Getting your first book edited can be an overwhelming experience. There’s different types of editors, huge swings in price ranges and that’s all before you receive the feedback itself. ALLi partner member and CEO of Fictionary.co Kristina Stanley, is here to explain everything you need to know about fiction editing.
Why is Fiction Editing so Complicated?
Let’s start with the terms. Substantive, developmental, structural, line, copyedit, proofread. Lost yet? When I started as an author, I researched these terms to figure out what they meant. Now that I’m a fiction editor, I want to uncomplicate this for you.
When Lisa at ProWritingAid.com asked me to write about plot versus story, I thought no problem. I’m a story expert. However, once I started researching the topic, I realized there is a lot of conflicting information out there.
I also realized a discussion about plot and story would be incomplete if we didn’t mention structure. Understanding the difference between plot, structure, and story is important because knowing the difference and how they affect your writing process can help you tell a powerful story.
As we head into Black Friday and Cyber Monday for 2019, there are some great deals for writers. I think there will be something on this list that will help you become a better, more successful writer.
Of course, Fictionary is offering an amazing deal on Fictionary StoryTeller, along with deals on other writing & editing software, writing courses, & publishing tools from our friends in the writing community.
Note: A few of the links above are affiliate links, which means I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Others are just deals that we thought were awesome!
Fictionary StoryTeller makes editing easier by applying universal storytelling structures to every scene. Evaluate and revise your manuscript against 38 Fictionary Story Elements to tell a powerful story readers will naturally connect with.
StoryTeller automatically creates powerful visuals by analyzing your manuscript from start to finish. Insights such as the Story Arc provide a 30,000-foot view of your manuscript and quickly highlight structural areas that need improvement.
Grammar guru, style editor and writing mentor in one package
This is the only time of year that ProWritingAid offers a wide, public discount on ProWritingAid Premium. Click here to get 50% off a lifetime license! Don’t miss your chance.
We all know that there is a lot more to good writing than just correct grammar. ProWritingAid created their software based on the same ideas you would learn in a university writing course.
The software addresses readability issues such as passive and hidden verbs, over-reliance on adverbs, repeated sentence starts, emotional tells and much more. These suggestions are the same as a professional copyeditor would give you (in fact many of them use ProWritingAid). ProWritingAid works right within Fictionary StoryTeller.
MasterWriter gives you Word Families, Phrases, Synonyms, Pop Culture, Rhymes, Definitions, a searchable Bible and Figures of Speech (Metaphors, Similes, Onomatopoeia, Idioms, Oxymorons, Allusions and Intensifiers).
While a computer program cannot compete with the mind and imagination of a writer, the mind cannot compete with the word choices MasterWriter will give you in an instant. When the two work together, great things happen…
To take advantage of this 50% off discount, simply sign up, add the BLACKFRIDAY code in the coupon box on the subscription page, and then choose your plan.
Ready to write your best novel yet? One Stop for Writers is a creativity portal that puts powerful storytelling tools and game-changing resources into your hands. Build characters deeper than you thought possible, stories that capture the imagination, and worlds that your readers won’t want to leave. From our hyper-intelligent Character Builder that guides you in creating fascinating characters that come with their own accurate character arc blueprint, to the largest description database for writers found anywhere online, One Stop for Writers isn’t like anything else you’ve seen. This ideal writing partner is there at every step as you plan, write, and revise, helping you create masterful fiction.
Use coupon code OUTLINE to get 25% this brainstorming tool for writers. It is designed to guide you in discovering the brilliant possibilities in your ideas, so you can identify those best suited to creating a solid story that will entertain and move your readers.
The Outlining Your Novel Workbook software provides an easy fill-in-the-blanks format that will guide you through every step of the process. Creating your own outline is as simple as starting on the first screen, using the prompts and lessons to work through your story in the most intuitive way, and clicking through the tabs at the top to access important sections.
Use discount code BLACKFRIDAY to get 50% off The Pre-Write Project, Crafting Incredible Characters, World-Building Warrior, and The Novel Planner.
Stop settling for so-so stories. Get the step-by-step guidance you need to craft truly spectacular novels with Well-Storied’s writing workbooks. All Well-Storied workbooks come in PDF format and can be printed or filled digitally (with the exception of The Novel Planner, which is specifically designed for print).
Featured in the INC 5000 list as one of the 5,000 fastest growing private companies in America, Self Publishing School is an online education company that teaches people how to write, market, & publish their first book in as little as 90 days. Join over 4,527 students who have followed their methodology to go from idea to publication *without *having to deal with traditional publishers.
