Why I Want You to Ask Me Anything about Story & Publishing

June 1, 2017

Do you have a question about writing your story, editing, publishing, anything book-related? I’m on a quest to learn all I can about this industry. And I'd like to share with you! Let's help each other out. If I don’t have the answer, I’ll go find it for you! The more questions I get from you, the more I will learn. I'll start featuring queries on my website, Facebook, and Instagram weekly on June 1.


After a couple years in editing, I’ve been getting questions lately about publishing that I still can’t answer. I hear from almost everyone, “Oh, I want to write a book one day” OR “I know someone who does.” This got me thinking… How many people have stories they want to share, advice they want to print, but have a lack of knowledge holding them back? 


So I want to be very vulnerable with you. 1. I don't have all the answers myself! 2. I got into editing because it looked so romantic. I was inspired as I went down the Instagram vortex (as we all do—don’t lie!) one day years ago and found a friend of a friend of a friend’s amazing website, featuring herself as a freelance editor. I didn’t know that was a thing! I sent her an email, gushing, “You have my dream job! Please tell me everything you actually do all day every day.” What I saw on her website, and on her Instagram—and everywhere else on Instagram that features books and writing and cozy Saturday mornings with coffee and printed manuscripts—was all so romantic.


So I became an editor! (More of my story to come later in the series.) I love the work. I love collaborating with authors. I love being a part of the creative process. It is exhilarating!! But the truth is, it is not romantic the majority of the time.


Finding work? Chasing that elusive thing called “balance” between raising a kid and working from home? Not romantic. Terrifying. Angsty. Makes me want to give up. 


But how do you convince a girl who spent her whole life in fiction books, who pretended she was Anne Shirley and at one point in life (not too long ago) aspired to time-travel and be a pioneer on the Oregon Trail, to move past romanticism?


So I am setting out to learn the biz. And to do so, I want to know what other people were looking for in the biz. What are the hurdles, the unknowns for aspiring or closet writers/editors/bibliophiles? Do my limited contacts from 2 years of working with books sporadically have info for them, for me? Do they have contacts, too?? 



“There’s no shame in not knowing something. The only shame is when you willfully ignore and then blame the educated for your failures.” — Shawn Coyne, The Story Grid


So, now that I’ve burst your bubble of romanticism of authorship, editing, and publishing—let me say that creativity is always worth it. And now let’s build up our knowledge of how to do the work, and how to get it out there.


One of my stretch goals this year is to share what I’m learning. This is a new arena for me, but I think it’s important. One, it keeps me accountable to continue learning. Having an audience—no matter how limited!—expecting answers to their questions will push me to research and write. 


Two, I have a great network that has a great network. From 2 years in publishing + writing groups + networks of creative entrepreneurs, I have access to some great resources! I have many talented people with a variety of experience and skills on the line, happy to help!


As I get questions from you, I will dig around and find some answers! My hope is that these posts will open up discussion—particularly from experts who can weigh in and help us out—and waterfall into a deeper exploration of Story and publishing. These questions I’ve gotten from others is fueling my own search. There are so many of you who want to write and/or want to get your hands on books for a living, and don’t know what to do! So, here are my best attempts to find some answers for us. Please speak up if you have anything to add — and please chime in with your own questions! 


If you’re interested… What I’m doing currently to improve my craft is to study towards my Story Grid certification. I got into the first-ever Story Grid workshop in Nashville this September! This is such an exciting step for me, as I have learned a large part of what I know about editing from Shawn Coyne. I believe in this method to tell an excellent Story along genre conventions that hooks in the beginning, builds in the middle, and pays off all promises in the end. I’m looking forward to what I’m sure will be an exhausting but super fun week in Nashville in September, but in the meantime I have homework on homework! 


P.S. I cannot recommend the Story Grid podcast enough, if you’re a writer or editor or Story nerd at all. Shawn and Tim Grahl are currently workshopping Tim’s novel in progress live through the podcast. It is so good!!


I want to go ahead and thank the people who have helped me get set up, and who will be regular contacts through the life of this series. You should check them out, too!


The graphic for this blog brought me to happy tears and helped me put skin on this idea, as I am clueless regarding this and just said, “Make it pretty and include a typewriter, please.” It may seem dramatic, but it really helped me see this through! Huge thanks to Jackson Dame, www.bilateralcreative.com


Headshot kindly volunteered by one of my first friends in Greenville, Mary DeCrescenzio. 

Instagram @marydecrescenzio.photo | FB @Mary DeCrescenzio Photographer


My amazing mastermind group of editors, booktubers, booksellers, book publicity, and authors: <3<3

. Mollie Turbeville http://molliereads.com/

. Kate Juniper www.juniperediting.com 

. Jen Campbell http://www.jen-campbell.co.uk/

. Ariel Bissett http://arielbissett.com/

. Tara Mixon http://www.tarangozimixon.com/


And especially John who is making caffeinated, creative, baby-free mornings possible a couple times a week! 



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© 2016 by Sophie B. Thomas.
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based in Greenville, SC