Read and Write with Natasha

Navigating the book world with coach Heather Davis

March 05, 2024 Natasha Tynes Episode 49
Navigating the book world with coach Heather Davis
Read and Write with Natasha
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Read and Write with Natasha
Navigating the book world with coach Heather Davis
Mar 05, 2024 Episode 49
Natasha Tynes

Send us a Text Message.

Dr. Heather Davis, an expert book coach and advocate for diversity in literature, joins me to unravel the journey of an idea as it transforms into a compelling narrative.

We discuss the nuances of authorship, from the birth of a concept to navigating the corridors of publishing, all while championing voices that reflect the true spectrum of humanity.

In an industry that's evolving with the times, Heather provides a backstage pass into the world of book coaching, distinguishing it from editing and illustrating its profound impact on the writing process. 

The conversation highlights how mentors like Heather work alongside authors to polish their craft, tackle challenges, and tailor their paths to publication—whether it's with heavyweight publishers or through the avenues of hybrid and self-publishing. 

For writers aiming to leave their mark on the world of books, this episode is a roadmap and a source of inspiration.

Support the Show.

****************************************************************************

➡️ P.S: If you find my content useful, you might want to check out my Substack newsletter, in which I talk and vent about the writing life:


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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

Dr. Heather Davis, an expert book coach and advocate for diversity in literature, joins me to unravel the journey of an idea as it transforms into a compelling narrative.

We discuss the nuances of authorship, from the birth of a concept to navigating the corridors of publishing, all while championing voices that reflect the true spectrum of humanity.

In an industry that's evolving with the times, Heather provides a backstage pass into the world of book coaching, distinguishing it from editing and illustrating its profound impact on the writing process. 

The conversation highlights how mentors like Heather work alongside authors to polish their craft, tackle challenges, and tailor their paths to publication—whether it's with heavyweight publishers or through the avenues of hybrid and self-publishing. 

For writers aiming to leave their mark on the world of books, this episode is a roadmap and a source of inspiration.

Support the Show.

****************************************************************************

➡️ P.S: If you find my content useful, you might want to check out my Substack newsletter, in which I talk and vent about the writing life:


Speaker 1:

I've had clients get big deals and that's wonderful, like with agents and publishers, and that's wonderful and I do feel that's a success. But I think the biggest successes I've found might be with the clients who aren't even necessarily going for a big deal but they say I'm the happiest I've been in 20 years and I woke up this morning and I felt invigorated about things for the first time. I look forward to our coaching calls every week and I just can't wait to do it.

Speaker 2:

Hi friends, this is Read and Write with Natasha podcast. My name is Natasha Tynes and I'm an author and a journalist. In this channel I talk about the writing life, review books and interview authors. Hope you enjoy the journey. Hi everyone, and welcome to another episode of Read and Write with Natasha. So today I'm very happy to have with me Dr Heather Davis, who's a storyteller, author, accelerator, certified book coach and a certified copy editor, and she's an author platform expert and the founder of the creative author printer. She helps aspiring diversity authors create emotionally complex novels that readers rave. About. An agent's request Wow, that's pretty impressive. So, davis, for someone like who wants to know what exactly you're doing, what's a book coach? Is so Dr Davis, or I can call you Heather Heather?

Speaker 1:

please.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, okay. So, heather, if you can explain to me and to anyone who's less listening, what exactly is a book coach?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so a book coach is someone who literally works with writers and helps them make the bridge from having this concept in their head to having a book in their hand. So I do a lot of things. I'm a writing mentor, I help brainstorm, I help writers come up with their comp titles, and when they get ready for pitching, I'm there to help them figure out who they want to pitch to, and all of that good stuff, okay, so I mean that's really good and it's also highly in need For someone who dabbled with that.

Speaker 2:

I always, every author or every writer, needs coaching, so I noticed you focused on diversity authors. Why diversity authors and how do you define diversity authors? Yeah, that's a good question.