Use discount coupon BLACKFRIDAY to get 50% off at check out on this in-depth course aimed to teach fiction writers how to become emotional masters in showing and evoking emotion.
To be an effective writer, you must master the emotional challenge of our stories. It won’t do to hope we will move our readers in some way. It won’t do to hope we get across our characters’ emotions. By examining more than 40 passages from best-selling novels, with over six hours of instruction, you will learn techniques to masterfully reveal character emotion and spark emotional response in readers. Enrollment in this online course includes lifetime access and a 30-day money-back guarantee. Join the thousand+ students who master the craft of fiction writing in Writing for Life Workshops online courses!
Use discount code BLACKFRIDAY11 at checkout to get 50% off this course for non-fiction writers who want to become more prolific.
Conquer Writer’s Block is ideal if you want to start writing a story or book, but you don’t know where to start, have lots of great ideas inside of you and just want to let them flow, have set and missed writing deadlines and want to finally do something about it, and want to discover how New York Times best-selling authors write and approach their creative projects. Avoid putting pressure on yourself to write 500 or 1,000 words a day and instead to set a target that works!
50% off the course or the bundle with the coupon code BLACKFRIDAY19
The Building Your Author Platform bundle is for the author who is struggling to effectively market their book and grow their audience and fan base. There is nothing worse than working hard to create a well-written, edited, fantastic book only to have it completely flop when you launch it. This self-paced bundle of courses will help authors:
identify their target audience
learn how to position themselves to grow the audience
grow the email list and social media platforms
receive expert guidance on tools and ways to market a book
David Farland has trained more than a dozen #1 New York Times Bestsellers. Now it’s your turn: Get David Farland’s popular courses: The Story Puzzle, Writing Mastery 1, Writing Mastery 2, Promising Starts, and Magnificent Middles, along with seminars like Publishing in 2020, and books like Million Dollar Outlines and Writing Wonder . The bundle gives you 1 year of access for only $109.
Good grammar doesn’t make good writing, but good writing demands good grammar. Elevate your writing and editing skills. More than 43K students have learned from course creator/instructor Ellen Feld. In this online classroom, when you ask grammar questions, you get grammar answers!
Use code 100OFFBOOK at checkout when you order over 100 books.
Why print your book with BookBaby? Our formula for great custom book printing is very simple: BookBaby is a book printing company staffed by professionals utilizing the world’s best book printing and binding equipment. While every individual book project is different, the results are always the same: eye-popping colors, crisp and even ink coverage, quality paper stocks, sturdy, tight book binding, all carefully packaged and delivered to your door. With over 50,000 projects successfully delivered last year, we know what authors require and expect from their book printer.
Use Promo Code NANO2020 for free title upload on a print book, ebook, or both!
IngramSpark® is an award-winning independent publishing platform that offers the same fully integrated print and digital products and global distribution services enjoyed by big-time publishers. Once you finish and format your book, IngramSpark makes it possible to share it with the world. It’s your content. We help you do more with it.
Get 50% off top freelance writing business coach Carol Tice’s proven methods for finding, contacting, and getting hired by better clients!
Freelance writing business coach Carol Tice shows you exactly how how to quickly find lists of good prospects, locate a contact email, and write a winning pitch — and get hired! . Includes pitch templates!
Click here to get 50% off “30 Days to Freelance Freedom” – a 10-step success system to launching and growing a profitable freelance business from anywhere.
This 30-day video-based program will guide you step-by-step through the process of setting-up, managing and growing your freelance writing business. It includes 10 practical modules taught by a 16-year freelancer veteran. It also features over 50 easy-to-follow videos along with relevant guides and checklists to help you put into action all you are learning. The program is designed for the new and experienced freelancer who is looking to uplevel their success in 2020!
Transcribe Anywhere trains aspiring transcriptionists to work from home with their high-quality, affordable transcription training.
Multimedia, self-paced course. Video tutorials, worksheets, printable PDF cheatsheets, tons of practice with multiple levels of difficulty to really prepare you for the job, tips, tricks, and step-by-step how-to from a 30+ year transcription veteran instructor, lifetime support, lifetime updates to course material .
Use promo code ESSAY at checkout to learn how to come up with salable essay ideas, craft compelling essays, and get your most personal stories published.
