The Author Wheel Podcast

Intuitive Storytelling with Tiffany Yates Martin

May 20, 2024 The Author Wheel
Intuitive Storytelling with Tiffany Yates Martin
The Author Wheel Podcast
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The Author Wheel Podcast
Intuitive Storytelling with Tiffany Yates Martin
May 20, 2024
The Author Wheel

The journey of a writer is a blend of art and commerce, heart and head.

"Intuitive Editing is the process of taking the hard craft skills and melding it with creating the story that you're trying to create, not the one that some writing guru or dogma has suggested would be the right structure for you."

This week we're thrilled to have editor Tiffany Yates Martin on the show. She is strong believer there's a difference between editing and revising. Editing gives you the map for revising your story, while revising sculpts your novel into shape.

Tiffany Yates Martin has spent nearly thirty years as an editor in the publishing industry, working with major publishers and New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling and award-winning authors as well as indie and newer writers. She is the founder of FoxPrint Editorial (a Writer's Digest Top 100 Best Websites for Writers in 2023 and 2024) and author of Intuitive Editing: A Creative and Practical Guide to Revising Your Writing. She is a regular contributor to writers’ outlets like Writer’s Digest, Jane Friedman, and Writer Unboxed, and a frequent presenter and keynote speaker for writers’ organizations around the country. Under her pen name, Phoebe Fox, she is the author of six novels.

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Tiffany Yates Martin
Website:  https://www.foxprinteditorial.com
Book: Intuitive Editing: A creative and practical guide to revising your writing
Online Courses: https://foxprinteditorial.com/online-courses/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tiffanynyates/

The Author Wheel:
Website: www.AuthorWheel.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorWheel

Greta Boris:
Website: www.GretaBoris.com
Facebook: @GretaBorisAuthor
Instagram: @GretaBoris

Megan Haskell:
Website: www.MeganHaskell.com
Facebook & Instagram: @MeganHaskellAuthor
TikTok: @AuthorMeganHaskell

*****

⭐️ SUPPORT THE SHOW ⭐️
If you're enjoying The Author Wheel Podcast, please consider supporting the show by clicking the link below! Your contribution helps us cover the ongoing expenses—like hosting and editing—that are critical to the creation of this podcast. Plus, you'll get a shout out on air and in the show notes!



Support the Show.

FREE Mini Email Course

Have you ever struggled to explain to others exactly what you write? Or wondered which of the many fiction ideas running through your brain you should tackle? If so, The Author Wheel’s new mini-course might be your solution.

7 Days to Clarity: Uncover Your Author Purpose will help you uncover your core writing motivations, avoid shiny-thing syndrome, and create clear marketing language.

Each daily email will lead you step by step in defining your author brand, crafting a mission statement, and distilling that statement into a pithy tagline. And, best of all, it’s free.

Click here to learn more!



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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

The journey of a writer is a blend of art and commerce, heart and head.

"Intuitive Editing is the process of taking the hard craft skills and melding it with creating the story that you're trying to create, not the one that some writing guru or dogma has suggested would be the right structure for you."

This week we're thrilled to have editor Tiffany Yates Martin on the show. She is strong believer there's a difference between editing and revising. Editing gives you the map for revising your story, while revising sculpts your novel into shape.

Tiffany Yates Martin has spent nearly thirty years as an editor in the publishing industry, working with major publishers and New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling and award-winning authors as well as indie and newer writers. She is the founder of FoxPrint Editorial (a Writer's Digest Top 100 Best Websites for Writers in 2023 and 2024) and author of Intuitive Editing: A Creative and Practical Guide to Revising Your Writing. She is a regular contributor to writers’ outlets like Writer’s Digest, Jane Friedman, and Writer Unboxed, and a frequent presenter and keynote speaker for writers’ organizations around the country. Under her pen name, Phoebe Fox, she is the author of six novels.

Follow Us!

Tiffany Yates Martin
Website:  https://www.foxprinteditorial.com
Book: Intuitive Editing: A creative and practical guide to revising your writing
Online Courses: https://foxprinteditorial.com/online-courses/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tiffanynyates/

The Author Wheel:
Website: www.AuthorWheel.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorWheel

Greta Boris:
Website: www.GretaBoris.com
Facebook: @GretaBorisAuthor
Instagram: @GretaBoris

Megan Haskell:
Website: www.MeganHaskell.com
Facebook & Instagram: @MeganHaskellAuthor
TikTok: @AuthorMeganHaskell

*****

⭐️ SUPPORT THE SHOW ⭐️
If you're enjoying The Author Wheel Podcast, please consider supporting the show by clicking the link below! Your contribution helps us cover the ongoing expenses—like hosting and editing—that are critical to the creation of this podcast. Plus, you'll get a shout out on air and in the show notes!



Support the Show.

FREE Mini Email Course

Have you ever struggled to explain to others exactly what you write? Or wondered which of the many fiction ideas running through your brain you should tackle? If so, The Author Wheel’s new mini-course might be your solution.

7 Days to Clarity: Uncover Your Author Purpose will help you uncover your core writing motivations, avoid shiny-thing syndrome, and create clear marketing language.

