Saturday, December 22, 2012
Robin Colucci Hoffman, Get Published Coach, Speaks About Nonfiction Writing
Robin worked as journalist and has researched and/or written freelance articles for The Washington Post, The New York Times Magazine and Newsweek to name a few. She has a BA in journalism from the George Washington University and an MA in spiritual psychology from the University of Santa Monica. Look for her book: From Expert to Author: How to Write a Book that Sells, coming soon. For more information about Robin, you can visit: http://getpublishedcoach.com .
MWG: Hi Robin, thanks for taking time to talk with us today. What are two or three mistakes you see writers make when they are on their road to publication?
Robin: One of the biggest mistakes I see is failing to properly position the book. This is especially important for nonfiction writers. If you are an expert in your field and want to write a book, you probably have a ton of valuable information. The key is knowing how to frame it to be interesting, compelling even, to your target audience. Another mistake, which is related to the first, is making the leap from idea to writing. I know it seems like the right thing to do--make up your mind and get in action--but the problem I see when people do that, they get confused, stuck, and stop, or they finish a manuscript but have no idea who the book is for, what role the book will play in their own career, or why anyone would read it. The third mistake is trusting their own judgment. I've never met a writer who can evaluate her own work objectively. They are either too harsh, too forgiving, or both. Professional feedback is a must.
MWG: I'm sure many people are nodding their heads in agreement with you right now. Just your answer here makes me want to pick your brain and everything you know while you are at the conference! In today's publishing world, if an author's goal is publication, what MUST he or she make sure to do?
Robin: I tell my clients it's about removing question marks. When you approach an agent, imagine they are seeing you surrounded by question marks: Can I work with this person? Is the work any good? Can they pull off a full manuscript? Can they sell books? Do they know anything about the industry? The aspiring author's job is to remove the question marks--the faster the better. What that means: Start to build your author platform as soon as you commit to write the book or sooner. Create a track record of success with sales. Be prepared. Know the industry. Approach agents the way they ask to be approached with the best product possible. Have a completed, edited manuscript, ready to present at a moment's notice. Only pitch agents who represent works in your genre. Show up to conferences.Pitch in person. Be polite and professional. Deliver a compelling one-sentence pitch, and shut up. Wait for a response. Don't blather on. Listen. Carry yourself with confidence. Some of these things may seem small, but they will set you apart every time.
MWG: Great, great advice! You are leading two workshops at the conference. The first is called, "Bestseller Blueprints." Who should attend this workshop and what will you cover?
Robin: Bestseller Blueprints is perfect for writers who are struggling with the decision of how they should structure their book. No need to invent your own or wonder what to do. I've studied current bestsellers as well as the bestselling books of all time, and every one of them fits into one of four basic blueprints. In this workshop, attendees will learn what the four blueprints are and how to determine which is the best fit for their "author personality" and their book concept (see my other session). We will do some fun exercises to figure it out, and attendees will learn how to work with their blueprint "skeleton" and add their own content "meat" on the bones.
MWG: That sounds fascinating and very helpful! You are also leading a workshop titled, "An Idea is Not a Concept." Who should attend this and what will be covered?
Robin: Honestly, I feel every nonfiction author should attend this one. This is a "make-or-break" conversation for many. A book idea is a spark, a flash of inspiration when you say, "I should write a book on that!" It's a great motivational moment, but it alone does not make a salable book. A concept, on the other hand, is the result of answering 10 key questions. Five about you, your audience, and your business or writing career, and five about your book and the marketplace. During this workshop, we will go over each of the 10 questions and how to answer them for yourself. If you answer these 10 questions thoroughly and thoughtfully, you will be well-positioned to write a book that is 100 percent in alignment with you and what you want, gives your reader what they want, and is absolutely unique in the marketplace.
MWG: WOW! I wish I could take that class today--seriously, I am currently working on a nonfiction book proposal. Anything else you'd like to add to let conference attendees know more about you and/or your presentations?
Robin: I'm transparent, direct, I like to keep it fun, and I look forward to seeing you.
MWG: Thanks, Robin, for giving us insight into you and your work. I can't wait to meet you in person. Readers, registration for the MWG conference, where Robin will be, is now open. Go here for more details.
Margo is a former MWG conference chair and president, who now lives in St. Louis, MO and is busy marketing her first children's middle-grade historical fiction novel, FINDING MY PLACE: ONE GIRL'S STRENGTH AT VICKSBURG. Check out more about Margo, her book, and her blog at her website.
She hopes to see you at the 2013 conference. It's going to be great!