Put the Darkness On Paper

[0:00:00.9] TG: Hello and welcome to the Story Grid Podcast. This is a show dedicated to helping you become a better writer. I’m your host, Tim Grahl, and I’m the struggling writer trying to figure out how to tell a story that works. Joining the shortly is Shawn Coyne. He is the creator of Story Grid, the author of the book Story Grid and an editor with over 25 years’ experience.


In this episode, I’m continuing my work on my nonfiction book running down a dream, and over the couple previous episodes I finally had a breakthrough on what the book was about. So I went back through and rewrote a huge section of the book and sent it over to Shawn to get his feedback to make sure that I was going in the right direction. So it’s a good episode. I continue to struggle with how to talk about these episodes, because it’s such a personal journey for me, but I know that writing is a personal journey for everybody. So I hope you get a lot out of it, and let’s jump in and get started.




[0:01:01.1] TG: So, Shawn, based on our talk couple weeks ago, I went back through and try to rewrite the first section of the book from this point of view of telling my own story. What I kept trying to think of was how did I write the introduction and how did that feel and then start applying that to the chapters. I had to like rearrange things, and it was really — We’ll get into the specifics of how I did it. Anyway, so I sent you about 9,500 words. That was the next — I forget how many chapters. Trying to rewrite it from the point of view of telling my story instead of this kind of how to stuff. Curious, your thoughts on how I’m doing so far.


[0:01:55.7] SC: One of the things a lot of people ask me is how do you know when your editing is working for client? That’s a very tricky question, because what happens oftentimes is that you’ve gone through the material so many times that you lose any ability to have a fresh read when it comes back in. So knowing where all the potholes were before can really detract you, meaning you, when I’m speaking as an editor, it can really detract the editor from reviewing, say, draft number nine, because you don’t ever remember draft number one and it’s often hard to even get a grip of what the point of the whole thing is sometimes.


The way I always know that I’m on track and that the client is on track is the rare case when I read something and I don’t feel like it’s work, because it feels as if it’s fresh, it’s flowing. I don’t start rewriting the sentences and redoing the stuff. While at the beginning, the introduction that you wrote is it’s 85% there, and when you sent this material to me, I just started line editing it, and by the time I finished line editing, it was — I think it’s a very powerful prologue.


So the idea was the note I gave you is at the very beginning of your book, you got to suck in the reader and you’ve got to let them know what the problem is that you are trying to solve for them. That’s a very tricky thing to do in the big idea work of nonfiction, because you don’t want to come across as those late nights advertising guys selling the Veg-O-Matic, because everybody understands that especially in the creative world, there is no magic pill. There’s no magic solution to becoming more creative and being better at what you’re doing. It’s basically learning how to work the most efficiently without letting resistance overwhelm you.


Anyway, so your prologue is really setting the stage, and the way it sets the stage is by really opening up an old wound that you had that you really didn’t want to do it. We’ve been working on this nonfiction big idea project almost as long as we have on your novel and it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that you’re like, “Okay. Okay. Okay. I’ll really go to that place that I really don’t want to go.” When you did, you got some great feedback and it rings — The story really rings true and painful, and that’s a great way of sucking in the reader, is not making them feel pain, but to empathize with your pain, and everybody can. Anybody who’s done anything in life has faced that All is Lost moment that you represent at the prologue of your story.


Then my next no was to say you’re really on a role here if you now go into, “Okay. Here’s my handy-dandy how to advise,” the reader is going to be like, “Seriously? I want to know what happened the day after or the moment after what just happened.”


So I told you, you should really go back and weave in the story of how you came to the major realizations of your creative live. Your big question after I said that is, “But it’s kind of boring, and can I write something that’s not technically true and represent it as truth in nonfiction?” My answer was, “Yes, you can. In fact, you have to.” No one wants to know how many days it took you to come to these realizations.


Writing and telling a story is about leaving out all the crap that nobody cares about. So dramatizing real-life events in your life is the responsibility of the nonfiction writer because no one can write the truth of moment by moment stuff. That doesn’t mean you make it up. What it does mean is that you organize the principles that you want to convey to the reader in story form so that all of the how to tricks and tools that you already had, now you take those tools and you say, “How did I think of that one? Oh, right! That’s when I talked to Josh.” “Oh! That’s when I talked to Dan.” “That’s when Candice asked me that thing that I didn’t want to answer.”


