Chip MacGregor

July 3, 2013

Giving the Beginner a Chance



GUEST WRITER Carmen Berry, New York Times bestselling author, is a full-time book coach working from Southern California. She specializes in developing projects from first-time author who want to write and publish high quality self-help books. She offers live, online classes starting new each month. You can learn more about her services at


Giving the Beginner a Chance    by Carmen Berry

I remember when I got my first book published—in the 1987—a million years ago in publishing-time. Back then, my editor had time to develop my project, and me as an author. Now, with over twenty self-help books under my belt, I wonder what challenges I’d face if I were starting out today.

The industry has changed radically, with first-time authors facing stiffer competition and less editorial support. Yes, it’s true that self-publishing is an option, but there are few who truly understand how to write and publish a book like a pro.

This places a heavier burden on agents to find top-notch first-time authors who have sellable ideas and well written manuscripts—and for first-time authors to take responsibility for their own development.

A few years ago I realized it was time for me to give back to the publishing industry I love, especially to those who want to help others through their writing. I began to coach first-time authors who had great messages to share, but who were clueless about how to prepare a solid proposal or find a high quality agent.

For those of you who are just starting out I have one piece of advice: If you do not have a solid structure created for your book, stop writing your manuscript. Odd advice? Perhaps. But until you have a clear writing strategy and a strong book structure in place, it may be a waste of time to continue writing. Would you build a house without a blueprint? Of course not. Then why start writing a book without a plan?

I had no idea how to structure a book, or write up a proposal summary, in my early days. Today’s first-time authors don’t have that luxury. Do your homework before expecting an agent to take you on as a client.

To agents, my message is a bit different. Please give beginners a chance. Yes, some may not have all of their ducks in a row, but many have a message that can change other people’s lives. It’s easy to get caught up in the manic rush, or even become cynical, and over-look an author with amazing potential.

For both first-time authors and literary agents–Keep in mind that there are book coaches, like myself, who are skilled in developing projects from the ground up. But even more importantly, we are passionate about developing the authors themselves. I love turning someone with a powerful personal message of hope into a published author of a self-help book that reaches thousands of struggling readers. Empowering people to help themselves face life’s challenges is at the heart of self-help books. I love writing them. And I love, even more, partnering with beginners so that they can help more people than I can reach personally.

        Carmen’s Get It Started! Eight week course begins July 7th.    

         New students accepted up prior to July 14th.   WC Flier

Click here for the online course on landing a publishing contract, and for a link to an online writers group offering weekly reviews:        Writing Coach Sessions






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