This 6-week, self-guided course will take you through every step, from essay idea to salable piece. You’ll learn how to grab readers (and editors), journal your way to essay ideas, identify the critical elements of a salable essay, critique your own essays and incorporate feedback from others, pitch and submit essays. A parting gift: A spreadsheet loaded with more than 130 relevant markets, including editor contacts.
Why not check out Fictionary’s StoryTeller free 14-day trialand tell powerful stories? Get your Black Friday deal by starting your free trial and then entering coupon code BLACKFRIDAY19. No credit card required unless you love StoryTeller as much as we do and decide ro subscribe.
I’m now an author member of the Alliance of Independent Authors. Already, I’ve met other writers, their private Facebook group is a great place to ask and answer questions, and their members only blogs and podcasts are a wealth of information.
As many of you know, I’m the CEO of Fictionary, so I love to share information about my company. I’m proud to announce Fictionary is now a vetted, trusted Partner Member and affiliate of Alliance for Independent Authors (ALLi).
Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), is the global non-profit association for writers who self-publish. Part of ALLi’s remit is to take self-publishing education and advice out to the wider indie author and publishing community.
There are lots of other great benefits too — you can find more on the Alliance’s website: HERE If you do join using the link, ALLi will refund me 30% of your first year’s fees. And as a member, you’ll then be able to recommend the alliance to your friends — and get the same benefit.
We’re proud to be a partner member because this means Fictionary has been vetted by ALLi’s Watchdog Desk team and adheres to ALLi’s Code of Standards.
The Watchdog Desk is headed up by indie author John Doppler and supported by ALLi Directors Orna Ross and Philip Lynch, and News Editor Dan Holloway.
The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), a great writers’ organization and I thought you might like to join too. Love to see you in an ALLi member forum soon!
StoryTeller is creative editing software for fiction writers. Transform your story, not just your words. Successful stories depend on your ability to edit, improve, and revise your work. Only when you master story editing, can you master storytelling.
Why not check out Fictionary’s StoryTeller free 14-day trialand tell powerful stories?
Today, I’m thrilled to welcome author, Jennifer Leeper. She’s here to motivate your through the final days of NaNoWriMo,
Jennifer has a new release, coming out tomorrow: The Poison of War. How great does this sound?
Two Mexican drug smugglers are murdered on Native American soil and the only clues left behind are two single arrowheads in this compelling page-turner of tribal secrets and distrust at the border.
When detective Frank Silva of the Tohono O’odham Nation arrived at the scene of the crime he immediately feared his investigation would require him to turn inward—to his own people—in search of the killer.
The End is Near
THE END. These two words are a far-off promise—a mirage both figurative and literal, for many, if not most writers on day one of Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month). These two words represent the end of a 50,000- (or more) word purge that can drain away optimism, sleep and even hope, in more dire instances.
By this last week of Nanowrimo, most writers don’t have the creative momentum they began with on November 1. The fortune-cookie wisdom and positivity floated by everyone within the Nanowrimo community during the first half of the month is deflated. In this spirit, I’m offering some end-of-the-line motivation to bathe the overworked, creative brains out there, and stoke the fires of Nanowrimo for just a few more days—or, in this case, a few more words.
Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second.
― William James
If you’re going through hell, keep going.
― Winston Churchill
It’s not about passion. Passion is something that we tend to overemphasize, that we certainly place too much importance on. Passion ebbs and flows. To me, it’s about desire. If you have constant, unwavering desire to be a cook, then you’ll be a great cook. If it’s only about passion, sometimes you’ll be good and sometimes you won’t. You’ve got to come in every day with a strong desire. With passion, if you see the first asparagus of the springtime and you become passionate about it, so much the better, but three weeks later, when you’ve seen that asparagus every day now, passions have subsided. What’s going to make you treat the asparagus the same? It’s the desire. —Thomas Keller, Interview with Mark Wilson
[Writing] is like wrestling; you are wrestling with ideas and with the story. There is a lot of energy required. At the same time, it is exciting. So it is both difficult and easy. What you must accept is that your life is not going to be the same while you are writing. I have said in the kind of exaggerated manner of writers and prophets that writing, for me, is like receiving a term of imprisonment — you know that’s what you’re in for, for whatever time it takes. — Chinua Achebe, “The Art of Fiction, No. 139,” The Paris Review
Remember you love writing. It wouldn’t be worth it if you didn’t. If the love fades, do what you need to and get it back. Remember writing doesn’t love you. It doesn’t care. Nevertheless, it can behave with remarkable generosity. Speak well of it, encourage others, pass it on. — Al Kennedy
Respect the way characters may change once they’ve got 50 pages of life in them. Revisit your plan at this stage and see whether certain things have to be altered to take account of these changes. — Rose Tremain
If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient. — Hilary Mantel
As for me, I’ve never conquered the beast called Nanowrimo, but I keep those two words I mentioned earlier at the forefront of my imagination each November. I hope you push on toward November 30th, even if you stumble away in defeat, short of your I targeted word count. I hopeyou’ll return next November and do it all over again, because it’s never been the word count that really counts.
