Celebrate the Holidays at the WNBA-SF Mixer

Sunday, December 29
4:00-6:00 PM
East Bay (address provided upon registration)

featuring  Gabriella Mautner award-winning author and Holocaust survivor and instructor of creative writing at San Francisco State University.

Join WNBA-SF members and friends for a WNBA-SF New Year’s Inspiration Celebration.
Our annual holiday celebration will be held in a private home in the East Bay and will feature the usual food, drink, and lively company.

It’s a MIXER, bring a literary friend or two to join the fun. We appreciate our members and would love for you to join us so we can hear about the past year. We’d love to hear about books you have read, books you are writing, books you are publishing, books you are promoting, or libraries you support. We are enthusiastic for anything about the written word. Please join us in celebrating all of our chapter and member’s literary accomplishments of 2019!

Holiday book exchange: Bring your favorite book of 2019 wrapped or unwrapped. We will have a grab bag for all those who want to participate. What books inspired you? What books changed your life, made you think, or helped you to smile in this year?

Holiday Donation: Bring a NEW children’s book to donate to Jamestown Community Center

WNBA-SF Chapter Ideas: Join us in thinking about our future work and events as a chapter: What would you like to see more of? What kind of events would you like to attend? Do you want to join or volunteer?

Share your intentions for 2020: A group ritual dedicated to our writing, publishing, and promoting goals and intentions for 2020. Let’s look forward and toast the next year, most likely the best ever for our SF Chapter! We will all thrive in the support of our fellow women writers.
Bring your book club, your BFF, or come solo. Join us for a night of libations, women and books!
Let us know if you’re coming and if you’re bringing guests by filling out this short RSVP form. Carpools and rides arranged upon request.

NaNoWriMo – Tips for Success

by Nita Sweeney

When someone asks HOW to start writing, what they often want to know is WHERE to start writing, as in, “Where should my story begin?”

If it is November and they are participating in National Novel Writing Month, the annual challenge to write 50,000 words of fiction during the thirty days of November, about which I’ve written many times, the person’s question is premature.

Come to think of it, regardless of whether or not it is November or whether or not they are participating in NaNoWriMo, the question is still premature. In order to begin, a writer, new or otherwise, doesn’t need to know what words will follow the heading “Chapter One.” They just need to start writing.

But let me add a caveat. I write from my gut. I feel my way through. Not everyone is like this. Some people need to think a piece through or draft an outline. They may need extensive notes and research, especially for longer works. All that is fine, of course. But at some point, they just have to dive in.

That’s where writing practice saves me.

Decades of doing timed writing with no agenda except to put words on the page sidesteps the potentially paralyzing question of where the story should start. I figure it out by writing. I get in there and wallow around. Research or plotting or planning I’ve done ahead of time only serves me once my fingers are hammering the keyboard. I have to turn on the spigot and then, once the water is flowing, I’ll see what crevices it naturally wants to enter.

What is writing practice? It’s what I learned from best-selling author Natalie Goldberg. Timed writing. Set a timer and go. No thought. No crossing out or back spacing. No wondering if what I just wrote makes any sense. No stopping until the timer dings. It’s freeing and terrifying and the only way I know how to work. It’s the engine beneath everything I write.

And, it is just my way. I would love to hear about other ways in the comments.

Nita Sweeney
(c)Nita Sweeney, 2019, all rights reserved


Nita Sweeney is the author of the memoir, Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink, which was short-listed for the William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition Award. Her articles, essays, and poetry have appeared in magazines, journals, books, and blogs including Buddhist America, Dog World, Dog Fancy, Writer’s Journal, Country Living, Pitkin Review, The Taos News, Spring Street, Pencil Storm, WNBA-SF, It’s Not Your Journey, and in several newspapers and newsletters. She writes the blog, Bum Glue, publishes the monthly e-newsletter, Write Now Columbus, and coaches writers in Natalie Goldberg style “writing practice.” Nita has been featured widely across media outlets about writing, running, meditation, mental health, and pet care. She was nominated for an Ohio Arts Council Governor’s Award and her poem, “Memorial,” won the Dublin Arts Council Poet’s Choice Award. When she’s not writing or coaching, Nita runs and races. She has completed three full marathons, twenty-seven half marathons (in eighteen states), and more than eighty shorter races. Nita lives in central Ohio with her husband and biggest fan, Ed, and their yellow Labrador running partner, Scarlet (aka #ninetyninepercentgooddog).

Three Ways To Get Buzz For Your Book

By Paula Rizzo, author of Listful Living: A List-Making Journey to a Less Stressed You(September 2019)

A few short weeks ago, my newest book, Listful Living: A List-Making Journey to a Less Stressed You, was published! I’m super excited. 

