Classy Talk with Jen Worick and Kerry Colburn

Posted Tue, 8/27/2013 - 5:25pm by  |  Category:

What is the title of your class? 
Craft a Winning Book Proposal

People should take this class if…
They want to get published! Seriously, any writer interested in publishing a book in any genre (fiction, nonfiction, children’s, memoir, genre) and in any form (traditional publishing, self-publishing, e-books, etc.) can benefit from this 4-hour workshop. We detail the nine elements that should go into a compelling book proposal, which we think is absolutely necessary to secure a publishing deal, not to mention hone your book idea and create a smart marketing and business plan for it.

Can your students connect with you on social media? If so, how? 
Heck yeah! One of the points we cover in our workshop is how to develop a strong author platform and part of that is rocking social media. Writers can find us on Facebook at The Business of Books, on twitter @jenandkerry, and on our website,

Are any of your works online and available to the public?
Why yes, thank you for asking. Between the two of us, we’ve published more than 40 books, all of which you can find in the usual places (like your friendly neighborhood indie bookstore). But we have many resources to help aspiring authors, including webinars, private consultation, and a terrific Publishing Toolkit. It features more than 100 pages of instructional material, two sample proposals, worksheets, prompts, and a four-week step-by-step plan to create a kick-ass proposal.

What excites you about the material you’re teaching?
We often say that nothing makes us sadder than thinking about a manuscript languishing away on a flash drive or in a drawer. Conversely, nothing makes us more jazzed than seeing our class participants draft out a proposal in short order and quickly understand the importance of thinking about publishing as a business. During our last Hugo House workshop, one participant said that she felt overwhelmed at the beginning of class. By the end, she went from overwhelmed to hopeful. One thing makes us even more excited than that: when these tenacious writers submit, resubmit, and secure an agent and/or publishing deal.

Tell us a bit about your previous teaching experience.
After doing a lot of informal consulting, we started delivering workshops in the Seattle area four years ago. We’ve taught hundreds of aspiring authors at our own workshops, at Hugo House, at 826 Seattle, at the Editor’s Guild’s Red Pencil in the Woods conference, and PNWA annual conference. We’ll be teaching at the Whidbey Island Writer’s Conference in October. And many of our students have had success with getting published.

What do you like best about teaching at Hugo House?
We enjoy the lovely community at the heart of Hugo House. There are so many options and great events to bring writers together in a collaborative, supportive environment. There really is something for everyone, whether a writer just needs to get out of the house and socialize or find the perfect class to address their current writing challenges.

What’s the best piece of writing you’ve read in the past year?
Kerry says that White Angel by Michael Cunningham was her favorite short story of the year, and it offered the bonus of helping her figure out a problem in her own writing. The last book that jazzed Jen was One for the Books. It was basically a really long love letter to books and reading by crazy smart and well-read satirist Joe Queenan.

What books made you want to write?
Where do we start? After cutting her teeth on Nancy Drew Mystery Stories, Jen’s high school English class sort of sealed the deal. Kerry wanted to be a writer since the second grade, so she’d have to say The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster sealed the deal. 

If there was one piece of advice you could give an aspiring writer, what would it be?
Think about the business of publishing. You are proposing a business relationship to publishers or agents. You want them to invest in you and your idea, and it’s important to convey that you are not only a safe bet, but an awesome one who is willing and able to be a publishing partner.

What are you reading now? If you could pair it with a beverage (alcoholic or otherwise), what would you choose?
Kerry says Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann definitely calls for a Manhattan, straight up. Jen’s currently reading Rob Sheffield’s memoir, Turn Around Bright Eyes. This, of course, takes her back to her college years where it’s only fitting that she down a fuzzy navel. Hopefully this time, it won’t make her sick.