Speaker 1:

I define a diversity author as anyone whose book and protagonist really exemplify diversity Okay, whether it's someone from the BIPOC community, someone from the LGBTQ community, anything like that so anyone who's writing about a protagonist who hasn't really had a lot of stage time in the past.

Speaker 2:

Okay, oh, I see, so why the focus on diversity? Authors.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's such a good question. The reason is because there aren't enough books out there with these types of protagonists. I think everyone needs to see themselves on the page, and there has been this shift in publishing, but it's not enough yet. The shift is that we're starting to realize that all the books were about straight white guys. Yeah, and they got to go on all the adventures and slay all the dragons and do all the cool stuff. And we want to see more than that. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

So how is the publishing industry responding to the request or the need for more diversity in publishing? Are they responding or are they being resistant to it?

Speaker 1:

I feel like they're responding. Okay, I feel like I've seen so many more books about protagonists that I want to read about not the same old, same old. So there's been a lot of LGBTQ characters out there now and there are a lot of women characters and there are a lot of people of color and all of these great things, yeah.

Speaker 2:

So okay, let's see I hire you to coach me. What is the process like and when do you actually start the process? When I have the first draft of the manuscript, or do you need a ready manuscript?

Speaker 1:

So if you can just walk me through the steps, so first of all I'll say that it's different for every book coach. Some book coaches will say you have to have a first draft before you come to me. But I actually start with writers at any step along their journey, at the moment that they realize something's not working and they need some help. And a lot of times that will be writers who are, you know, maybe they've created their protagonist and they've done some world building, maybe they've written 10,000 words and then they're like wait, something's not right here, I need some help. And so then they contact me and typically we start working from the ground up.

Speaker 1:

So I don't like to look at full manuscripts because they're basically flawed I mean almost invariably, unless you are a master storyteller with years and years of experience. So we start from okay, what's the point of your novel, who's the protagonist? And I have worksheets that they fill out and then they send those to me and we start going over it and we start building the world. And the first, I'd say, month or two is more of a brainstorming world building, because I also work with speculative, fictional and it's this great back and forth of okay, well, this is what's working and here's what we need to think about more deeply and it becomes this really fun Collaborative process where they're in the lead. But I'm reflecting what the majority of readers would think and see and feel was missing, mm-hmm so what is the difference between a book coach and an editor?

Speaker 2:

you know a developmental editor. What? Why wouldn't you be called a developmental?

Speaker 1:

editor? Yeah, that's a really great question. So a developmental editor typically takes a first draft, or maybe a second draft or third draft or whatever you have, and they read it through and they figure out all the things that need to be added that aren't really working, and they typically write you a 10 or 12 or 15 page editorial letter and then they say, here, fix it. And the problem is most writers don't know how to fix it. The reason why they're in the situation is because they don't know how to make it better.

Speaker 1:

Okay, a book coach, on the other hand, goes step by step. For instance, if you have the first 20 pages, I will look at the first 20 pages Afterwards. You all the brainstorming, and then I'll say, okay, here's what was working in these pages, here's what wasn't working and here's some ideas of how you can fix it. And then they come on the call and we talk about it and the writer will say, well, what if I do this? And I'll be like, oh, that's a good idea, have you thought about this? And so we go a little bit at a time and build the novel so that it works from the beginning and all the way through.

Speaker 2:

Okay, so maybe the editor provides the problems and you provide the solutions, exactly Okay, yeah, so from your experience, what are the major pain points that authors or aspiring authors face While they're working on their manuscripts? You know?

Speaker 1:

like yeah, I think typically what they face is that they feel something's not working Okay, and they usually can't put their finger on what it is, because they feel like they've probably read all the writing books and they've attended all the conferences and they think they're doing it Okay, but something's wrong. And so they come to me and I diagnose the problems. Okay, and a lot of times it's the problem becomes they haven't spent enough time developing their Characters and their world building, so it's shallow, there's no character arc, and the other thing is they're not really doing what we call interiority, so the protagonist is very flat and very, almost like you're watching a movie, and that doesn't work in books.

Speaker 2:

Okay, so have you ever been in a situation where we told the author you know, maybe writing is not for you, maybe like this is just unpublishable. You know, you or you don't want to break their hearts, like if you're faced in that. You know?