Each daily email will lead you step by step in defining your author brand, crafting a mission statement, and distilling that statement into a pithy tagline. And, best of all, it’s free.

Click here to learn more!



Speaker 1:

Hi everyone and welcome to the Author Wheel podcast. I'm Greta Boris, usa Today bestselling mystery thriller author.

Speaker 2:

And I'm Megan Haskell, award-winning fantasy adventure author. Together we are the Author Wheel.

Speaker 1:

So I loved this interview. I think Tiffany is just brilliant. If I had an idea for a new series and I felt like I really needed some professional brainstorming, I'm not sure I could afford her or she would have time for me, but I would love to hire her. You guys are in for a treat in this interview. She's really the real deal and she's worked with indie authors traditionally published big five. She's been doing this a long time and she really knows her stuff. I thought it was great yeah, it was.

Speaker 2:

It was a fun interview, so um it was yeah stay tuned, stay tuned, yes, stay tuned.

Speaker 1:

So, as for me, this week I'm focused really on newsletters and Facebook ads. Facebook has been going through a bit of an ad crisis, not just for authors, but advertising. They're calling it the Metapocalypse, which it has not been that bad for me, but I'm definitely seeing a bit of a downshift in my ROI, so I am going to try an Amazon ad or two to try to make up the difference and really focus in on a few other marketing tactics. Really focus in on a few other marketing tactics. I want to get a few things in place, also to promote the audio book, which is actually coming out next week.

Speaker 2:

Now, but that's through Tantor, so you're not going to advertise that one, correct? It's just cross promotions and stuff.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and I want to let my list know and I'm know and I'm going to get a few coats for free audiobooks I want to send to people who will give it its first few reviews. And yeah, just jump up and down and say a whole lot about it on social media and then I can add you know, in my Facebook ads a lot of the time I'll say print, digital and audio, and some people put that within the copy of their ad. So they'll actually put within the copy. They'll say, you know, print with a link, digital or ebook with a link, and audio with a link, digital or ebook with a link and audio with a link, and it just goes to the product page. But whichever segment of the product page you know should come up first and I mean that wouldn't cost me any more at all to do and I could put that in.

Speaker 1:

Yeah yeah, because I mean it's not like I'm going to make a whole ton of money right up front from that because I had an advance. So it has to earn out its advance. But you know, I'd like to work toward that Absolutely.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

So, anyway, that's pretty much it for me. I'm still working my way through the keep. And how about you? What are you?

Speaker 2:

doing Well. This week I am back to work on Aetherburned, which is the Rise of Lilith, book 3, after having to pause a bit because of all the other madness that you know. I thought I could do all the things. It turns out you can't quite do everything you want to do all at once. Really, I did not know that. No matter how many, many times I try to learn this lesson, I find myself doing the same thing over and over again. Anyhow, uh, but yeah. So you know, now the Kickstarter's over and um, you know I got the bagger kit out. I'm working on the fulfillment of all of that, but I can finally get back to work on the third book, which is going to be amazing.

Speaker 2:

And I've been using plotter to get myself reorganized. You know I kind of had to like rediscover the story threads, kind of, you know, uncover the plot holes and stuff from where I left off. And I have to say it is such a great tool to help with story structure, and I mean obviously for the outliners out there. Like doing it in the pre writing phase makes a lot of sense. I, my brain, doesn't work that way, so I'm using it in the midst of writing now to sort of find those story threads that I've already written but have maybe been dropped, or the plot holes that still need to be filled, and kind of get me back into the swing of things, to finish it out to the big battle scene at the end, which is, you know, I'm right there, actually. So, as a side note, if you haven't already listened to our interviews with Cameron Sutter which was season five, episode 10, and Troy Lambert, season two, episode eight, you should totally go back and listen to those episodes to find out about all the great things that Plotter has done and has going on. So it's a great, it's a great tool. I've really been enjoying it. Alrighty, I think that's it for now, so let's get into the interview with Tiffany.

Speaker 2:

Today's guest is Tiffany Yates Martin. She spent nearly 30 years as an editor in the publishing industry, working with major publishers and New York Times, washington Post, wall Street Journal and USA Today, bestselling and award-winning authors, as well as indie and newer writers. She's the founder of Fox Print Editorial, a Writer's Digest Top 100 Best Websites for Writers in 2023 and 2024, which is amazing and author of Intuitive Editing, a Creative and Practical Guide to Revising your Writing. She's a regular contributor to writers outlets like Writer's Digest, jane Friedman and Writer Unboxed, and a frequent presenter and keynote speaker for writers organizations around the country. Under her pen name, phoebe Fox, she is the author of six novels, so welcome, Tiffany. We're excited to have you here today.

Speaker 3:

Thanks, I'm so happy to join you guys. I appreciate you having me on.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I am really looking forward to this conversation. I am currently editing, going over a series that was published and is taken down, and redoing all the books. So I'm like, as Megan is introducing you, I'm thinking, oh, I've got to go get your book. I think it would be right up my alley right now. Oh, I hope so.

Speaker 3:

One of my missions with it was I love editing. I think it's where the magic happens. I think it's where the story becomes the vision you had in your head, and I know so many authors are intimidated or overwhelmed by it because we don't actually teach editing right. We teach writing craft, and so my part of not just demystifying the actual process but I was hoping that if people could get excited about editing, my work on earth is done.

