"Writers can be so self-defeating, and they’re their worst critics. Realizing how much you beat yourself up can be a real breakthrough, and I work with authors to name their demons and to start to see how much they stand in their own way."—Brooke Warner, Warner Coaching
I’m happy to have the opportunity to interview Brooke Warner. She was my editor at Seal Press and her expertise and support helped me immensely in getting my book, Lessons from the Monk I Married, ready for publication. In May 2012, Brooke branched off from Seal Press to form her own coaching company called Warner Coaching Inc. where she specializes in helping writers get published.
Thanks for being here today Brooke!
What made you decide to start Warner Coaching?
I started Warner Coaching in 2007 when I was still working for Seal/Perseus because I wanted to work more closely with authors in a work environment that was becoming increasingly about acquisitions and less about content development. I started really slowly at first, but word caught on and I kept getting business from referrals. Once I got my website up and running, and certified in coaching, I began to see how it could become a full-time business. But I wasn’t ready to make that leap until last year.
What services do you offer to writers?
All kinds. Some of my clients have described my business as a “soup to nuts” operation, and that does suit me and what I do. First and foremost, I work with writers who want to get published. But because the world of publishing has changed a lot in recent years, the range of what I offer covers everything from proposal development and ghostwriting to platform building to helping authors to navigate self-publishing to understanding what agents and editors are looking for both in a proposal and in an author. Warner Coaching also offers manuscript evaluations, copyediting, and proofreading. It’s really grown based on writers’ needs and seeing all the ways in which authors need support in today’s difficult-to-navigate publishing world.
What are some of the common problems writers you work with face?
Lots of times it’s the simple desire to finish their books that cause writers to seek me out in the first place. Many writers need accountability to make it over the hump to complete a book and get it out into the world. I also work with authors who’ve made mistakes or who’ve worked with editors or agents who’ve changed their vision of what they thought their book was or what they wanted it to be. I work with these writers to get back into alignment with what they want and why they’re writing in the first place. And then there are the many authors who have no author platform to speak of and a lot of the work I do on that front is strategic, helping them to implement and sequence a platform plan that suits their needs and personality.
You have a new book out from She Writes Publishing called What’s Your Book? Can you tell us a little about your book?
The idea for my book came to me after enough clients had asked me, “So, what’s your book?” And I didn’t have one. I had worked on hundreds of books over the course of my career, in every genre, so I realized it was time. It’s a really simple book that covers the psychology of writing, tips for completing, platform-building advice, and a chapter on how to get published. I wanted to put together in one place everything I felt I knew about writing and publishing and the result is a fast-paced book that has been a great asset to me in so many ways. I love it when someone asks me a really big question about platform, for instance, and I can say, “Read Chapter 4 of my book.”
What suggestions do you have for writers who are faced with self-doubt, writer’s block, fear of rejection or any other hurdle? How can they get over these?
It’s not easy! The way I work with writers to get over their fears and blocks is really through inviting in the mean and nasty voices. It’s really the only way. When I was a kid I loved The Sound of Music. At one point the Reverend Mother tells Julie Andrews’s Maria that she has to face her problems head-on. “You have to live the life you were born to live.” This made a huge impression on me as a kid and it’s the simplest guiding principle I know. You have to face your fears in the same way in order to set yourself free. You have to acknowledge the voice who tells you how much your writing sucks and how no one is going to want to read what you write. Writers can be so self-defeating, and they’re their worst critics. Realizing how much you beat yourself up can be a real breakthrough, and I work with authors to name their demons and to start to see how much they stand in their own way. It’s effective.
Have you had any successful clients who have gotten published?
I work with a lot of different writers in different capacities, and yes, I do have many authors who’ve gotten published. I don’t think I can take credit for the successes of some of my biggest clients, though, because many of them already came with a clear agenda and/or big opportunities and wanted guidance on how best to handle what was ahead of them. I also have continued to work with authors I’ve had relationships with at Seal, or authors who published one book and came back to me for their second. I in fact have a lot of success stories, and I feel like a proud mom when that happens.
Are most of the writers you work with interested in traditional publishing or self-publishing?
It’s really a mixed bag at this point. I do believe that traditional publishing is still the dream that most authors hold, and I understand this. You don’t invest anything up front and you have some sort of validation that your work is good. However, more and more authors are also coming to me with a greater degree of understanding about how the industry works and the ways in which it’s broken, and there are lots of authors out there who are very excited about self-publishing and the opportunities that are unique to that model. And many authors I work with say they’d like to traditionally publish, but that self-publishing is a close second, and that they don't care either way. This is a big shift, too. When I first started coaching, more people wanted to traditionally publish, and today I see that the traditional publishers don’t hold quite the allure or promise they once did.
What is the best way for writers to get in touch with you and get help with their writing?
Thanks for asking. They can find me at www.warnercoaching.com. I also like to ask people to look for my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/warnercoaching and to follow me on Twitter at @brooke_warner. I work hard to pull together good writing tips and ideas and on Twitter I follow industry news pretty closely. I also teach a six month course for memoirists called Write Your Memoir in Six Months (www.writeyourmemoirinsixmonths) and I’m offering a lot of little intro courses so people get a taste of my style and teaching, and maybe even join the course if they’re a memoirist and they’re ready to finish already!
Thanks so much for being here today Brooke and thanks for your insights!
Thank you, Katherine!! I really appreciate you taking the time to ask such great questions and post this to your readers.