Best Reasons to Be Traditionally Published

Best Reasons to Be Traditionally Published

Best Reasons to Be Traditionally Published

by Stephen Oliver

I’ve been a writer for nearly eleven years and a traditionally published author for the last two. I tried self-publishing ten years ago, but that was a lot of hard work without much gain.

It’s been a long journey to traditional publication since then, but it was much accelerated when I joined The Writing Gym some five years ago, where I learned to write, edit, submit, market, etc., my books.


When I started at the Gym, I had around 140,000 words written, part of an epic fantasy novel and a dark urban fantasy anthology. On the advice of my writing coach, Annalisa Summea, I also wrote an episodic YA space opera novel.

The anthology and the YA novel have both been traditionally published within a month of each other.

Since joining the Gym, I’ve completed three more anthologies in the dark urban fantasy series, one of which is in the hands of the publisher, and I’m working on the fifth volume. I’ve also started on the sequel to the space-opera novel.

In addition, I have another eighteen books in various stages of completion. This brings the total number of words I’ve written to 1.4 million, ten times as many. Oh, and the epic novel has progressed from 35,000 to 108,000 words, with an estimated 50,000 more to come. I have no intention of stopping anytime soon because I’m having far too much fun!

During this journey, I’ve discovered there are many advantages to traditional publishing:

• Companies like Barnes & Noble take on the books of traditionally published authors. They’re the largest brick-and-mortar booksellers in the US; they have approximately 600 stores across the US. This is exciting for a newly published author like me because my books are available to more people who prefer the smell and feel of books while reading.

• However, they have also embraced the online, eBook, and audiobook markets, which are growing by leaps and bounds. Those are vast markets besides paperbacks, meaning my books are even more available, garnering more potential fans.

• For authors like myself who write YA fiction, among other genres, Barnes & Noble specializes in books for the younger reader. The biggest buyers of such books tend to be parents and other relatives, meaning that my blurbs are aimed at them as much as the actual readers themselves. Writing a good blurb is a skill in and of itself and helps to expand the potential number of buyers of my books.

• Many production companies, movie studios, and TV producers are leery of self-published and vanity books, although there are a few well-documented exceptions. Having a book traditionally published, even if it’s by a small indie company and not one of the Big Five, is an accolade not to be ignored. It means professionals vetted and edited the book, implying that it reaches a particular standard. That level of professionalism isn’t a guarantee of salability for the movie or TV series, of course, but it does help winnow the grain from the chaff. Just ask the agent who’s shopped one of my books out to four companies.

• Many “critics” are also wary of self-published and vanity books because many are written, uploaded, and put on the market without properly editing or even spell- and grammar-checking. This results in shoddy, low-quality books that have given self-publication an air of being the resort of the incompetent and those who can’t get a contract. Traditional publication is a kind of kudos, meaning that the publisher believes they can make money from it, i.e., it’s worth their time and effort to put it out there for the author.

Although self-publication may seem easier and quicker in the short term, in the long term, traditional publication is the better option for a writer who’s in it for the long haul. And I thoroughly recommend that you find yourself both a writing coach and a support community of like-minded writers. I found both when I joined The Writing Gym, and they’ve supported me since I began there.

If you’re serious about becoming a full-time author, try the same path as I did, and I’ll see you in the bookshops someday.

Best Reasons to Be Traditionally Published

How to Get Professional Feedback on Your Writing

How to Get Professional Feedback on Your Writing 

O’Dell Isaac was a substitute teacher and military journalist who struggled for years to write a novel. A decade went by without any progress towards writing or publishing a book. Then, in November of 2018, he managed to write 50,000 words for National Novel Writing Month.  

He was proud and excited about his draft, but it wasn’t something he felt ready to submit to an agent. His draft, though finished, sat in his home unattended as he was at a loss about his next steps in his writing career. 

When O’Dell stumbled upon the Writing Gym, I asked him: “What’s next?” 

O’Dell realized that he had no real direction about what to do with his writing now. Finishing a novel is a great accomplishment, but his work does not stop there. Revising a draft is an important part of creating a publishable novel. 

We had a long conversation about his future writing plans and goals. Through our conversation, he discovered what he wanted for his novel and his writing future. After talking about what steps would help him achieve his goals, O’Dell accepted my invitation to join the Writing Gym.

