Part 1 of 3 from The Writer’s Workout

This week, I’m celebrating the launch of my friend Christina Katz’s third book for writers. She and I met in 2008 at the Writer’s Digest Books Writers’ Conference in Los Angeles and got to know each other at a dinner hosted by her publisher. Another brilliant workshop instructor, Blake Snyder, sat with us that evening, and we discussed the plans for Christina’s and Blake’s future books, which are in bookstores now. Not for a moment did I doubt that they would carry out their plans, because both of them were focused and passionate about their work.

—Robin

Christina Katz

Guest blogger: Christina Katz

Writers’ lists of daily professional responsibilities have never been as long, complicated, or as challenging as they are today. The job of The Writer’s Workout (Writer’s Digest Books, 2011) is to encourage writers, just like a good coach would, to go above and beyond what they might otherwise accomplish.

The following sample chapter is the first of three taken from the book, subtitled “366 Tips, Tasks & Techniques” because it offers career advice for every day of the year.

Don’t abandon traditional

What we are experiencing right now is a rapid evolution in publishing where only the fittest will survive. And this applies to writers as much as it does to agents and publishers and bookstores and every other business related to publishing. And if you are going to prosper in this economic landscape, you are going to probably want to get your game face on and give up any fantasies you might be harboring about being chosen by Oprah’s Book Club or becoming discovered, because these are not goals that lend themselves to small actionable steps.

This is not the publishing landscape of bygone days. These are modern times. Exciting times. Rapidly shifting times. Precarious times. And, believe it or not, for some writers who work at a focused, consistent rate, prosperous times.

And, sure, if you want to speak squarely about what is going on in publishing right now, advances are down. Bookstores are in jeopardy while online stores are doing well. E-books are on the rise, and there is a very long way up to go. Niches rule, both for nonfiction writers and nonfiction publishers. Publishers, editors, and agents are hard pressed to make time for their authors, while increasing amounts of responsibility fall on the authors who are traditionally published. Community building, sharing information online for free, and distance learning are hot.

The Writer's WorkoutRegardless of everything going on, I still believe that the traditional book deal is the best thing that can happen to a writer not only for the potential money, because there is still some money to be earned, but also for the increase in visibility and credibility in a writer’s career. I believe that writers still need agents. And I know many publishers wish that agents would simply go away so they could renegotiate the rights they want to get from their authors’ works to stay viable. I believe that there has never been a better time to be a writer, perhaps since the invention of the printing press.

So, if you work well within a structured context with parameters and deadlines set by others, persevere. Publishing opportunities are narrowing, but they will not likely disappear any time soon.

Christina Katz is the author of three books from Writer’s Digest: The Writer’s Workout, Get Known Before the Book Deal, and Writer Mama. Her writing career tips and parenting advice appear regularly in national, regional, and online publications.

Learn more at ChristinaKatz.com.

Writers, Christina Katz’s new book isn’t for slackers

Christina KatzBack in the ’90s, Christina Katz chose the life of a freelance writer. Now, after twelve years of seeing her work published, she’s sharing the nitty-gritty of what her career choice has entailed. Her third guidebook for freelancers, The Writer’s Workout (Writer’s Digest) comes out this week. On Thursday, December 8, 2011, she’ll be here at Treated & Released to share three of my favorite chapters. Get ready to take notes!

Following is a copy of my Amazon Customer Review of The Writer’s Workout:The Writer's Workout

Christina Katz is a friend. Permit me to say at the outset that I’m biased. Having recommended her book about author platforms, I was eager to read THE WRITER’S WORKOUT, which is intended to help a writer sustain productivity and creativity for the duration of a healthy career.

THE WRITER’S WORKOUT is a compilation of concise instructions for self-editing, narrowing a topic’s scope, pitching projects to editors, making money, professional networking, meeting deadlines, and other practical matters dear to my heart. Creative writers, however, may warm to the book’s segments on coping with competition, criticism, disappointment, and burnout. New writers who aren’t confident of what to write about will pull out the pages offering gentle prods and examples of how to brainstorm.

Telling writers to toss out the grammar handbooks seems counterintuitive and cringeworthy, yet it’s exactly what this book suggests. Though I’m reluctant to admit it, faulty grammar won’t prevent a writer from being published—a tidbit of truth that should please plenty of aspiring authors.

Christina Katz tells writers who are in search of inspiration, “Everything in your life is trying to communicate with you.” She believes that responding is a writer’s vocation. Her new book outlines simple daily methods to clear the way for the intellectual and emotional engagement that produces good writing.

Another of the author’s lessons that writers should tattoo somewhere: “Take 100 percent responsibility for your writing career. Don’t ever expect it to be as important to anyone else as it is to you.” It’s easy for writers to lament the solitary nature of their work. Expressing the concept of professional independence as empowerment is much more constructive.

Yes, there’s a challenging amount of information in this book, and it’s directed at the pro who will exert the effort required to have a career as a writer.

Beyond mere freelance business strategy, THE WRITER’S WORKOUT addresses the writer’s soul, strength, and stamina. In other words, its lessons are heartfelt. For a creative person without a supportive entourage, the one-a-day reminders that fill this book make a nice stand-in. What writer, no matter how successful and well connected, couldn’t use 366 pieces of encouragement and advice from an energetic and devoted writing coach?

For an example of a gracious author’s media page (part of a media kit), take a look at ChristinaKatz.com. If you’re a freelance writer, does your media kit look as good?

Thinking about New Year’s resolutions? If you’d like to meet Christina in person, then check out her 2012 appearance schedule. And come back here on Thursday for a peek at some of the best parts of her new book.