Many of my clients are authors as well and I always give them the same advice when I’m media training or working on media strategy with them. 

So I’m practicing what I preach! 

Here’s what I’ve been doing to get my book out there before it hit bookshelves:  

Get Traditional Media Mentions: When it comes to publishing a book, I always tell my clients to get media attention well before the book comes out. If you’re lucky you could be like my friend Ilise Benun who got one media mention that brought her ten years worth of business! Check out my video interview with her here. 

I spent close to two decades as a television producer and the authors who got coverage were the ones that I already knew. That’s because they were already experts in my eyes and it was easy to say yes to someone who has already proven to be a good source for you. You want to be friendly with editors and producers well before you have a book to sell. It’s much easier to get their attention when they know and trust you already. 

As I always say media begets more media, so putting your name out there will create a ripple effect and hopefully bring new potential readers and media to your door. For more on what television producers specifically looking for check out my post on it here.

Here’s a recent interview I did with PsychCentral.com where I was interviewed about how to brainstorm better and be more creative. I took an example from my recent trip to Greece. Creativity is not a topic I typically would speak on but it worked and I got a mention for my book in there along with my quote. 

So that’s a lesson – don’t be tied to only talk about your topic. If you can confidently lend expertise in other areas do it – you’ll still get a mention for your book so it’s a win win! 

Also remember to never stop doing media. That’s a big mistake a lot of authors make. They only do media when they’re promoting. Make it part of your overall strategy. If you’re serious about this I can help – apply for a media strategy session here.

Produce Video Content: I may sound like a broken record with how often I encourage everyone to do video but that’s only because it works! 

When you’re seen on video the viewer gets to know you and like you. It’s a special connection that you can’t get through written word only. This is something you should be doing regularly. But for sure leading up to a big launch you should double your efforts.

There are so many topics that an author can create videos about. You wrote a whole book – pull from that! Remember to teach what you know and it will be much easier. 

If you want to learn how to create compelling video – take my free webinar “Produce Like a Pro” here

Plus, take your potential readers behind-the-scenes of your big launch. Let them see what you’re up to and they’ll get excited as well. For example, here are a few recent videos I’ve done as I prepare for Listful Living’s launch. 

VIDEO: Unboxing my author copies of Listful Living and seeing it for the first time!

FB LIVE: 30 Days til Listful Living Publishes

FB LIVE: Heading to record the audio book version of Listful Living 

Get Booked on Podcasts – Podcasts are so hot right now. You might be hearing that “everyone has a podcast” these days. They’re actually so popular that recording studios are the new must-have for boutique hotels. It’s true!  

So what better place to start getting your name out there? Podcasts tend to have a unique and niche audience so you can really target those who you think would be interested in what you offer. And you can even reach new audiences too. 

Also – podcasts are a good place to work out your material because they are usually between 20 minutes and one hour. So your answers don’t have to be as tight and concise as with television. 

Plus, here’s something you might not know, people who listen to podcasts buy books. Yep it’s true. 

Everyone thinks getting on the Today Show or another TV show means your book will fly off the shelves.

It’s simply not true. 

Podcasts are the ticket. 

In fact, I was just at a conference and a media expert said her client was on The Today Show and sold only 111 books from that appearance. But when she was on a podcast the numbers soared. 

Here are some of the recent podcasts I’ve been on to talk about my book – even before it is published!

Profitology Podcast with Kelly O’Neil – Crack the Media Code with Paula Rizzo. Even though this is about media I still got to mention my book. 

Good Life Coach with Michele Lamourex – How to Get Booked on TV and in Print. Same with this podcast and the host was so intrigued with my other expertise in productivity and list making that she wanted to record a second show just on that topic. 

Good Life Coach with Michele Lamourex – How to Use Lists for a Happier Less Stressed. 

Get Published with Paul Brodie  – How to Use Traditional Media Effectively. This one combines my journey as an author with strategies to get media attention.

available now and  

My book is available everywhere books are sold; if you’re the least bit interested I’d love if you grabbed a copy now: 

Amazon: http://bit.ly/ListfulLiving  

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/ListfulLivingBN 

Indiebound: http://bit.ly/ListfulLivingIndiebound

BONUS FREEBIE: Your message deserves the media’s attention. So how do you get out there in a bigger way? I’ve got you covered. CLICK HERE to grab my free “Checklist to Become a Go-To Media Expert.”


