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When the writing process feels hard, can...

When the writing process feels hard, can readers tell?

After I offered a client some critical feedback that meant he needed to do some rewriting, he complained, “This feels too hard. I like to write when I’m inspired. How can it be any good if I don’t feel inspired?” I gave my client the same answer I always give: It doesn’t matter what the […]

Match Your Nonfiction Writing Approach t...

Match Your Nonfiction Writing Approach to Your Content: Gain Efficiency, Relieve Pressure

Originally posted on the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) blog. “I know it’s messy, but you know me—I’m a pantser.” My editing client knew his topic inside and out, but his book manuscript read like it was the first time he’d ever touched the topic. We had to do a lot of rewriting and revision […]

Crisis Writing: Paying Attention To and ...

Crisis Writing: Paying Attention To and Beyond Yourself

To say there’s been a lot going on in the world the past few months would be a bit of an understatement. On top of the physical distancing and over-Zooming of the coronavirus pandemic, the death of George Floyd and the resultant protests have caused emotional turmoil: shock, grief, insight, awakening. I want to talk […]

Proofreading Tips, Tricks & Tools

Proofreading Tips, Tricks & Tools

Having an editor for your book is critical. If you spend money for only one publishing-related item, editing is my recommendation. However, you can make your editor’s task easier and keep your editing expenditure down by doing an effective job of editing and proofreading your own work. Here are some of my favorite editing and […]

Getting Feedback on Your Book? Tips to D...

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 throu...

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 Book...

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: Familiarity ...

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 from J...

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 […]

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: […]

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 […]

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 […]