You can find Jennifer Leeper’s latest work, THE POISON OF WAR, a southwestern crime/mysteryhere, or visit www.thepoisonofwar.com to follow her ongoing writing journey.
Who is Jennifer Leeper?
Ms. Leeper is an award-winning fiction author whose previous or forthcoming publications credits include Independent Ink Magazine, The Stone Hobo, Poiesis, Every Day Fiction, Aphelion Webzine, Heater Magazine, CowboyJamboree, The New Engagement, Alaska Quarterly Review, Falling Star Magazine and The Liguorian. She has had works published by J. Burrage Publications, Hen House Press, Inwood Indiana Press, Alternating Current Press, Barking Rain Press, Whispering Prairie Press, Prensa Press and Spider Road Press.
In 2012, Ms. Leeper was awarded the Catoctin Mountain Artist-in-Residency, and in 2013, Ms. Leeper was a Tuscany Prize Novella Award finalist through Tuscany Press for her short novel, Tribe. Ms. Leeper’s short story Tatau was published in the journal, Poiesis, and was short listed as a finalist for the Luminaire Award in 2015, and nominated by Alternating Current for Queen’s Ferry Press’ Best of Small Fictions of 2016 Prize. In 2016, The Saturday Evening Post honored Ms. Leeper’s short story Book of the Dead with an honorable mention in its Great American Fiction Contest.
Ms. Leeper’s short story The Bottle won second place in the Spider’s Web Flash Fiction Prize through Spider Road Press.
In the city of Denver, a series of baby kidnappings has the town devastated.With no ransom demands and no contact from the perpetrators, local law enforcement is at a dead end. No motive equals no answers.
A cop’s personal obsession…
Charlene Taylor’s niece becomes a victim, and the LAPD detective is thrown headfirst into a whirlwind case with similarities to one from seven years earlier. Out of her jurisdiction, and with no friends or leads, Charlene must walk-the-line between cop and sister.
Who can she trust?
Charlene has to decide who’s an ally, and when an unlikely partner steps forward, they must race against the clock: because that critical 48 hour window has come and gone.
Luke Murphy is the International bestselling author of Dead Man’s Hand (Imajin Books, 2012) Kiss & Tell (Imajin Books, 2015), and Wild Card (Imajin Books, 2017).
Murphy played six years of professional hockey before retiring in 2006. His sports column, “Overtime” (Pontiac Equity), was nominated for the 2007 Best Sports Page in Quebec, and won the award in 2009. He has also worked as a radio journalist (CHIPFM 101.7).
Rock-A-Bye Baby is Murphy’s fourth novel.
Murphy lives in Shawville, QC with his wife and three daughters. He is a teacher who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing, and a Bachelor of Education (Magna Cum Laude).
“Rock a Bye Baby has everything—a haunted protagonist, heartfelt emotion, and a twisty, thrilling plot.A scorcher of a follow-up in a promising series.”—David Ellis, NYT bestselling author of The Last Alibi
“Murphy has cleverly crafted a riveting crime thriller, with a hefty dose of white-knuckle suspense. Entertaining and enticing to the very last page.”—Cheryl Kaye Tardif, bestselling author of Submerged
“Rock a Bye Baby is an exquisitely told thriller, full of surprises and terrifying moments. Murphy is a gifted storyteller who keeps the tension crackling throughout. Charlene Taylor drives the story to a very satisfying and unexpected ending.”—Kristina Stanley, bestselling author of the Stone Mountain series.
20 Ways to Populate Your Blog to Engage Readers + a Special Promo to Launch Your Author Platform
by Donna Galanti – founder YourAwesomeAuthorLife
If you share your publishing journey and writer’s life now to connect with readers, they can become your built-in audience later once your book comes out – and faithfully follow you as you publish more books.
Blogging is an ideal way to connect with these potential readers. It can boost your website in search engines as you continue to post more content within it, encourages sharing of your content across social media platforms, and invites readers to engage with you in your own forum.