As a best-selling author and Emmy-award winning television producer for nearly 20 years, I’ve produced health, wellness, and lifestyle segments with a range of top experts, including JJ Virgin, Jillian Michaels, and Deepak Chopra. I served as senior health producer for Fox News Channel in New York City for over a decade. Today, I work with experts, authors, and entrepreneurs on how to position themselves for media (traditional as well as blogs and podcasts), build their lists, and engage customers and fans for their brands, books and businesses.

I’m also the co-creator of Lights Camera Expert – an online course geared towards helping entrepreneurs, authors and experts get media attention.

I created the productivity site ListProducer.com and am the best-selling author of Listful Thinking: Using Lists to be More Productive, Highly Successful and Less Stressed, which has been translated into 12 languages and has been featured on many media outlets including Fox News, Fox Business, Prevention, Business Insider, Entrepreneur, Brides and made it on Oprah.com’s list of “Self Help Books That Actually Help.”

My latest book: Listful Living: A List-Making Journey to a Less Stressed You was published in the Fall of 2019.

I’m a regular speaker, and presented the keynote address for New York Women in Communications, and have presented at MA Conference for Women, Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), American Society of Association Executives, and others.

 

Featured Member Interview – Nita Sweeney

Q&A with Brenda Knight, WNBA-SF Chapter President and Nita Sweeney, WNBA-SF member

  1. Brenda Knight (BK): When did you know you were a writer, Nita?

    Nita Sweeney (NS): Way to lead off with a stumper! Did I know I was a writer in 5th grade when I held the one and only copy of my “first” book, Sheshak the Wild Stallion, which I both typed and bound myself as a class assignment? How about in 1996 when Dog World published my first feature article or when Dog Fancy published my cover article? Definitely in 2019 when Mango published Depression Hates a Moving Target, my first actual (not typed or bound by me) book and I held it in my hands.

    Still, self-doubt arises again and again. I have befriended it. Part of me may never think I’m a “real” writer, but I don’t let that deter me from writing.

    (BK): Runner biographies and memoirs are a “thing.” Did you ever think you would write one? (or did you?)

    (NS): At 49, when I took up running, the last thing on my mind was writing a running memoir. I just didn’t want to be miserable anymore and hoped exercise would help me crawl out of an emotional black hole. Soon, friends and my mental health providers began to comment about my improved mood. They saw it before I did.

    But I’m always writing something. So, in 2011, after my first half marathon, I used National Novel Writing Month to record how this middle-aged woman leashed up our dog and went from eating Hershey bites on the sofa to running a half marathon. It took another year and a half for me to realize I wasn’t writing about how I took up running. I was writing about saving my life. That’s when I knew I had a story.

    (BK):What is your favorite memoir, running or otherwise?

    (NS): Chris McDougall’s Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen enjoys a cult following among runners. I’m proud to be part of the fan club that finds it so inspiring. The book is memoir-ish but also includes copious research. And, it reads like a novel. I’ve stayed up all night reading the physical book and been dismayed to arrive at my destination while listening to the audiobook in my car.

    (BK): You have received several impressive awards for your prose; has that helped your writing career?

    (NS): Thank you for mentioning these! Awards provide a sense of legitimacy. I’m an anxious person full of self-doubt. Having well-respected strangers say I write well boosted my confidence. I also believe those external stamps of approval helped Mango decide to give this first-time author a chance. Hopefully the awards entice readers as well. 

    (BK): What advice do you have for aspiring authors who hope to have a first book published?

    (NS): Pitching to agents and editors is like dating. You don’t need every single person to love you. You just need one person to fall in love with your book and hopefully you will fall in love with them too. I’m so grateful to have found Mango when I did. I was ready. They were ready. The world was ready.

    (BK): What has been the single most satisfying part of your publishing journey?

    (NS): Needing to move the tissue box closer to my laptop. When I receive a note about how a reader relates and that the book gives them hope, my heart bursts. 

    Recently, a virtual book club picked up the book and the administrator messaged me a screenshot of a post. A woman’s teenage son who struggles with depression saw the book on their coffee table and asked if he could read it. Then, her daughter, not to be left out, asked if she could read it too. In her post, the mother explained they were reading the book as a family. She hoped it would open a much-needed dialogue about her son’s issues. There is no way I could have imagined that kind of scenario when I started jotting down the random thoughts that eventually became this book.

    On a lighter note, one woman posted that she was creating a design to have the “Depression hates a moving target” tattooed on her arm. I haven’t seen a photo of an actual tattoo yet, but that was a pretty good day as well.

    (BK): Do you have any trade secrets to your writing craft you could share for the Women’s National Book Association?

