Books aren’t literally like buildings—you can’t just pour a foundation, but up some 2x4s, slap on some shingles and call it done (Ok… to be fair, buildings aren’t like that, either). But “building a book” is a process, and the more you know about that process, the easier it becomes to reach your dreams of being an author. In this episode of Self Publishing Insiders, we’re talking to Jennie Nash about her book, “Blueprint for a Book,” her coaching business, and more.
Book Coach Evangelist Jennie Nash hops into this episode of Self Publishing Insiders to talk about her new book, “Blueprint for a Book: Build Your Novel From the Inside Out.”
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Jennie Nash, Kevin Tumlinson
Kevin Tumlinson 00:02
Well, hello, thank you for dropping in. This is Self-Publishing Insiders from Draft2Digital, we’re happy to be here. This is the first live stream of 2022. So if you’re listening to this, you’re probably listening to this a few weeks after we do this broadcast, but I hope you had a great New Year, safe and happy and healthy all around. So now really excited about this one today, because we are talking to, I want to go down, I got a slight list of titles to read off here. But she’s the CEO of Author Accelerator, which is a book coaching company. She’s a book coach and an author. She’s going to be talking to us about her new book, which is the Blueprint for a Book, did I get the title right, Jennie? Okay. Because I have a tendency to flip those things around. So Blueprint for a Book with Jennie Nash. So you are Jennie Nash, you know you better than I know you. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and Author Accelerator?
Jennie Nash 01:01
Well, thank you, and happy new year. Author Accelerator is a company that trains and certifies book coaches, and book coaches are people that work with writers while they’re writing. So editors come in when work is finished, and book coaches are working with you while you write. So giving the accountability and the editorial feedback and the emotional support while you write. So that’s what I do. And that’s what I train others to do. We have 94 certified coaches and counting. And I’m on a mission to change the way that writers get support while they write. So that’s what I’m all about. And that’s what the new book is all about.
Kevin Tumlinson 01:45
That’s excellent. What functionally is a difference between like a book coach and, say, a developmental editor?
Jennie Nash 01:52
So a developmental editor, a book coach is a developmental editor. A developmental editor is going to come in, usually when you have a finished manuscript, and they’re going to read the whole thing. And they’re going to give you an editorial letter about what’s working, what’s not working, what you need to do, how you’re going to get from good to great. And then they’re going to hand it back to you and say, good luck with that. And a book coach is going to do the same thing. Or, they’re going to take that developmental letter from somebody else. And they’re going to say, okay, let me work with you on this. What should we tackle first? What does your life look like? Do you want to turn pages in for me to look at every week, maybe every other week? What’s your deadline? What are your goals? What do you need from me? And so you’re going to, the book coach is going to really be in it with you as you go, giving you back and forth. So it’s helping with the execution, not just the evaluation.
Kevin Tumlinson 02:56
Okay, I like that as a succinct answer. That’s good. So your program is about teaching people how to be book coaches.
Jennie Nash 03:08
Yes, and so what’s interesting about that is that everybody thinks creativity and writing is this very amorphous thing that’s unique to each person, and you have to find your own way. And it’s actually not true. There are steps to the creative process and to writing a book that everybody goes through. They might go through them in different ways, or at different times, or with different emotions, but we’re all doing the same thing. And so what we’ve done at Author Accelerator is, we’ve looked at those patterns that, you know, the patterns of creativity and the processes that people go through. And it’s like, okay, we can actually teach people how to do this better. We can teach them how to move through these processes, we can make frameworks to help them. So the blueprint is actually a perfect example of that. It’s a 14-step process that breaks down the fundamental elements of a novel. So you have to answer all these questions at some point. Now, some people might answer them while they write. Some people might never answer them. Some people might not answer them, and that’s their problem, and they get stuck. So what we’re trying to do is say, okay, look, here’s a process and a framework. Let’s just do this. Let’s get this done. Let’s get all of these elements on the page and in your head and nailed down, and then you’re going to be free to do that creative work and to move through getting it done. So it’s a way of looking at the creative process that, I like to say it tames it a little bit. And from where I sit, I see hundreds of manuscripts and projects because we’ve got all these coaches who have all these writers. So we, you know, I have my eyes on just a lot of different projects, and nothing is a surprise. You know, anything that anybody’s going through as a writer is not actually that unique to them.
