Monday, December 20, 2010

Students rock the Simple Gifts globe project

I just got the best present in my e-mail box! A 4th/5h grade class in the Seattle area just completed the papier-mâché globe project from Simple Gifts. Over the course of three days, they layered gooey strips of paper and dried each layer overnight. When done, they had a cool globe that could be used as an ornament. Jerry, the awesome teacher, said that his kids were elated with how they turned out, and super excited to take them home. Jerry personally liked the project because it wasn't "Christmas" themed but could be used for the holidays if desired. Check out the crafty madness!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ready to write YOUR book this year?

I get asked constantly for publishing advice. Constantly. (I'm convinced everyone has a book idea.) Sometimes I mind, mostly I don't. I love, love, love encouraging other writers or folks who simply have a good idea and motivation. But it's hard to find time to meet for coffee with everyone. To that end, fellow author and former publishing executive Kerry Colburn (yep, she gets her own share of queries) and I have teamed up to create a variety of talks, classes, and consultation opportunities to help you realize your publishing dream (or New Year's resolution!).

First, we've partnered with the amazing Hotel 1000 to bring you a series of talks to inspire, prepare, and help you navigate through the publishing process. Called
“The Business of Books with Jen & Kerry,” this lively three-part series will illuminate each step of the publishing process from turning an idea into a book proposal to effectively distributing, marketing and selling a book once it’s been published. The schedule is as follows:

Thursday, January 13, 7-9 p.m.:
Join us as we help you “Prepare to Get Published.” This talk will focus on how to find an idea and then grow it into a viable proposal. Attendees will learn what makes a good book idea; how to position themselves as a potential author; various ways a book can take shape; what publishers look for in a book proposal; how to research the marketplace and target publishers, editors and literary agents. To purchase tickets for this event, please click here.

Thursday, February 17, 7-9 p.m.:
Join us in our next installment as we discuss “Secrets of a Successful Proposal.” This talk will focus on what makes publishers take notice of one book idea over another when they see hundreds of proposals each week. Attendees will learn insider tips as we draw on our decades of industry experience to share the secrets of a winning proposal—and they’ll leave with the tools they need to get their proposal under way. To purchase tickets for this event, please click here.

Thursday, March 24, 7-9 p.m.:
Join us in our third installment as we discuss “Navigating the World of Publishing.” We will share our dual perspectives, drawing from our experience as in-house publishing executives and successful authors. Attendees will learn how a book goes from a proposal to finished product; hear publishing options including e-books and self-publishing; gain insight about royalties and contracts; sales and marketing; catalogs and publication dates, and more. To purchase tickets for this event, please click here.

“The Business of Books with Jen & Kerry” series will take place once a month at downtown Seattle's Hotel 1000. The ticket price is $40 per person/event or $99 for the entire 3-part series. On the evening of the event, attendees can check-in with the host at the hotel's BOKA KITCHEN + BAR to receive a free appetizer with purchase of an entrée. Make an evening of it! Links for tickets to individual events are available in the above descriptions and the complete series can be purchased here. We hope to see you at one or all three of these fun and informative evenings. We're ready to help you move your publishing dreams along!

Hands-On Workshops
We are also offering several 3-hour intensive workshops to help you develop a proposal that will demand attention from publishers. These Saturday morning workshops will be held in a private room at June restaurant in Madrona and class size is limited to 15.

Craft a Winning Proposal,
1/29/11 and 3/5/11, 9:30am–12:30pm, $109
“‘Craft a Winning Proposal’ is a great starting place in the quest to write a book. With lots of ideas, thoughts, concepts, and questions running around my brain, this session has helped me to envision a roadmap and plan to actually get going on my book!”

“Thanks for presenting Publishing in English. For the longest time, I thought you needed to learn a special brand of industry-Greek to understand how it all works.”

This workshop was such a resounding hit that we’re bringing it back for the folks who couldn’t make the first one. During the 3-hour workshop, we detail the key elements of a non-fiction book proposal, providing handouts and sample proposals for handy reference. The interactive style and intimate venue will allow for questions and Kerry & Jen’s feedback on your specific book idea. And not to worry: whether you have an idea nailed down or are still considering the possibilities, you’ll leave this energizing morning armed with the ability to create a focused, salable proposal.