    (NS): I swear by Natalie Goldberg style “writing practice.” Set a timer and go. Her admonition to “keep your hand moving” and the idea that you often have no idea what you’ve written until after you’re done gets me through. Yes, I edit, study craft, and revise. But nothing helps me get the work done better than a digital kitchen timer.

    (BK): Who gives better critiques on your first draft – your husband or your dog?

    (NS): Clearly my husband. Scarlet, the #ninetyninepercentgooddog, just shreds everything!

    Seriously though, when I was working on Depression Hates a Moving Target, Ed read every stinkin’ draft, and there were many. And then, when we received the author copies, I came home one day to find him on the sofa with a copy of the just-published book, reading it again from page one!

    (BK): Any new projects up your running jacket sleeve?

    (NS): Yes! I’m writing a proposal for a book of simple, daily meditation “practices” to promote living in the moment. The book is in the standard 365-day format, but each page includes a teensy exercise to promote mindfulness in daily life. Many people don’t realize you don’t have to sit in silence to meditate. You can meditate all day long. This book will help them learn how.

    (BK): What question do you wish I asked and what is the answer?

    (NS): You’ve asked great questions, but I wish people would ask about my favorite stuffed animal. No one has asked that since I was four. At that time, it would have been a stuffed red dog I still have. But now my favorite is a stuffed Capricorn goat I bought after Ed and I began dating. Ed’s a Capricorn. I still adore both of those Capricorns.

    Nita Sweeney is the author of the memoir, Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink, which was short-listed for the William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition Award. Her articles, essays, and poetry have appeared in magazines, journals, books, and blogs including Buddhist America, Dog World, Dog Fancy, Writer’s Journal, Country Living, Pitkin Review, The Taos News, Spring Street, Pencil Storm, WNBA-SF, It’s Not Your Journey, and in several newspapers and newsletters. She writes the blog, Bum Glue, publishes the monthly e-newsletter, Write Now Columbus, and coaches writers in Natalie Goldberg style “writing practice.” Nita has been featured widely across media outlets about writing, running, meditation, mental health, and pet care. She was nominated for an Ohio Arts Council Governor’s Award and her poem, “Memorial,” won the Dublin Arts Council Poet’s Choice Award. When she’s not writing or coaching, Nita runs and races. She has completed three full marathons, twenty-seven half marathons (in eighteen states), and more than eighty shorter races. Nita lives in central Ohio with her husband and biggest fan, Ed, and their yellow Labrador running partner, Scarlet (aka #ninetyninepercentgooddog).

Love it or Leave it?

By Angelica Shirley Carpenter |

On November 5, 1872, Susan B. Anthony voted in the presidential election in her hometown of Rochester, New York. Two weeks later a United States deputy marshal called at her house to arrest her for illegal voting. He offered to let her go to the district attorney’s office by herself. “Oh, dear, no,” she said. “I much prefer to be taken, handcuffed, if possible.” 

Her arrest and trial made national headlines. Some accounts were written and published by her friend Matilda Joslyn Gage, a fellow leader in the National Woman Suffrage Association. Gage traveled from her home near Syracuse to support Anthony; they organized separate speaking tours around Rochester. Anthony’s speech asked “Is it a Crime for a Citizen of the United States to Vote?” Gage’s talk was entitled “The United States on Trial, Not Susan B. Anthony.” 

Their speeches were so effective that the Monroe County district attorney ruled they had tainted the jury pool. He changed the venue to Ontario County, where the two suffragists managed to stage another whirlwind of talks before the trial. 

The court case, by today’s standards, was a joke. The jury was all male. The judge, described by Gage as “a small-brained, pale-faced, prim-looking man,” ruled Anthony incompetent to testify (all women were considered incompetent to testify at trials). After two days of testimony and speeches by lawyers, the judge pulled a piece of paper from his pocket. 

“This was the first criminal case he had been called on to hear since his appointment,” Gage wrote later, “and with remarkable forethought, he had penned his decision before hearing it.”

“Gentlemen of the jury,” the judge read from his paper, “Miss Anthony knew that she was a woman, and that the Constitution of this State prohibits her from voting. She intended to violate that provision—intended to test it, perhaps, but certainly intended to violate it. . . . She voluntarily gave a vote which was illegal and thus is subject to the penalty of the law.” 

Without allowing the jurors to deliberate, or even to speak a word, he directed them to find her guilty. After instructing the court clerk to enter the verdict, he dismissed the jury and announced a fine for Anthony: one hundred dollars, plus court costs.

“May it please your honor,” Anthony said, “I shall never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty.” And she never did.