So now I’m going to tell you what I think of your latest draft. I think it’s right on the money, because it doesn’t feel — It feel like work for me to read it. This is no knock on you or any writer, but an editor, as a human being, and we see this stuff as work. So when you send me the 10,000 words, I’m like, “That’s another piece of shit I got to read.” Not literally, but I mean —


[0:08:10.6] TG: No, it’s fine.


[0:08:13.0] SC: But that’s kind of like my initial reaction, is like, “Oh, that’s another thing I have to do. Oh, okay. That’s going to take up my 2:00 or 3:30 window today. Great.” Then when I got to it, I’m like, “Here it is.” Then I started reading it and I’m like, “Oh! Okay. Wow! That’s interesting. I wonder what happens next.” And that’s when it doesn’t become work, and that’s when I know you’re in the groove.


All I can say is keep going, using this sort of linear storytelling framework to build your case, and I think this is going to work when you get to that kind of second All is Lost moment. I don’t want to ruin the story for everyone.


[0:09:06.7] TG: Yeah, at the end of the middle build.


[0:09:08.7] SC: Exactly. At the end of the middle build, you have another major sort of meltdown, and it goes to what Steve and I are working on at the same time. Steve Pressfield is now doing — He’s running excerpts of a new project that he and I are working on called The Artist’s Journey. What’s really neat is that I’m going to try ass the publisher of Black Irish, I’m going to try and get both your book and Steve’s book ready at the same time, because what you’re doing is you’re approaching this same problem from the opposite spectrum. So Steve’s looking at this big existential problem that he’s calling The Artist’s Journey, which I think is a great title, but he is looking at it from the point of view of the big 30,000 foot philosophical, “Oh my gosh! Why is this happening to me and why does this happen to anyone?”


He’s looking at it from the very big mountain top, and you’re looking at it like somebody who has to fix problems immediately or you’re never ever going to get to go on on any artistic journey, because you can’t pay your bills. So we have this macro sensibility, and yours is the micro sensibility, and you’re both working independently, and I’m the triangle in between both of you, which is really interesting for me because when I was editing Steve’s book, I’m thinking, “Wow! This is cool, because Tim’s book is actually supporting all of the things that Steve is saying and what Steve is saying is supporting the notions that Tim is fighting in his book.” I hope we can make that work, because it’d be really great publish these books at the same time.


[0:11:15.8] TG: Yeah. I have questions on that, but I want to come back to it. It’s funny, I think I sent them to you on Monday, because I wanted — I got to tell you, I was super proud to have that to you and give you a couple days, because usually it’s like, “We’re talking in like three hours. Here’s what we’re going to talk about.”


When I sent it to you, I was talking to Candice and I was like, “You know, a lot of times when I send Shawn my work, I feel like I am sending you something I know that doesn’t work, but I don’t know what else to do,” and that kind it gives you something to give me feedback on, which usually kicks me into what I actually need to do, which is what’s been happening. I sent that to you and I was like, “I really think I got it this time.,” but those are the times where I’m then like, “I really hope I’m right.” But, yeah, I felt like it started working really well, and there is a couple of things that I noticed doing it that I wanted to share.


One is —One of my worries with writing down all these kind of tools I’ve used along the years or developed along the years is that people arguing with them basically, “Well, that won’t work for me because of this, and that won’t work for me because of this.” And I realize like as I basically turned to every pronoun into I instead of you or we, it takes away all of that angst, because it’s like, “Well, this works for me. You can’t argue with that,” because all I’m saying is like, “This is what works for me.”


I’m sure we talked about it here before, maybe even recently, where I heard a story Elizabeth Gilbert told about the book Eat, Love, Pray or Eat, Pray, Love where somebody came up to her and the woman was like reading about how you left your abusive husband gave me the courage to leave my abusive husband, and so I was able to leave him, but like she did not say in the book that he was abusive. In fact, I felt like she went a long ways towards saying that it was all her, like it wasn’t him at all. But people take your story and their story and combine it into something that they need.