Kevin Tumlinson 05:18
Yeah, that’s true. It’s actually kind of sad, because when you get into this, you really come in thinking that all your problems are unique. Woe is me sometimes, you know. But it kind of brings it home to realize that other people are experiencing the same problems you are.
Jennie Nash 05:38
Well, and a corollary to that is, when you look at a manuscript, there are not that many problems that can be identified. There’s a kind of short list of problems. And it’s pretty easy to, if you’re schooled in what those problems are, it’s pretty easy to very quickly look at a manuscript and say, oh, it has this problem and this problem and this problem. It’s not like there’s 1,000 unique problems to a novel that isn’t working. There’s a small subset of them. And so that that can be comforting too, because your challenges or your problems as a writer are not, if they’re not totally unique, then there’s a solution to them.
Kevin Tumlinson 06:30
That’s right. Yeah. So someone’s already dealt with that. And so you don’t have to waste a bunch of time trying to figure out how to solve it.
Jennie Nash 06:36
That’s right. Yeah.
Kevin Tumlinson 06:39
Last time you and I talked on any sort of podcast, you had a book that you’d released called Read Books All Day and Get Paid For It, which is the foundation of your whole book coaching business, I’m assuming?
Jennie Nash 06:54
Yeah. So that that book is a nuts-and-bolts book for book coaches about how to run a sustainable business. So what we’re doing at Author Accelerator is, well, what I was talking about for writers is that there’s processes and there’s systems and there’s replicable actions that you can take. The same is true for somebody who wants to start a business as a book coach. And coaching is a fantastic side gig for writers, because it can be more stable. You can have more, you know, writing income can be really up and down, depending on when you’re releasing a book, or, you know, what exactly is going on. And it’s a fabulous way to have a more stabilized income, and your finger can be a little bit more on the lever of how much you want to make and how much you want to work. And so we have a lot of writers, we have a lot of academics, including ex-academics. We have a lot of people coming from corporate work where they’re over the corporate thing, and they want to do their own thing. And so we train people in the skills of book coaching, and then we train them in how to run their businesses. And, you know, it’s really interesting, because writers and people who love words and stories and ideas, for the most part don’t come from backgrounds of business or economics, or, you know, I think we often see ourselves as outside of those things. A lot of English majors, some philosophy and history majors. And, and so there’s a huge part of what I do is talk to folks about, you know, there’s these myths that writers don’t make money or that there’s no, you know, the starving artist thing. And if you bring a more business-focused mindset to your work, either as a writer or a book coach, it doesn’t have to be that way. You can do extremely well. And it’s really empowering to know that there is a way to make money.
Kevin Tumlinson 09:16
Yeah, it’s always empowering to learn that there’s a way to make money. And that’s not common in the publishing industry these days. So okay, so that book sets … that original book, Read Books All Day and Get Paid For It, that sets people to do this as a business. So let’s jump into your new book, Blueprint for a Book. The subtitle was Build Your Novel From the Inside Out. This sounds like something every author should probably get their hands on, right?
Jennie Nash 09:49
Well, I think so.
Kevin Tumlinson 09:50
You might be a tad bit biased.
Jennie Nash 09:52
So here’s the thing. All the writers have all the books. I’m the same way, right? We buy all the books because we love that. We like to learn, there’s so many things to learn around writing. That’s what’s amazing is, you know, all the books are useful because there’s always something else to learn. It’s a very complex undertaking to write a novel, there’s a lot of skills you have to master. And so from my perspective, why would I think we need another book on writing? But in the work I’ve done in training coaches and teaching these systems, I hit upon this idea, this blueprint, these fundamental questions to ask about a novel. And the way that we get at it is quite different from a lot of craft-based or grid-based processes. I mean, a perfect example is the first question that I ask in the blueprint is, why are you writing this book? So it’s about the writer, right? Why do you care? Why are you going to spend however many months or years writing this book? What do you want from it? And what do you want externally? Which is probably, I want to make money, I want to be known, I want to make an impact, I want, you know, my book in readers’ hands. Those external things. And then there’s also really deep internal things, which are, you know, everybody always told me I would never be able to do it, or I suspect in my own secret brain that I can’t really do it. Or I see other people doing it, and they’re not as smart as me. And I think I should be able to figure this out. You know, so there’s those inside things as well. And it’s the first question in the blueprint. Because I find that when people get stuck, you know, they’ve written three chapters 50 times over, or they’ve written draft after draft and put it in their drawer, they haven’t hit the button to publish yet, they haven’t taken that step to do it yet. Usually the reason, in some way, is touching on that Why. They’ve kind of gotten stuck, their motivation is not clear to them. And it’s usually tied up in that. And yeah, so starting with why, which is a hat tip to the Simon Sinek famous book, Start With Why. That’s what we do for writers too. And so that, I don’t know a lot of other writing books that look at things from that kind of perspective, from the writer side and the craft side.