Later a law journal published a review of the case, offering advice to the radical women. Matilda Joslyn Gage responded in her newspaper, The National Citizen and Ballot Box: “The Albany Law Journal,” she said “. . . advised Miss Anthony and ourself if we were not pleased with ‘our laws,’ that is, laws made by men, to leave the country, to exile ourselves. This legal journal does not even recognize woman’s right of protest, but if for any reason, women are not pleased with ‘our laws!’ they are bidden to leave the country. Under such a monstrous perversion of justice, . . . cannot all women say We are Without a Country?”

This monstrous perversion of justice has echoed through decades of patriotic dissent. In the 1960s, people who protested the draft and who fought against America’s involvement in the Vietnam War received similar advice. Some did leave, but others stayed, and some even died in that war, believing that they could effect change from within. And eventually the country agreed: the United States had been wrong to attack that small, brave country. 

Today the demand comes from a white supremacist president, aimed particularly at women of color, to love this country or leave it. In solidarity with them, I’d like to echo the 60s: Hell no, we won’t go! It’s our country, too. We will stay and fight to make it better and to make it equal for all.


Angelica Shirley Carpenter is the author of Born Criminal: Matilda Joslyn Gage, Radical Suffragist. Her website is angelicacarpenter.com.

Journaling for Problem Solving

By Debra Eckerling, author of Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning and Achieving Your Goals (January 2020)

Whenever someone asks me for writing tips, I suggest keeping a journal. You already have the material – your life, your drama, your observations – so it’s perfect for polishing your writing skills, as well as developing your style and tone. But it’s so much more than that.

While journaling is traditionally used for jotting down what’s going on in your life – tracking your actions, activities, and emotions – one of my favorite ways to use a journal is for problem-solving. 

Challenges come in all shapes and sizes. Whether you’re exploring a plot point, pondering a career choice, or dealing with a personal matter, you may find yourself mulling it over constantly … and sometimes to no avail. However, when you take pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard – in your quest to work something out, you are much more likely to come up with an effective solution.

Want to gain more clarity? Need to resolve something that’s bothering you? Try my Directed Journaling technique.

Directed Journaling

Directed journaling is stream-of-consciousness writing spurts, focused on a specific theme, issue, or problem. 

Here’s how it works:

In your calendar, schedule between three and five 15-minute sessions over a few days. Be sure to set a reminder.

When you get the alert for your appointment, set a timer for 15 minutes, and start writing.

Note: While there are numerous benefits to writing by hand, if you are more likely to complete the process by typing on a computer, go for it!

During each journaling session, focus on the challenge at hand. 

Answer questions, such as: 

  • What’s the problem? 
  • How can I resolve it? 
  • What are all the possible solutions? 

Think outside the box; be as logical and as extreme as possible. These notes are for your eyes only. And don’t worry about repeating yourself. The trick is to get everything out of your head and onto the page.

Here’s the trick. Do not read any of these journal entries until you have done the process several times.

Once you have exhausted your thoughts on the subject, then you may read the journal entries. 

As you go through them, note the ideas you repeat – those are what you are most drawn to. You may also come up with solutions that seem to come from left field. That’s what happens when you allow yourself to babble on paper. 

When you open yourself to all possibilities, and look at them objectively, you are more likely to come up with a successful plan.

Final Thoughts

Journaling is truly one of the best ways to gather and organize your thoughts. Use it to log ideas for writing projects, gather character quirks from people-watching, draft articles and outlines, track your life, or solve problems. The options are endless. 

Enjoy the process … and know that you can amp it up when you need to. It’s just another tool in your writers’ toolbox.


Debra Eckerling is the author of Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning, and Achieving Your Goals (Mango Publishing, January 2020), as well as the self-published Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All AgesA goal coach, project catalyst, and founder of The D*E*B Method, Debra works with individuals and businesses to set goals and manage their projects through one-on one coaching, workshops, and online support. Note: DEB stands for Determine Your Mission, Explore Your Options, Brainstorm Your Path. She is the founder of Write On Online, a live and online community for writers, creatives, and entrepreneurs, as well as host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat (Sundays at 7pm PT) and the Guided Goals Podcast.

In Defense of Indie Publishing

by Pamela Feinsilber |

Book lovers have no doubt been delighted to see Barbara Lane’s new bimonthly Books column in the Chronicle. Years ago, I attended several of her conversations with authors at the Commonwealth Club and thought her a terrific interviewer. In addition, I’m a freelance book editor—so I found it doubly disappointing that she did such little research for her July 26 column, “Is it worth paying $7,500 to have your book published? Maybe.”