So it’s really given me this freedom to just tell my story and share these things that have been helpful to me, hoping that people will combine it with their own story and find something that will help them. That’s been good, but it’s funny because I kept slipping back into that old way. I would have to go back, and like the last three paragraphs, pull out all the we’s all the you’s and replace them with I’s, because I kept — I’ve been writing — All my nonfiction has been this very kind of I’m up on the mountaintop giving advice down to the masses kind of way. So telling this personal story has been a real big switch for me.


So that was — I thought that was interesting, one, like how I kept slipping back into it and I’m going to go back and clean it up. The other of just like it kind of released me from this burden of trying to write something that will work for everybody, because it now is just my story, but I’m not making any assumptions about the person reading it.


[0:14:50.8] SC: That’s true. I remember reading years ago Tim Ferriss’s book, The 4-Hour Workweek, and the parts that I really liked in that book where when he was talking about personal stuff. He was talking about, “You know, what I really wanted to do was to work a minimal amount of time so that I could do these other things.”


When he was talking about his businesses and these ideas that he had and how he decided to make them work and how some of them did and some of them didn’t, that’s what really sucked me in, and I always thought those are — The reason why is that everybody has their own problems. Everybody has their own specific hurdles and obstacles that they have to overcome, and everybody — So empathy happens, meaning they are able to understand the voice of the writer when the specificity of pain an obstacle is so focused and narrow and true.


So that’s why I think your story is working and it also — As you said, what it does is it frees you up from all the people like, “That won’t work for me. “No. That won’t work for me. No.” Because you can say, “Hey, I understand that.” Think about the things that I went through not specifically, but as general obstacles.


So, for instance, you say in your book, in your introduction, or maybe it’s in the first part. I don’t remember, which is fine. That one of the catastrophic fantasies that you had when you face this moment, this All is Lost moment that, “Oh my gosh! I broke, and I’m going to lose the house if I don’t figure something out,” is that you would’ve had to have gone back to Candece’s family’s house and have coffee every morning with your father-in-law.


I’m sure your father-in-law is fine, but that will get any man’s butt to run cold. So the fact that you were voicing that very specific no catastrophic fantasy, that becomes universal for any guy who reads this, “Oh my God! Imagine that. Imagine it getting that bad.” It also frees up people to say, “Well, that did happen to me.” Well, then you fight your way out of that circumstance using the same tools that I used, because they are applicable.


The great thing about and the difficult thing about the big idea book is to realize that a lot of the big idea comes from your individual point of view and your individual experiences. So separating the big ideas that we have from ourselves and using those big ideas as a way to pump up our egos, like, “Oh! I came up with this great big idea, and let me tell you poor people down there below me how it came to me.” That doesn’t work as well as something really horrible happened to me and I had to solve a problem, and here’s a how I went about doing it. Here’s how I ran down the dream that I really wanted to make real.


That, taking yourself off of the left turn and talking directly to people, that’s what I think makes Malcolm Gladwell works so well, is that his voice is very friendly. It’s like I’m just a normal Joe who had some ideas about this thing, so I decided to go out and figure it out. It’s not didactic.


[0:19:12.2] TG: Yeah, he talks about — I’ve heard him in interviews talk about his dad a lot and how his dad was like this big well-known scientist, I think, but how any time, any where, if somebody said something or spoke about something that he didn’t understand, he was never afraid of looking like an idiot. He would just ask like, “Hey, wait. I don’t know what that means.”


I’ve tried to practice that of like if somebody says something and they use a word that I don’t know what it means, I just stop them and say, “I don’t know what that word means.” So I think he got that from his dad of like he never goes into anything trying to be the smart guy. He goes into it with like — I think one of the greatest ones that he talked about, was it the ketchup or the mustard, was it the mustard or — Maybe there was something about shampoo where like he was following one story and he was interviewing somebody about it and they’re like, “No. The story is not here. The story is over here.” He’s like, “Oh!” and just like changed everything that he was doing to follow this new, more interesting story.


Yeah, it’s been interesting. So that’s been probably the biggest kind of freedom thing, because that also led me to this thing that I’ve been really kind of worried about, and I’ve touched on it some, but is that I felt like I wanted to write this book for like the creative journey, right? But the problem is that the whole first half of my journey of running down a dream was not becoming a writer or anything. It was trying to get this business off the ground.


