A Writer’s Path to Publication: How starting small can lead to big things with your writing | Nicole Meier | Skillshare

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A Writer’s Path to Publication: How starting small can lead to big things with your writing

teacher avatar Nicole Meier, Author & Book Coach

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

7 Lessons (14m)
    • 1. Introduction

      1:30
    • 2. The Micro Idea

      3:23
    • 3. Know Your Voice

      1:20
    • 4. Cultivate Your Audience

      2:43
    • 5. Small Edits Make a Big Difference

      2:41
    • 6. Go With Confidence

      1:57
    • 7. Final Thoughts

      0:52
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About This Class

Taking that first step toward publication can often feel like a daunting task. You’ve got the desire and imagination, but aren’t sure where to begin. Whether you’re crafting fiction or non-fiction, there are steps you can take in order to grow your career. In this class you’ll learn how starting small can lead to big things with your writing.

 This class will cover:

  • How to identify your audience
  • Understanding your voice
  • Practices for polishing your work
  • Brainstorming venues right for you

In this class, Nicole Meier, author and creative workshop leader, will touch on ways to gain valuable experience working with editors, while honing the craft and cultivating an audience. Finally, she’ll share encouraging tips on how to put your best foot forward as you head into the world of writing.

Note: To contact Nicole privately, email her on her website at nicolemeierauthor.com

Meet Your Teacher

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Nicole Meier

Author & Book Coach

Teacher

Nicole Meier is an author and book coach living in the Pacific Northwest. 

Her debut novel, THE HOUSE OF BRADBURY, was chosen as a Best Book of 2016 by Refinery29. Her second book, THE GIRL MADE OF CLAY, was named a Top Book according to Bookbub readers. Her newest novel, THE SECOND CHANCE SUPPER CLUB, is out now.

Nicole has taught writing workshops in schools, libraries, wellness retreats, and writers' conferences. Her works have been published in The Oregonian, Cascade Journal, Southern Oregon Magazine, Women Writers Women’s Books, Brazen Woman, and more. Her book coaching program offers thoughtful support, strategy, and editorial feedback for fiction writers.