Speaker 1:

I love that. Yeah, I actually like editing. I'm weird, but I love that. Yeah, yeah, I actually like editing.

Speaker 2:

I'm weird, but I love that. Yeah, yeah, I do. I do too. Actually, I actually find the writing more difficult than the editing. I'm the same, but only in my own work. I don't want to do other people's stuff.

Speaker 3:

Yes, I wish someone would hand me my first draft so that I could then edit it, because that's the easy part, because it is harder, I think, yeah, often it can be harder, but it really is where you get to dig in and do the stuff that we, most of us, became writers to do, absolutely.

Speaker 2:

And I love, I love that it's intuitive editing. Now we're totally off on a tangent already, but I'm very curious. So what does intuitive editing mean to you?

Speaker 3:

I love that question.

Speaker 3:

So most authors because I think we don't teach editing when they finish their draft they go back to the beginning and they start working through it and try to, you know like, chronologically, go through a page at a time and fix things and we're skipping the editing process.

Speaker 3:

We're trying to start revising before we've actually seen what we have on the page, revising before we've actually seen what we have on the page. So part of it is just focusing on the editing itself, but also a big part of what makes it intuitive is that a lot of times I'll hear from authors who say you know, I faithfully followed the hero's journey or the three-act structure or save the cat. I think we're taught craft in a way sometimes that it feels like we're imposing an outside structure on the story instead of growing the story from the inside to what it needs to be organically and cohesively. So intuitive editing is about taking the hard craft skills and melding it with creating the story that you're trying to create, not the one that some writing guru or dogma has suggested would be the right structure for you.

Speaker 2:

Oh, I love that. Yep, I'm going to go off and grab that book like today.

Speaker 1:

Me too. You just you've just sold two copies. Look at that. Absolutely yeah. You know just um we're. We always ask this question of everybody, and so, before I just totally pick your brain on editing, because I'm just dying to do it, can you give us a little synopsis of how you got into this job and what led you to become the amazing Tiffany Yates Martin that you are today?

Speaker 3:

I came in backward. It's so weird. I was an actor, that's all I ever thought I was going to do. And so I was living in Manhattan in my early 20s. I had an English literature degree because those were the classes I really enjoyed and I was waiting tables like every other actor on the planet and I didn't want to do that forever. And so I thought, well, what can I do that would be somewhat portable and use the limited skills I have with my English lit degree. And I sent away for a pamphlet in the New York Times classified section that's how long ago. This was called how to Get Paid for Reading Books. And I thought this is going to be such a scam and I was such a poor, starving artist at the time. But I scraped up the money for it and, sure enough, it actually had great information on how to create a proofreading and copy editing career. So I taught myself the skills. I sent out the resumes they send you tests.

Speaker 3:

I started working with one publisher and then it's a small world. So, little by little, before long, I was working with most of the big six at the time, five now and then, about maybe 15 years ago, I transitioned into developmental editing, which I didn't realize at the time. But the copy editing was the greatest training ground in the world. For that it was like an internship, because this was before. I'm so dating myself but this was before electronic editing.

Speaker 3:

So when I worked on something I got to see what had been done to it before and I got to witness the editing process with authors like Walter Mosley and Pat Conroy and Jennifer Weiner. It was astonishing. So when I started dev editing, I mean that just stood me in such great stead and that's what I've been doing since. With the pandemic I expanded to a lot of teaching and presenting and speaking and writing. But I still do the editing day by day because it's where the material comes from. You know, first of all I love it, but also, if I'm going to be talking about this stuff and coming up with ideas and theories to present, I need to be doing the hands-on work.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah. So do you? Do you use your own advice from the intuitive editing book when you are doing edit, developmental editing for other authors A hundred percent.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, this, the book, was sort of born out of the way I work as an editor and what I'm what I'm. So I always differentiate it, as I said, between editing and revising, and you can think of editing as assessing and revising as addressing. And authors should develop skills in writing, editing and revising. But the editing and revising are two different skills. So if we learn to see in our own writing what's not holding together as strongly as it could, revision is not the onerous process that it usually is. Because we're trying.

Speaker 3:

It's like you're going through the forest without ever looking at the map. Editing gives you the map. So I assess things Generally. I start with what I call the holy trinity of story, which is character, stakes and plot. See how all that's holding up. And then I just circle in ever closer with macro edits, as there's holy trinity. And then micro edits are things like suspense and tension, momentum point of view, showing and telling pace it's not quite the same as momentum voice and then just circle in closer and closer. With publishers. I often do multiple passes, which gives us the luxury of kind of working like a sculptor does, meaning first you rough out the general shape and then you hone it ever finer on each pass, and it's a nice way to work with authors.

Speaker 1:

Oh, I love that.

Speaker 2:

Okay, I want to. Can I hire you? Are you open, for I'm sure you could hire her.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I actually am. I have really limited availability, unfortunately, right now.

Speaker 1:

And periodically.

Speaker 3:

I have to shut it down just until I can get caught up, but I'm getting ready to open up for fall, so oh wow, all right, all right.