At the Writing Gym, O’Dell found the guidance and support he needed to grow as a writer and make forward progress. He discovered the value of having access to trained writing professionals who could instruct him with what to do, when, and why, in order to improve his craft. We gave him the tools–in the form of constructive and positive feedback–that helped him realize how to use those same tools to his advantage.

The great thing about the Writing Gym is the accountability of having someone get you to work out every day and to have those same people comment on your results. It’s one thing to want something, but it’s another to have a plan—a concrete plan with steps to take.

O’Dell also received encouragement from our writing professionals and fellow writers in the program. He has the opportunity to get together with other writers and share his progress with them. With the support coming from the Writing Gym, O’Dell has grown in confidence both as a writer and as a person.

What I think the biggest benefit that I’ve gotten from this is just a self-belief that I never really had before. I really believe, when I see those names at the bookstores and the library, that my name is going to be up there next to those names. I never really felt that before, but I do now. 

Since joining the Writing Gym, O’Dell has become a professional writer and received his first byline with the Colorado Springs Gazette newspaper. 

You’ve been writing for years and years and years and you haven’t gotten any further. What should you do? Find someone, find someone who’s in the business, who’s credentialed, put your trust in that person. and do what they tell you. It’s what you do at a gym. If you want to get in shape, you find this personal trainer, you put your trust in that person, then you do what they tell you to do. The Writing Gym is very much like that.

If you are struggling to make progress in your writing, or lack the confidence and direction to move forward with your writing and publishing goals, the Writing Gym may be the right fit for you. I’ve opened some time over the next couple of weeks to talk with writers who are serious about their craft. You can book yourself directly into my calendar, and we hop on a call to talk about where you are, where you’d like to go, and how you can get there.

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How to Confidently Start Your Publishing Journey

How to Confidently Start Your Publishing Journey

How to Confidently Start Your Publishing Journey 

After she retired, Clara Fay finally listened to the inner voice telling her to write. She was able to finish a manuscript and even had a developmental editor go through her work. Thinking her manuscript was ready, she spent six months querying.  

89 queries later, she still had yet to receive a positive response from any agent.

With the lack of responses, Clara felt discouraged and frustrated all at once. A thousand questions ran through her mind: What was I doing wrong? Did I query too soon? Was my novel actually not polished enough? 

Despite hiring a developmental editor, her manuscript did not garner the kind of positive response she was seeking in order to launch her book into publication. Every rejection felt like a personal insult to her. As her doubt grew, her confidence in her story and storytelling skills gradually diminished until publishing began to seem like a farfetched dream. 

Stuck at a standstill, Clara realized she needed a brand new publication plan. 

Then she met me at an online conference. After a chat with me, I invited her to join the Writing Gym. She accepted my invitation and, five months later, with a honed genre focus, had developed a completely different novel than the one she’s started with. 

A year before, Clara was bogged down by doubt and lack of confidence. Now, she is proud of and confident with what she wrote. Compared to her first manuscript, her second one was so much more polished, concise, and to the point. Every single line moved the plot forward–and that is where the biggest change came from. 

For Clara, the Writing Gym was a multilayered experience: there were good, positive things happening within herself, the emotional safety that our community gave her, and the trustworthiness that our professionals provided. 

The support and encouragement from the Writing Gym kept her motivated and inspired. 

We guided Clara to the right direction by allowing her to open up, free of judgment, and by seeing her as both a writer and a person. 

I would go back and tell my past self that there is more to the Writing Gym than meets the eye. You will be blown away. This program is different from other programs because it takes into account the whole person. It’s not just some bodiless person writing away. It’s not just about your education and knowledge, but also your wellbeing. The fact that you have someone there just looking after people’s wellbeing is completely different and absolutely special. And Annalisa’s whole theory of celebration is right on the mark, because we all tend to be so harsh on ourselves. When you take a moment to celebrate you realize ‘I am worthy.’

During her querying at the Writing Gym, she received a couple positive responses from different agents–the complete opposite of her problem a year later. Throughout this process, I helped her connect with agents I personally know from the industry to aid her in her publishing journey. 

Now, she feels less stressed about querying: “I have complete confidence in my letter, in my approach, in what I’m saying and how I’m saying it.”

Clara’s forward progress has been phenomenal. While she is still currently in the process of querying her first novel, she recently published her book, part of a 2-book deal, called Greater Than a Tourist: 50 Travel Tips from a Local (Greater Than a Tourist)

The Writing Gym helped Clara launch into her publishing career with ease so that she can move confidently forward on her publishing journey.   

