional publishing. However, I am also a life coach, and I bring my skills as a teacher, listener, and collaborator to my process with authors. I have developed a process I know works to help authors work out their stories, but every author comes to the experience of writing the book with unique challenges. So I like to say that the work is very organic, and meets the author wherever they are.
Meanwhile, I’m the publisher of SheWrites Press, a press I co-founded with Kamy Wicoff, founder of SheWrites.com.
The press is one year old, and so far we’ve signed forty authors. I am working to write and publish an ebook this fall. I want to make sure I still write while I have all these other balls in the air, but it does require carving out the space and making a real commitment to my writing. In this way I have to live what I coach.
SR: Do you ever journal? As usual, I want to know all about how you arrange your time. How do you get it all done?
BW: I don’t journal. I’ve only ever journaled with any real consistency when I’ve traveled. That said, I am big on organization. And I have to be given the number of projects I manage. I never took a time management or organization course. I figured out a system that works for me and I’ve stuck to it. I use some systems, like a contact management system and a project management system. I’ve had to adopt a lot of good habits in order to keep straight all the various projects and timelines I manage. It’s great that with the digital age there are so many amazing tools at our disposal. It’s just a matter of figuring out which ones you like best and then learning how to use them!
SR: Do you have any tips for the older generation or people who still love the classics? I have some true crime stories to polish but the vintage non-fiction authors seem to be a thing of the past and nobody mentions them. True crime is published like fries, a side with every order.What advice do you have for facing such a competitive market?
BW: What I write about in my book is not using older titles as competitive titles in your book proposal. They are too old in the sense that they don’t have a sales record that the publishing industry can track. So you want to think about your competition being among books that have been published since 2000. This is very specific to shopping your book to publishers.
For older writers, I say this: Write your truth. Don’t let anyone tell you you are too old to publish. Don’t let anyone tell you you don’t have an audience. I work with a lot of writers who might consider themselves to be of “older generations.” A lot of them are so spunky and vibrant and enchanted with the possibilities around publishing and self-publishing. Many of them are building platforms for themselves, publishing books and ebooks, and making a little money on the side. It’s very inspiring.
In my opinion, the genre is beside the fact. There’s not only one type of story that’s getting published, and self-publishing, in a lot of ways, is making it possible for anyone to defy traditional publishing and make a case for the fact that there are all types of audiences out there. So don’t give up! Write your story and worry about how you’re going to publish later.
“And yet if we don’t dream big, how can we ever realize what we truly want, what we believe is possible?” -Brooke Warner, What’s Your Book?
Stay focused, look up!