Speaker 1:

well, yeah, and I do work with writers at all levels, Okay, so I work with writers who have published International best-selling books and others who haven't written in 20 years, okay, and so they're all different levels of experience. But here's what I truly believe there is no, no writer who wants to be a writer who can't get where they want to go, as far as developing a novel that they're proud of. And Sometimes they're writing a book that is never going to be accepted by an agent, okay, and but they're. They're writing it to learn how to write a book, or they're writing it because it's their passion project and they just want it to be the best it can be. And so I don't define success as only one that can be published by one of the big five, but I do Tell a writer what I see and what I think, and I might say well, what is your vision for this novel?

Speaker 1:

Because the direction I take as your coach is going to really hinge on that answer. So, if it's your passion project and you want the storyline to go a certain way, that's your artistic. You know right to have it that way. If you want to get published by the big five, I might say this storyline isn't working and it will never be published in this landscape. So there's no writer who can't learn to be a fantastic writer. Okay, it's a process.

Speaker 2:

Okay. So Do you guide them through the publishing Journey, or does your work stop when you, when they finish the manuscript? Do you advise him, for example, which agent to pitch to, or if they should go to the self publishing route or hybrid publisher, and all of that.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so I do if they want me to. So some writers simply want to book coach and then they want to do all the rest by themselves Okay. But most writers it's just a continuing relationship. We're partners in this thing. And when they finish and put the end Okay, and it's the final draft, then we start working on a pitch package. If they want to go the traditional way, okay, and then I help figure out what you know agents they would pitch to and I help them with their query letter and their synopsis and all of that. And if they want to go the self publishing route, I help them with that.

Speaker 2:

I I see. So from my experience in writing and publishing and from talking to a number of authors and publishers on this podcast, I've seen like different ways of publishing. So there is the traditional route, you know, the big five, or now they're the big four, I think One of them, I think eight. And then there is the self publishing route, traditionally through Amazon, KDP, and then there's the hybrid publisher which is in between. I think they stopped calling them small press or independent publisher. I think more it's hybrid publisher. Yeah, that's that's from my observation. But where are the people that you work with are most likely to go and where have you seen the most success in terms of not only sales but monetary profit for the authors themselves?

Speaker 1:

So I think there's definitely more success for the average author in hybrid publishing or self publishing simply because the publish you know publishing with a, you know, with the top five it's really competitive and often it's not about the quality of the book, it's about what's marketable right now.

Speaker 1:

I've had many writers go on to the the big five, but I would say that's definitely not the majority. So you know, that's just the reality that writers face. Most don't get picked up by the big five, and I think that's an honest conversation that editors and book coaches need to have with writers that they work with. And then even those who do go on to that monetary success like, is this ever going to be something that fully supports you? Not usually Meaning it's it's your art and it's something you're driven to do, and most writers have to subsidy that with either working with writers themselves and being, you know, doing coaching or doing something like that. So, yeah, I mean the odds of just writing that book and being on the New York Times bestseller list and then retiring. That's just not reality for most writers.

Speaker 2:

So my understanding is you are currently working on a novel, correct I am, so which shot are you going to take? I'm curious.

Speaker 1:

You know that's a good question. So what I want to do is I'm going to start pitching the big five when it's done. So I'm working with my own book coach, the marvelous and brilliant Lisa Cron.

Speaker 2:

So you also. She literally wrote the book Because I believe in this. I'm sorry, can you show me the book again?

Speaker 1:

She wrote this is one of her novels wired for stories Okay, and she's written to others. She's brilliant and I believe in this work. I believe that no matter how good you are at story, you need objective eyes on your work to help you. So when I get done with this, it's going to be the very best book that I can produce with Lisa's help, and I'm going to pitch it to the big five and if it's not accepted by an agent, I'm going to go to the next teardown. Does that make sense? I'm, and I think that's what writers have to do. They have to have a wide vision for what success looks like. I think for me, success looks like a book. I'm proud.