Speaker 2:

Well, so there you go, everybody. If you like the idea of sculpting your novel into shape, because that's amazing On our list for later this year, that's great, that's great, but there are also skills that we can master ourselves.

Speaker 3:

I mean, I think there is. It's invaluable to have an outside perspective, but, like I have a whole chapter in the book about, I don't think there should be a financial barrier to this career, and editing is a very expensive procedure. Yeah, and there are options. First of all, as I said, while editors are invaluable, these are core writer skills, and so the book is also designed to help you develop them, so that you need editing less and less and less. That said, it's always going to help you to have someone hold up the mirror to show you what you have on the page, versus all the blanks you're filling in in your head because you know your story so well.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely Well. We always preach get an editor whatever you can afford, kind of a thing. But I do think that it's easier to have a great relationship with your editor if you're not handing them in a hot mess. Well, you certainly get more out of it, you, your editor, if you're not handing them in a hot mess.

Speaker 3:

Well, you certainly get more out of it. You know, if you're sometimes right after almost every year, right after Nano, I get a lot of queries of people saying I'm ready to go and I'm like you're not. Though, If you come to an editor with a first draft, yes, they can help you with it, but you're taking a lot of resources, money, time, energy, addressing things that are core issues that you could do on your own, with more revision passes, beta readers, whatever it takes to get it. I always say you're ready to work with an editor when you get to the place where you cannot make it any more polished than it is, but you know it's still not quite there yet.

Speaker 1:

You know, it's interesting about that too is that I think people want editors to to fix something that is very difficult for an editor to fix, and the reason I say this is in the process of rewriting my first series. I looked at the first book and I couldn't believe I got a publisher for that book.

Speaker 2:

Now that I've written.

Speaker 1:

X number of books. I'm like this is terrible. I mean, I literally kept maybe 25 to 30% of that book and rewrote everything else and as I'm doing it, I'm remembering notes from my editor back then and she was telling me some of these things, but I did not get it.

Speaker 3:

Well, you weren't the writer then that you probably are now. That's the hard part about going back to our older work. Is we evolved?

Speaker 1:

as creators, and I do think that that's something, too, that sometimes people are in such a hurry. I do think that that's something too, that sometimes people are in such a hurry and that if they just wrote a bunch more, even books that are never going to go anywhere, or that could sit in their hard drive until they've written five or six books, and then they could go back and go oh, now I know how to fix this. It's like it's. It's not always something totally cerebral. That's why I love what you said. The title intuitive In order to develop intuition. It just takes time.

Speaker 3:

Time and practice it does. And I do think sometimes we are in a hurry because we you know most of us get into this because we love books, we love reading, we love story and we have tons of them in our head and that's great. But you wouldn't go into even I mean, let alone a skilled profession. Right, you could say, oh, a brain surgeon. You wouldn't go into that without a residency and an internship and lots of practice. But let's take even other creative fields. Nobody would think they could be a prima ballerina or a you know what do you call them in an orchestra, like a first chair violinist. You know you can't do that without years of study and practice. And yet we think we're going to be able to sit down, pound out a story and be JK Rowling.

Speaker 3:

And that's not denigrating anybody like that's. Of course we all have that dream, but it does take work, like we were talking a minute ago, even editing. I don't know that I could be as um as effective an editor as I think I am without those. You know that 12, 13 years of training I had as an essentially an internship, working as a copy editor, seeing it done. It's the same thing with writing. You just have to pound them out and hone your skills, yeah.

Speaker 2:

So let's bring this back now to our normal, our normal questions, our regularly scheduled programming here. But I am curious you know with given, you know how many different clients you've had, both on the big traditional publisher side, copy editing, developmental editing, indies, so forth and so on. What is the most common roadblock that you're seeing from the authors that you work with?

Speaker 3:

Do you mean on a craft level, or do you mean on a motivational or writing career level?

Speaker 1:

Why don't we do both?

Speaker 2:

Yeah don't?

Speaker 3:

we do both. Yeah, let's do both. So on a craft level, it's funny. I just did a conference where I presented a workshop called the biggest mistakes writers make, and they they tend to fall into different categories, Like there were like nine of them in there. But here's a. Here's a few that jump out at me.

Speaker 3:

If your characters are not deeply developed and we don't see what they stand to gain or lose, we will not invest in your story, no matter how great your plot is. Like, readers don't care what's happening unless we deeply care who it's happening to, and that means you've got to give us a reason to get in that car with that person who is going to be our traveling companion for the story. So issues of character. I always say I'm a character editor and that's probably the thing that I see most is hampering story craft-wise. The other thing I often say and I'll want to talk about it from the squishier side in a second, but one of the things in that presentation is what we were just talking about too much editing or too little editing.

Speaker 3:

If you're in a hurry and you haven't you haven't sufficiently gotten your story to be the strongest it can be, you get one shot with everybody. You know an agent is going to look at your. If they say, yes, send us pages. They're going to do that one time, unless they give you, you know, a revise and resubmit, which is rare.

Speaker 3:

So you need to make that as perfect as it can be and make sure you've taken the story as far as you can. But also the danger of that is you start circling the drain and you never let it go because you're trying to make it absolutely perfect. This sounds like an oxymoron and in some ways it is, but when do you let go of it? You know it's never gonna be the thing you really think it can be and want it to be, and it's also not ready yet if you haven't done enough work on it. So there's a sweet spot in the middle where you just send your baby bird out of the nest and move on to the next thing, and finding that is one of the core skills for writers, I think.

