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“It was a dark and stormy night…”

While this iconic, clichéd phrase by Edward Bulwer-Lytton may conjure up humorous images of the stereotypical writer sitting down to pen his very own masterpiece, I would venture to guess that many a Seattle writer has probably themselves been tempted to, albeit with tongue-in-cheek, put these very same words to paper (or computer screen as it may be.) It has been speculated that the rainy, dreary weather that is synonymous with the Northwest has contributed to our repeated top ten standing on the list of most literary cities in the United States.

In fact, Seattle does have more bookstores per capita and the largest percentage of library cardholders in the nation. Add to that equation our plethora of coffee houses, and we have the perfect makings for a culture in which the writer thrives. In a highly creative city with a strong arts community where writing courses, coaches, and groups abound, there is no shortage of resources for writers regarding the art of writing.

But what comes after the act of composition?

Ah yes! Publishing!

The very thing that scares the living daylights out of most creative types.

But the most important thing to remember in pitching a book is that you don’t have to have a completed manuscript, just one killer proposal!

Last fall on this blog I introduced you to Jen Worick and Kerry Colburn after attending their talk “Inside the Book Business”, at a Kim Ricketts Book Event, where the two shared with the audience, step-by-step, the elements that one should include in a book proposal. I recently caught up with this dynamic duo to find out what they are up to now, and had a chance to see first-hand how they have identified a need within the community, to de-mystify the publishing process for writers, and are passionate about filling that need. At that event last October they were stunned to find such interest in their topic and have expanded their cultivation of the hopeful writer/would-be published author by now offering not just one full-blown series, but a whole franchise.

Kerry and Jen, who have been friends for almost twenty years, have close to forty years of publishing experience and forty published books between the two of them, including one New York Times bestseller. Sharing their intimate knowledge of the book publishing industry, in their new Business of Books Series at Seattle’s Hotel 1000, has given Jen and Kerry the opportunity to show how publishing, a dream for many, can be a reality.

“We are not writing coaches – we are publishing coaches. Many people know how to write but they don’t know what to do next – they’re shooting in the dark.” said Kerry when I sat down to talk with the pair about their new offerings. “There’s a lot of fear, and we provide inspiring and practical advice. We know the steps and how to get it done properly.”

In addition to the Proposal Series, which is a much more in-depth three-part expansion of the talk I saw last fall, Jen and Kerry also offer the Publishing Series, hands-on workshops, and two-on-one virtual coaching.

In the three parts of the Proposal Series you will learn about:

1) All the things to do before you make your pitch.

2) The eight elements of the proposal and what to do to get the publisher to take notice of your book. “Doing this helps solidify the idea. The proposal is the ‘roadmap’.” says Kerry.

3) This is  a new piece. You will hear how a new book goes from proposal to published, all about agents, publishers vs. self-publishing, marketing and contracts, plus gain a greater understanding of the publishing process.

The Publishing Series helps writers to choose their publishing path. The three separate two-hour talks focus on:

1) Pick Your Publisher. Learn all about your publishing options: e-publishing, indie, self-publishing, small vs. big house. Learn the pros and cons of each so that you can decide which is right for your book proposal.

2) The Art of the Book Deal. This is the business side of publishing. The focus for this session is on contracts, marketing, and money – including advances and royalties.

3) What Makes a Book a Bestseller? How to get on the bestseller list. “There are tips for this that many people don’t realize.” says Jen. And as a New York Times best-selling author herself, she would know!

If you are interested in more personal attention, the 3-hour Saturday workshops at June Restaurant are really where it’s at! This is where Jen and Kerry really get down and dirty with the writers, diving deeper into key elements of the book proposal and providing handouts and sample proposals for attendees. The smaller, more intimate group (15 people maximum) and interactive style allows for more of their feedback on a writer’s specific concept than the larger talks. But be sure to register early! These are extremely popular and fill up fast!

Hurry! The next one, Polish Your Proposal, is coming up on June 4th!

“We all have something that we are passionate about.” says Jen. “And we love providing the tools to make people get there!” Kerry eagerly added.

Of course the first thing that they asked me when I saw them again recently was if I had been working on my book proposal. I admitted that, sadly, I had not really nailed down my book idea – but during the course of the talk that evening I felt so inspired by the excitement swirling in the room and by the time I left that evening…magic had happened for me. I had my idea, in fact I had a few! And none of them begin with, “It was a dark and stormy night.” But, now, hmmmm, maybe there’s an idea there… 😉

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