Here is the number one key I have found to engaging your readers through blogging: blog about what you are passionate about.
Check out 20 ways to engage readers:
Conduct interviews with characters in your book.
Do joint giveaways with other authors.
Share favorite current books you’ve read and feature them.
Write about your thoughts on topics in your book.
Share your book research process.
Share your publishing journey.
Do an interview with similar authors to you.
Share fun book trailers in your genre.
Create a soundtrack for your book and share it.
Clean out your bookshelves with books in your genre and do a book giveaway post.
Write about a current event topic that you are passionate about or inspires debate (but decide how controversial you want to go).
Feature the settings in your book. Are they real places? Use photos, too.
Write a How-To post that explains how to do something related to being an author.
Interview other authors in your genre or invite them to write a guest post on a topic of interest.
Do an opinion post about a topic that is trending.
Promote the peers who have influenced you most in your writing.
Review things in the story-telling arena like books, movies, theater and especially ones that are timely in the media.
Create a round-up of favorite authors, blogs, movies, or books that might interest your readers. Or it could be a roundup of your most popular posts since you began your blog.
Take a survey of your audience on a topic of debate that may be an issue in your book.
Give advice on how to do something your readers will be interested in.
GO THE EXTRA MILE WITH BLOGGING:
If you’re a debut author, search online for “debut author” and the “year your book comes out”. You could find a debut author group to join that cross-promotes each other as debuts and helps you gain new followers. Often, these groups have a co-op blog where all the debut members can share content. Here’s a recent example. You can also search Goodreads for books in your genre/audience with your same book release year and reach out to these authors to connect and form your own debut promotion group.
Another way to go the extra mile, is blogging with more “evergreen” topics. These are topics that remain relevant over time and inspire readers to continue to share your posts with this timeless content.
Your homework! Time to get out the pens (or laptops):
List authors you know or want to connect to and invite them as a guest on your blog in an interview or guest post and feature their recent release.
Look through your bookshelf and list like-new books that you can use as a giveaway. Make sure they are in the genre and audience you write for.
List topics, themes, and issues in your book that you can write about.
List authors you know that you could reach out to do a joint giveaway with to cross promote each other and build best-fit followers. One way is to join a blog hop to expand your followers. Here’s another joint giveaway example I did that had 12,770 entries and gained me several hundred followers across my subscriber list and social media platforms.
What are some recent favorite reads, movies, or T.V. shows you’ve experienced? List them here to share your reviews.
What are some current news items connected to your book that you could talk about? List them.
What research did you conduct for your book? Talk about how you did it (travel, interviews, etc.)
List any real settings in your book you can talk about and share your personal experience of them in person along with photos.
What do you feel comfortable sharing about your writing and publishing journey? List these topics here.
Now, it’s time to start blogging and sharing your writer’s journey with your readers!
Want to know more about how to connect with a reader audience?
Donna released her new online course this week, Launch Your Author Brand & Platform, a 10-Step Author Marketing System to Build Brand, Connect with Readers, and Sell Books. In this step-by-step marketing system, you will learn exactly how to plan, create, and launch your successful author brand and platform – even before your first book comes out.
There are no prerequisites to this course! This course is designed for debut authors, new authors looking to boost their platform, or any writer seeking publication. Normally $129.99 USD, Donna is offering readers here a special course launch discount of only $19.99 USD! Get the full course details and special price here.
What’s included in Launch Your Author Brand & Platform:
✓ 10 Step-By-Step Lessons
✓ 15+ Awesome Bonuses (video and downloadable PDFs)
✓ 7 “Bigger Than a Bonus” Meet the Experts (insider secrets to success from the Masters – other authors!) training on goodies like do’s and don’ts for new authors, agent advice, book club visits, public speaking and more
✓ Each lesson includes Rookie Mistakes to Avoid, Myth Busters, and How to Go the Extra Mile!
The $19.99 USD price is limited to the first 250 students to enroll. Expires May 28, 2019. Enroll now.
Donna Galanti is the author of the middle grade adventure Joshua and The Lightning Road, which the Midwest Book Review called, “A heart-pounding thrill ride full of unexpected twists and turns from start to finish”. She’s also the author of the follow up, Joshua and the Arrow Realm, is a contributing editor for International Thriller Writers the Big Thrill magazine, and a writing contest judge at nycmidnight.com.