Speaker 2:

I wrote what's the next teardown? Is it a hybrid publisher or is it self publishing?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I think it's small press hybrid. So small press is typically defined as those presses that will publish your book for free, right, and but it's probably not going to sell a whole lot because it's a small press and they don't have that huge platform. I'm thinking of things like blind, I blind, I books, they publish a lot of LGBTQ. And then after that's hybrid, where you're kind of going to be paying. You know as well you're going to be paying for it because it does cost money. And then there's self publishing, where you kind of pay for everything and you do everything yourself.

Speaker 2:

So, like, how do you feel about hybrid publishers that ask you to chip in and traditionally, as as as authors you know, we, you know, the traditional way of publishing is was that you get paid for your work, not the other way around, and I know some authors or the industry in general, they might frown upon the idea of a publisher asking you for money. So how do you feel about that kind of knowledge trend where publishers are asking authors for money to publish their books?

Speaker 1:

I think it depends on the publisher. Honestly, publishers like I'm thinking of, like she writes, press great, they're hybrid publishing and they're they publish great books and you do have to pitch in, but they're doing great work. Then there are others that that maybe it's. You're not going to get any return on investment. So I really think you just have to do your research into which hybrid publisher you go with.

Speaker 2:

Okay, Okay and just but. But this, this, the hybrid publishers, is somehow new, right Newish like the past 10 years.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, they used to call them vanity presses and they had a really bad reputation, but now we're calling them hybrid presses and they are many times publishing books that do very well Because they aren't just publishing. So here's the difference they aren't just publishing. Whatever you hand them, a lot of them have standards and, like she writes press will say okay, I see what you've written, but you need to work with someone to get this where it needs to be, for us to put our stamp on it, because there's a quality that we require, because we promote and we stick our reputation on these books.

Speaker 2:

Okay, do you know of example of a book that did well with the hybrid publisher?

Speaker 1:

I think there are many examples. But the thing here is we have to understand what do we consider doing? Well, Again, it's never going to most likely return to the writer some huge amount of money. Neither is publishing with a you know one of the big five through an agent. A lot of most authors don't ever make more than the original advance that they were given, because the books don't sell more than that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So do you think the New York Times best seller list is still relevant when we have book talk, for example on TikTok, where I've been reading that if you don't make it on TikTok then you don't make it anywhere, and that New York Times best seller is no longer relevant? You know, with the emergence of other platforms like book talk.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I think it's becoming less relevant because there's so many writers who are publishing books and making a lot of money more than they would make if they made on the New York Times best seller list just by self publishing. But they don't do it in a vacuum, meaning they don't just write a first draft and throw it up on Amazon and expect it to be a best seller. They invest in editors and book coaches and book people who design their covers and they put in the effort you know they figure out their own marketing. They do a lot of work to do it.

Speaker 2:

Do you offer marketing support? Not?

Speaker 1:

per se. Now I will help my writers kind of build their author platform, meaning I'll help them figure out how to get an email list started and the best places to grow that email list and how to write those emails in an interesting way and you know all of that sort of thing. But I'm not going to go out there and be the publicity person or doing the actual marketing for them. I'm just there as to help the brainstorm because this is their career and I'm helping them in the background figure out how to make this career work Interesting.

Speaker 2:

So how did you build your own audience? Because, like building your audience and getting clients and all of that it's you know it's an art, it's a science, you know how to. So I'm just curious how people know about you, how you built an audience and how do you keep your business going online.

Speaker 1:

So first I just started out working with clients and gaining confidence, so that I felt that I had the authenticity, the expertise, to go out there and say I can do this, because for me that's big. I don't want to say I can do something I can't do. I don't want to talk about something that I don't really know. So it was gaining the confidence at first, and then it was just saying look, I'm going to go out there and talk about it, I'm going to write articles about what I know, I'm going to be on podcasts and talk about what I know. And it's coming from a place of I want to help writers and I think you have to start there. You have to, almost in a way, not worry about the external. You have to say I'm here to serve writers and the only way I can do that is to talk about what I do and to offer them advice.