Kevin Tumlinson 12:42
Right. No, that’s true. It’s usually one or the other. And it seems like you’re taking a more holistic approach to the whole thing. So what’s your recommendation for discovering why you want to write the book, though? I mean, aside from, I want to make the money, or I want to be famous, or some of the other reasons that might pop up. Like, how do you discover a reason that’s going to actually motivate you to complete the book?
Jennie Nash 13:10
So you keep asking yourself, you know, it’s like a two year old, you keep asking yourself why over and over and over again. It’s like, well I think I can do it, and I want to get it out there and make some money. And then you say, well, why? And try to answer that question. And you know, you just keep going, why, why, why, why, and what we’re trying to get down to, there’s something specific about this particular story that somebody is writing. You know, I’ll just pull one out of out of the hat as an example. Let’s say that somebody is writing speculative fiction. And they, you know, so you say, why do you want to do this? Why do you care? And they’ll say, because I’ve built this really cool world. This is this situation. And, you know, maybe there’s no water in Los Angeles anymore. And wouldn’t that be cool? And it’s like, yes, super cool. But why do you care about that? It’s like, well, I live here and we’re in the middle of a drought and it can be really scary. Okay, well, why do you care about that? Well, because you know, now you’re going to touch on something having to do with that fear, probably. What you’re afraid of, or what you’re worried about. And if you keep digging down, in the world of speculative fiction, you often get people who are really dealing with issues of social justice and distribution of assets in the world, and who gets what, and like, there’s probably something, there’s probably some very profound rage that sits at the bottom of that. Whereas when you started, it was like, I’ve just got this super cool scenario that I can’t get out of my head. Or, I love speculative fiction, it’s my favorite, I read it all the time. But when you get down to it, there’s probably something that’s quite personal and quite profound. And I find that this is true, it doesn’t matter what you’re writing. You could be writing a middle grade fantasy about a dragon, or a YA romance or, you know, whatever historical fiction, whatever the thing is. There’s usually some very personal, something that’s propelling that. And, you know, why spec fiction and not something else? Why even writing and not, you know, why are you not baking in your spare time? Or gardening, right? It’s because there’s something that’s driving you. And so tapping into that, it’s just a matter of that relentless Why until you can’t, there’s nothing else right? You can’t go deeper.
Kevin Tumlinson 16:06
I think what I like about that approach is that you are being much more intentional about every aspect of the story. And the book, I mean, getting straight on why you’re writing it in the first place is useful, mostly because you’re going to need … Those of us who have written books know that there comes that dark night of the soul, when you just want to hang it up and go do something else. Anything else, some of the time. But when you get into the details of the story, asking yourself why is very useful. I’m gonna let you talk now. But I mean, from my perspective, it’s very useful because the more I know about that story, the more intentionally I shape it. Is that kind of part of what you’re going for?