Really think about what your goals are, where you are, where you want to be, and how you can get from point A to point B. There comes a stage when you do need that professional eye to take your work to the next level. You really do need professionals. Annalisa and her team are absolutely spot on with what they’re doing and what they are accomplishing and I’m delighted that I went to them.

If you are someone who struggles with finishing your novel or taking your novel publication to the next level, the Writing Gym may be the right fit for you. I’ve opened some time over the next couple of weeks to talk with writers who are serious about their craft. You can book yourself directly into my calendar, and we hop on a call to talk about where you are, where you’d like to go, and how you can get there.

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Writing Anxiety Got Your Tongue?

Writing Anxiety Got Your Tongue?

Writing Anxiety Got Your Tongue?

Kate Godfrey discovered her passion for writing when she was just a young girl. Like many writers, she had always dreamed of living the author lifestyle, but didn’t know how to make this dream a reality. 

Before I met Kate, she was reaching a point in her life where she wanted to take her writing seriously; to finally make writing her career. With so many workshops and writing groups available, knowing where to start was confusing.  

Kate, however, was determined to become a professional writer. In fact, she had been a quiet lurker of my Facebook writing group, Write to Publish and Sell Your Novel, for many weeks before she finally decided to contact me. We got on a call and talked about her writing and publishing goals for the future.

Annalisa was really good at laying out the process during the initial call, which helped alleviate my anxieties. The fact that she is also selective about the writers who join her Writing Gym–as writers are selective about who they want their writing coach to be–felt like a really collaborative process. This gave me the confidence to say, ‘Okay, this program is worth it.’ The encouragement that came from that felt like the world. 

After the call, Kate accepted my invitation to join the Writing Gym. Getting feedback from an expert is very different from getting comments from a friend. However, our feedback is so much more rewarding because we tailor it to the writer’s personal writing progress–to their strengths and growth areas. 

The biggest challenge for Kate was creating multi-dimensional characters. She struggled with deciding how they communicate and developing their arc. Kate found that the ability to speak with me about her ideas–and to have these ideas discussed, analyzed, and validated–gave her the confidence not only to develop her character but also to trust her own instincts as a writer.

One of the big messages I got from Annalisa is that my work is my work. Annalisa is there to help me make my writing better, but she isn’t there to put her voice on my work.

Through positive and constructive criticism Kate finished her first novel and confidently advanced in the revision process.  

At the Writing Gym, we help writers to hone their skills, trust their own strengths, and develop and enhance their own voice. We are not here just for this one character in your book or this one novel you’re trying to write–we are here to help you live your author lifestyle. 

The Writing Gym is a university for real life writing. The Writing Gym will have a program for you,  depending on where you are at your writing journey. Besides the education, there is also an encouraging writing community and an emotional support system with Annalisa and her team. It’s a very positive immersive experience in excellence. All life coaching comes from within. The way that Annalisa designed this program brings that positivity out from the inside. I have to look for what’s good in my writing, what there is to celebrate. This kind of positivity isn’t toxic because we can always find a silver lining even when we don’t see it at first. It’s training me to support myself. 

If you are finally ready to take your writing seriously and take the steps to live that author lifestyle you dream of, then the Writing Gym may be the right fit for you. I’ve opened some time over the next couple of weeks to talk with writers who are serious about their craft. You can book yourself directly into my calendar, and we hop on a call to talk about where you are, where you’d like to go, and how you can get there. 

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How to Get Qualified and Personalized Feedback On Your Writing

How to Get Qualified and Personalized Feedback On Your Writing

How to Get Qualified and Personalized Feedback On Your Writing

Many writers dream of writing a complete novel, but don’t know how. They either don’t know where to start or they get feedback from the wrong people. Barbara Pattee, unfortunately, has had her share of feedback horror stories. 

For as long as she can remember, Barbara felt compelled to express herself through her writing. Despite her love for writing, however, Barbara’s experience with receiving the wrong kind of feedback not only held her back from achieving her dream of finishing her novel, but also kept her writing stymied.   

One professor, a professional writer herself, read one of Barbara’s stories and drowned her in a torrent of negative criticism. Her classmates, however, told her they loved her story. These mixed messages were frustrating and confusing; Barbara was at a loss.

With no clear direction and no helpful feedback on her writing, she felt like she would never get to publish her novel. 

All of these changed when Barbara started reading Storytelling for Pantsers: How to Write and Revise Your Novel Without an Outline. She was so inspired by my book that she got on a call with me. After we talked about her future writing goals, I invited Barbara to join the Writing Gym and she accepted my invitation. 