See full profile

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Transcripts

1. Introduction: Hi, my name is Nicole Meier, and I'm the author of three published novels. I've also worked as a travel blogger, a contributing writer to lifestyle magazines, and a creative workshop leader in libraries, schools, wellness retreats and writers conferences. Today's class is all about how small steps can lead to big things in your writing career. Crafting a story and getting it published can often seem like a daunting task. But I truly believe that if you're willing to hone your craft, cultivate your audience, and slowly build up your network that you'll be on your way to solidify in your writing career. Over the years, I've met so many emerging writers who have so much talent and great ideas. But they all ask me the same question. Where to begin this class is for anyone looking to get their writing career off the ground, it will be divided up into four main elements. And they are finding the theme of your work, figuring out who your audience is, how to polish your work. And last but certainly not least, Finding the right publishing venue for you. I hope that by the end of this class, you will have a really good roadmap of how to get your writing off the ground and out into the world. 2. The Micro Idea: Less than one. The micro idea. I love this concept because it's how I got my start. Early on in my writing career, I asked a fellow author for advice and she gave me two powerful words. She said, start small. I'm going to admit right here that I was actually irritated when she said this, I wanted something tangible, something I could sink my teeth into. And her telling me to start small, felt insignificant. But after a moment, I took her advice because I realized where I was trying to write a manuscript for a novel and get it published when I didn't have any real writing work under my belt. So the very next day, I answered an ad in the local paper, seeking a blogger for the local visitor's association. Because I have some travel experience, I got the job and thus my career began. I was writing two short paragraphs a week. These were great stepping stones for me because I learned a few things. I learned how to speak to an audience. I learned how to hone my craft. And for the first time I learned how to work with an editor. These were all valuable things that I took away from this first job. Slowly but surely I was building my audience. And I then got offered gigs doing freelance work for other magazines. Fast forward many years later. And I have a wide variety of work published. I'm not the only one who got their start this way. Here's an example of some other authors who got started writing small before they became big author, Julie PowerShell got her start writing cooking blogs, which then became a best selling book and a blockbuster movie authors. Sophie can cella was a financial writer before she became a best-selling women's fiction author, JRR Tolkien row, and Translated old English poems before he became the well-known author of The Hobbit. And before reading the Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins was helping to work on scripts for children's television shows. These are just some of the examples, but there's so many more out there. Now let's focus on you. This next project is something that you can either pause the video on and download the project from the site, or you can just come back to it at the end of this session. Okay, so let's talk about the project. What I'd love for you to do is to get a pen and paper and to write down some main themes that are closest to your heart. Let's give some examples here. Let's say some of the ideas could be I'm really into trail hiking or book reviewing, or even Vg and baking. Now put some bullet points under those themes. And I'd love for you to brainstorm some ways that you could think of, of small venues that might be interested in publishing your work. I'll give you an example. Let's say you chose trail hiking as the theme that's closest to your heart. Perhaps there's a publication in your town, maybe a weekly or monthly Guide to trails around your area. That could be a great place to start. You get the idea, take as much time as you need. The object is to brainstorm here, think of venues that are close to you that might be interested in showing your work. 3. Know Your Voice: Lesson two, know your voice. We've all heard this concept before, right? Whether you're a writer or a reader, we know that voice in our work is very important. But again, this was something in the beginning that really frightened me. I didn't understand it and I didn't know if I had a voice. Was I funny? Was I thoughtful? Was I intuitive? Was I even emitting any kind of tone from my words on the page? It wasn't until someone suggested that I write is if I was talking to a friend over a cup of coffee, it finally clicked in. I wrote is if I was having a conversation than my natural voice would emerge. What do I mean by that? Well, for me, I can't really use any overly formal language because that's not the way that I normally speak. Also, it's a good idea for me to stay away from trendy catchphrases or buzzwords. Because first, I don't speak that way. And second, it actually dates my work months, even years from now. I don't want people to look back and see the buzzwords that I use and realize they're not relevant anymore. So in a nutshell, think about how you speak and just let you come out on the page, be authentic. 4. Cultivate Your Audience: Lesson three, cultivating your audience. This part of the class is all about who you are writing for. And the answer to that question is not going to be, well its readers, because that paints too broad of a brush stroke. If you think about it, every reader has his, her or their own tastes, likes and dislikes. So we need to think about that in terms of your writing. I'll give you an example. Say someone's really into gritty crime thrillers, they probably aren't going to be the same person who walks into a bookstore and asked to see books about tender love stories. You get the point. So I recommend starting with yourself. Maybe let's get another pen and paper out and list some ideas. The reason I say Think of yourself is because as writers, most of us write things that we ourselves would love to read. So maybe with your pen and paper, start listing some information about yourself. You can start with your demographics. You can add things like your gender