Register for the 1/29/11 session via PayPal
Register for the 3/5/11 session via PayPal

Polishing Your Proposal,
2/12/11, 9:30am–12:30pm, $109 This more advanced workshop is the place to fine-tune your proposal-in-progress and get it out the door. As former publishing executives and successful nonfiction authors, Jen & Kerry have the experience and the know-how to finesse key details and make your proposal really shine. The intimate size will allow for questions, troubleshooting your specific problems, and talking through any sticky areas that might be holding you back. We will also scrutinize your title and subtitle, talk through the elements of a kick-ass cover letter, and review how to target the right editors and publishers for your book. Attendees are invited to bring in their particular challenges to share and discuss. If your proposal is under way but you need some professional, targeted guidance to finish it, this is the workshop for you. You’ll leave ready to wrap up—and sell!—your winning proposal!

Register for the 2/12/11 workshop via PayPal

Two-on-One Proposal Critique,
by appointment Deemed “incredibly thorough” by one of our clients, we offer a unique take on the review process. Both of us will review your proposal, making comments in the document and creating an overall assessment of the strengths, weaknesses, missing elements, and overall organization of your proposal. If you’ve got a proposal that’s almost there, we can help you get it into submission-ready shape. E-mail us for more information.

But wait, there’s more!
If you don’t have a proposal at the point of review, we are available to talk through any challenges or questions you may have. Contact us if you’d like to book us for a 90-minute in-person (and yes, you get both of us!) consultation about your project. You can find out more details about all of these talks, workshops, and consultations at our blog,
The Business of Books.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

The party's off, but the celebrating is on

I love a good party and I love to be the center of attention, so you’d think that I’d eat up hosting a big shindig.

Yes and no.

I love creating a great environment for friends to mingle. I love multi-tasking. But between answering the door, introducing guests to each other, and mixing tasty drinks, I sort of forego any meaningful or lengthy conversations.

So instead of throwing a kick-ass open house for the holidays, I decided to kick it with smaller groups of friends. I’m having micro-parties, gatherings of a few pals at a time. And because times are tough, I’m making them a potluck of sorts: I supply the main dish and happily accept apps, snacks, desserts, and drinks. The important thing is not the food (although my spicy lasagna is something to write home about), it’s the friends. And by taking the focus off being an impeccable hostest (that’s the hostess with the mostest combined), I don’t have to: clean the entire house from top to bottom, decorate like I’m Buddy the Elf, shell out hundreds of dollars for booze and artfully arranged cheese plates, send and monitor the evite, and create playlists from my current favorite music (is it just me, or is Bruno Mars dreamy?). By changing up my holiday experience, I’m buying back hours of my time, time that could best be spent in the company of others.

How are you downsizing the holidays? I'd love to hear.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Downsizing the a good way

How did it get to be December 3? And why am I always surprised to find myself behind the tinsel-covered 8-ball when the holidays are nigh?

Last year was hard. I didn’t have a lot of funds for gifts (let alone shipping), and I stayed put in Seattle rather than visiting family in Michigan (or other exotic locales like North Platte, Nebraska and Dahlonega, Georgia). While it’s been a year of personal and professional growth, not much has changed when it comes to Christmas. I’m still financially strapped and I’m not getting patted down by a TSA agent anytime soon.

But I’m not throwing in the towel on the holidays. I still plan on connecting with friends and family in meaningful ways and will be offering up some suggestions all month for you to do the same.

Pulling out a few questions from Beyond the Family Tree is a smart way to change the conversation and the dynamic when you’re tempted to start the snarky monologue in your head or withdraw from the conversation in favor of a Bravo marathon. Try asking older relatives how they celebrated the holidays when they were kids or what their favorite gift was. And ask about high school crushes or how they became a crazy train fanatic (or maybe that’s just my dad). Capture all the goodness on a Flip camera or your iPhone 4 for posterity (and for next year's holiday video, another perfect gift).

Simple Gifts, the other book I published in 2010, features all sorts of gifts you can make on the cheap and on the run. It makes a great gift in itself if you’ve got crafty folks on your list, but before you gift it, crack it open and make a batch of salted caramels, felted wine sleeves, candles, or magnets.

To help you out and prove just how easy these projects are, I’m planning on posting a video tutorial of a craft this month: which would you prefer to see—candles (one of which is featured on the book’s cover) or magnets?

What traditions have you incorporated into your holidays?

Next up: Micro-partying!

A sampling of my books