So telling this story allows me to just share that, to share that journey, and I even say — I think it was in — I thought I might end up adding this into the introduction, but you had me — Because I still want to break the book up the middle build into three sections. So I sent you where like I did this little interstitial at the end where I’m like, “Okay. Let’s pause here and see where I was at,” and talk a little bit about that, and I talked a little bit about how my dream was vague. When I decided to chase it down, I didn’t even really know what I was chasing. It was almost like I was more running away from something more than chasing a specific thing, because I didn’t consciously know at the time that I wanted to be a writer.


Then, once again, it’s one of those things of like once I realized it, I realize I feel like I should know it by now, which is like I bet there’s a lot of people that feel that way. I tend to feel like that’s weird, and most people know they want to be a writer, know they want to be an artist or know they want to be a musician, where I just kind of was like, “I’m just going to keep following this until I figure out what I want.”


As I got to write that out, I’m like, “You know what? I bet there’re a lot of people that are like that, that they almost know more what they don’t want than specifically what they want. Yeah, I felt really good about it and I felt like when I sent it to you, I was like, “Okay. I think I got it now.” I ended up having to rewrite, like most of that is fresh writing, but I ran through it so fast, because I was just rewriting. I knew exactly what I had to write. Once I knew my way into the chapter, i just like burned it out and it was ready to go. Even though I sent you like 9,000 words, and most of those were a fresh rewrite, it went pretty fast compared to writing something from scratch.


[0:23:07.5] SC: Oh, yeah, absolutely. That’s usually the way it works when you can — It’s funny, but when you have the task of explaining something from your own life that you learned, it’s much easier to write than sort of taking the very philosophical and professorial approach of there are nine principles of thermodynamics, because then it becomes very stringent and structured and it doesn’t have been any narrative drive to it.


So I do want to comment about your notion, and I think you really do make that point very clearly about the necessity of understanding that you’re not going to magically wake up with this realization, “Oh! This is the thing that I should be doing.” It actually takes a very long, difficult, painful progression. I can speak personally, and that I used to approach my life as being a publisher. I thought that my role was to become somebody like Bennett Cerf, the guy who founded Random House.


So that was my misguided representation of what I thought my inner trajectory in Here’s Journey had taught me, that my life was about becoming a publisher. What’s interesting is that as I was pursuing becoming a publisher, I had to develop a whole set of skills in order to push me on my road. One of those skills was to learn story structure. So I’m like, “If I want to become a publisher, I have to become a really good editor.” So in order to become a really good editor, I have to have something that no editor, other editor that I know has. That is to have a fundamental understanding of story structure.


So I went out and I learned all these stuff, McKee, Aristotle, and Friedman and blah-blah-blah, and I always thought those were like these little added skills that would push me to publisher, and it wasn’t until I failed as a publisher. In some ways, I don’t consider myself a failure as a publisher. But it wasn’t until I had a dark night of the soul understanding that being a publisher as my defining thing was meaningless. It didn’t give me the thing that made me feel comfortable and secure, and it took me a while to figure, “Oh my gosh! Editing. That’s the thing I can do effortlessly. that gives me a lot of pride. That helps me help others.” So it took me a good 10 to 12 years of my career just to make that discovery, and that’s after another eight or nine to discover the necessity of really having a handle of a story structure.


The Hero’s Journey is not this cathartic moment where you realize, “Oh! I should be a plumbing supply sales businessman.” It takes a lot. You might work in the electrical market first, and it doesn’t mean that you have to become an “artist”, meaning somebody who is an actor, writer or any of those sort of traditional artistic painter, musician. You can be an artist by providing incredible service in your coffee shop.


I know Seth Godin talks about this a lot, and I never really truly recognize that until Steve and I had worked for a long time, and work with people who are like amazing proofreaders. These people bring an art to it that proves things dramatically. So this notion that — The other thing I’ll mention is that in order to — This goes to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It’s difficult to really open up your imagination and the right side of your brain to discovering your inner gift when you’ve got bills to pay.


So you need to actually establish a level of security for yourself for yourself before you can even open up that vault in any meaningful way. What your book does is it shows this really interesting progression of some guy discovers that what he thought he wanted actually isn’t what he wants. What he wants is to control his life. So he starts his own business so he can control his own life. Maybe something will come to him that he wants to do.


