Episode 72

3 Hints That It’s Time to Stop Writing

We are California dreaming today. As usual, I’m bringing you the latest publishing news. Plus, I’m also sharing 3 ways to know that you are ready to seek out an editor, a literary agent, or beta readers.

Music licensed from Storyblocks:

“More Jam Please” by Raighes Factory

“Summertime Blues” by Humans Win

Rosemi Mederos:

If you have plot bunnies coming out of your plot holes, it’s time for a writing break.

We are California dreaming today. As usual, I’m bringing you the latest publishing news, and I’m also sharing 3 ways to know that you are ready to seek out an editor, a literary agent, or beta readers. In other words, three ways to know it’s time to put your pencils down.

The Writing Break cafe is open, so let’s head inside.

orest, takes place during the:

The novel was scheduled to release in February 2024, and even though the book is not yet available, Ukrainians claimed that the novel romanticizes Russia. Then came the onslaught of one-star Goodreads reviews from people who had never read the book.

Gilbert decided to withdraw the book from publication stating that “It is not the time for this book to be published.” The Author’s Guild said they respected Gilbert’s decision; Gilbert’s publisher, Riverhead, did not comment; and PEN America asked her to reconsider. The concern is that withdrawing the book rewards the fake reviewers and might encourage more review-bombing in the future.

Following up on last week’s report on the implosion of the publishing services company Scribe Media, it seems that in addition to the full-time staff being dropped without severance, healthcare, or due back pay, hundreds of freelancers were immediately cut off, and they are owed money as well. As for the authors who paid tens of thousands of dollars to have their book published, we have yet to see what will become of their projects and their money.

Camp NaNoWriMo begins this Saturday. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, which is a global writing challenge that takes place during November. But Camp NaNoWrimo is a little bit different. First, there are two camping months: one in April and one in July. Unlike November’s challenge, during Camp NaNoWrimo, you are not locked in to the 50,000-word count goal. You can set your own word-count goal and you can tackle any kind of writing project, whether or not it’s a novel. The word count is self-reported. Of course, you can do this on your own any month of the year, but being a part of the NaNoWriMo community can be motivating and fun for some writers. Just know that it can also be quite distracting.

Participation is free and provides access to online forums, blog posts, and webinars.

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ceived that were published in:

Links to all of these stories can be found in the show notes of this episode and on writingbreak.com.

Now, let’s move to the Overthinking Couch to discuss what to do when your ideal reader is not the one holding the purse strings.

I’ve spoken to you about knowing your audience and getting a clear sense of who your ideal reader is, but what should you do if your ideal reader is not the one buying your book? Books for children are purchased by adults, which is something authors who write books for young readers must take into account when developing their book marketing strategies. Craft different elevator pitches and social media posts for teachers, librarians, parents, guardians, and other family members—whatever you think works best for your book. Rather than a standard book signing at your local bookstore, seek out bookstores and libraries with storytime for kids. You get the idea, right? You’re writing for children and teens but selling to adults.

Now let’s stroll in the southern California sunshine and into an independent bookstore.

The Salt Eaters Bookshop in Inglewood, CA, is “a bookstore that prioritizes books, comics, and zines written by and about Black women, girls, femmes, and non-binary people.”

Opened in:

It’s a small but vibrant space, with oat-colored walls and purple and orange accents. My favorite feature is the pink and purple wallpaper on the back wall, which is patterned with author Zora Neale Hurston’s smiling face.

Take a look around, and I’ll tell you about two girls who would have loved having a space like The Salt Eaters Bookshop in their town.

The Only Black Girls in Town is the debut middle-grade novel by award-winning author Brandy Colbert.

“Beach-loving surfer Alberta has been the only Black girl in town for years. Alberta's best friend, Laramie, is the closest thing she has to a sister, but there are some things even Laramie can't understand. When the bed and breakfast across the street finds new owners, Alberta is ecstatic to learn the family is black—and they have a 12-year-old daughter just like her.

Alberta is positive she and the new girl, Edie, will be fast friends. But while Alberta loves being a California girl, Edie misses her native Brooklyn and finds it hard to adapt to small-town living.

When the girls discover a box of old journals in Edie's attic, they team up to figure out exactly who's behind them and why they got left behind. Soon they discover shocking and painful secrets of the past and learn that nothing is quite what it seems.”

The Only Black Girls in Town is published by Hachette Book Group, so this is not one of our usual independent authors, but it is a perfect summer reading book for the middle-grade child in your life. It is available in all the formats.

Now, let’s sit on the little church pew at the back of the bookstore for today’s writing tip.

There is no barometer that can clearly measure when an author should stop tinkering with their manuscript and hand it off to an editor, a literary agent, or even beta readers. It can be difficult for some authors to let go, so I would like to offer you a few . . . hmm, let’s call them hints. Yes, three hints that your manuscript is ready to be viewed by someone other than you.

The changes you’re making are small and insubstantial. It can be fun to tweak parts of the story here and there, but it can also mean that you’ve lost traction on the road to publishing. If the idea is to get your book published, keep the manuscript moving toward that goal.

You’re out of ideas. As long as you still have new things you need to massage into the manuscript, feel free to keep doing so, but once the ideas stop coming and you don’t know what else to write, it’s time to take a break, seek help, or move on to the next stage of your publishing plan. If you are out of ideas but you know the manuscript is not what it should be, it might be time to hire an editor to help you further develop the story.

You start to make big changes that are different but not necessarily better than what you had before. Counter to #1 where it’s clear that the small changes being made are insubstantial, big sweeping changes can feel productive. This is fool’s gold. Be sure that you are not mistaking activity for achievement.

That’s the end of our time today. Thank you so much for listening, and remember, you deserved this break.

If you would like us to visit your favorite independent bookstore, feature your favorite independent author (even if it’s you), or discuss something you’re overthinking about, please email me at podcast@writingbreak.com.

Thank you for making space in your mind for The Muse today.

Writing Break is hosted by America’s Editor and produced by Allon Media with technical direction by Gus Aviles. Visit us at writingbreak.com or contact us at podcast@writingbreak.com.

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Rosemi Mederos


Rosemi is the founder of America's Editor, a book editing company.