Jennie Nash 16:52
Totally. So the word intention that you just used, in my mind, this is the difference between people who really succeed and people who don’t, is those who are really intentional, at every single level and every single stage. And that’s what the Blueprint for a Book book is trying to get people to do, is be conscious and intentional and aware of all of the aspects of the story. Because what happens if you’re not that, and I am going to answer your question, but what happens if you’re not intentional is, writers like to write. It’s fun, you sit down and you pound out the words, or maybe you get into some sort of challenge, like I’m gonna write X number of words a day for 30 days, or I’m gonna write every day in 2022. Or, you know, you get into the flow, and it’s an, it’s fun, you lose yourself, the word craft is fun. I mean, I like nothing better than writing a beautiful sentence and spending hours crafting it, like, it’s just fun. And it’s so easy to fall into that, you actually lose all of the reasons why you’re doing it, what you’re doing, who you’re doing it for, you can kind of get really lost. And so being intentional is my whole jam. It’s what the blueprint is all about. It’s trying to get people, it’s like literally begging them. On page one, I think I literally beg people, just stop for two weeks, wherever you are, and answer these 14 questions. And I promise you, it will save you months and months and months of time. So the intention as a big idea, I’m all about that. But on a story level, in the Blueprint for a Book, there’s a tool called the inside outline, and the whole book drives towards the inside outline. And what the inside outline is, is precisely what you talk about. It’s at every single stage, starting with the event. And then you first do events, and then you do chapters, and then you can do scenes. But it’s marrying the plot to the point at every single step. And so what I mean by that is, the plot is what happens. What we see, what the story is, what’s going on. And the point is, why is this scene here? What’s happening? What is the character knowing or doing or understanding? What is the point of this scene to that protagonist? And this inside outline marries those two things together at every single step. And the first inside outline that I ask people to do, the first step is three pages. It’s really tight, and it’s really, you cannot do this if you’re not intentional. And what’s amazing about it is that it’s a measuring tool. So you can take a draft of a book, and you can do an inside outline. You could instantly see, here’s where the story falls off a cliff, because there’s no point. Or, oh, the point of these five scenes in a row is exactly the same. No wonder it’s flat. Or, you know, the point at the end of the last scene doesn’t actually resolve the point from the first scene. Like, you can use it to measure what’s there, and to fix it. And the reason I built this tool was actually to get people to do this work before they start to write, because it can literally save you years. If you if you sketch it out this way, scene point, scene point, scene point, you can’t go off the rails. And so I made it because what I was talking about before, the patterns, it’s terribly frustrating as a book coach. People come to book coaches usually when they’re desperate. They usually don’t start there. It’s usually, why can’t this book sell? Why does nobody want it? Why is it getting bad ratings? Why is it falling flat? What is going on? I don’t understand, you know, there’s usually some frustration underneath there their motivation to get help. And there is never a moment when I look at something, and I’m like, gee, I don’t know why. Like, it’s really baffling. You know, who knows? It’s usually really clear. And it’s not because I’m so smart. It’s just because there’s patterns, you know, there they are. And so what I tried to do is make a tool that you can use before you get into trouble.
Kevin Tumlinson 21:41
Okay, I like that. I’m busy making tools to get me back out of trouble. So.
Jennie Nash 21:49
Yeah, right? But you have to be willing to be intentional, as you said, and a lot of people don’t want to do that. They’re like, I just want to write. I’m gonna write my way to the answer. And you can do that. I have done that, you have probably done that. A lot of people, you know, it is possible to write your way to an answer. It’s just incredibly inefficient.
Kevin Tumlinson 22:10
Yeah, yeah. So I want to make sure everybody is aware if you’re watching right now, and we’re broadcasting live on Facebook and YouTube right now. Feel free to ask any question you want in the comments. And we will get to these and try to help you out. We’ve got a couple of them already popping up. So here’s one and it’s kind of more aimed at probably more Draft2Digital than you Jennie, but you can weigh in as much as you want. So Credi on YouTube asks, “You wrote a book you’re happy with, that you’ve got feedback on, and you’re ready for the next step. Do you suggest to self-publish or go the traditional publishing way? What criteria do you use to decide?” So it’s not entirely within your purview of the blueprint for a book, but this is something people do have to consider. What’s your perspective on it?
Jennie Nash 23:10
Oh, it’s totally in my wheelhouse. Book coaches help writers with this decision all day long. Because what we’re doing is we’re saying, remember that first question of the blueprint is why. Why do you want to do this? And that’s going to lead to the question of, how do you want to do this? How do you want to publish this book? And so there’s so much, I mean, you could spend weeks talking about this decision. But so much of it has to do with what that writer’s goals are, and what they want out of the experience. And there’s pros and cons to every method of publishing. And what I always say is that publishing is, I’m using the word tool a lot today. Publishing is just a tool, right? It’s a means to an end, you want your book in readers’ hands, that’s what you want. And there are a lot of different ways to accomplish that goal. And, you know, so it’s what tool you want to use to do that. And there are pros and cons to using all the different tools. And so I think how I would suggest to this listener to decide is to really try to learn about some of those pros and cons and what matters to you. So, I mean, I can just pick one or two that are really easy. Let’s just talk about speed. Traditional publishing is extremely slow.
