Why This Program?
Writers may attend book clubs and pricey conferences, and we might lug our laptops out to coffee shops to get our word counts in, but most of the time, we’re at home by ourselves, without colleagues, an office, a supervisor, or someone a step or two ahead of us in the job to mentor us.
This solitary nature of the job can create so many problems. My first several years as a committed writer, I felt like I was floundering. I did all the right Google searches, I found critique partners, I connected with people who loved books in my town and at my library. I paid thousands of dollars to attend a few conferences that people assured me would make a huge difference in my trajectory as a new author. And those things all helped me become more confident, helped me understand the industry better, helped me become a better writer. But I still needed more.
When I queried, I received requests for my manuscript from agents, but then those requests all came back with “I just didn’t connect with this enough,” or “I liked it, but I didn’t love it.” I’d find myself getting notes from critique partners that I agreed with, but didn’t know how to apply. Or else I’d receive notes I disagreed with, and was left not knowing where to go from there. Sometimes after receiving a critique from an agent, I’d hear “You need to show, not tell,” and I’d want to crawl into my bed and not come out until Thanksgiving because I thought I was showing, not telling. With each new revision and so many valuable but expensive critiques, it felt like I was spinning my wheels. “I just want someone to hear me,” I told an author friend. “I don’t know how to move forward.”
And it’s no wonder. In 2013, Business Insider ranked creative writing as the 2nd most competitive career in America, even more competitive than careers for athletes. In 2017, this was held up by The NWI Times, based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, reporting creative writing as still the 2nd most competitive job in the U.S., second only to choreography.
I’d spent years developing my skills. Taking classes, reading craft books, drafting, revising, reading agent and editor blogs, reading query tips on Twitter. I’d spent hundreds of hours away from my job and family trying to make progress, and I had made some—I knew I had. It just wasn’t enough. I was still stuck without an agent, needing to somehow find the time to write a new book, while everyone important to me in my life told me they missed me.
With the help of some incredible people I am forever indebted to, I dug myself out of that hole.
My novel has now been published, and has been received so generously it left me in tears. I signed with a literary agent. I no longer feel stuck. I'm working with sweeping, beautiful books I adore as an editor, and watching them captivate their readers and release to critical acclaim, including a Kirkus starred review, a Goodreads best YA of the Month, Junior Library Guild selections, praise from Library Journal and Booklist, and a Kirkus indie book of the month, with many more appearing on BookRiot, Barnes & Noble, and Paste Magazine “most anticipated” lists, and even a USA Today bestseller. What I've learned as an editor has completely changed my own writing, and allowed me to have so much more confidence and control in my career as an author. I’ve discovered two things: writing does not have to be solitary, and you don’t have to be stuck.
But in the last several years, I’ve heard from so many other authors who feel stuck in the same ways I used to. While I was creating the Breakthrough Writers Boot Camp, I asked on Twitter what authors felt they most needed in order to move forward. The replies were instant and overwhelming.
One writer said, “a lot of rejection is so nonspecific it gives no hint of what’s not working.” Another said, “I struggled a lot with how to know I was ready for the next step. (Ready for critiques, ready to apply for contests, ready to query, etc).” A third said, “I never have a problem finding info, but I get overloaded with how much there is and then don't know where to start.” Still another said, “I have no idea what’s missing. As far as I can tell, I’m doing everything I should be, and it’s still not working.”
A few specific needs were repeated dozens of times:
Writers need community
People in the trenches with you, who are as excited about this as you are and who get it when you finally find the right solution to fix that dragging middle act. People who can cheer you on but who also understand the struggle and are there for you when you get your hundredth rejection. People who can brainstorm with you, give feedback, share ideas, be a colleague in a solitary field. Publishing is such a long-term investment with so many personal costs that we simply can't do this career alone.
Writers need access
Publishing can be so insular, accessible and understandable only to the people who are already inside it. The way the industry works can be obscured, difficult to follow, rapidly changing. Conflicting guidance from professionals can leave even veteran authors reeling. Lacking specific knowledge can mean writers fall into major pitfalls, such as accepting a scammy book deal, signing with the wrong agent, or querying a tired and cliche concept only to get rejections and then spend months revising a project that will only bring in more rejections. Financial issues, marginalizations, family issues, and a host of other things can bring even more complication and struggle to this industry. With this many obstacles, trial and error can be too costly a process for most writers to keep going.
Writers need guidancE
Writers need mentorship and knowledge from people who can give productive instruction, help identify what’s missing in your writing, and see what’s wonderful about your skills so you can not just fill in the gaps but lean on your strengths. People who can help you create a plan for moving forward and then point you to the tools and inspiration for making it happen. Publishing works on such slim odds that it's vital for writers to have places they can go to receive personalized help.
I created The Breakthrough Writers' Boot Camp to address these needs. After working at a literary agency and three publishing houses for six years, reading literally thousands of manuscripts in my slush pile, serving on conference faculties, and teaching workshops at schools, libraries and book clubs, I’ve learned some things that can help get you un-stuck and moving forward. I can help you avoid the pitfalls, improve your skills, understand the industry to position yourself for success, and figure out your next steps.
Writers can hire great freelance editors, but that's often incredibly expensive (as it should be) and focuses on the book itself, rather than your entire career and skill set. Writers can attend conferences to hear professionals discuss the industry and get advice, but this advice isn't personalized to specific authors and specific cases, which still leaves many people floundering. It's also one-time advice, without a way to follow up. And while there is a lot of fantastic material online from pros through webinars, blog posts, and Twitter threads, a lot of this advice is geared toward beginning writers rather than writers who have already signed with an agent, received a publishing contract, or have been writing for years and have developed significant skill.
The Breakthrough Writers' Boot Camp is meant to fill in those gaps with a subscription model for a small monthly fee, which allows for personalized advice, monthly career consultations, check-ins, and follow-ups. It's geared toward advanced writers, with a focus on how to break the rules you already know. The intent is to develop your skills, your artistic vision, and your career tools so that you have the talent and the knowledge necessary to go where you want to go.
Even if you’re not stuck and you want to accelerate your writing career, come join us! The Breakthrough Writers Boot Camp is specifically designed to help you develop your vision as an author, to avoid giving your writing what’s left of you, and to make that jump from good to great. We don’t need the next John Green or J.K. Rowling. We need you.