Business of Books at Seattle Writing Class

Business of Books speaks at Seattle writing class
Jennifer Worick and Kerry Colburn of Business of Books speak at The Writer’s Workshop’s Seattle writing class

In my Seattle writing class, I teach the art and craft of writing as well as the publication process. As part of this, I bring in outside experts to talk about various aspects of writing as well as publication. The process of getting a book published always ranks high among the interests of my students. The process seems mysterious, powerful, and complicated, which it is, but if you have someone to guide you along its much more comprehensible. I help with some of this in my Seattle writing classes, but my latest guests provide a valuable service in packaging book proposals.

Jennifer Worick and Kerry Colburn, the dynamic duo behind The Business of Books (, are uniquely qualified to do this. Jen and Kerry have been “on both sides of the desk”— as both editors and authors. Kerry is the former executive editor of Chronicle Books and the author of a variety of titles, including How to Have Your Second Child First, Good Drinks for Bad Days, and Mama’s Big Book of Little Lifesavers. Jen, previously editorial director of Running Press, has co-authored or written more than 25 books, including her newest, Things I Want to Punch in the Face, and the New York Times best-selling Worst Case Scenario Handbook: Dating and Sex. During their publishing careers, they have reviewed many proposals and brought many successful books to market. They offer workshops, speak at conferences, and work with individual clients on book proposals.

“The benefit of self-publishing is that that you don’t have to pitch it and wait,” says Colburn. “But we’ve learned over the last few years, you still need a team of pros to make your book the best it could be. A lot of businesses have sprung up to help with that.

“With traditional publishing, you get a team, the expertise of the sales and foreign rights teams. Yes, they take a bigger piece of the pie, but it’s in their best interest to give your book a chance. :Your book will be assigned a marketing and publicity specialist and the publisher’s sales reps will take care of selling it to retailers all over the country. You’re part of this big machine.”

The downside is that you have to get your manuscript accepted by that company. I This is exactly where The Business of Books comes in.

“It’s like online dating,” says Worick. “Make your proposal specific.”

They’ll be teaching an intensive workshop on book proposals Saturday, May 14, 1–5 pm on Queen Anne hill in Seattle:

Hijinks on the Book Tour

I’m always nervous before an interview. I like to arrive at least a half hour early, just to make sure I wouldn’t be late.

As I entered the Spokane Public Radio KPBX studio, host Verne Windham shook hands with me, his right hand curled up like a claw.

I shook his hand, trying not to stare at it. “Great to meet you.”

Then Verne opened his hand, revealing all healthy fingers. “Just like your character,” he said, referring to John Walker, the narrator of The Storms of Denali, who lost fingers to frostbite on the climb.

I laughed at the gag, which made me relax. I was keyed up in advance of our interview, but now calmed down.

Verne had read the entire novel and obviously loved it. It dovetailed perfectly with the music he was cueing up, including Alan Hovhaness’s symphony Mysterious Mountain. Interviews with such thoughtful, insightful folks like him are always a pleasure on a book tour. We talked for 20 minutes about climbing, writing and how I put the book together, a thoroughly satisfying conversation. I will put link up to the interview shortly. Thanks again, Verne!

Book Tour Launch of Storms of Denali

I’ll be kicking off my book tour for The Storms of Denali on Thursday, July 12 at 7 p.m. at the Trail’s End Book Store in Winthrop, WA. Please stop by if you’re in the neighborhood!

For other book tour dates, please take a look at my website,

Happy Trails,

Nick O’Connell