How to pick a book idea and get going
This Is a Book!
A Program for Non-Fiction Writers
Starts in January 2023
You’ve always wanted to write, and you know you have a story to tell, but something keeps getting in the way. You have an idea for a non-fiction book, but you need structure and accountability to bring it to the next level. You know if you had someone helping you sort through your many excellent ideas, you could finally focus on one thing and commit to writing a book that matters.
I’ve worked with hundreds of writers and I’ve seen it all. Getting “stuck” is part of the creative process. Sometimes you just need a creative partner so you can toss around ideas and reconnect with the magic of building something.
This program will help you get unstuck, shape your book idea, and start building a first draft. Every week, from January to March 2023, I’ll offer a mini lecture on one aspect of the book-writing process. It’s like being in a private writing and publishing class. Then, you’ll complete guided exercises to do everything from assessing your strengths as a writer to determining your audience, creating your book outline, and writing a sample chapter or essay.
Through a mixture of free-writing exercises and homework between sessions, you’ll start writing in the first week, establishing your identity as a writer who writes. You’ll make writing and revising part of your life, and finally get your book off the ground.
What you’ll get
- Ten one-hour Zoom consultations targeted to address your specific opportunities in writing and publishing
- One-on-one time with Amanda, who will help you sort through your ideas, choose a direction, and co-create your book concept
- Detailed editorial feedback on your book outline and sample chapter or essay
- Guided writing exercises each session, and take-home writing exercises to dig into each topic
- A package of resources on writing, self-editing, and publishing
- An opportunity to add on a program to determine your publishing strategy, whether self-publishing, hiring a hybrid publisher, or pursuing an agent and traditional publishing deal
- Finish with an edited chapter or essay and a revised book outline, both key parts of any writing plan
- Understand your writing identity, identify your strengths, and learn where you typically get “stuck”
- Learn what it’s like to work one-on-one with an editor, and begin shaping your work for the marketplace
- Sort through your book ideas, stories, and examples and see which idea is worth focusing on
- Learn how to “free” your non-fiction writing style and find your creative voice
- Embrace revision as part of the writing process, and learn best practices for building a writing schedule, self-editing, and working with your editorial team
- Determine how your book supports your other offerings, or how it can inform a new path forward for your business
- Embrace creativity as part of your life—learn ways to create even when not writing, add “rewilding” principles to your writing, and sustain your creative process over the long term
Who is this program for?
- You want to write a non-fiction book, in any genre: business, self-help, sustainability, memoir, or creative non-fiction
- You’re a self-starter and want to work one-on-one with someone focusing on your unique goals
- You want a program that moves along swiftly and rewards engagement, so you can get ahead with your writing and publishing goals
- You’ve joined writing groups and online programs in the past, but left feeling uninspired or overwhelmed, or you’ve been too shy to join at all
- You don’t have the time or funds to invest in an MFA and you’re not sure that’s the best approach for you
- You know that a book can be a valuable part of your business’s offerings, and offer more opportunities for you as an entrepreneur, thought leader, or coach—but you’re not sure how your book idea fits your model, or if it has the potential to forge a new direction
- You want quick, customized feedback on your writing from a professional writing coach and editor
- You’re fascinated by the craft of writing, and feel that with a little guidance, you’ll be able to sort through your big ideas and finish something
- You need an accountability partner to hold you to deliverables
- You’re looking to build an editing mindset that will allow you to revise with enough time
- You don’t necessarily want to publish traditionally, but you don’t know what other options are available
- You want to have fun, and fall back in love with your writing!
How it works
This program starts January 9, 2023, and runs weekly for ten weeks. Once you register, I’ll be in touch to arrange a day and time for our session each week.
Week 1: Plan for success. We’ll name your publishing goals, and assess your identity as a writer, including where you get “stuck.” We’ll set up a plan to customize each session so we work with your unique writing style, and determine how your book fits into your existing offerings. We’ll also explore ways to maintain momentum throughout the program (hint: it involves goals and schedules, but also writing by hand and keeping an inspiration notebook).
Week 2: Figure out the point of your book. We’ll sort through your ideas, choose a direction, and develop your key idea. We’ll determine your audience, your book’s purpose, and your book’s category. We’ll begin shaping the book structure that will land best for your established audience. I’ll recommend tailored resources that can be a model for you as you write.
