Really, I’ve been writing since before I could form words with a pencil. And although I write every single day, both professionally and personally, my tongue can’t always manage to utter that w-word: writer. In the past few years, my career hasn’t looked like what youngster-Sarah would call a real writer.
Recently, though, I’ve become a bit more empowered. I owe a big thank you to several people who have pumped me up and built up my courage and taught me how to call myself a writer. Jeff Goins is one of those people.
For those unfamiliar, Jeff’s blog is a near-daily source of writing advice, inspiration and tips. He offers the right mix of practical and philosophical, and his encouragement has played a key role in the way I approach writing and blogging these days.
In Jeff’s words, Every Writer’s Dream is “a guide for writers to build a platform that makes the publishers come to them.” As pie-in-the-sky as that may sound, Jeff writes about it in a believable, realistic way.
The book reads like a “best of” collection from Jeff’s blog: really, truly, the best advice he has to offer. Sprinkled with words of wisdom from successful writers (Hemingway and Emerson, among others), it’s a kick-in-the-pants meets how-to guide.
Every Writer’s Dream is broken into three key areas, or “tools,” as Jeff says: platform, brand and connection. All three components build a writer ready for success. While the book is useful for newer and seasoned writers alike, I’d more likely recommend it to writers interested in stepping up their game.
Like a power ballad does for a workout, this can do for writing. Every Writer’s Dream reads quickly and breezily, but this isn’t beach reading. I would do well, as would any reader, to review it a second time and reflect on how Jeff’s instructions and ideas would impact my own blog.
Jeff maintains in both e-books the voice he’s eloquently established on his blog. While also inspirational, I found Before Your First Book a bit more on the practical side. Solid examples of query letters are the book’s finest aspect. I see myself referring to these frequently as models.
Also practical are Jeff’s instructions on interacting with publishers. It’s all about networking and relationship-building, he reminds us.
Furthermore, Jeff doesn’t shy away from sharing the less-glamorous side of publishing. A lesson I learned as a journalist, and continue to learn today: “You’re going to have to write and rewrite a lot.”
Maybe it’s me, but on my most difficult days, I assume that the world’s better writers simply put words on paper and out pops the final copy. Jeff confirms how far this is from the truth. His words comforted me and reminded me that I do not struggle alone. No writer struggles alone. I’ll certainly return to Before Your First Book as a guide and as encouragement.
Both books push the writer forward and inspire towards a better craft. Near the end of Every Writer’s Dream, Jeff offers a key piece of advice that we as writers need to preach to ourselves daily: “If you do the work, you’ll see the results.” Amen, Jeff. Amen.
Every Writer’s Dream and Before Your First Book are available as a package for $4.99 on Jeff’s website.
(Disclosure: I was provided copies of Jeff’s e-books free of charge in exchange for this review. Photos are screen shots taken from the books.)