Kevin Tumlinson 24:42
The Keanu Reeves movie. Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock. Don’t slow down below 60. That’s what you’re talking about, right? Speed. Go ahead, I’m sorry. I took us off the rails there for a second.
Jennie Nash 24:56
Oh, it’s always Keanu Reeves, right, that takes you off the rails? Traditional publishing is super slow, right? People are sometimes shocked that you turn in a manuscript to a traditional publisher and you might not see that on the shelf for two years. It’s just a very, very, very slow process, whereas a self-publishing process is going to be extremely faster. So that’s one criteria. Another very simple criteria would be the notion of creative control. So a traditional publisher, you are giving up a lot of creative control to a team of professionals. That’s kind of what the gig is. Whereas with self-publishing, you’re retaining your creative control. So, you know, what does that mean, creative control? It means if you have a, like, I had a client who had a book, and she had a very specific vision for the cover. And it really mattered to her. It mattered to her so much that she made all of her decisions based upon whether or not she would have control of what that cover was going to be, which totally changed her path to publishing. So those are just two criteria, but there’s a lot of different things to consider. You know, there’s the money part, which you could talk about for weeks. And I don’t know, what do you say, Kevin? Is that how you think about it?
Kevin Tumlinson 26:29
I think, now that you’ve answered, it occurs to me that that wasn’t as outside your scope as I first thought, because you started with ask why, you know. Ask why you want to write this book. And that actually is where you would decide whether you want to traditionally publish or indie publish anyway, because, like you said, I mean, whatever your goals are. You know, when I first started publishing, it was, I was exhausted by the traditional publishing avenues. I had a bad experience with a trad pub deal. And I just, you know, I wanted to start seeing my work out there and available for people without having to wait for two years, you know? So that was part of it. I mean, that was part of my motivation. Now, it’s more of a question of, what is it I’m trying to get out of the book? Is this an income book, which is, or a money book, as my friend Nick and I call it? You know, we have our money books, and we have our sort of experimental books. We write the money books so we can write the experimental books. But, or is my plan to get out there and have wider distribution than what I’m capable of getting through the self-publishing realm. That’s the wrong way to put it. It’s not wide distribution, it’s more of tapping into a market we wouldn’t normally reach as self-publishers, you know, on the dime of the traditional publisher, you can sometimes reach venues like a Barnes & Noble shelf, for example, is a good way. So if those are your goals, you know, that’s where you aim. Now, just because that’s your aim doesn’t mean you’re going to hit that. So everyone needs to be aware of that. So we have a, it’s more of a comment than a question, but let’s go through. So Tom Ray, also on YouTube, says, “Sometimes the story won’t let you find peace until it comes out. That’s why I write, even if few buy the books. One day, maybe after I’m gone, it might connect with someone’s life.” So that’s his why actually, right?