Speaker 2:

And does that change the more experienced a writer gets? Like what is that sweet spot for a new writer versus an experienced you know, multi-published author? That's a good question.

Speaker 3:

For new writers I see holes, extremes. Either they'll pop you know I just finished my nano first draft and bam out it's going or they will work on it for 10 years and have four editors that they've hired and 25 beta readers and they have homogenized it out of any unique voice or story or spark it might once have had. With more experienced writers, I think they tend to realize you get it as good as you're capable of getting it, including with outside eyes helping point out. And you guys said something really valuable a minute ago that I wanted to go back to, so it's a good point. Now you said people want an editor to fix things for them.

Speaker 3:

That's not what editing is. That's not what editors do. They hold up a mirror and they say here's what I'm seeing on the page. Is that your intention? And if it's not and usually a good editor will be able to see what your intention is then here are some ways you could address that issue. And it's not prescriptive, it's not. You know. Have a scene where she does so-and-so. It's saying the character is not coming across on the page here for this specific reason, and we need to know what's motivating her and how she reacts to what happens in this scene. So it's specific in that way, but not prescriptive in telling someone how to do it. So I think more experience, let's say authors, learn that you get it as far as you can with that and then you just let it go and know that it's an imperfect creation because it's a subjective field and that's what art is. And then you keep growing as an artist and move on to the next thing.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, you know that's so good and we were talking about, you know, metaphors for other creative careers. But, like you, think about music and if you want perfection in music, it's a robot, it's. It's those little imperfections that come through, you know a singer's voice, that make their voice unique.

Speaker 1:

That people go oh my gosh, I love every single thing that. You know whoever sings, so I love that. And it's because they sound different. And the reason they sound different is because it's little imperfections and so you know, you can write the life out of something.

Speaker 3:

A hundred percent.

Speaker 3:

That's exactly what intuitive editing means. You know it's. Do not try to instill someone else's framework on your story. Every one of us is different, or every story we write is different. Every author is different, and you have to find that, seed, that thing for each story and then make it within that the best you are able to make it with whatever resources you have, but you have to make sure it stays yours, like you said. I don't know imperfections, I guess, yes, but more like uniqueness. You know the thing that makes each of us who we are, that makes each story stand out, because none of us are telling an original story right, they've all been told. We're putting the unique spin on it that only we could do.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, maybe imperfections wasn't quite the right word, but I know what you're saying I mean it is imperfect, of course, yeah.

Speaker 2:

It's the humanity of it, really. I mean, that is the humanity. It's because we are human. We are not perfect. You cannot have a perfect voice, or, as you said, you'd be a robot, right?

Speaker 3:

To have the perfect tone.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 3:

To have the perfectly clear tone.

Speaker 2:

You know, know it's gonna have. It has to be a robot like. That's why auto-tune sounds so different from a live performance yeah, right and also it's.

Speaker 3:

It's such a subjective field in that every reader is going to bring what they bring to it, so what is perfect to one reader is not perfect to another one. Yeah, it's a moving target that doesn't exist Absolutely.

Speaker 1:

Oh yeah, amen to that one. All you got to do is go and read reviews on your own books or other, like sometimes I'll. If I, if I have gotten a bad review, um, I'll go and find a book by some, a classic, an author, that is just like a household name.

Speaker 2:

Jane Austen. I went and looked up Pride and Prejudice once doing this. Yeah, she has negative reviews.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and then you go and you look and you find their one-star reviews and you're like, yeah, I'm all right, it puts it in perspective.

Speaker 3:

Right, and that's I mean. You got right to the heart of it. You cannot please every reader. You cannot please every agent. You cannot make every editor want your book. So write the one you want to write, make it the best you can make it and then stand behind it. You know, like that's your story.

Speaker 2:

Well, I think that's a good transition point then into the mindset or the roadblocks that authors get in, that sort of motivation and ability to maybe move past negative reviews or other things there. So what is the roadblock that you see on that side of the creative life?

Speaker 3:

Mm-hmm, I always call these the demons and I write about them a lot in my blog.

Speaker 3:

I think we all, I think every human, has demons, but certainly as creatives, I think everybody has.

Speaker 3:

Whatever your specific demon is it might be a comparison, or procrastination, or imposter syndrome, or perfectionism, or fear of failure or fear of success or fear of losing control.

Speaker 3:

Whatever it is they tend to sort of be with us, the same demons, forever, and they go like they cyclically come out of their cave and party in your psyche. And when artists are people who identify so strongly with their art that when the demons do their normal little demon thing and start kind of attacking our self-confidence, it undermines not just our belief in our writing, it can undermine our entire belief in ourselves. And one of the things I am really focused on right now in my work, my teaching and my writing and presenting is to help writers regain that sense of agency and autonomy we were talking about this before the recording started In a career where often the person with the least amount of actual control over a lot of elements is the artist. And yet you can take the reins of your own career and create one that you can sustain happily for as long as you choose to pursue it. It's an attitude shift, it's a mindset shift and taking control of the things that are within your control, and that includes the demons.

