Month: October 2012

Setups and Payoffs

By Steven Pressfield | 10 Comments

One mistake that beginning writers often make is to forget about setups and payoffs. Sometimes they’ll have great setups but no payoffs. Other times they’ll invent a fantastic payoff, but fail utterly to set it up. I used to make those mistakes all the time. I’d kick off Act One of a screenplay with all kinds of provocative premises. Then I’d forget about ’em and fizzle my way to a no-bang climax. Or I’d have a dynamite finish that fell unannounced out of the sky. Think about a joke. It has two parts: a setup and a punch line. A…

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Your Time Is Gonna Come

By Shawn Coyne | 15 Comments

This past Tuesday, Simon & Schuster shut down an entire publishing division. The publisher, editor in chief and three additional editors of The Free Press are leaving the company. The other editors and support staff were transferred to the remaining publishing groups—The Simon & Schuster Group, The Scribner Group, The Atria Group and The Gallery Group. What were once five opportunities for a novelist or nonfiction writer to have their work published at the S&S conglomerate are now four. The Free Press will transition into a “backlist” operation, meaning no new acquisitions will be published under that imprint name. Over…

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Too Much Mojo

By Steven Pressfield | 20 Comments

We were talking last week about acquiring mojo, which I defined as that state when we are going gangbusters in our writing, art, or business. It’s “flow.” It’s “the Zone.” The only problem with having Big Mojo, in my experience, is you can’t keep it up for long. I know I can’t. My nervous system can’t take it. Three weeks maybe, four tops. What do I do then? I flake out. Deliberately. I knock off. I get outa Dodge. I take a break. Years ago, I had a small freelance business. I used to get into trouble because I couldn’t…

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Outreach, Part I: The Introduction

By Callie Oettinger | 10 Comments

This series is rooted in the one question I’ve been asked more than any other—Should I hire a publicist?—and my frustration with the many articles I’ve read about how to do outreach campaigns. The articles tend to offer up examples of people with household names, who can rely on monster followings that most people don’t have, to share their new projects—or they are based on general suggestions, without any specific examples. The goal for this series is to share specific examples of what has/hasn’t worked for different individuals, via what they’ve done on their own and what they’ve accomplished through…

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By Steven Pressfield | 23 Comments

We’ve been talking for the past few weeks about thinking in blocks of time, saying no to distractions, and digging in for traction. What’s the point of all this? The point is to produce mojo. According to Wikipedia, mojo is “a magical charm bag used in hoodoo, which has transmuted into a slang word for self-confidence, self-esteem or sex appeal.” Here’s my definition: Mojo is a force field of positive attraction produced by sweat, intention, dedication and love. It’s a groove, a rhythm. It’s “flow.” It’s “the Zone.” Mojo builds up over time. It feeds upon itself. The more mojo…

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Why It Takes So Long to Publish a Book

By Shawn Coyne | 10 Comments

One of the first questions clients of my literary agency, Genre Management Inc. (some day I’ll explain why I chose that name) ask is “After I deliver my book, when will it come out?” When I tell them between 9 to 15 months depending upon the publisher’s inventory, they tactfully freak out. It’s understandable in our age of instant gratification to be baffled by the glacial pace. In the past I’ve said that the traditional Big Six scheduling model was crazy and short sighted. And for a certain kind of book, sometimes it is. But as Steve, Callie, Jeff and…

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By Steven Pressfield | 12 Comments

The last two weeks we’ve been talking in these posts about buckling down and hitting a groove. By that I mean finding and achieving a steady, productive, working rhythm. Traction. Nothing gets stuff done like traction. When the rubber grips the road, we can deliver any payload. Long-range. Cross-country. Anywhere. The opposite of traction is slippage. Spinning our wheels. Starting and stopping. Sputtering. When we achieve traction, we’re actually accomplishing something. We’re shooting film, we’re filling blank pages, we’re structuring our new start-up. For the past two weeks we’ve talked about thinking in blocks of time and saying no. Thinking…

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Should I Hire A Publicist? Maybe. Maybe Not.

By Callie Oettinger | 7 Comments

“Why should I hire a publicist?” is one of the top questions I’ve been asked by authors, film makers and whatsit creators. When I started out, I’d cite what I’d heard others before me throw out, the main thing being this: Publicists have a strong list of contacts that authors don’t often have themselves. These days, when I’m asked, my answer is: You might not need a publicist. My follow-up questions for the first timers: Are you in this for the long-term or is this a one-time project? Is this the only book or film or whatsit that you plan…

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No More Mister Nice Guy

By Steven Pressfield | 25 Comments

We were speaking last week about returning from a vacation and gearing up to get back in the groove. I said that my first “note to self” would be to start thinking, not in immediate go-go terms, but in longer, extended blocks of time. My second marching order to myself is to start saying no. The aim of these admonitions is to establish a realistic project timetable, to buckle down to a serious working rhythm, and to protect the air space around that timetable and that rhythm. So I’ll stop saying yes to things. First I’ll stop saying yes to…

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