Breathe. Write. Breathe. - 18 Energizing practices to spark your writing and free your voice by Lisa Tener

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Breathe. Write. Breathe.

18 Energizing Practices to Spark Your Writing & Free Your Voice

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Highlights of Harvard Medical School’s CME Publishing Course

This is one of the best conferences on book writing and publishing–probably the best if you are writing a health related book. So, if you attended, here are some highlights to remember and a few reminders about how to get published. If couldn’t make it, here’s your crash course.

At dinner with literary agent Rebecca Gradinger and Vicki Dunckley.

At dinner with top Literary Agent Rebecca Gradinger and psychiatrist/soon to be author Vicki Dunckley (I’m the one smiling behind the camera), one theme that came up is  that it’s harder than ever to publish fiction–even a talented author who would have easily been published five years ago.  Guess that’s why they’re all going digital/self publishing.

The good news is, there’s always a market for good self-help, how-to and other nonfiction–as long as you develop your following and have a new angle or fresh voice on a topic of interest to a strong niche audience. The competitive market should propel you to think creatively about your book concept and write the absolute best book you can. My clients are seeing great responses (and signing book deals) even in this market. You can, too.

Bring Your Book to Life participants practice their pitches at lunch.

The 70 second book pitches were the best ever this year. And Bring Your Book to Life participants did an especially inspiring job. Here they are practicing and fine tuning their pitches at lunch–all heard back from agents who heard their pitches and wanted to  connect and see their book proposals when ready.  I felt like  a proud mom.

What makes a good pitch? A compelling hook, a clear market, impressing agents with your platform or following, something fresh…and humor always helps!

While no one’s going to ring a buzzer and say, “Time over” when you pitch in real life, this is great practice at making in impression in a very short amount of time. Try it at home–a great exercise.

Connecting with Rusty Shelton, President and Founder of Shelton Interactive

I always enjoy connecting with Rusty Shelton–he was the publicist on my first book and many of the greatest opportunities in my career have come through Rusty. He’s one of those people who is always doing great things for others–even when the publicity contract is over!

Rusty’s new company, Shelton Interactive, designed my new website which I will unveil in the next few weeks. This year was particularly special in that Rusty and I had breakfast in the Oak Room with one of our favorite agents to discuss the book we’re working on and received enthusiastic feedback. More on that soon…

Harvard often provides the opportunity to connect with clients of mine whom I’ve worked with for a year or more, but never met in person until now.

I enjoyed connecting with Dr. Vicki Dunckley, whom I’ve worked with for over a year without having ever met her in person. Vicki just became a blogger on Psychology Today and I’m sure that helped agents get excited about her book pitch–she went from very little platform to instant platform.

Of course, the topic had a great deal to do with their enthusiasm. If you’re wondering how computers affect your kid’s brain and what you can do about it check out Vicki’s blog and her Psychology Today column. The moral of the story here–start with your own blog and then pitch a fresh and polished post to a big blog like psychology today, the Huffington Post or WebMD.

Oh, so much more to tell you about, but that will be another post for another day…

If you were at the conference, do share the highlights:

– What was the most important tip or advice you learned?

– What insights or breakthroughs did you experience at the conference?

– Did you get clearer about your book?

Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

Reader Interactions


  1. Paul McLean says

    Amazing conference. I arrived with a grasp of the importance of platform, but emerged with a better sense of what it is and why it matters. I arrived thinking about “my” book, and emerged thinking of who the readers are, how I can reach them, and why they should care. And Rusty and yourself painted such a clear picture of the role of blogging and tweeting. I do both now. Thanks for your part in getting this ball rolling.

  2. Diane Petrella says

    Thank you, Lisa! I was thrilled with the response to my pitch and it went so well due to your insightful help. It was a wonderful experience that propelled me forward to now completing my proposal. Thanks for your enthusiastic support! Warmly, Diane

  3. Martha Rhodes says

    I went to the Harvard Writers’ Conference thinking like a writer, but I’ve come away after the three, very informative and productive days of instruction FEELING like an AUTHOR! So many smart, knowledgeable presenters, whose generosity of spirit gave me hope that my book will become a reality. Having access to agents, acquisition editors/publishers also helped me to see that I really can become a published author.
    The most important takeaway for me is that I need to focus on the business of the book, not just the writing. I immediately came home and purchased the url for my website and blog so I can expand my platform while completing the book proposal.
    Thank you Lisa for your continued support! You are an invaluable resource to all of us.

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