and your age. You can add your hobbies. Maybe list them out and say why you like them, what's appealing about them? You can also add your location. What do you like about your location? Maybe lists some elements about it. You get the picture. Another suggestion here, to look up work online that is similar to yours. I actually like to look up books in the genre that I write. And then I suggest looking online and finding the reviews. What I like about reading reviews is that most platforms asked reviewers to put up some kind of a profile. Sure you're not going to learn everything about the reader, but you can learn a few things. For example, sometimes the reviewer will say their age or their gender. Oftentimes they'll say where they live and they most usually say what genre they like to read. For example, someone could say they're a male around age 55 and they love sci-fi and horror. This gives you a pretty good idea. The last suggestion I have, if you have any work that's already published or that you've received feedback on, I suggest you take some time and thoughtfully look it over. What was the feedback? What did people gush over? What did they have notes about? Now step back even further and look if you can see a pattern. Are these the readers that might be interested in your work in progress? Whatever the source, this is a great way to figure out who it is you're writing for. And then when the time comes, you will be ready to market to them in the future. 5. Small Edits Make a Big Difference: Lesson four. Small edits make a big difference. This is the portion of the class where we'll talk about tightening your work. I truly don't believe you need to be a professional copy editor in order to make this happen. So here I'll give you some tips or hacks, if you will, on how to accomplish this. The first thing I like to do because I work on a laptop, is print out my work. After each revision or each draft, I might change the font size or even changed the font itself, and then print it out. The next thing I do is go into a quiet room, close the door, and read my work aloud. I know this sounds crazy, but it's the best way for me to realize if there's anything that's clunky sounding or awkward, that way I can make notes in the margin and come back and edit later. Another suggestion is to always check your grammar. I could admit this is a weak spot for me. For example, I can never remember which words need to be hyphenated or not. So I always look up grammar rules online. I also keep a book on grammar on my desk so I can check it. If you have any small voice in your head wondering if you've done the right thing, I would strongly suggest you look up the grammar rules, your work will be tighter for it. Another thing I love to do is to check my work for repetition. Again, I'll print things out and grab a highlighter and look for words that I've overused. We all have our favorites and sometimes we don't realize we're saying a word far too often. Let's give an example. Let's say on writing a short story, and I use the verb whipped. Let's say she whipped her head around or she whipped her body over. All of a sudden that word loses its power because I've used it too much. It also distracts the reader. So highlight any words that you've used far too much and edit them out later. The final piece of advice is a good one. I learned it from an editor years ago. Never turn in your work hot. Back when I was working for the magazine, sometimes I would be in a rash on deadline or I just be really excited about what I'd written and I would hit the submit button far too soon. Sure enough, I come back the next day and realize I'd made some mistakes, but it was too late. So I recommend stepping away from your work, whether it's an hour or a week or even a month, I promise you, you can come back to it with fresh eyes and always find something to change. I hope that these tips can help you to Titan and polish your work. And then it will be ready to show the world. 6. Go With Confidence: Lesson five, go with confidence. Now that you've identified the theme of your work, your voice, your audience, and you've polished it to the best of your ability. It's time to get published. Let's go back to that first exercise we did in this class. Remember how you brainstorm some themes that were closest to your heart and then listed out some small venues in order to get published. I'll take the trail hiking as an example. Let's say you have a short story about Trail hiking and you've identified the town's local guide on trails. I want you to look up their website and see if they have something called submission guidelines. Most publications have this. It's a way for editors to tell you how to submit your work. Sometimes it's very simple. They could just ask for a story idea and your biography. Other times it's a little more complex and they'll ask for clippings of your work, whatever it is, make sure you follow it to a T. And while this class doesn't tell you how to write a pitch letter to submit your work. I can tell you there are a lot of amazing classes on skill share that offer this advice. I will give you two tips, and those are the two pi's, politeness. And patients. Remember to be polite when submitting your work. I've actually met writers submitted work to editors only to have it rejected. And then they've turned around and ran an angry email. They burn their bridges. This is a small community and who knows you might work with that editor in the future. You definitely want to build your network. And patients, remember there are other writers wanting to get their work read at the same time, it's best to practice patients. The editor will get to your work and get back to you. Now you should be ready. Good luck. You've got this. 7. Final Thoughts: I hope that after watching this class and doing the exercise that goes along with it, you have some good solid steps of how to move forward. I can say from personal experience, there's something deeply satisfying about taking those small steps and then looking back weeks, months, or even years later and realizing how far you've come, I really encourage you to do the exercise and to post it on this site. I also encourage you to comment on other projects that writers have posted. Writing is a solitary sport. And when you gather with like-minded people, it really makes it all that much better. I also really look forward to getting to know you through your projects. Thank you so much for watching this class and happy writing.