Then he starts working with writers doing his business and discovers that’s pretty cool, and then discovers, “Oh, well I need to write some stuff in order to get more business,” and then discovers, “Oh my gosh! I always really did like writing,” and slowly it’s this non-cathartic moment, but a progression of exploration that eventually reveals this secret to you. I think that’s another great thing — Another really interesting element in the book that you’re working on now in this draft is that you really discuss and show that you didn’t do this alone, right? You had your parents. You had wife. You had your son. You had Josh. You had your friend, Matt. You had your friend, Dan.


So without saying, “I couldn’t have done this without the help of my friends,” you actually bring your friends into the story and your family into your story, and they appear as mentors and heralds and all those things that are in a Hero’s Journey that you would’ve never thought of doing if I said, “You know, Tim. You should write this like the Hero’s Journey.”


[0:30:01.2] TG: Yeah. I mean, really, what I heard you say, what I kind of took away from it was like I have to keep turning towards the pain. Actually just this morning I was — What was I talking to Connor about? We’re coming back from something and — Oh! I forgot what he had asked, but I ended up staying like, “Oh! This is what it was.”


He asked about when we first moved to Nashville, we had — Because of the market here for housing, we ended up having to rent a place [inaudible 0:30:35.3], because stuff turns over so fast. We had been promised that it would be — Basically, it would be another 50% bigger than it ended up being. Of course, I didn’t know till I showed up with the moving truck.


They didn’t have any — So we ended up getting stuck with this place that we didn’t like it all, but what happened was is we had signed a year lease, but using the fact that they were — They lied to us is the blunt version. We are able to get out of that lease six months later. We ended up finding this really great house that we’ve lived in for the past 2+ years.


So this morning, Connor and I were talking about that because we’re again, and he said — He’s like, “Are you like thankful that we got — That that apartment, they lied to us about it, because that got us out of the lease, which then allowed us to live in the house that we been in now that we love so much?” I was like, “Yeah, I guess so.” I just told him. I said, “As much as we try to in our life, avoid the painful situations, we rarely grow in good times. We always growing painful times.”


So like one of the things that in the chapters I sent you was the story of when Candice went to the grocery store and ended up having to leave — Oh, dude! I literally have not thought about that in years. Like I’ve buried that motherfucker deep in the ground, because I did not like thinking about that.


So last week — So every Wednesday, my therapist is literally like a mile for my kids school, and I meet with him every Wednesday. So I end up working from a coffee shop after I drop them off at school, because it’s not worth coming into my office. I always work at this coffee shop and I sit in the same place every Wednesday. It was the morning that I wrote that, and there was another one I wrote that was super — I think it was the one with the nervous breakdown. I’m like sitting there just — I don’t even know how to explain it. It was just so painful to like dig back down into those places, because I’m sitting there for that chapter and I’m like, “Okay. How do I get into this? Like I know what I need to stay, but I need a story to get me into this.” I’m like thinking through, and then that popped in my head. Again, I haven’t thought of that in years. I was just like, “Oh, God!” Then I’m like, “Oh, now I got to write it down.”


I told Candice about that later and she’s like, “Oh my!” She hadn’t thought about it in years either.


[0:33:20.4] SC: Right. Of course not.


[0:33:21.9] TG: So it was just like — So I just kept thinking like what’s the most painful way into what I need to write? That’s just what I basically open these chapter with. Yeah.


[0:33:38.2] SC: The reason why that story works so well is that the way we organize our being able to walk around day-to-day is we have to have a general feeling that we’re a decent person, all right? Or it would be difficult to get anything done if we’re — And I know we all have our own inner voices that tell us we’re terrible. But, generally, we have to have the sense that, “You know what? At the very least, I put food on the table. My family eats well. We have a house. I’m a good father. I’m not perfect. I’m a good father. I’m a good husband, which makes me a good person.”


So the reason why that story is so upsetting is because it’s evidence that can go right up your hierarchy of value of yourself. So the story that you relate in this thing, I’ll just briefly mention it, is that your wife and your young — I mean, he was the age where the kid has to be in a stroller strapped in or he’ll flop around the entire — He’ll be a complete menace at the grocery store. So your wife has finally — She’s progressed all the way, and it’s not easy to go fill a cart filled with groceries when you’ve got a two-year-old or one-year-old squirming around in the seat.


