Making It Publishable

What makes a book ready for Prime Time? What takes our manuscript from “almost but not quite” to “Wow, get this one under contract TODAY!”

The Story Grid made both these books best-sellers

In one word: editing.

It’s the editor, not the writer, who whips the book into shape. It’s the editor who identifies what’s working and what’s not working—and helps the writer bring it all together into a saleable, publishable work.

Today I’m thrilled to announce to our blog readers that Shawn Coyne’s much-anticipated book, THE STORY GRID What Good Editors Know, is on sale at Black Irish Books.

On Friday the book goes out to the wide world via, B& and other outlets. But for the next three days, readers of this site get it at steep discounts—and get extra bonus material too. Watch the video. It’s Shawn and me explaining the book and the deal.

In a nutshell, lemme say only this:

THE STORY GRID is the indispensable tool for those of us (and that means you, me, and everybody who calls himself or herself a writer) who:

1. Depend utterly on our editors to whip our stuff into readable shape, or

2. Don’t have an editor at all—and thus have to be our own editors.

THE STORY GRID is the product of twenty-plus years of Shawn’s work in the publishing trenches. It’s the system that he evolved after reading thousands of manuscripts, etc. etc. all the hell that editors go through in big-time New York publishing.

The Story Grid has saved me. Shawn used it to turn Gates of Fire (which was 800 sprawling, incoherent pages when I first gave it to him) into a bestseller. He used the Story Grid to do the same for The War of Art, which was also a mess in its original form. And he’s done it on virtually every other book I’ve published.

They don’t teach what’s in THE STORY GRID at Harvard. You won’t learn it, even working at Random House. THE STORY GRID is a must-read, must-have, killer piece of work. There’s nothing like it out there.

Okay, okay … I’ll stop. Watch the video, view the special offer. Everything you need to know is in there.

And thanks again, everyone, for following this blog and for following Shawn at


Steve shows you the predictable Resistance points that every writer hits in a work-in-progress and then shows you how to deal with each one of these sticking points. This book shows you how to keep going with your work.

do the work book banner 1


A short book about the writing of a first novel: for Steve, The Legend of Bagger Vance. Having failed with three earlier attempts at novels, here's how Steve finally succeeded.



Steve shares his "lessons learned" from the trenches of the five different writing careers—advertising, screenwriting, fiction, nonfiction, and self-help. This is tradecraft. An MFA in Writing in 197 pages.



Amateurs have amateur habits. Pros have pro habits. When we turn pro, we give up the comfortable life but we find our power. Steve answers the question, "How do we overcome Resistance?"



  1. Golfo on April 29, 2015 at 2:40 am

    Congratulations, Shawn! It’s so nice to see the book out. I’m looking forward to reading it.

  2. Mary Doyle on April 29, 2015 at 5:21 am

    I fall into the second category. It’s truly been a “master class” over on the Story Grid site for the past few months. Shawn gave much of the book away to those of us who showed up every Tuesday and Thursday for his posts, and he answered all of the questions we threw at him too – unmatched generosity! Congratulations!

  3. Regina on April 29, 2015 at 6:43 am

    I am thrilled for Black Irish Books! Both blogs are a true education. Shawn looks like a proud papa on the video and with good reason! The community that resides in this space is dynamically changing us all. May traditional education take notice.

    I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned from the both of you. And while Thank you doesn’t seem enough, I say it again and again. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!


    • Brian on April 29, 2015 at 8:05 am

      I know how you feel. I wonder at times why I was so fortunate to find this site. Steve, Shawn, Callie: The Trifecta of Creation.

      • Steven Pressfield on April 29, 2015 at 9:20 am

        And don’t forget Jeff Simon, our web/design/tech maestro, who makes it all come together!

        • Joel D Canfield on April 29, 2015 at 3:34 pm

          I’ve had the privilege of the tiniest of geekery chats with Jeff as well. Indeed, a fearsome foursome.

          Y’all inspire the kind of emotional connection I usually reserve for my musical heroes.

  4. Alex Cespedes on April 29, 2015 at 6:52 am

    The selling point for me was when I found out that the Grid can be applied to non-fiction as well.

    If we humans are mainly different from other species just by the ability to tell and listen to stories-which allow us to forego instant gratification in search of the sublime-then the ability to tell stories is THE supreme skill. Think of what proper story crafting can do in conversations, in business presentations, in love. Game changer, I’m sold!

    • Joel D Canfield on April 29, 2015 at 3:36 pm

      Intuitively, I believed that long before Shawn suggested it. Still, his leap into Gladwell felt much like Niagara, a wire, and a wheelbarrow: the terror and the thrill.

      • Alex Cespedes on April 29, 2015 at 5:54 pm

        Great imagery, Joel! I got dizzy for a second. I studied 20min from the Falls and every time I saw them I’d be astonished by it all.

        Shawn is onto something big, I feel special being “in the know” from Day 1.

  5. Stacy on April 29, 2015 at 7:01 am

    Bought it Monday, was left with 82 cents in my checking account. WORTH IT. 🙂

    • Brian on April 29, 2015 at 8:04 am

      I love it!

  6. Lea Page on April 29, 2015 at 7:29 am

    Bought it. Reading it. Thanks!!

  7. Patti on April 29, 2015 at 10:16 am

    Already purchased – and can’t wait to slowly dive into this incredible opportunity. There IS hope for me yet…I’m learning from the master(s). Thank you for making yourselves available to the rest of us. And, of course: Congratulations and much success to you.

  8. Tricia on April 29, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    Bought mine first thing Monday. Thanks to Shawn for putting his hard-earned knowledge out into the world and to Steve for sharing it with us.

    And thanks, too, for offering the print book and the ebook together AND for giving us three different formats for the ebook.

    Time to read (and take lots of notes).

  9. Basilis on April 30, 2015 at 9:06 am

    Best wishes from Greece!

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