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Getting Feedback on Your Book? Tips t...

Getting Feedback on Your Book? Tips to Do It Wisely

One of my neighbors has started dabbling in poetry and occasionally asks for feedback. She’s got a natural ear/eye for imagery but hasn’t studied the craft of poetry, so we take these opportunities to have mini-lessons on different aspects of writing. This week I played with one of her poems to demonstrate some possibilities for […]

Three Ways to Improve Your Writing th...

Three Ways to Improve Your Writing through Talking

On a recent call with my mastermind group, I mentioned that at some point I’d want to ask them for feedback on a book I was writing. Naturally they were curious about the topic. As I began to describe it, I realized I was struggling with the book’s focus. Was it a practical how-to-write-a-book book, […]

Self-Publishing? Avoid These Common B...

Self-Publishing? Avoid These Common Book Layout Mistakes

Imagine you write and self-publish a book that is thoughtful, nuanced, provocative. Your readers rave about the content. You get so much positive feedback that you decide to enter your book in a self-published book contest. When you get feedback from the judge, you’re elated by her generous praise for the book’s content and themes. […]

Nonfiction Book Structures: Familiari...

Nonfiction Book Structures: Familiarity Helps Readers

Have you ever been in someone’s kitchen for the first time and known exactly where to find the silverware drawer without being told? That’s because there is a predictable structure to a kitchen. In fact, if you search online, you’ll find about a half dozen standard kitchen layouts—the galley, the L, the U. Over a […]

How Readers Choose Books: Lessons fro...

How Readers Choose Books: Lessons from Judging

I can be a little judgy sometimes… Literally. I judge things. Essay contests. Grant applications. Poetry submissions. I recently judged twenty self-published books for a national writing magazine’s contest. While I’d hoped to judge nonfiction so I could share with you what I was seeing in the indie nonfiction space, I ended up judging children’s picture […]

Should you update your book? Maybe, m...

Should you update your book? Maybe, maybe not.

A past client contacted me to ask if I would make a few minor changes to his book, which we’d published three years earlier. I decided that if we were updating his book anyway, I should reread the whole thing for other needed editorial adjustments. As I read, I flagged items for consideration. I was […]

Fly Me to the Moon: Reigniting Inspir...

Fly Me to the Moon: Reigniting Inspiration

A few months ago my husband and I watched the National Geographic series Mars. It’s an odd mash-up of sci-fi and documentary: the story of a future crew that explores and settles Mars is punctuated with present-day experts and enthusiasts discussing space exploration. At the end of the series, one person laments that we are about […]

Revision: What to Cut, What to Keep

Revision: What to Cut, What to Keep

I sat listening to John McNeil answer audience questions about Breathe Freedom, his memoir of defending himself in a stand-your-ground state and his subsequent arrest, imprisonment, and release. As he offered one fascinating (or horrifying) story after another, I asked myself, Why didn’t he include that in his book? But I knew the answer already: […]

In Praise of Deadlines: To Get Your B...

In Praise of Deadlines: To Get Your Book Done, Raise the Stakes

For the past month, my husband and I have been preparing for the Tour D’Coop, an annual tour of backyard chicken coops in Raleigh that’s a fundraiser for a local nonprofit. We’ve taken the tour in the past but had always hesitated to offer up our coop. “We don’t have anything special to show people.” […]

How Short Can Your Book Be?

How Short Can Your Book Be?

The most popular article on my website—by far—is How Long Should Your Nonfiction Book Be?. My writerly answer: “Use as many words as you need and no more.” My strategic answer: “Match your book length to your readers’ needs and your brand promise—while paying attention to genre norms.” My practical answer: “Probably 30,000 words for […]

KDP and IngramSpark Printing Options

KDP and IngramSpark Printing Options

This article is part of a series on KDP and IngramSpark (IS) as print-on-demand (POD) platforms for independent authors. For an overview of the two platforms and summary of key issues, read KDP vs. IngramSpark: Which Publishing Platform Is Right for You? Here, we cover KDP and IngramSpark printing options in greater detail. For the […]

Emotion in Writing: Do You Need It?

Emotion in Writing: Do You Need It?

In one of the first creative writing classes I took, we responded to the prompt “Write about the worst thing that happened this week, and the best thing that happened this week.” We went around the room, sharing what we’d written. As I read my piece, I began to cry. That was the week we’d […]

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Why, yes, I DO have an opinion…

My goal is to offer useful information, not only about the craft of writing but also about the strategy of writing and how to integrate your book into your business plan.

And sometimes I write just to amuse myself…

KEY5 Speaker Podcast


Speakers, check out the KEY5 Speaker Podcast on iTunes. Each episode is 15-30 minutes chock full of speaking advice. Yours truly is interviewed in Episode 110 and Episode 302.