Week 3: Gather materials. You’ll learn best practices for collecting stories, noticing details, being inspired, doing research, conducting interviews, creating profiles, obscuring identities (if necessary), and navigating copyright. I’ll walk you through the differences between beta readers, sensitivity readers, reviewers, and blurbers. For homework, you’ll start gathering the supplementary pieces that will inform your unique book outline.
Week 4: Write your stories. I’ll show you how to come up with or develop a story idea. We’ll sort through the strengths of stories you submit before the session. You’ll begin writing a new story during the session, finish your story for homework, and submit it for feedback in the next session.
Week 5: Find your creative voice. We’ll work through one of your stories, and use various techniques to find a tone that will work for your book and your audience. We’ll consider best practices for creative autonomy, and explore ways to loosen up your writing style. For homework, you’ll write two more stories that might appear in your book, which are related to your book idea.
Week 6: Build your book outline and start writing a sample chapter. The best outlines are unique—we’ll explore a way forward that works for you, from a straight-forward list to a hand-drawn map. We’ll sort through your stories and come up with chapter topics. Then we’ll see how research and other inspirations can support your topics and stories, so we can assemble an outline to your book. You’ll begin creating your book outline in the session, and plan your sample chapter or essay. I’ll give you best practices for structuring a chapter or essay. For homework, you’ll start working on your book outline and sample chapter or essay (due in two weeks).
Week 7: Develop an editing mindset. I’ll show you how to embrace revision—the editing mindset—and offer you tips for self-editing. We’ll discuss where you’re getting stuck with your writing, and I’ll coach you through (and high-five you). For homework, you’ll finish your book outline and sample chapter or essay.
Week 8: Feedback week. In this feedback week, I’ll offer you feedback on your outline and sample chapter, and show you how to strengthen both. We’ll start mapping out approaches to your second chapter or essay.
Week 9: Ace your writing plan. We will build a plan for writing that incorporates your available time and energy, so you can finish your draft. We’ll return to your writing identity and goals, and see where you might get stuck over the next few months. I’ll give you examples of books that have been completed quickly, and those that rolled out on a longer schedule—both options are OK.
Week 10: Final check-in. We’ll see how your writing is progressing, and I’ll offer a final coaching session on how you can sustain your creative life and maintain your momentum as a writer.
Why my approach is unique
- I’m an award-winning editor who has worked in house for fifteen years, for traditional and hybrid publishers
- This program includes a full edit of your book outline and sample chapter or essay, as well as feedback on your stories and other exercises
- I have as much experience in market positioning as I do in editing, so I’m able to coach you on your writing and how your book fits into your overall offering
- I have a “no gatekeepers” mentality, and believe everyone is a writer by virtue of writing
- This program involves a mixture of editorial feedback and coaching, so you incorporate more writing confidence in your life
- One of my values is co-creation, and I’m right there with you, shaping your book idea
- I’m also a trained teacher, with advanced certification in multiple learning styles and somatics, so I understand how learners develop
- This program is oriented to your writing goals, and incorporates self-reflection about why you’re writing, why you’re publishing, and who you want to reach
- I’m also an author, so I understand intimately the. highs and lows of the writing and revising process
- I can advise on multiple publishing methods, and you’ll have the option to add on a session to determine the best publishing strategy for you, based on your goals and book
I have coached hundreds of writers, so I have seen first-hand: Those who show up weekly get it done. You’ll need to commit to a weekly meeting, ideally the same day and time each week. Your homework between sessions is optional (no grades here!) but completing the homework will allow you the full experience into your book.
- What if I need to skip a week? Life happens! I get it. You will receive the resources for that week. You are allowed a maximum of two make-up coaching sessions, ideally to fall within that same week.
- I’ve already started writing an outline and a chapter (or three). Can I still join? Absolutely. We’ll work through the same process: testing the strength of your idea, and finding ways to strengthen your sample chapter.
- What’s a sample chapter? Do I need one? A sample chapter is a standard component of a book proposal. It shows prospective agents and acquisitions editors that you have thought through your idea, and have a well-constructed writing sample to prove it. Even if you’re not seeking formal representation or a traditional publishing deal, a sample chapter still sets you up for success. Its structure can be the model you need for subsequent chapters, and the revision process that goes into the sample chapter will equip you with the workflow you need for the rest of the writing process.