Speaker 2:

So you're saying you're offering free advice and in return people sign up for new newsletter or stuff like that.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, they do so. I, for instance, I've written several articles for Jane Friedman. She has a very big platform. She only accepts the best blog posts and people know that she publishes quality stuff. So when I publish articles there, she's giving me her endorsement by publishing what I write, and so that brings people to me.

Speaker 2:

What was the biggest successful conversion that worked for you to get more clients?

Speaker 1:

I think, honestly, building a network of other coaches and editors, because you don't work in a vacuum and your name starts being associated with quality and then people refer clients to you. I think that's been the biggest thing. It's been working in a community of other people and lifting them up and they'll be lifting me up. So there's often this idea of competition and I don't believe competition works in this field, or in any field, honestly. So it's about hey, how can I be helpful to you? And then later that person will be hot. I want to be helpful as well, true.

Speaker 2:

How is your biggest success story of the clients that you work with, if you can think of any?

Speaker 1:

So this is going to sound weird. I've had clients get big deals and that's wonderful like with agents and publishers and that's wonderful and I do feel that's a success. But I think the biggest successes I found might be with the clients who aren't even necessarily going for a big deal but they say I'm the happiest I've been in 20 years and I woke up this morning and I felt invigorated about things for the first time. I look forward to our coaching calls every week and I just can't wait to do it. And they get so excited because maybe it's a dream. They put off all their lives and finally they're doing it. And to me getting emails from these writers saying thank you, it doesn't matter what happens with my book on the other end, because nobody can guarantee that they're like in the moment. This is what matters to me yeah.

Speaker 2:

So how do you envision the publishing world? Not necessarily the publishing industry, but publishing and books and books reading. Where are we going with it? The topics, the medium, the devices, the trends where are we going with it? I mean, you're like in the trenches, you're in the field, you know what's going on Like imagine that you're writing a dystopian novel. Tell us where we are when it comes to books, reading and publishing, and let's say, 10, 20 years from now.

Speaker 1:

Oh my gosh, I'm not sure if I could answer that, but I do think that we're going to see diverse stories. Okay, that it's going to be women and girls and people in the LGBT community and people of color, and these are going to be the stories that people are reading because they've been kept down for so long. Yeah, and we're going to be reading a lot more stories about the environment, as the environment continues to kind of go downhill, so a lot of writers I work with now are focused on environmental books.

Speaker 1:

And I think that is the future, at what medium they're going to be reading that on. It's going to be a lot more digital. I think that paper books they're not going out of style. They'll always be there, because there are those people who, if I could show you what it looks like around me, you know it's, there are lots of paper books.

Speaker 2:

They're always going to be paper books.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it looks so neat and clean right here, but this is not the truth. Yeah, yeah, but I do think a lot more people are reading on devices but Kindle or their phone Kindle, for sure, I mean.

Speaker 2:

I've seen people a lot of their reading on their Kindle apps on their phones, because your phone is always with you.

Speaker 1:

So I have the Kindle app on my phone and I read a lot of and everyone's doing it for the reason that it's just easier. I have access to 40 books, right there instead of trying to drag them all with me.

Speaker 2:

What about listening to books on Audible or through your library, I mean that's? I'm seeing more and more people doing that.

Speaker 1:

I think this is going to be huge because it's opening up books to a whole new audience. It makes me what I mean by that. There are a lot of people who have been diagnosed with or who associate themselves with the tag of ADHD, and it's so much easier for people to consume books in an audio format. If you have any attention in difficulties and I know my own children they prefer audiobooks. It feels more real to them and I actually I probably shouldn't say this, but I almost prefer audiobooks myself because I can do it while I'm exercising or do it while I'm driving. I'm not tied to my chair.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, me too. But like, sometimes you know talking about focus, sometimes like I'm listening while I'm just walking the dog, or but sometimes I also zone out while listening. Do you think, like you know somebody who's? I mean for me I have sometimes trouble concentrating, but do you think it's less with listening than reading which is like like I tend to zone out as like where are we? And then I go back and rewind and try to listen again as well. I think it depends on the person.