Your wife gets to the checkout line, they start scanning the, they get it all done. The baggers have it in the bags. She hands over the card and she’s declined, and she’s humiliated, that she comes home and she confronts you with her humiliation. So what that did to you in that moment was send you down or you just all of those things that keep you walking around and accomplishing even the smallest things were completely knocked over, “Oh my gosh! I don’t have any money in the bank. My wife couldn’t buy groceries. I can’t feed my family. If I can’t feed my family, what kind of man am I? If I’m no good of a man, I’m a terrible father. If I’m a terrible father, I’m a terrible husband. Oh my gosh! Everything that I thought about myself is untrue. I’m terrible. Not good.” That is drama. That forces us, and I’m saying us, because your experience, every person has had an experience like that where something happens that makes them doubt all of the things that they come to rely on internally This is what drama it. This is like what great storytellers do, is they re-create these moments that make the characters lose their sense of self. So that’s why that’s a story — I didn’t get into it specifically, but when I read the, I was like, “Oh my gosh! That’s happened to me before. That’s happened where I haven’t had enough money to buy the groceries, or I forgot my wallet and all these people are standing behind me.” There’s nothing more humiliating, or to actually have to put some stuff back because you only have $90 and it’s 99 dollars. So you’re actually having the person uncheck things. That happened to me. That’s no fun.


But what it does make you do is realize, “Okay. What I thought about myself is obviously not true. So let’s fix what’s broken here.” That comes very early on in your book, and that’s a really good thing, because the reader is going to say, “Gees! I thought Tim Grahl had it all together. This guy is a mess!” Which is exactly what you want. You want to say, “Look! Everybody at one time in their life has been a mess. Abraham Lincoln was a mess. Grant was a mess.” These guys pushed through the mess, and can’t do, and I did. Believe it or not, Tim Grahl even did.


[0:38:17.5] TG: Yeah. Even as you were starting to tell that story, I thought, “Don’t tell the story.” Then I’m like, “Wait. I wrote it down. It’s going in the book.”


[0:38:28.4] SC: [inaudible 0:38:28.6]. Right. Yeah, exactly. That thing is not power — The more times you tell that story, the less powerful it will be too. It’s easy for me to say. I’ve got plenty of stuff that I don’t want to talk about either. That’s what makes writing difficult. It’s really fun to come up with imaginative things and write down, but the hard part is realizing the dark moments within yourself and the darkness inside of you and putting that literally on paper and explaining, “I have dark things in my past, and here’s a really dark one.”


So what that does, it’s like ethos, pathos and logos. You’re establishing your ethic here. As a writer, you’re saying, “I am willing to go into really dark places and admit the darkness in order to reveal to you a deeper truth that I learned. I’ve gone into the chaos of my own life and I’ve confronted some really bad demons, and here’s the store. I’m just a simple guy. I’m not really — I don’t consider myself a genius, but if can do it, you can too,” and that’s really the message that you’re trying to get across here, and I think it’s working. I really do. This is what makes Steve Pressfield such a great writer, is that he’s the first one. It wasn’t easy for him. It took him a long time to be able to do what you’re doing at a much younger age than what he did, and me. I don’t know that I’ve ever written anything that’s all [inaudible 0:40:17.0]. So you should really — You should really say, “You know what? I’ve got guts. I just put down a story that I’ve buried and my life has buried to protect me.” That wasn’t about Candice. She buried that story to protect you. She didn’t want hurt you bringing up something that was — You got over it. It’s fine now. But who wants to bring that up?


[0:40:46.1] TG: All right. I’m not crying this episode. You can’t do that to me.


[0:40:50.3] SC: Okay. All right. Sorry.


[0:40:52.6] TG: Okay. So I’m going to change the subject. So I want to go back to talking about publishing, and I just have some questions on that, because — So Black Irish, the publishing house that you and Steve own is publishing my book as well, and we’ve set a pub date for July 11, right? I have that right, right? Okay.


Looking at that date, what — I have two questions. The first is when do you need this manuscript assuming I finished the book with the kind of writing you just looked at? When do you need that finished manuscript?