Speaker 1:

So how would you coach? So, as you're naming all those demons, I'm going yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, I don't know, I don't know if there was one. You said that I've never had come and sit down and try to have a cup of coffee with me. You know, I've rejected some of them. I'm pretty good at it, and others of them I take for car rides periodically, periodically so, but like so, how would you coach a writer to do that to? You know, get into a?

Speaker 3:

healthier mindset, fight their demons. So I think I always say the first step is that you have to identify and accept them, because what the first thing most of us do is go first of all. We hate it. You know we go. I hate feeling this perfectionism or I I hate feeling lack of self-confidence in myself and so we try to almost bully ourselves into overcoming it. And that is counterproductive because it makes us hate ourselves for hating ourselves, it makes us beat ourselves up for beating ourselves up and you're kind of spiraling more and more.

Speaker 3:

So first see what's happening and then just sort of accept that this is normal when I finally because I do, I have imposter syndrome or have had like crazy, and cyclically it comes back and I always remind myself I'm never going to not have imposter syndrome. It's there but it arose out of the child. Part of me misapprehended the pain that I was caused in childhood for some reason and said here's how we protect ourselves we must be infallible, we must be perfect, we must know everything or you are a complete fraud. So that's a valid way to try to protect the psyche. But it's a child's way and we have to remember we're the rational adult. So you have to kind of recognize that this is a part of you, but it's a normal part of you and it's nothing to fight against or hate. So I kind of I personify my little demons and I picture them as the little Underwood ham, little red devils, because it makes them harmless, and I just befriend them. And I picture them as the little Underwood ham, little red devils, because it makes them harmless, and I just befriend them. And I go. I see you little perfectionism demon. I see you imposter demon. So what is it you want me to know? And then we have to listen to ourselves and be kind to ourselves and figure out what is it we are actually afraid of. And that just means asking yourself a lot of why? Questions. Am I afraid? Diagnose the problem? Basically it's editing for your psyche.

Speaker 3:

So is it a problem of the actual manuscript? Well, that's fixable, right? If it's something that's not working, if it's mid-book sag or you've lost the thread of the plot or whatever the problem is, that's a fixable problem. So take a break and then push through that, because you have to have faith that you have done it before and you will do it again and embrace the suck. It's going to be bad before it gets better, because that's what construction looks like. It's messy, but you know you'll do it. You just have to get through the yucky part and then you know you can't spin flax into gold unless you have some flax. So just vomit up some flax and then you will fix it later To mix metaphors.

Speaker 3:

If it is career related, then you assess that. Are you worried that you're getting too many rejections? Well, that's also a diagnosable problem and you can fix that problem. Is it that your editor left your pub house and now you're orphaned? Okay, that sucks, but this is a business full of ups and downs. You can't control that thing. The part you can control is what you do next. What are your career goals? How do you meet those goals and what are other avenues for you to do that? If it is situational oh, I have no time to write, I can't get my head in the right place, I'm distracted by life those are also diagnosable, fixable problems. The ones that are hard is when it is the psyche problems, the demon problems. So that's when I think we have to.

Speaker 3:

There's a Buddhist proverb I love about the second arrow, and it's a hunter is in the. Basically, I'm mangling it. But a hunter is in the forest. He gets struck by someone's another hunter's arrow and instead of pulling it out, he starts moaning oh, this hurts, why did this happen to me? What am I going to do? And that's the second arrow. It says so that's where the demons come in. I think they're the second arrow. So we just have to admit that this has happened. We're feeling this. What needs to be done to overcome it? And there are a variety of ways to do that. I recommend three things. One is know what your mission statement is as an artist and actually write it out. Know what your why is, what made you want to do this and what your enough is, what's your definition of success, and then what's your plan to get there. And that's a step-by-step thing. If you're struggling in your story, know the same thing about your story. What is the central story question that you wanted to address? That's the guiding light that keeps you on track.

Speaker 2:

That's kind of amazing. That's maybe the best answer I've heard to that question so far.

Speaker 3:

I'm glad to hear that because it felt like I was off on the tree branches, because it's not a small problem. I mean it's hard to address these things?

Speaker 2:

It really is not, but I love that two arrow metaphor, or, you know, saying I think that's, that's absolutely brilliant.

Speaker 2:

And then this is something you know we talk about all the time too is that you have to understanding your why, creating a mission statement, knowing what you are trying to do, what you want from your book or your career, depending on what you're looking at. You know, setting realistic, um, approachable goals that are that have achievable outcomes or that you can actually control on your own and not relying on those Um, I I call them, you know, uh, process goals rather than outcome goals. If you have process goals, you can achieve that. If you have outcome goals sorry, but you know we're creative professionals where the market is the market. It's how you can't necessarily say I'm going to hit the New York times bestseller on my debut novel, like that would be awesome, but that's an outcome goal that you can't control. You can control creating the book to the best of your ability. You can't control how it's actually going to be received. So I love that. I think it was such a very like, all encompassing answer to what is the creative life.

