How I Escaped the Ivory Tower

Once upon a time, I worked in the ivory of tower of academia. I taught students how to read Middle English (they loved that) and coached football players on how to write essays on Oscar Wilde (I was obsessed with that magic lightbulb moment when everything clicked into place). 

But I eventually left to join the great, big, scary "real world." How did this former academic become a business owner? How did I use what I learned in the university to make a successful editorial agency? Find out in the latest Academics Mean Business episode.

Copy of Shayla Raquel on Vanity Publishing, Book Marketing, and Editing

I had the privilege of chatting with my friend, Shayla, about vanity publishers (stay away), book marketing, and editing. Check out the video below to get the goods! 

My #1 Piece of Writing Advice

There is one piece of advice that I consistently give all my coaching clients. It's not sexy, and it's not exciting. But it works. What is it? Just keep writing.

Does this really come up as an answer all the time? Let's see it in action.

Q: Am I a terrible writer?
A: Probably, but I am sure you are an awesome rewriter. You can't rewrite something that isn't written. Just keep writing.

Q: I am really exhausted, hungry, and sad. What should I do?
A: It doesn't matter. Just keep writing. 

Q: I don't have any ideas? What should I do?
A: Write about how stuck you are. Write about how frustrated with your writing you are. It doesn't matter. Just keep writing. 

Q: My friends and family don't support my writing. What should I do?
A: Forget them. You are in charge of your own life. Just keep writing. 

Q: What happens if I never get published?
A: So what? Don't you find the reward in the act of writing? Besides, self-publishing is an option now. Just keep writing.

Q: What happens if people hate my writing?
A: People's opinions change so much. Look at Van Gogh. Just keep writing.

See? It works!

Have a question? I can practically promise you that the answer is: "Just keep writing."  

The #1 Thing Writers Forget to Do

You want to know the most important thing authors forget to do when they sit in front of the computer to write?


Okay. You are probably wondering what the heck that has to do with writing. I mean, sure, breathing is important to surviving, which is kind of crucial for writing, but what does it directly have to do with it?


You see, breathing does more than keeping a writer physically alive. It also keeps her creativity alive. If you aren't breathing, you are probably suffocating your imagination.

It means the "gremlin" thoughts are taking over. You know the ones:

  • My parents are going to judge me for this steamy scene.
  • Yuck! This sentence is terrible.
  • Who am I to write a book? I have nothing useful to say.
  • I am going to get terrible reviews.

The list goes on. When anxiety takes over, creativity cannot flourish. And where there is no creativity, there is no writing.

How do you beat this anxiety? Well, the simplest way is to breathe. You can Google breathing exercises to get some great ones. You can also:

  • Take a walk.
  • Have a dance party.
  • Call a friend.
  • Watch an episode of your favorite TV show.
  • Meditate.
  • Exercise.

The list goes on. The point is: don't let your anxiety stop your writing. Beat it by breathing.

Do you need someone to help you take a breath and beat those gremlins? I am your gal. 

Three Ways to Title Your Book

Naming a book is harder than getting tickets to Hamilton. Not only does it have to sound good, but it has to actually, you know, be relevant to your book. 

When I am trying to give my book a title, I fantasize about cooking for Gordon Ramsey instead. I don't know how to cook. I forget things like, oh, plugging in the toaster when I make Pop-Tarts (holler at me if you like S'mores the best). We all know that would go over well.

I always wait until the very end until to name my book because I am always stumped. I usually walk around and tell people that I am writing a book based on (fill in an ancient story here). People usually blankly stare at me and then ask me what I really do. (This is D.C., guys. Everyone here is a politician or a lawyer.) 

So how do I eventually land on a title? Here are my surefire ways to not give your book the equivalent of the human name "Blanket."

1. Pull Out Your Favorite Line

Read through your book and find your favorite line from it. It can be something a character said or a description. It can be anything really. Well, almost anything. You don't want to quote the foul-mouthed grandpa. 

2. Use a Single Noun

A lot of famous books have a single noun as the title. Need examples? The Road. The Shining. Oliver Twist. You get the idea. You can use a character name or some object in the book that has symbolic meaning.

3. Quote Shakespeare

It worked for William Faulkner. It worked for David Foster Wallace. It worked for Aldous Huxley. It can work for you. Okay, it doesn't have from the Bard if he isn't you jam, but you can use a line from another great work of literature. Just make sure it is in the public domain. You don't want to deal with lawyers. Trust me, I live in D.C. I know how they roll. (Two of my best friends are lawyers before you send me hate mail. Also, it isn't as bad as some of things Shakespeare said about them.) 

There you have it. Now you can name your book The Blanket. You can thank me later.  

What is your favorite Pop-Tart? Let me know in the comments below.