[0:41:36.2] SC: So the first thing you want to do as a publisher is come up with the title of the project that you want to publish. So in this case, the title is Running Down a Dream, and then you want to check make sure that the contracts are signed. So you write down that day that that happens. Then want to assign an ISBN, which is something that you get from Bowker that tells the computers that this is your specific title. Then you set a publication date.


We set originally a publication date of sometime in June, but it became, after talking to you and Steve, it just didn’t seem to work. So we’ve set a July 11th publication date. From that point, you want to move forward by — You want to first contact your cover designer and make sure that he or she can get the cover done within your range of time, and you want to book your interior designer two who designs the insides of the book and give them a shot over the bow and see if they have time to do it.


So simultaneously after you set your publication date, you shoot emails to those people and say, “Yeah, I have a manuscript for you sometime probably,” in this case, “probably April. Is that going to work for you?’ Then they get back to they say, “Yeah. Let me know more specifics as they come.”


Okay. Then since we’ve been editing as it goes, I’m not sending out a strict date of when I get my editorial notes to you, because we’re were doing it week by week. But just to answer your question quickly, I’m going to need your manuscript probably April. We need to lock manuscript by April 30th.


[0:43:26.9] TG: What does lock mean?


[0:43:28.4] SC: It means that we have done the editing. You’ve gone through the manuscript a number of times and you’re ready to go. You’re ready to send it to copy editing. So locking the manuscript means that you’re happy with the final product, and then now all changes that happened to it are because of stylistic proofreading changes, or typos, etc., but you’re not going to rewrite chapter 19 after we lock.


[0:44:01.0] TG: Okay.


[0:44:02.7] SC: That’s April 30th.


[0:44:04.4] TG: Okay. Now, how long does that usually take? Because like I’m assuming you’re going to send me back — Because you always talk about was Steve, you’re like, “I send them back,” like “Okay. This chapter needs this. You need like an extra chapter in between these two. You need to rewrite this section.” How long — Because I’m going to send you this draft, but then that’s not locked in date. that’s like you give me back a bunch of notes to go fix date. How long does that part take?


[0:44:39.3] SC: Well, with Steve — Like, for example, I finished my editorial notes for Steve last Friday, which took me about 10 days from delivery to notes to him. My notes were very specific. In that I said, “Here’s my re-organization of your draft. Go through it and fix anything that you don’t like, and then we’ll lock it.


Steve went through it and he got it back to me today after only four days with it, and he made maybe 20% changes in what I did. Now it’s locked. So you’re way behind now. I’m just kidding.


[0:45:25.6] TG: Okay. Good to know.


[0:45:28.6] SC: No, but for you, since we’ve been editing as we go, I’ve already done like a line edit on this first 5,000 words. So what I’ll do — It’ll probably take me about a week or 10 days after you deliver your first draft, which would be your 20th draft. You’ll probably get that me — If you got that’s me like, say, April 20th, we could probably lock it down by April 30.


[0:45:57.9] TG: Oh, okay. I’m not going to take that long.


[0:46:03.2] SC: Great. Because this sooner you get it done, the sooner we can start working on marketing stuff and all that. So I would like to lock the book and get it done super quickly so that all other efforts can be done to promotion.




[0:46:19.6] TG: Thanks for listening to this episode of the Story Grid Podcast. For everything Story Grid related, check out storygrid.com. Make sure you pick up a copy of the book and sign up for the newsletter so you don’t miss anything happening in the Story Grid universe. If you’d like to check out the show notes for this episode or any past episodes, all of that can be found at storygrid.com/podcast. If you’d like to reach out to us, you can find us on Twitter @storygrid. Lastly, if you would like to support the show, you can do that by telling another author about the show and by visiting us on Apple Podcast and leaving a reading and review.


Thanks for subscribing and being a part of our work here at Story Grid. We will see you next week.




The Book

Is this your first crack at writing and finishing your book? Are you lost on how to tackle this project? This is the place to start.

First Time Writer

Is this your first crack at writing and finishing your book? Are you lost on how to tackle this project? This is the place to start.


Is this your first crack at writing and finishing your book? Are you lost on how to tackle this project? This is the place to start.