Jennie Nash 28:41
Well, exactly. And so it’s Tom, right? So Tom, you’re saying your why, you have to write these books. And a lot of writers feel that way. I describe it as it’s a ghost, and it’s rattling chains around in your brain, and it won’t let you sleep, you know, this book, you have to write it. And in that case, yeah, you’re not caring about getting on the shelf at Barnes & Noble. That’s not your primary concern. Your primary concern is, I just got to write this thing. And yeah, you know, I don’t care what happens to it in my lifetime, maybe it’ll touch somebody someday. Knowing your why is going to drive a lot of your decision-making and a lot of, you know, how much time or effort or energy you might invest in it, and all different kinds of things. So I mean, I love that, and so what’s really important to know for me when I’m working with the writer is, is that your goal, really? Or is, you know, the idea of getting it in readers’ hands before you die, because people literally do talk about that. When they talk about their Why, it’s kind of uncanny how often people talk about death. So that’s what Tom has done here, he’s talking about, after I’m gone. It’s kind of very common where people will say, I want to do this before I die. I do not want to be on my deathbed and say that I didn’t write this book, or I didn’t do this thing, or I didn’t try. It’s very, very common. And so if somebody says that to me, when they’re talking about their why, you know, it’s like, okay, so are you really only doing this for you? Or do you want to see it in people’s hands before you die? So what Tom is saying here is, that doesn’t matter to me. If it happens after I’m gone, I’m good. I will have done it, I will have finished the thing, that’s satisfying to me. Other people will say, no, it’s like an electrical loop, where the spark starts with the writer and that closes the loop when it gets into readers’ hands. And that’s what they want to experience. You know, I once had somebody, a client in answering this question of why, I really try to push my writers to go really deep, and he wasn’t going very deep. And I said, okay, look, write me a scene that happens when your book is finished. What happens in the world, you have a finished book, I want to see what that looks like, what’s that vision for you. And he wrote this incredibly specific, powerful, beautiful scene, where he was, this was a nonfiction book, he was speaking at a conference. And a young woman came up to him afterwards, and waited for the crowd to clear, and came up and said, I just want you to know that your book has changed my life. And, you know, he had this really specific scenario where people had gathered to hear what he had to say, and some specific person had been moved by what he had to say, and it was like, okay, that tells us so much information, right? You want to write a book that is going to bring a crowd, you want to write a book that’s going to touch somebody hard in that way, you want to see it happen before you die. That’s what I mean by getting a little deeper. So yeah.
Kevin Tumlinson 32:33
Well, yeah, the interesting part about that is, first of all, I love the idea of sort of writing that scene, I think that’s a great exercise. Because there are practical uses for that which include the marketing, because if you picture yourself standing in front of a crowd at a conference, and you’re talking to them about your subject matter, on which you are now a credentialed expert, right? That right there can alert you to who your audience is, so that you know how to target marketing going forward. So if your goal is to make money from writing, information like that is very handy. So yeah, that’s a great exercise. So okay. We figured out our why. What are some next steps that authors need to be aware of when it comes to the writing and shaping of their … I don’t want to have to reveal your whole blueprint because people should buy the book. But where do we go after why?
Jennie Nash 33:36
So after why we go to, what’s your point? And what’s your point is one of my favorite, I’m gonna say that about every one of the 14 steps, that it’s my favorite. But what’s your point is one of my favorites. And it’s the thing that I probably say more often than anything else. What’s your point? What’s your point? What’s your point? Because it goes to that thing we were talking about before, that people just write, and then like, you have this this cool story about, there’s no water in LA. And it’s like, okay, but what’s your point? You have something you want to say, you have an argument, you’re up on a soapbox, you have our attention, you’re writing this story. What do you want us to know? What do you want us to take away? What do you want us to believe or feel when we’re finished? You know that feeling when you’ve read a book, and it just blows your mind, and you feel like, man, that author just really knew me, I felt like they were looking over my shoulder. And that is such a satisfying feeling as a reader to be immersed in a novel like that, or a book like that. And you don’t write a book like that if you don’t know what you want that reader to feel or to take away. It’s knowing what target you’re after. And so, the what’s your point, it’s the same thing that happens with a Why. Usually people start out with a bumper sticker, something like, well, it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. That’s like, yes, yes, it is. And there are, you know, a million books with that point. And that’s a great place to start. And then you can be more specific and narrow it down and push it further. But really knowing like, this is what I want my book to make people feel, just to really understand that. And to define that and to write it down and to put it on a post-it note and like, this is what I’m writing toward. And what we were talking about earlier, if you don’t do that, odds are good that you don’t really end up anywhere. That it’s mushy.
Kevin Tumlinson 35:55
Oh, by the way, I get all my bumper stickers from Tennyson. So, yeah, you’re right. It’s kind of interesting because you’ve called this the blueprint of a book. I guess that’s, you know, the why is sort of the foundation, what was the second one?
Jennie Nash 36:23
What’s your point?
Kevin Tumlinson 36:24
I was gonna say “so what,” but that sounds more cynical.
Jennie Nash 36:27
No, I love “so what.” I usually form it as, “and so”?
Kevin Tumlinson 36:34
You’re that person I want to strangle in casual conversation. Yeah, but those would be like the studs of the walls. I’m very honed in, or homed in rather, on house metaphors right now, because we’re building our house. I just want to see it finished.