We all understand that it’s ever more difficult to get your work, particularly fiction, accepted by a mainstream publisher. Happily, there’s an ever-growing indie-publishing world out there, one that has nothing to do with the ancient, disparaging term “vanity press.” Even so, Lane—and many others, of course—still seems to think that “if your book is any good,” one of the “reputable publishing houses” will want to publish it. Anything less, she implies, is either intended for family only or the work of a vain and talentless hack. 

That kind of thinking, however, is completely outdated. I’ve worked with dozens of self-publishing authors, from well-known writers to first timers. So it grieves me that people—especially like those in this organization, putting so much time and tears into their writing—aren’t getting good information.

The truth is, more and more published authors are choosing to keep more of the process, and all the royalties, in their own hands. And like any writer, the first-time novelists, memoirists, self-helpers and others feel passionate about what they have to say and want to get it out there. Investing in their own work, perhaps instead of taking a vacation or buying a new car this year, is a way to make that happen. 

Some writers don’t care about earning the money back; they’re glad to have produced their one novel or memoir. And yes, every once in a while, a traditional publisher happens on a “Fifty Shades of Grey” or “The Martian.” That occurs, by the way, with less blockbusting books, too. Just thinking of my clients, Kevin McLean’s memoir “Crossing the River Kabul” was picked up by a university press and received excellent reviews. 

Literary agents are more hesitant to take on mid-list or less-commercial-seeming books these days, but that’s no reason not to persevere. Several of my clients have done just that and never looked back. 

“When It’s Over,” historical fiction by Barbara Ridley, was a finalist for six indie-press awards. Christine Volker’s “Venetian Blood” won the (May) Sarton Women’s Book Award in contemporary fiction, the Independent Press Award for Mystery and First-Time Published Fiction, and a Pinnacle Book Achievement Award for International Mystery. You can bet that this recognition, as well as their good reviews, will help both when their second novels are done.

Ego had nothing to do with Therese Crutcher-Marin’s persistence in getting her heart-felt memoir out. While Kirkus gave “Watching Their Dance: Three Sisters, a Genetic Disease, and Marrying Into a Family at Risk for Huntington’s” a strong review, she has focused on selling it at HD fundraising and other events. So far, she’s made almost $15,000. Imagine how much she’d earn if she tried to reach a wider audience.

Lane got the figure in her headline from (and gave most of her column to) She Writes Press, a hybrid press in Berkeley. When She Writes, which published the two novelists I’ve mentioned, accepts a manuscript, it does beautiful work for a fee of, yes, $7,500; but if the book requires editing—and what work doesn’t?—that costs extra. 

And She Writes keeps 40 percent of the royalties. That’s much less than the mainstream publishers take, but 40 percent more than if you become your own publisher, as Therese did.

After getting professional editing, many authors work with a graphic designer, who creates the cover, interior design, and print and e-books and—almost as important—gets their book into the IngramSpark catalogue. A longtime, well-known book distributor, Ingram added this excellent print-on-demand feature several years ago. Once bookstores know about your book, they can order copies through Ingram, just as with any other title. Doing your own marketing is key, but that’s true whether you have a traditional publisher or not. 

Lots of companies can help you create your book, but they won’t distribute it. You could work with Amazon’s KDP, but most independent bookstores won’t stock books created through Amazon.

Speaking of bookstores, the Path to Publishing program at Book Passage in Corte Madera will take you through all these steps, from recommending a mentor or an editor like me to suggesting a graphic designer and a publicist to helping you get an ISBN number to getting your book on its shelves.

Honestly, I could go on and on in exasperation that more hardworking potential authors haven’t explored this ever-improving option. I’ve worked with so many happily self-published authors. It’s a new world out there! Why not take a little time to explore it?

After working in the magazine world, most recently as a senior editor at San Francisco magazine, Pamela Feinsilber has for more than a decade been editing books. She’s at www.pamelafeinsilber.com.

Pitch-O-Rama PLUS 2020

Saturday, March 21, 2020
8:00 am – 12:30 pm 

It’s now Pitch-O-Rama PLUS – now in Noe Valley!

Bethany UM Church
1270 Sanchez Street (at Clipper) SF, CA 94114

Includes a continental breakfast and pre-pitch coaching.

Early Bird Registration pricing through Jan 1, 2020:
$65 WNBA members,  $75 Non-members, Men Welcome!
Limited to the first 60 ticketed attendees.

Pitch-O-Rama delivers the 4 Ps that lead to publication.

POLISH. You’ve polished your manuscript. Now polish your pitch with our pre-pitch coaches

PITCH. We’ve assembled top agents and publishers for all genres

PROMOTE. Power up with social media 

PARTICIPATE in a Q&A Panel. Secrets to Successful Book Marketing

= PUBLICATION

Pitch-O-Rama 
CLICK HERE FOR THE LIST OF AGENTS AND PUBLISHERS!!!