Barbara could immediately feel the immense support from our writing professionals and her fellow writers in the Writing Gym. 

During one of the early salons, where our writers can get together to create short pieces, Barbara wrote a new story that involved slavery–similar to the one her college professor had treated with disdain. As she shared it with our other writers, she braced herself for another barrage of negative feedback.

I thought, ‘Am I going to get slammed again?’ But I wasn’t. I was encouraged, and that was beautiful. There’s no negativity. I really do love the salons because I get feedback on what other writers hear in my story. Some things I may not think are that important wind up being extremely important. That encourages me as a writer.

Now, Barbara has access to a supportive group of writers and to qualified feedback personally tailored to her writing and to the way her individual brain works. She has finally started to win against her inner critic, which has been integral to maximizing her storytelling potential. 

She has also added more emotion, something she was taught to hold back, to her stories. Her writing is thriving in the Writing Gym. Winning honorable mention in The WritersWeekly 24-Hour Short Story Contest is just one of the testaments to how far she has come.

Barbara has made her choice; she wants a writing career, and she is putting in the work to get there. 

About joining the Writing Gym-it’s really about deciding how serious you are. How much do you want to be a writer? Is it a hobby, or is it something you want as a career?

If you made your choice, like Barbara, to become a serious writer and you are willing to put in the work, then book a call with our team. We would love to help you reach your writing and publishing dreams.

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How to Get Your Novel From Finished to Publishable

How to Get Your Novel From Finished to Publishable

How to Get Your Novel From Finished to Publishable 

Emily Weinberg dabbled with writing short stories for younger children for years. She had a vision of writing a novel set in ancient Egypt. Although she was able to finish writing her story, publishing remained a faraway dream. 

Emily was lost in revision. Even though she had edited her novel multiple times, she still felt like her novel wasn’t ready for submission. With no real sense of direction, no clear path to the next step, Emily was stuck in an endless cycle of ineffective revision. 

The lack of progress was frustrating. For Emily, it felt like she would never actually get to publish her novel. She was stuck at a standstill; she was lost about what kind of help to get and who to get it from. As she lived with all of the uncertainty she became more and more intimated about the revision process, which ultimately led her to delay her dream of publishing her novel. 

Then, Emily and I met at a local bookshop when I gave a talk on writing to publish. At the time, Emily had only been fantasizing about taking her writing seriously. She knew she needed professional help, someone to give her the right kind of feedback to help her revise her novel to publishable.   

So, she got on a call with me. After our chat, she accepted my invitation to join the Writing Gym. 

I knew I wasn’t ready to submit and I knew I needed professional help with the submission process. But when I talked with you, being able to actually revise my story and learn about writing has been a gift. You made it clear when you described the Writing Gym’s Publishing Mastermind that the end game is getting published. But throughout it all you’re going to learn a lot and grow as a writer. 

Throughout the Writing Gym’s deep dive into market research, Emily discovered new, useful  techniques about writing that would take her story to the next level. 

The process made me rethink my story. Characters need to be doing more and speaking and interacting. Sometimes it’s those character moments where they’re thinking–where one character’s thinking one thing and the other character is saying something out loud. It’s a whole other form of communication that you can do in writing that I learned. 

Emily felt the full support and encouragement that the Writing Gym offers. She developed a new-found confidence. She used to be worried about her word count, whether she would finish writing her novel at all. At the Writing Gym, she became less worried about the word count and more concerned about the actual content of the story. 

The words just don’t matter. They just come. 

Besides her regular work with the Writing Gym’s coaches and trainers, Emily benefited from a whole community of writers who truly understand her writing process and journey. At our writing salons, writers have a chance to talk to other writers and share their stories with each other. 

Emily’s progress in the Writing Gym has been so amazing that she recently received a full manuscript request form her dream publisher, Tanglewood Publishing

The Writing Gym has been the greatest investment–that it is an investment in myself. Annalisa Parent is incredibly professional and offers an inquiry-based study where she, as the guide, asks the right questions to make you grow on your own. 

The Writing Gym isn’t just about one book. It’s about building and living the author lifestyle. 

If you are struggling with writing, revising, or publishing your novel, you may be the right fit for the Writing Gym. I’ve opened up some time over the next couple of weeks to talk with writers who are serious about getting their writing published. Book yourself into my calendar and we can talk about where you are, where you’d like to go, and how you can get there. 

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