- Why do you give the option for a sample chapter or a sample essay? What’s the difference? Some writers set out to construct a collection of essays. Some want to write a book of chapters that flow. And some want to do a bit of both! Both approaches are valid.
- Can a chapter be an essay? Sometimes. We will work with the form that best suits the book and reaches the target reader.
- Are payment plans available? Absolutely. You can divide the program fee into two instalments, with one half due January 8, and the other half due February 20, 2023. The administrator will charge a USD $25 processing fee for payment plans.
- Can I do this? Really? Yes.
- Even if I haven’t written in years? Double yes.
Still curious if this program is the right fit for you? Reach out for a free 15-minute call, and read on for these sample student profiles.
Sample student 1: The professor
Manuel, 44, is a tenured professor at a university. He’s also a new father, with an eight-month-old. He’s been focusing on academic writing since his days as a student. To land tenure, he’s been riding the “publish or perish” train. He’s fallen out of love with writing for writing’s sake. Whatever creative spirit used to guide his writing has long since left the building. But he has a glimmer of an idea and he thinks he could turn it into a book. He’s a professor of Glaciology, and he would like to write a short book about personal responses to the climate emergency. He’s well known in the science community, and sometimes gives public seminars on climate change. He has no problem doing the homework and meeting deadlines, but he needs support while he explores this new form of writing, which will incorporate personal stories including—gulp—his own. He’s thinking of sharing a few poems as part of the book, but doesn’t know how to weave them in. He’s unsure if he has the time to finish a book on top of his busy teaching schedule, and his commitments as a new dad. How should he begin?
Sample student 2: The entrepreneur
Leanne, 35, runs a busy HR consulting firm. She founded the firm four years ago after a layoff, and has bootstrapped it to grow to a team of twelve, in two locations. Her most popular offering is her training program for senior managers, but lately she’s been wondering about how to branch out. The program is presented as a week-long immersion, and not every manager can take time off from their day job and their family and other commitments. She also feels that if she had a more affordable option, she could reach even more people with her important message, but the program is designed to be delivered in person, by two staff members—it needs to be priced high. She’s curious about turning the program into a book she can sell through her company and online retailers, maybe even in a bookstore. Would people buy it? She’s seen other entrepreneurs use books to enhance their brand internationally, drive more people to their programs, and launch their speaking careers. She can imagine a hungry entrepreneur, like her four years earlier, picking up the book at the library. But she doesn’t know where to begin. How can she translate all this knowledge, and an in-person program, to the page? And can she do it while she’s running a business?
Want in on all this goodness? Here’s the nitty-gritty.
This program includes:
- Ten coaching calls and email support between sessions
- Take-home resources on writing, editing, and publishing
- A full edit of your book outline and sample chapter/essay ($2,000 value)
USD $6,250 / CDN $8,500 Early bird until December 5, 2022
USD $7,000 / CDN $9,500 after December 5, 2022
*Participants will be charged the amount in Canadian funds. I have included the exchange rate for convenience, and will use the daily exchange rate when invoicing.
Your guide to the book-writing process
I’m an editor and writer with fifteen years of helping writers get unstuck, find their authentic voice, and tell their story. I was editor and associate managing editor at Penguin Random House, and inaugural editorial director at Page Two. I’m one of the few editors in the world who has worked in house for both traditional and hybrid publishers.
I’ve edited almost 200 books, and I know how to help writers navigate the challenges that are an inevitable part of the book-writing process. My particular passion is editing memoir, sustainability and business, and books by Indigenous writers. I’m trained in the practices of Editing Indigenous Manuscripts.
Learn more about me and my experience here.
I’m also an author—my travel memoir, Tracking Giants: Big Trees, Tiny Triumphs, and Misadventures in the Forest, will be available in May 2023.
And I’m a trained teacher, experienced in guiding writers at all levels. I hold an MA in English, a postgrad certificate in teaching and learning in higher education, and 200+ hours yoga teacher training.
My other passion, besides the creative process, is living sustainably. After years in Toronto and Vancouver, I now live in a log house on a small island in the Pacific Northwest, Canada.