She regularly presents as a guest author at schools and teaches at writing conferences on marketing and craft. When she’s not writing you can find her on Twitter or Facebook where she loves to share all things about her outdoor adventures and children’s books. Donna has lived from England as a child, to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer, and has had a long career in corporate marketing. Visit her at donnagalanti.comor yourawesomeauthorlife.com.
Woo Hoo! I’m thrilled to announce Fictionary Press has published the second edition of The Author’s Guide to Selling Books to Non-Bookstores.
Today, it’s available on Kobo. Soon it will be on all platforms.
If you’ve got printed books you’d like to see to non-bookstore, fiction or non-fiction, this guide will help you 🙂
Imagine walking into a grocery store, gift shop or other non-bookstore and seeing YOUR book for sale. This wonderful experience is within your grasp—if you’re bold enough to pursue it.
Selling to traditional bookstores and making a profit can be extremely difficult, but there is an alternative. In this step-by-step guide, best-selling author Kristina Stanley will show YOU how to move beyond the bookstores and sell to other retail outlets. Every step is detailed, from formulating a plan to collecting money.
Stanley speaks from experience. She’s sold more books through non-bookstore retail outlets than through traditional bookstores, and YOU can too. Read on, and turn your dream into reality. Success is within your reach.
Sometimes people are generous of heart and Kelly Brakenhoff is one of those people. It was early days for Fictionary, we had a prototype ready, and we were looking for Beta testers.
Kelly volunteered and give us valuable feedback on how to turn Fictionary into a tool that could help many authors.
It’s time to congratulate Kelly. Her debut novel was released yesterday!
DEATH by Dissertation
Ambitious Cassandra Sato traded her life in Hawai’i for a dream position as Student Affairs VP at Morton College in tiny Carson, Nebraska. She expected the Midwestern church casseroles, land-locked cornfields, and face-freezing winters would be her biggest challenges, but it’s her job that’s rapidly becoming a nightmare.
A deaf student is dead and the investigation reveals a complicated trail of connections between campus food service, a local farmer’s beef, and the science lab’s cancer research. Together with her few allies, Cassandra must protect the students caught up in the entanglement.
Dealing with homesickness, vandalism, and a stalker, Cassandra is trapped in a public relations disaster that could cost her job, or more. No one said college was easy.
Kelly Brakenhoff is an American Sign Language Interpreter whose motivation for learning ASL began in high school when she wanted to converse with her deaf friends. Following the April, 2019 release of her debut mystery, Death by Dissertation, and the sequel, Dead Week later in 2019, her children’s picture book series featuring Duke the deaf dog is coming in the Fall of 2019, beginning with Never Mind. She serves on the Board of Editors for the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf publication, VIEWs. The mother of four young adults, a cranky old dog, and a rambunctious puppy, Kelly and her husband call Nebraska home.
Here’s a quote from Kelly who was kind enough to share her excitement with me.
” I wanted to thank you again for your part in helping me get my plot together by using Fictionary and helping you beta test your system.”
Let me introduce Gabriela Pereira, the founder of DIY MFA. She’s funny. She’s sincere. She’s serious about her work and helping writers. So, I’ve interviewed her.
This is a different kind of interview where I put Gabriela in the hot seat. No boring questions…only ones that give you the inside scoop on the life of a creative entrepreneur.
Let’s start out with a bang.
If you were told you could only give a fiction writer ONE piece of advice, what spectacular wisdom would share?
Wow, you’re not holding back with these questions. Love it!
If I could only give one piece of advice or “spectacular wisdom” I’d say this: Don’t try to be spectacular. Or wise. In other words, don’t allow other people’s impressions or opinions to dictate what success means to you.
Don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe that each and every human on this planet has a story to share and the capacity to achieve their version of excellence on the page. The problem is that many writers let other people’s definition of success derail their creative process. They listen too much to criticism and give up before they have the chance to see any breakthroughs.
Writing is an act of faith. You have to believe that the verbal spillage you’re accumulating on the page today will become a coherent story tomorrow. You have to trust that this story that means the world to you will also eventually find a home in the publishing universe. You have to be a little bit delusional to succeed as a writer and if you buy into all that “common sense” advice from those non-writers in your life, you’ll never start.
So my advice is don’t try to be spectacular. Just be you and trust that it will be enough.
What is the most DIFFICULT feedback you’ve ever had to give to a writer?
Honestly, it’s been a long time since I’ve had to give difficult feedback. This has to do both with quality of the writers I’ve had the privilege of working with and also the type of feedback I give.
