From Our Culture Fiend Blog

Publish or Perish the Thought

How to get your book from the recycling bin to the bookshelf.

By Laura Dannen May 20, 2011 Published in the June 2011 issue of Seattle Met

YOU’D HAVE THOUGHT Kerry Colburn and Jennifer Worick were touting secrets to better hair and eternal life. The Ballard writers addressed a sold-out session of Navigating the World of Publishing at Hotel 1000. Notebooks out, pens scribbling furiously, we were engrossed. Like we were taking notes from Moses on the mountain…if Moses already had a two-book deal with Random House for The 10 Commandments: Slabs One and Two. Between the two of them, Colburn and Worick have published over 40 books—including Worick’s best seller The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Dating and Sex and Colburn’s nonfiction titles How to Have Your Second Child First and Good Drinks for Bad Days—in addition to having worked as editors at Chronicle Books and Running Press, respectively. They’ve been on both sides of the trenches, and have emerged with practical tips for fledgling authors, delivered with sass and a mom’s encouragement. “Pull the trigger, rip off the Band-Aid, and sell your book,” Worick enthused.

In their three-part seminars, they cover everything from honing an idea to creating a book proposal (“You don’t have to send a whole manuscript”) to understanding advances and royalties. It’s useful stuff, even for someone who’s already started a project—or written a collection of short stories that’s languishing in an envelope under her desk, getting in the way of the vacuum cleaner. Sometimes, it just helps to be surrounded by people who are equally clueless, and to hear the top 10 things not to do. The publishing series wraps this month with the all—encompassing “Navigating” lecture, and the proposal series closes with “What Makes a Book a Bestseller.” Hint: vampires.