Speaker 1:

Yeah yeah, I've heard from a lot of younger readers that they concentrate way better because it's like hearing someone tell them a story and we are social animals and we pay attention. When someone's talking, Our brains start really paying attention because it's almost like a social interaction. But I also think a lot of people zone out while they're reading. I know writers actually readers. I'm sorry, but they're writers too. They skip over narrative summary and they just skip to dialogue and then they've missed a whole bunch of stuff. So it's kind of maybe zoning out in paper books in a different way. They skim, they're skimmers.

Speaker 2:

Ah, okay, yeah, yeah, I don't like. I think I feel bad about skimming a book, but I think zoning out is like when I'm listening, I cannot control it, it's like my mind wanders, but yeah, so that's really interesting. So I'm just curious about how did you get into this line of business? What was your early beginning? Have you always been a book coach? How did you transition into becoming a book coach?

Speaker 1:

So I transitioned into becoming a book coach in my mid 30s because I I always love stories and somehow I let other things distract me. For instance, when I went to college, I decided to do something sensible, something that you could actually get a job with after it. So I got my PhD in molecular and cellular biology so not anything creative, dr Davis and it was soul stifling. It was soul stifling, it really was. And then I arrived in my mid-30s like what the heck am I doing?

Speaker 1:

And I started consuming everything on story, and it was selfishly at first, because I just wanted to know it for myself and be able to create something that I felt was really good. And the further I went down into it, the more I started. I was in these critique groups and I was coaching people because I understood all of this stuff and I'm like, wait, this is kind of my superpower. I can see into a story, I've kind of X-ray vision for it and I can help writers, and so that's when I began to transition. Saying this is what fills me up, this is what makes me happy to do Helping writers take something that they have always wanted to create and make it real, and help them make it the best they can do.

Speaker 2:

So, as a book coach, what's your daily routine like?

Speaker 1:

So I wish I had my coffee cup. It was like it says read, write, sleep. Start over something like that, no.

Speaker 2:

What do I do? What's the sound? Heaven me, it actually is. I want that life.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So I get pages from my clients almost every day and then I open up their file and I start reading and I start on the inline comments and a lot of my questions like okay, well, why is this happening? I didn't understand this part. Tell me why Joe is doing X, y or Z? Well, isn't Amanda afraid right now? So I'm going through their work and I'm reading it like a reader, but like a very high level reader who's seeing all the holes. And after I'm done with reading their section of work 20 pages then I, after I've done all my inline comments, then I write them in a editorial letter that really outlines what I saw, and then I email that back to them and I get on a coaching call with them and then we talk about all of it and then it kind of all repeats and so it's kind of an amalgam of that. So sometimes I'm working on multiple writer's pages at a time and then I have back to back calls.

Speaker 2:

And once you have the time to do your own writing or your own reading, yeah, and with the kids, oh my gosh, yeah.

Speaker 1:

Sometimes I wonder how I have time for all of it. So usually in the morning I'm most creative for myself in the morning, so I block off two hours of my own writing time. What's up? What's up? I'm curious. What's I'm doing Say what?

Speaker 1:

What time do you wake up? I usually wake up at about seven and then, by the time I'm functional as a human, it's like eight or so, and then I work till 10 on my own okay, on my own things. And then I put it away and even if I'm super inspired, I'm like no, that's a good way to end, yeah, and I put it away and I start working on client stuff and then usually I meet with clients in the evenings because to me that's more relaxing and you know, and I can, it's, it's a conversation, okay.

Speaker 2:

Okay, what kind of books do you like to read that inspires you to, you know, to do the work that you do, or the writing that you do?

Speaker 1:

It's interesting because I do mostly help writers who are writing speculative fiction about diverse protagonists. But what I like to read is that always speculative fiction? Okay, a lot of it is, for instance, babel I've heard a lot about it, when women wear dragons lots of fantastic books. But also I don't just read speculative fiction because there's a lot of deep writing going on in other places, like, for instance, tell the Wolves, I'm Home, or Eleanor Olafont is completely fine. I like these books. You can find deep narratives that I want to bring to speculative fiction. So I want to bring something deep and resonant where we feel a humanity in that speculative fiction. It's not just someone's fighting a dragon or whatever.