When it comes to caliber of writers, the word nerds in the DIY MFA community are a cut above. This has nothing to do with how “advanced” they are; in fact, we have many first-time writers in our signature programs. Instead, it’s all about the mindset they adopt toward receiving feedback. When writers approach critique with curiosity and a deep desire to improve their skills, it’s easy to give feedback, even if it means telling someone they may need to do a major overhaul.
The other reason that I rarely have to give difficult feedback is because of how I approach the critique process. I don’t consider myself an “editor” or a “coach.” I’m a diagnostician. My superpower as a writer and teacher is being able to look at a small sample of someone’s work and identify telltale signs of bigger problems. My job isn’t to criticize, it’s simply to notice patterns and bring those to the writer’s attention.
It’s very hard to be truly critical when you give feedback this way because it’s an objective approach. It’s not about passing judgment, but about helping writers see what they’re doing on the page and the effect it has on a reader. It’s up to the writer then to decide whether they want to “fix” it or not.
When you first started DIY MFA, was there a MISTAKE you made (perhaps one that is a funny story) that you’re willing to share with us?
Oh gosh, I made so many mistakes when I first started! One doozy was when I thought the way to build an email list was using a Google form. (I know, lunacy!) When I look back, I don’t think of this so much as a mistake but as a learning opportunity. Yes, at the time, it was devastating to rebuild my email list from scratch, which meant losing all my subscribers (all 12 of them!). It’s funny, nowadays when people unsubscribe from my newsletter, I take it as a badge of honor. I think: “Yesssss! 100 unsubscribes this month! I’m zeroing in on my superfans!”
There were some happy accidents, too, like that time I went to a writing conference when I was nine months pregnant to the day. I’m not kidding. My son was due to arrive the day after the conference ended. (He was actually a week late so it all worked out fine.) But the happy accident is that it was at that conference that I met my publisher and this connection eventually led to my book deal a few years later.
Can you imagine if I hadn’t gone to the conference? I could have so easily decided I was too tired or too pregnant or too whatever… and I would have missed out on a huge opportunity! Sometimes the smartest move you can make is doing something everyone else thinks is completely insane.
What is the BEST comment anyone has ever made about DIY MFA 101? By best, I mean one that warmed your heart and made you do the happy dance.
There are so many, but I think one of my favorite comments—and perhaps one of the ones I hear most often—is: “Before DIY MFA, I didn’t think I was a writer but now I do.”
I had one student in a workshop years ago who couldn’t write a sentence much less an entire story. This was back when I did some of my teaching at live, in-person workshops, and whenever we did in-class exercises, this writer would end up with a blank page. Slowly, he started dipping his toe into the writing. Eventually he was writing short stories and essays and even got published! This is my absolute favorite thing—when I can help someone go from muggle to word wizard.
My other favorite comment is when word nerds say that DIY MFA is more than a writing program, it’s a lifestyle. For many creative people, we can be our own worst enemies, so the biggest hurdles have nothing to do with the mechanics of writing. Instead, it’s all about mindset and attitude. This is why in our DIY MFA programs, I always focus first on the bigger mindset issues like building resilience or developing a writing habit. It’s a lot easier to master the craft when you’ve managed your mindset.
In fact, I have a free video series starting Monday April 22nd, 2019 that digs deep into some of the biggest mindset hurdles that writers face. This series is only available for a limited time so hop on over now while the series is available.
How will a writer BENEFIT from DIY MFA 101? So they too can do the happy dance.
The goal of DIY MFA 101 is to help writers get the “knowledge without the college” so they can simulate the graduate school experience without actually going back to school. That’s the fancy description, but really the strength of this program is that it grows with the writer.
You see, a central component to the DIY MFA philosophy is that there is always more to learn, more skills to master. Writers who join 101 aren’t just looking for some one-and-done solution to all their writing problems. They crave learning. They want expand their skills not because they want some external marker of success but because of an internal drive, a curiosity, a craving to expand their intellectual horizons.
DIY MFA 101 does not focus on “information transfer.” Yes, there is plenty of information in the program, but the focus isn’t on me transferring what I know from my brain to that of my students. Instead, my goal is to give writers a framework so they can continue their learning journey for the long haul. The course is structured so that writers can revisit the material again and again, and continue to learn and grow from it.
Let me share a concrete example. Many traditional MFA programs require students to take literature courses. In those courses, the professor often predetermines what books go on the syllabus or reading list. At DIY MFA, we don’t assign a specific reading list. Instead, we offer a framework so that writers can create their own syllabus.