Speaker 1:

Well, it's kind of like to distill it. It's to me it sounds like what you're really saying is tackle this proactively, not reactively, yeah. Yeah, it's a great way to say it, I think in creative things it is very common whether it's acting or music or writing or art it's very common to create something and then sit there and chew on your fingernails and wait to see if it's received.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. So you're basically always in the mode of will I be chosen? You're a beggar at the table, exactly, and you are the genesis of. I mean, none of it exists without you, and yet I think we are all that's a great way to put it we are all in reactive mode, waiting for that external validation, whereas the secret to all of this, I think, to be able to sustain a career that's meaningful to you for as long as it is, is to realize that you generate all of that and you can, regardless of what those outcomes are.

Speaker 1:

Because we've all heard the stories, right. We've all heard the stories of the incredibly famous household name creatives in any of those industries who were rejected. Barbara Streisand was told you know, you can't sing, don't give up your day job. And now she's Barbara Streisand, you know what I mean it's like her voice teacher must be feeling stupid.

Speaker 3:

The reality of art is that most of us aren't Barbara Streisand, and if that's, not okay, then you are setting yourself up in a career with a dream where the odds of you actually achieving it are minuscule, and so how can you ever be happy, whereas if you reassess what's driving you to do this and where you get your satisfaction from it? I have a blog post I've been working on called that guy you saw on that thing that time, and it's basically about because because I did used to be an actor, I think about all of these actors. Like you have your. You star in a TV show. I can't think of the actor's name, but there was a Canadian show called being Erica, huge hit. She was in it for I don't know how many years as the lead, and now you see her in these tiny little supporting roles in other shows. That's the business.

Speaker 3:

If that is not enough for you because that's the likelihood of what your career will be ups and downs Sometimes you're gonna be a hit, sometimes you're not. Maybe you're JK Rowling, barbra Streisand, probably you're not Is it still going to be fulfilling for you? If it's not and you know that at the outset my God, save yourself from a lifetime of heartache. But if you can accept that you can't control what's going to happen as far as the outcome of your work, but you can control your day-to-day doing of it and what happens with your career. As far as those elements that are within your control, you can be satisfied for a lifetime with that and have a meaningful career doing the thing that feeds your soul. What a privilege that is.

Speaker 1:

You know and I do think a lot of that goes back to what you said somewhere in this incredibly wise conversation you said something about identifying, and I think that that's kind of key, like we are writers, but we are more than writers. Yeah, you know, we, we are. Whatever we are, we're sisters, we're daughters, we're wives we're mothers, we're children, we're all things.

Speaker 1:

We are many things you know and um, and we're human beings. You know who I believe are intrinsically valuable. So you, it's like you are many, many things. Writer is just one of them. So I don't know, maybe that helps with the ups and downs.

Speaker 3:

It feels like writing is life, but it's really not, and I love that you say that, because I think that's part of it too is that we do keep into perspective that we are not our writing, we are not our creativity. That is a huge part of who we are. But there's so much more to a meaningful life and you've got to find a way to work to fit that identity and that element of yourself into all the other elements of what make your life fulfilling. This is all the stuff I'm working on in this follow-up book. You and I the three of us were talking before about. I've always focused on the hard craft skills working on.

Speaker 3:

In this follow-up book you and I the three of us were talking before about. I've always focused on the hard craft skills, and I was working on another hard craft book to follow intuitive editing. But I this is so I hear so many authors struggling with exactly this. Right now, at a time where there is both more opportunity for authors than there's ever been and also more competition and less control and more challenges than there's ever been, and also more competition and less control and more challenges than there have ever been how can we operate within that framework and still maintain the satisfaction of our art, which you know, if you don't have that? That's the whole crux of everything, as soon as we become little trained monkeys who are just churning out product. That's not why most of us got into this.

Speaker 2:

I think that's a really key point is that, and I think that's the struggle of the creative career, and it doesn't matter if it's writing or if it's music or if it's you know any number of things. We are artists, we are creative people who put our hearts and souls on the page, who are crafting this story, and it's it's crafting right. And then we're also, because of the modern era, business people, and we have to. We have to think professionally, we have to think about the market. We have to think about how we're going to sell things. What's the cover going to look like? We've got to do all these other things.

Speaker 2:

I mean, I think it's more true for indies than it is maybe for traditionally published authors, but even the traditionally published authors, you're thinking about how are you going to reach that agent? Now you have to do your own marketing. So we have to be on social media. It's a whole, nother different kind of content creation, and so we're balancing this drive for art and self-expression with a drive for financial sustainability for financial income money right, Because we want to be paid for our work.

Speaker 2:

This is work.

Speaker 3:

And should be, and we should be paid for it.

Speaker 2:

This is not just for the common good, I mean, it's partially, but not just for that. We need to be compensated for the work we're putting in for people and the entertainment that we're providing. And so finding that balancing point I think, is right now. You know it's another transition point in the industry where that balance point keeps shifting, and trying to figure out each of us individually where that lies is perhaps the trickiest part of the job, but it's happened with music industry, it happened with the film industry.