Speaker 2:

Okay, I see. So do you only work with diverse authors or you're open to anyone?

Speaker 1:

Well, I mostly I'd say 95% of my clients are diversity authors and the others are writing about the environment. So if that tells you, it's sort of all very, you know all very left wing stuff, and they're writing about girls or women.

Speaker 2:

So it's all in that area. Okay. So if someone, let's say who just writing you know a kind of plain story about growing up in a small town in the US, would you like rather not work with them?

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So when they contact me and I just had, you know, a couple of writers contact me and I was like, oh, that sounds like a great story. Let me refer to you this great other book coach that works on your type of story, Like a Christian writer just emailed me and was like, hey, I want you to work on my story and I'm like not my thing, but this book could can help you.

Speaker 2:

Oh, that's nice that you have a network so that you can send them clients and they can send your clients.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's, it's great reciprocity. It's great because they know what I work on, I know what they work on and we all work great together. Yeah, we're not a company, but we're a community.

Speaker 2:

I like that. Yeah, it's nice. So if you want to give your top key tips or advices to authors, what would you tell them from what you've seen, from the mistakes that they make? What would you just do? Your top advice you know the stuff that people pay you for. They're getting it for free.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah. So the first thing I always ask my writers is what's the point of this book Like, what's the big message? These writers just are thinking I'm going to write a fun story about someone who can time travel, but if you don't have a big message behind it, some unifying thing, then it's just a bunch of stuff that happens. So the first thing a writer needs to know is what's the message that readers are going to walk away understanding about the world from your book? Oh wow. So they need to define that.

Speaker 1:

And after that they really need to think about what's the arc of change for their protect protagonist. Who do they start out as and who do they end up as? And you know, of course, how is the plot going to change them? Because a lot of writers think that their novel is the plot and it's not a novel. A story is about how the plot affects and changes and causes a transformation in the protagonist. So they have to know what the transformation will be. But I do a very silly thing. It's the Ebenezer Scrooge transformation statement saying look, it might not be as melodramatic as Ebenezer Scrooge, but we need to see a transformation. Who were they? Who are they at the end?

Speaker 2:

Do they have to change? I mean, do they have to change to make the novel work? I mean, what if the character is just observing the words around him or her? And that is the story.

Speaker 1:

Then I think it's not a novel in this day and age. That might have been a novel many years ago, or at least it's not a novel that's going to be widely read. People are looking for deeper things now. Now there are some genres where you have a fairly flat protagonist, and I'm thinking about maybe cozy mysteries or something like that, where it's the same protagonist for 20 books, or any serialized novel where they're doing multiple, multiple books, but in that case then the protagonist usually changes someone in the novel. They are there to help the transformation of a side character. That being said, I honestly think they're weak novels.

Speaker 1:

If the protagonist doesn't have an arc of change, you're cheating and you're taking the easy way out. Even if you are in a niche genre that you might be able to wiggle your way through it, it's not the best book you could have written, because we all change, we all experience growth on a day-to-day basis, and it does have to be huge, but it does have to be meaningful. Another thing that I think writers often do is they try and hold their cards and they try and not explain things because they're waiting for a big reveal. It sabotages their book because almost always, whatever information they're holding back is the most interesting thing about the book and where they could make it go deeper if they revealed their hand and explored the humanity behind the idea.

Speaker 2:

What about throwing some breadcrumbs here and there, and then the?

Speaker 1:

big reveal. That's one thing. It depends on what it is. For instance, if your protagonist I'm just making something up here if your protagonist is in the house of a serial killer and having lunch and the reader doesn't know, this is a serial killer.

Speaker 2:

Go on, say what I want to read this book. Go on, yeah.