Jennie Nash 36:55
Here’s what’s interesting. I had the privilege of renovating a house quite some time ago now, though. I stinkin loved it. And I didn’t know anything about it. But I loved it because it was a very familiar process to me. And it was actually one of the things that really got my thinking in place about writing, because same, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s like, there’s a moment in the building of a house where all this time is passing and all they’re doing is the electrical and the plumbing. Like nothing’s happening that looks interesting. And I was walking around, just storming around, like, what are they doing all day long? This is like ridiculous, weeks are going by. And my husband would be like, electrical and plumbing so that everything works. And I was like, I want to pick the paint color, I want to like get the tiles in the kitchen and, you know, it’s like you can’t. It doesn’t work like that. There is a very clear process, right? You don’t do the electrical and plumbing after you paint the wall, you just don’t. And so that idea for me really helped me codify some of my thinking about writing, because that’s what people do. The equivalent is, look at my beautiful sentences. And it’s like, that’s great. But your electrical and plumbing is not functioning. Right?
Kevin Tumlinson 38:28
They’re putting up paint, but there’s no walls.
Jennie Nash 38:32
Totally. So like what the blueprint is about is like, where should the front door be? Where should we enter this building? Where should the walk from the street be? Should be on the left or the right or the center? Is there a porch? Is there a back door? Do we take the groceries in the side door? Do we take them in the front door? Like how is this going to function? That’s precisely why I call this blueprint for a book, because you got to ask those same questions of your story. Just the simple question of who is telling this tale? That’s one of the 14 steps in the fiction blueprint. Who is telling this tale? And why have you made that choice? And most people are like, I don’t know, it’s just this dude. And there’s no water in LA and I’m telling the story. And it’s like, okay, but why him? And is it his story to tell? And will he be in all the critical scenes? You know, should it be first person, should it be third person? Just even asking those questions. And if you know them, you can be like boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, and it’s like great. Okay, you know that. That’s set, that’s where the front door’s gonna be. There’s no other choice, right?
Kevin Tumlinson 39:43
And I will tell you, even when you’ve been at this for a while, I mean, I’m like 60 books in and I still make mistakes, like, I’ve written two-thirds of a book that I realized should have been written in first person instead of third person.
Jennie Nash 39:56
Don’t you wish you could have known that before you wrote it?
Kevin Tumlinson 40:00
If only there was some sort of book or coaching service. Now, that’s a rare instance for me. I’m just gonna put that out there. But it happens, right? So yeah, having a guide and having something to walk you through. It’s like a meditation on the production of your book. That’s good. Okay, as we’re kind of getting close to wrapping up, what do you need us to know about your business? Because, you know, I’ve looked into Author Accelerator a little bit. And you know, we’ve talked before. How does, Author Accelerator is aimed at helping you become a book coach. But I’m guessing, based on this conversation, that if you just wanted to have a more solid foundation in writing your own books, this would probably be as helpful for that as well. Right?
Jennie Nash 40:57
Yeah, 100%. So our business is about training and certifying book coaches, and we have a community of support for book coaches. But we have writers coming to us all the time to seek the services of a book coach, and we don’t employ the book coaches, but we have a matching service where we will match people with coaches, and we do that by hand. It’s a person, it’s a totally artisanal thing that we do, it’s not a marketplace where, you know, here’s all the people and you, writer, pick. The writer comes to us and says, this is my problem. This is where I’m stuck. This is what I’m writing, this is what my topic is about, this is the kind of kind of help I think I need. Some people are really looking for some tough love. And other people are saying, this is my first book, I’m really nervous. I’d like somebody really patient and gentle. You know, and depending on the topic, with 94 book coaches, we’ve got somebody that works in your genre, and knows what you’re writing about, if you have a specific thing that you want that support around. So we will match the writer with the coach. And now that we have almost 100 coaches, we’re starting to do writer-facing events where you have the opportunity to get coaching. You know, our brand is all about one on one support. And one on one support is, well, there’s a few things to say about it. It’s very rare in the writing world. Usually you can get support, you can take a course, you can go to a conference, you know, there’s ways to get group support, or the workshop model. But we’re about one on one support. And then the second thing to say about that is that one on one support is not cheap. It can’t be cheap, because it’s customized to you. So those are two realities to think about. And, you know, for some people, that model is not for them. But I happen to believe that it’s the best way if you’re stuck, if you need to learn something, if you can’t get over the hump. I mean, if you’re not like Kevin and you can’t crank out 60 books, and you need support, what I always tell people is if you have a little bit of money to spend and you have to make a choice, get one on one help at the very start of your project, even for a tiny bit of time. That’s going to make such a big difference.