CLICK HERE FOR TIPS AND RULES FOR PITCHING!

Program
8 to 9 am: Continental Breakfast

8 to 9 am: Pre-Pitch Practice Sessions (3 coaches)

9 to 11:45: Pitch to Agents & Editors (2 one-hour sessions)

12 to 12:30 pm: Secrets to Successful Book Marketing for Writers

Register for Pitch-O-Rama!

 

How Not to Freak Out and Get Humiliated When Pitching to Agents

by Andy Ross |

Andy Ross

Andy Ross

When it comes to rejection, I’m a real wuss. I don’t think I could ever pitch my writing to an agent. I’m amazed at how courageous writers are, and I always feel shame when I know that I have hurt someone with a rejection. In my job, I get plenty of rejection letters from editors in response to my submissions. I estimate I have received over 5000 in my few years at this job. Sometimes it seems a little like my social life in high school. 

Many of my pitches are for memoirs and novels. Here’s what I can tell you about how publishers evaluate these genres. So many of the published memoirs are driven by celebrity. These are, in reality, book-like glitzy packages, usually written by someone other than the putative author. For those of you who like that kind of book, I refer you to Kardashian Konfidential, St. Martin’s Press (2010), written by God only knows who. For the rest of us, it’s almost impossible to find a publisher for a personal memoir.

Certainly there are some examples of family memoirs that have succeeded. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls comes to mind. Or The Liar’s Club by Mary Karr. These books rise to the level of high literature. They’re the exceptions though, and I can only imagine the difficulty they must have had finding a publisher. I’ve represented some very good memoirs. Yes. As good as The Liar’s Club. I couldn’t get them published. No dishonor. Just disappointment.

Similarly with fiction. And I have written about this as well in a previous blog post. Literary fiction is especially difficult to get published for the simple reason that it rarely sells enough to be a profitable venture. Most editors evaluate 200-500 novels a year. All of them have been heavily vetted by agents. Most of them are good enough to get published. An editor may acquire 10. And the rejection is usually based on marketing, not on aesthetics. (“This book is too dark for book groups.”  —  “This book seems too quiet.”) As a result I only represent a few novels a year. Most of the greatest novelists of our time have experienced these kinds of rejections.

Some agents are nice guys and have a warm and fuzzy vibe. Others may seem dour, forbidding, arrogant, or world weary. If you are fearful of laying yourself wide open to an agent, here’s what I recommend: Don’t even try to pitch your book. It’s probably more effective sending an agent a query letter and a sample when they get back to the office. Instead, just ask them some questions. Agents know about the publishing process and the market, and you can learn a lot by having a conversation with them.

Ask them what they are looking for when they read a memoir or a novel. Ask them what turns them on and what turns them off. Ask them for advice about finding the right agent. Try to find out what agents and editors are talking about with each other. Ask them what grabs their attention in the first paragraph. The information will be invaluable. And you won’t have to suffer the indignity of a face-to-face rejection. Of course, ask them at the end if you can send them a query and submission. More than likely they will put it at the top of their queue.

Most writers who attend the conferences, most writers who pitch to agents at any conference, aren’t going to find a home with a big New York publisher. But it’s important to remember that the writing, itself, is the end, not the means. It’s the journey that counts. And a few people will reach the end and receive the gold cup. More likely though, you will slip on a banana peel ten feet from the finish line. Ah, but what a trip it’s been. How much you must have grown in the process. Writing is a profound journey of discovery. Publication, well, it’s a business transaction.

Nobody said it better than Ann Lamott in Bird by Bird. She tells us:

“…publication is not all it’s cracked up to be. But writing is. Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. That thing you had to force yourself to do — the actual act of writing — turns out to be the best part. It’s like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward.”

Practice the techniques suggested by Andy Ross and register for Pitch-O-Rama, March 21st. Just click HERE!

About the author: Andy Ross represents authors who write books in a wide range of subjects including: narrative non-fiction, science, journalism, history, current affairs, contemporary culture, religion, children’s books and commercial and literary fiction. He is eager to work with projects in most genres as long as the subject or its treatment is smart, original, and will appeal to a wide readership. In narrative non-fiction he looks for writing with a strong voice and robust narrative arc. He likes books that tell a big story about culture and society by authors with the authority to write about their subject. For literary, commercial, and children’s fiction, he has only one requirement–a simple one–that the writing reveal the terrain of that vast and unexplored country, the human heart. 