Speaker 1:

But if we have no idea the guy is a serial killer, it loses interest. But if we know that there's someone tied up in the basement and now there's all the suspense and intrigue around, will she make it out of the house Instead of why is this guy just acting a little weird? Like sometimes we hold back the very information that would make the novel so interesting. So if I said she's in the house of a serial killer, natasha, do you want to read this book? Yeah, probably. But if I said she's in the house of a guy who just has some weird behavior and he's kind of, you know, he wears the top hat all the time, I don't know, I'm just making it up, I don't know. Yeah, exactly.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, because the writer held back the information. That makes us want to read that.

Speaker 2:

Hmm Interesting.

Speaker 1:

Any other tips? The last one is interiority, which is? Interiority refers to the interior, subjective world of the protagonist and it's all the protagonist's thoughts and feelings and worries and how they make meaning of the world and what they think is going to happen next. And a lot of times writers will leave that off the page. They are like a video camera. They tend to watch a lot of TV and movies and it's all external and they think that's what a book can be like.

Speaker 1:

And readers come to novels for different reasons than viewers come to, I mean come to movies and TV, and so it's flat and it's all on the surface and we don't know why characters are doing what they're doing or how they make meaning of it based on their history, and we don't know what they're feeling and what they're thinking, and suddenly it doesn't feel real to us.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, that's fascinating. So are you happy doing what you're doing and would you imagine yourself doing this? For you know, until, like, you decide to retire, is this as good as it gets for you? I mean, I'm getting a bit existential here, but just the thing you know, like, because I always like think about, like, for me, this is what I want to do. You know like, bite and read and talk to authors. You know I don't want to do anything else and it makes me happy knowing that, like, I reached that place. Are you at that place?

Speaker 1:

I am, and I think that's why I kind of changed my trajectory at 35. Because I realized I found what I was doing interesting but it wasn't fulfilling. Ok, and when I started helping writers and being able to help them see things that they couldn't see on their own, and getting back to my own writing and surrounding myself by story, there's nothing happier for me. This is my happy place, living in story, because I believe I truly believe this that stories can change the world. And then if we get enough important stories out there stories about diverse protagonists, about people's stories that we need to raise up then I think that I can live in my happy place and I can help change the world in a little way by helping bring these stories into the world that need to be told.

Speaker 2:

Do you think we need to change the world or do we need to change ourselves?

Speaker 1:

I think that we can only change the world by changing ourselves, and I think that we change the world by understanding other people, and I think that we understand other people in part by reading from their perspectives. That's right, true.

Speaker 2:

Very true. Yeah, I mean, like I think about all the books that I read or the places that I travel to just from reading books and learning about different cultures and food and languages and all of that. It's just amazing. I actually feel really sad for people who don't read. Like, what are they missing as part of our life journey? When you don't read, it's just, it's a sad existence honestly, yeah, imagine only ever being one person.

Speaker 1:

I mean, I can't imagine that my happiest times are putting on the cloak of someone else and seeing the world in a new way and understanding something I couldn't have understood before. I read that book or wrote that book.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's amazing. Well, heather, it's been wonderful talking to you and it's inspiring. You made me think about lots of things. Any final words or tips, like how do people find you? If they want to hire you, where do they go?

Speaker 1:

So I think the first step is to go to my website, thecreativeauthorprintercom, and if you go there, I have some freebies where I have a seven step guide to an unput-downable first chapter. So it'll help writers get that first chapter down. Some advice there, and I have a lot of free stuff there. So whether or not they want to hire me, they can get a lot of good little nuggets there.

Speaker 2:

Cool, I'm going to go grab me some freebies.

Speaker 1:

Excellent Okay.

Speaker 2:

That's great. Well, thank you very, very much. This has been amazing, and keep fighting the good fight and chasing those children. Thank you for having me on, of course, and for anyone who's listening or watching. Thank you very much for staying with us and for watching and listening to another episode of Read and Write with Natasha. And, until we meet again, thank you for tuning in to Read and Write with Natasha. I'm your host, natasha Tynes. If today's episode inspired you in any way, please take the time to review the podcast. Remember to subscribe and share this podcast with fellow book lovers. Until next time. Happy reading, happy writing.

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