Wednesday, October 28, 2015
My dear friend and fellow writer/teacher Jennie Nash has created something rather remarkably wing like—and hugely effective—with a program she calls Author Accelerator. It's for those of us who know that it is time to finally write that book, to tell that story (any genre), to put it all down on the page, but who are intimidated by the process. For those whose ideas about form, content, and tone could use a little provocation. For those who hope to be listened to and guided along the writing way. For those who want to write with sincere intent.
As a nationally acclaimed book coach with a wow track record, Jennie doesn't just have ideas about story development. She has proven ideas. Over the past week or so, prompted by a conversation I'd had with another dear friend, Kelly, Jennie and I have been talking about her program. I invited her to come onto my blog for three consecutive days to share her thoughts and process with you.
She, too, has an offer—a discount to try out Author Accelerator for a month. The normal price is $199/month, which gives writers four deadlines against which they turn in ten pages for review. Jennie is offering a discounted price of $150 for the first months. Authors can write to Jade@Authoraccelerator.com and ask for the Beth Kephart special offer. That will be good through November 15, 2015.
Please also visit the authoraccelerator.com homepage for an array of free resources.
Below, please find Part 1 of my interview with Jennie.
Let’s first talk about your amazing success here as the creator of Author Accelerator. Tell us the story of the program’s creation. Tell us when you knew it was working. And tell us about some of those big book deals you’ve helped to ensure through your work as a book coach.
Let’s start with the book coaching, because that’s where it all starts! I fell into coaching quite by accident about five years ago. A colleague of mine at the UCLA Writer’s Program asked if I would help her with her book. She was an agent and a story analyst and didn’t consider herself a “real writer,” so she wanted help in pulling this idea together about the neurobiology of the reader’s brain. Because of the way I teach (which is a very strategic approach to a creative undertaking) she thought I had strategies and systems for book development. The truth was that I didn’t have anything, but I drew on my own writing experiences and on my teaching, and I made up some processes on the fly. They turned out to be enormously effective. Lisa Cron went on to land a top agent and her book, Wired for Story, was published by Ten Speed (a division of Random House). The book has enjoyed great success, and Lisa has actually just finished the follow-up book, Story Genius, which is due out in 2016. A third book will be forthcoming after that.
Meanwhile, other writers kept asking me for the same kind of help, and I began to say yes. This new direction in my career coincided very neatly with my taking a fallow period for my own writing (I talk about why I took a fallow period in one of my answers below), so I had the time to devote to this work, to dig into it, and to really study it. I worked with several clients from zero the way I did with Lisa, and they too landed top agents and book deals – the beautiful memoir, Gatsby Interrupted, by Sam Polk, which is coming out from Scribner in March 2016, and the fabulous self help book, The Next Happy, by Tracey Cleantis, which came out from Hazeldon earlier this year.
In the midst of all that work, I developed the strategy or system everyone assumed I already had!
About three years after I began coaching, I was approached by a startup pro from the UCLA Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. He heard me give a speech to entrepreneurs about how their skills translate to book publishing, and he said it was very unusual to find someone steeped in the creative process who also understood marketing and strategy. He was the one who proposed that I find a way to take my system and make it accessible to a wide range of people – which is how Author Accelerator was born. It's an online coaching program that gives writers weekly accountability and editorial feedback for an affordable price. Our goal is to help writers overcome every obstacle (doubt, procrastination, those deep level WHY problems) so that they can finally finish their books.
I resisted doing this, at first. I’m a writer, not an entrepreneur! But I soon saw how much fun this could be, and how powerful – and both of those things have been true. Author Accelerator is almost two years old and it looks as though it is going to be a viable commercial enterprise – one of the startups that makes it! It’s very different from a lot of online writing programs in that you get hands-on feedback on your work each week all the way through your book-writing process. I’m so proud of what we are doing for so many reasons, not the least of which are our writers, who are so dedicated and inspiring, and my team of editors, whom I have trained and oversee, and who are so engaged in their work.
(stay tuned for Part 2 of our conversation, tomorrow)