Hello Manuscript Workers,
First things first, a quick reminder that I’m holding a free webinar today at 10am Pacific on How to Land a Book Contract. My presentation will cover how to find promising publishers for your scholarly book project, how to reach out to editors, when to reach out, and more. My aim is to share knowledge that will help you give yourself the greatest chance of success at receiving an offer to publish on your book, i.e. a contract.
Once you register you should receive an email with the Zoom link and information about how to access the recording. I will be closing registration at 9am Pacific today.
A recording will be available to all who register, so if you can’t make it live but would still like the information, please feel free to sign up before registration closes!
The rest of today’s newsletter will take a more personal turn than I generally do here, but I’ve been thinking about some things and want to share them.
As you know if you’ve been around here for a while, I started my business (Manuscript Works) in 2015 as a freelance developmental editor. That meant that I worked with individual scholars on their book manuscripts and sometimes book proposals to get them ready for submission.
I found that I really enjoyed educating authors about proposals, so in 2019, I launched my Book Proposal Accelerator, which enabled me to work with many more scholars to help them prepare proposals and navigate the submission process. That program has proven to be very popular and very fulfilling for me — I really love getting to learn about new projects and I love that I can help many more people than I could have through 1-1 editing.
As that program grew, I started getting more opportunities to help aspiring authors. I was able to adapt the system that I used in the Book Proposal Accelerator into The Book Proposal Book: A Guide for Scholarly Authors, which was published by Princeton UP in 2021. I also created a self-paced program, my Book Proposal Shortcut for Busy Scholars, which enables people to access the Accelerator curriculum and get direct answers to their questions without having to stick to a particular schedule or wait for the Accelerator to open up again. And I started receiving requests from institutions to run workshops for their faculty and grad students. I now do them for institutions and occasionally publicly, both paid and free (like the one I shared above)
These have all been wonderful opportunities that I couldn’t be more grateful for. To make a small difference in so many people’s publishing careers and help them achieve their goals, and to make a sustainable income doing it, has been a dream.
But of course, all opportunities come with costs. When you say “yes” to something that involves time and labor, you’re effectively saying “no” to all the other things that you could have done with that time and labor. So, when you’re fortunate enough to have a lot of opportunities, you have to learn to prioritize.
I’m still figuring out what to prioritize at this point in my life. I’m turning 40 next week so maybe I’m feeling particularly introspective for that reason. My oldest child started elementary school this year, which has also prompted some reflection on what I want my days to look like now that she’s not in daycare for 8 hours a day. I recently decided to withdraw her from after-school care and to instead try to spend quality time with her in the afternoons before my other child comes home from daycare. This means that my workday now ends at 2:00 (and even earlier on Tuesdays because the LAUSD school day is oddly abbreviated one day a week).
Here’s what I know: I can’t do everything, and I now have less time to fit in all the things that I might do. Which means I’m going to be spending the next couple months thinking carefully about what I will prioritize in 2023. There are lots of things I could do:
Run the Book Proposal Accelerator again live next summer
Continue offering the self-paced Book Proposal Shortcut program
Continue doing institutional workshops
Develop more public workshops on new topics / re-run some that I’ve offered before
Continue developing free resources for aspiring authors, such as this newsletter and my blog archive (and possibly a podcast?)
Update and relaunch my Developmental Editing for Academics course to make it more useful for both working editors and authors who want to learn DE skills to apply to their own books (and possibly even run it with a live cohort)
I would love to be able to do all of these things, but I don’t know if that’s realistic. I also don’t know if it would be better to do a little bit of everything or to put the lower-priority items on the back burner (at least for a bit).
The Accelerator is probably my favorite thing—I sincerely enjoy it quite a lot—so I am pretty certain I’ll be doing that either way. But everything else is kind of up in the air! I do a lot of data tracking in my business, so I’ll probably be running the numbers at the end of the year to see where I’ve been spending my time and what has been the best investment from an income perspective. But money isn’t the only factor to consider, because I want to enjoy what I’m doing and feel like it’s actually useful to others.
Maybe that’s where you come in, if you’re still reading. Is there something you’ve been hoping I’ll offer in the future? Or a program you’ve been planning to enroll in but haven’t gotten around to yet? I’d love to hear your thoughts. You can reply to this email if you feel so inclined. (I know a lot of people expressed interest in a podcast when I floated the idea a few months ago, and I really appreciated that feedback. It’s definitely still on my possibility list.)
Even if you’re not particularly invested in what I decide to prioritize next year, I hope you’ve gotten something out of reading my thoughts here. You too probably have more opportunities than you can reasonably take on. Which possibilities align most with your values and the contribution you want to make in your communities? Which nos might you have to say in order to be able to say yes to things that actually bring you joy?
I’ll leave it there for today. Hope to see you at today’s webinar if you can make it or at some other point in the future when the timing is right for you!