Featured Member Interview – Sheila Murray Bethel, PhD

Interview by Susan Allison

sheila murray bethel PhD

A member of  WNBA and The Author’s Guild, Sheila Murray Bethel, PhD is recognized internationally as an expert in leadership. She is a successful entrepreneur, bestselling business author of five books, and a Hall-of-Fame speaker. She has given over 4,000 presentations to over two million people in 20 countries. Her latest published work, A New Breed Of leader, 8 Qualities That Matter Most In The Real World, What Works, What Doesn’t and Why is published in English and Chinese and is winning global praise. She has also written for such publications as The Washington Post, The San Francisco Examiner and USA Today, to name a few. 

When asked about her earliest writing experiences, Sheila remarks, “I am always impressed when I hear about women who knew they wanted to be a writer as a child or they talk about writing stories and plays or poems in school. I never did. I came to writing late in the game, as a necessity that turned into a passion. As a beginning professional speaker, I realized that I had to write articles, training materials, and most of all, a book. To have credibility in the marketplace, I needed a traditionally published book, and preferably one that did well.” 

In her thirty-five years as a professional speaker, Sheila wrote two compilations with other experts, and three books on her own on the subject of leadership. Her first solo book was a best seller in a large niche market; the second was a national bestseller, published in several languages and took her, as she describes, “around this wonderful globe of ours, speaking to fascinating groups of people in a myriad of organizations in fascinating venues.” It was the longest selling business book in her publisher’s history, with twenty-three printings in the U.S. The third book was a follow up to the second and again sold in many languages and countries. 

When asked to share her publishing experience, Sheila has sound advice for every writer: “Don’t Give Up!!! Publishing is one of the hardest things I have ever done. You will encounter nay-sayers and negative people who don’t believe in you or your work. You will get your feelings hurt, shed a tear, and even want to give up during the process. Please don’t. If you feel like quitting, call me and I’ll give you a pep talk.” 

Based on her years of experience, Sheila has three key tips about publishing:

      1. Once you have finished your book, take your ego, wrap it carefully in a piece of lovely soft velvet, and put it in the closet. From now on look at your work as a Product (not you personally). That is the only way you will survive what it takes to see it through to publication. 
      2. The hardest thing to do is to understand that rejection, or constructive criticism, is not personal. It is not you that is being rejected; it is your product. Take a deep breath and get feedback on why it is not being received as you had planned. Ask yourself, what can I learn/do to make it better or more appealing. A caveat here; ask advice from those who are as successful or more so than you. While it is generous of others who are not yet published to help, odds are they won’t be able to give you the hard news you need to make your book publishable.
      3. Get an agent! Will it be easy? No. Is it worth it? Yes! Research the net for the agents that work in your genre. Their website will tell you all you need to know about how to approach them and what they will and will not accept, and how to give them what they want; i.e., synopsis, longer outline, several chapters and so on. Get to know the books they represent and with which publishers they work. It is key to be informed about them before you try to submit your work. It pays off! I’ve had three non-fiction agents; two I enjoyed working with, one I did not. Will I go through it all again for a fiction agent? Yes. I will be right there with you on this journey to have a published book!

    Currently, Sheila is writing a work of fiction, and is drawing on so many inspiring writers for inspiration: “Early on I read the classics; Virginia Wolfe, the Bronte’s, Toni Morrison, Willa Cather among others. Their artistry was the basis and inspiration for my writing. They made me laugh, cry and come to realize how much their words empowered me and allowed me into other worlds. My current fiction project is greatly influenced by Australian writer Colleen McCollough, author of The Thorn Birds. She was a powerful storyteller, a true genius of the written word. She would create a broad scope of time and place and characters and then skillfully and artistically bring it down to one place in a specific time with a detailed group of characters.”

    Now that Sheila is retired and is “no longer a road warrior,” she has the luxury of flexibility and can write anywhere, from her desk, to BART, in a park, at the library, on a plane or in a hotel room. What works for her is to write in two-hour segments, take a break and then come back and finish or edit what she has written: “I often take what I have written ‘for a walk,’ meaning that I go out to one of my favorite walking trails and read and edit as I walk. Nature inspires me and frees my mind. I always come back with better material than when I began.” Sheila’s debut novel is half-finished, and she is “enjoying the challenge.”

    In her parting words, Sheila Bethel inspires us to believe in ourselves and to keep writing: “Congratulations and good for you! There has never been a better time for women writers. The global awareness of women’s issues, as well as the rights and contributions we have made, make it a pivotal time in literary history. Your words and ideas are important!”

    Sheila would love to hear from you. Find out more about her and her work at:

     sheila@smbauthor.com

     www.smbauthor.com

     https://www.sheilamurraybethelauthor.com/sheilas-books-in-order-of-publication/