Kevin Tumlinson 43:44
Yeah, yeah. I think the moral of that is beware cheap book coaches. Last question, we got one final question slipped in under the wire. This is Thom Reese coming in from Facebook. Is it Tom or Thom? I never know. So Thom Reese is asking, “Does Jennie work on nonfiction books?” And I’m assuming he means Jennie and/or your bevy of services?
Jennie Nash 44:13
Um, yes, I do. In fact, nonfiction book proposals as my particular specialty as a book coach. I happen to have had a fiction writer on the New York Times bestseller list last year, and I had a nonfiction writer on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list last year, so that was kind of a crazy reality. But nonfiction books are my specific specialty. And in fact, I don’t think it’s too late, but I am running a program this week. If Thom wants to reach out to me, it’s a free program on nonfiction book proposals. I can give him the info. I don’t want to take up our airtime doing that. But I absolutely do, and we began certifying fiction coaches at Author Accelerator first, and we started certifying nonfiction coaches last year. It usually takes people about nine months to get certified. It’s quite rigorous. But we have now about 12 certified nonfiction coaches. And that program is growing enormously, and it is hard to get certified in nonfiction. We really put people through the wringer. And they’re really good at what they do. And we would be delighted to help you. So that was a yes.
Kevin Tumlinson 45:35
Good. All right. That said, you brought this up, and I want to make sure people know that they can find you at, and you correct me if I’m wrong: authoraccelerator.com. That’s it. So for those of you listening, everyone watching gets to see a nifty little graphic on screen, but if you’re just listening, tuning into the podcast, it’s authoraccelerator.com. If you don’t know how to spell that, you may be in the wrong business. No, I’m kidding. So I’m dropping this into the chat for everyone who is watching live, you can actually … I thought it’d be clickable but you’ll probably have to cut and paste or copy and paste that. So check that out. Jennie, anything else you want throw in right as we close here?
Jennie Nash 46:22
I would like to invite people to go check out my book, Blueprint for a Book. It’s on Amazon.
Kevin Tumlinson 46:30
Probably something I should have said, yes.
Jennie Nash 46:32
You can find it at jennienash.com. It’s an Amazon bestseller in all its categories, which is really fun. I think it is a great little tool for starting, if you’re starting a book or if you’re stuck. Blueprint for a Book is probably going to be helpful.
Kevin Tumlinson 46:50
Excellent. Okay. Well, that said, make sure you check that out. Blueprint for a Book. I’m sure she’s got a Books2Read link, a universal book link for that somewhere. But jennienash.com, you said they can go there?
Jennie Nash 47:07
Yes. And it’s J-E-N-N-I-E.
Kevin Tumlinson 47:11
Yeah, very important. And you can find the spelling of her name in the title of this episode too, if you’re feeling a little lost. But that said, we’re gonna go ahead and wrap up. We thank you so much for being here. Thank you first Jennie, for being a part of this show. Everyone else, thank you for being a part of this show and tuning in. Make sure you are bookmarking D2Dlive.com so that you know when things like this are going live. We’re actually looking to amp up the amount of content we’re producing here over the next year. So 2022 is kind of the year of Draft2Digital live content. So support us in that by going and bookmarking D2Dlive.com. And if you’re out there anyway, you might as well support us and subscribe to us on all the various places. Go to youtube.com/draft2digital, facebook.com/draft2digital, and we’re now on TikTok, which I bizarrely do. I do not understand TikTok in any way whatsoever. But we’re going to dominate it with your help. So if you go to D2D.tips/tiktok you can join us there. We promise there will be no twerking from Kevin. So that’s going to do it for this round. Jennie, thank you so much for being on. Everyone else, we’ll see you all in the next live broadcast or in the next episode of Self-Publishing Insiders with Draft2Digital. Take care.