Month: April 2016

The Designated Driver

By Shawn Coyne | 19 Comments

I’m going to take a break from my series on packaging today to write about what Steve wrote about this past Wednesday. I know you’re Steve Pressfield fans extraordinaire and you probably had your usual “Geez that Pressfield sure knows what he’s talking about” moments a few days back. But I think his last post is really worth another look. It certainly solidified a lot of my own ideas about the “why of writing” (and the “why of editing” too) into a far stronger internal philosophical fortress. First some background about how this came to hit me right where I…

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“I Can’t Squeeze My Theme In!”

By Steven Pressfield | 26 Comments

  A couple of friends have written in: “I know what my theme is, but I can’t figure out how to get it into my story.”

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Your Pitch: Go Legal, Go Short, Go Reality

By Callie Oettinger | 12 Comments

If you want to master communicating and building relationships with the gatekeepers, tastemakers, potential customers, etc within your industry, the first step is to leave your industry. About ten years ago, I ran across Michael J. Critelli’s Harvard Business Review article “Back Where We Belong.” I kept a copy of the article, surprised that a Pitney Bowes executive had mentioned the book The Sling and The Stone. I was repping the title and it was not a business book, nor one I had considered pitching to a business audience. However… Critelli’s attention to the defense world as a part of…

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My Resistance Dream Diary #2

By Steven Pressfield | 19 Comments

  Picking up where we left off last week … I’m starting a new fiction project, very heavy with Resistance, self-doubt, doubts about the viability of the project, etc. I decided to keep a dream diary. Last week I posted the first two dreams. Here are the next two. This first one comes about a week into the work (3/28/16). Self-confidence in very short supply. I’m committed, but still feeling extremely tentative … I was a pilot. I had somehow gotten the training and become qualified. I was traveling via ship and train to Antarctica with my friend David and…

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The Vision Thing

By Shawn Coyne | 5 Comments

So you’re happy with your title for your novel. How do you translate that title to a cover image? Before I launch into my own private cover principles, though, I do need to point out that there is no rule book that I know of for book packaging. That’s not to say that I don’t have strong opinions about packaging and I have zero doubt that the best packagers in the industry absolutely have rules, but like writing, design is very much a “works/doesn’t work” proposition. Graphic design is a craft and art as difficult and inspiring as writing. Mastering…

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My Resistance Dream Diary

By Steven Pressfield | 27 Comments

I’m gonna take a break this week from our series on Theme (we’ll be back) to address an issue that’s happening with me right now. Dreams. I’m just starting a new fiction project that’s overwhelming me with Resistance, and my dreams have been really interesting. I’d like to share a few of them—and the whole interactive process between waking, working life and nocturnal who-knows-what—over the next couple of weeks. Maybe this will ring a bell with your own psychic adventures. Here’s the backstory: About two months ago I had an idea for a story. Immediately I was swamped with Resistance.…

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The Why of Pitching — and the Five Constants

By Callie Oettinger | 17 Comments

There’s an important piece I should have hit when I started this series of articles about pitching: Why you have to pitch — or market — yourself. A scientist I spoke with this week said her peers go out of their way to avoid media exposure. To them, scientists who do a lot of press aren’t taken seriously. That perspective is why important work dies in academia and why certain sectors are plagued by consistent wheel-recreation. The messaging gets lost or forgotten. Unfortunately, the scientists aren’t the only ones doing it. If you want to make an impact, doing the work…

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How to Make Your Novel Universal

By Steven Pressfield | 8 Comments

  My answer will not surprise you. Theme. Theme is what makes the specific universal. Remember the first post in this series? I was relating a conversation with a friend who’s a literary agent in Hollywood. She represents screenwriters. She told me that she had read 500 screenplays in one year and couldn’t find a single one she wanted to represent. Why? “Because so many of them were not about anything.” What she meant, in crassly commercial terms, was this:   I can’t sell a script unless the reader (studio, director, production company, actor) can either identify with it or…

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Genre First, Target Market Second

By Shawn Coyne | 8 Comments

My last post was about practical ways to create alluring titles for fiction. What about nonfiction? How do you approach that? You’re probably going to roll your eyes reading this, but I’ll write it again anyway. The best place to start when figuring out the appropriate title for your magnum opus is…GENRE. Here are my four main big silos of nonfiction, which I’ve cribbed from a longer post over at, which you can read here.

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