The advantage of the DIY MFA philosophy is twofold. First, writers can focus on reading that is relevant to their goals and that serves their writing. They don’t have to waste time with reading that feels like an exercise in futility. The second benefit of this approach is that it empowers writers rather than simply spoon-feeding information.
I often tell people that DIY MFA 101 is not for the faint of heart. It takes a particular type of intrepid determination to embrace this program. Thankfully, most writers have this “fire in the belly” already, and when they join the course, they’ll feel like they’ve found their home.
At what stage in their WRITING JOURNEY should a writer take the course?
Don’t be fooled by the “101” in the course title, this course is not only for beginners. I developed this program so that it would grow with writers. This is why we don’t cut off access to the materials after the term is over. What you get from the course as a new writer will be very different from what you learn as your skills increase and you can come back and revisit the materials again and again.
This program works equally well for writers who are complete beginners and for those who are “in the trenches” working on drafting or revising a project. The difference lies in how these writers use the materials. New writers might want to focus their attention on the first few sections and build up a solid writing habit, whereas writers working on a specific project will get better results if they apply the techniques to their work-in-progress. The later lessons give an overview of platform and publishing for writers who are ready to start sending out finished work.
The only writers who might not be a fit for this course are those who are already published and are focusing more on the marketing and business side of writing. For those writers, we have a more advanced course Pixels to Platform which is due to reopen later this year or early next.
What is your biggest CHALLENGE in being the head instigator of DIY MFA?
My biggest challenge is that I have unrelenting standards. My perfectionism is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing, of course, is that I put a lot of care and attention in everything I create. This may be a big reason why so many writers are drawn to DIY MFA and why so many writers keep coming back to our programs year after year. The downside, of course, is that these super-high standards have made it very difficult for me to delegate tasks to other members of my team. Heck, just the idea of having a team at all was a challenge for me in the beginning.
But just like with writing, building a business is a learning process, and I’ve definitely “mellowed out” over the years. Having kids helped with that. It’s impossible to achieve perfection when you have an infant spitting up on your shirt or a toddler sneezing snot onto your manuscript. Now that my kids are school-aged and more independent, it feels almost miraculous to reclaim my work time, and I like to think that I’m a bit more relaxed now than I used to be about making everything perfect.
Tell us a SECRET…
Here’s a dirty little secret: I vehemently dislike reading literary fiction. (Blasphemy, I know!) You would think that as someone who studied literature in college and grad school, that literary fiction would be my jam, but it so isn’t. In fact, for the longest time, I thought the reason I disliked it was because I wasn’t smart enough to “get” it.
Over the years, I’ve realized that this response has nothing to do with the capacity of my brain cells and everything to do with personal taste. It took a long time, but I’ve finally given myself permission not to like literary fiction. What do I like to read? Pretty much anything genre and I love children’s books and YA.
Our flagship program, DIY MFA 101, has received rave reviews and has helped over 200 writers to:
Get their words on the page so they can finish a draft once and for all.
Master the craft, so they can write the best book possible.
Understand the publishing industry, so they can get their stories out into the world.
Writers who’ve completed this course have gone on to reach impressive goals, like: signing with literary agents, winning awards, or being published in anthologies or literary magazines.
Fictionary and DIY MFA
So why am I so thrilled to have Gabriela here? Well…since you asked, I’ve taken the entire DIY MFA 101 course, and Gabriela and I are kindred spirits when it comes to editing a novel.It’s kind of like finding a new BFF.
DIY MFA gives you the theory that lays the groundwork for using Fictionary to edit your story. Take the course and apply the knowledge you learned in a practical way specific to your manuscript using Fictionary. Salt and pepper, Ketchup and mustard, moon and the stars, DIY MFA and Fictionary. You get the idea.
Fictionary is online software that simplifies story editing. Fictionary will help you evaluate your story on a scene-by-scene basis. You’ll be able to focus on problem areas in your manuscript and improve it quickly. Then your beta readers will be impressed!
Why not check out Fictionary’s free 14-day trialand tell better stories? We don’t ask for a credit card until you’re ready to pay, so there’s no risk.
Thanks for reading!
P.S. I only promote people that I can stand behind 100%. I know that you’re in good hands with Gabriela which is why I’m a proud affiliate for her programs! I took the DIY MFA course before deciding to partner with DIY MFA.