Speaker 3:

Actually, in a lot of ways, I think this is probably ultimately maybe a good shift in our industry, because it does put more autonomy, potentially, in authors' hands. I mean, think about it 20 years ago, when I started in this business, 30 years ago, authors did not have the options that they have now. Imagine, you know, having to load up your books literally in the trunk of your car and go places to sell them. Imagine having to reach your readers through whatever fanzines or just, you know, hoping that they saw you at a local event. Now we have ways to reach out to them. We have blogs, newsletters, substack. We can sell our own books. We can, whatever it is, even if we're going to have a traditional path. We have all these options for raising our own profile, for supporting the marketing staff in-house. And I agree with you, megan.

Speaker 3:

I think that traditional publishing still requires not quite the same things as indie authors, but a lot of the same things and certainly as much effort as you would have to put in as an indie author. You just have certain parts of it taken out of your hands. So that's all opportunity. It's all also challenge, and every author is different. You know, not all of us have both the artistic and the business mindset, and that is a hard thing. So you do, I agree with you, megan. I think you do have to find what's the balance that works for you. Like, if you want to make six this is what kills me is the dream that's always peddled to authors at some conferences or presentations, where it's like I make six figures you know, in my pajamas, and you can too Well sure you can. Here's what that entails pajamas, and you can too Well sure you can. Here's what that entails. And you have to decide do you want to do those things?

Speaker 3:

Also, I remember I can't remember which author it was, but she was at a conference and she was very successful in depublished, and someone said to her well, how do you find time for your own pursuits and spend time with your family and all that? And she said well, they all understand that right now there's no time for that. That'll come later in my life. And I just thought, okay, I get that. That is what it takes to do what she's doing. Is that actually worth it for you? Which is what I mean by know your why and know you're enough. Is that what success looks like for you, or would you rather work maybe some other job that gets you the financial stability you need and have much more freedom creatively? It's your call to make.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and the timing of that, I think, is also your call to make, because, going back to being patient or not, depending on your lifestyle, I mean, like I started writing my what became my first published novel. I'd been writing for years, but this was became my first published novel with a newborn at home, right. So my priority was my kids and has been, you know, up up till now. So that was you know she's. She's 12 now, my oldest.

Speaker 3:

I did my job. She's on her own you know she's.

Speaker 2:

She's 12 now my oldest. I did my job. She's on her own, so she's done. No, no, but. But you know, now they're in school, they've got activities, the lifestyle is a little bit different, things are starting to open up a little bit more and I can see on the horizon you know, that future and it's like, yeah, okay. So for the first, you know 18 years of my what I'll call my professional writing life.

Speaker 2:

You know 18 years of my what I'll call my professional writing life. I'm not going to be full-time authoring. I'm not going to be staying up till three in the morning to write, because I can't function that way and that's how I am. But there are other authors who maybe don't have kids at home, or they have a different lifestyle that allows them to be, you know, night owls, or they have other things right. They can dedicate more to this, this professional career, than what I want to do. But you can time it. So maybe in the future they do have kids and then they have to back off a little and you know it shifts, it changes. So you have to kind of look at the the hills and valleys of your own life in order to figure out what is actually going to be sustainable and what you want from your life and your career.

Speaker 3:

I think those are two of the most important considerations that you just said. What is sustainable and what do you actually want and know what that entails Like I think we go into this with these blind dreams of the goal that we want without. I mean, you said you have to be a business person to some degree, so you are entering a writing business. What do your goals actually entail and do those actually look like what you had in mind when you said you wanted to be a full-time writer? Or were you picturing being up in your attic and being creative all day long and not realizing? Oh wait, there's a whole bunch of stuff that goes with it too.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 3:

And that's none of that. There's no right or wrong path. It's for every author to determine what's right for them.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, but I but I do think reality facing the reality is what's key. It sounds like your book is going to be taking people through that and I feel like Megan and I. Part of the reason we started this podcast was to help writers, because we used to run an organization called OC Writers and it was like a local writing group going all these coffee shop meetings and all these meetings at smaller conferences or writers guilds and groups, you just meet so many people who have an unrealistic understanding of what the business is.

Speaker 3:

You know, I've had so many MFA graduates tell me that they never addressed that, even in their MFA program, and that is a huge part of building a. It is a central part of building a writing career. It's not just the writing, any more than you know. If you want to make a widget, it's not just about making the widget, it's the infrastructure. And that's the part I think we have to figure out what we want and be very deliberate about developing.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 3:

That's where your autonomy comes from.

Speaker 1:

I actually have a book and I don't remember the author's name, but I have a book about that this guy who went through the whole MFA program he was a screenplay writer and came out the other side and then it was gobsmacked Like wait a minute, you know, because he said, if you think about it, an MFA program is like. It's like summer camp for creatives and everybody's going to tell you you're amazing and everything's wonderful and you're all delving into the themes and all this and you get out and you're like themes, we don't care about themes. How many naked women are in your movie? You know what's going to make itself yeah exactly and he was like oh my gosh.

Speaker 1:

You know, nobody prepares us for the reality of these businesses.

Speaker 3:

You know, and and they're so completely mercurial. You know like you may be the MFA who gets the big publishing contract on your New York Times darling, and maybe you're not. Maybe you're the one that they go this is beautiful, but we can't sell it next. You know, like we can't control any of that. So, what makes it worthwhile to you. As long as we keep coming back to that, I think that's where we can maintain our sense of equanimity and control and joy.

Speaker 1:

So joy, yes joy, I love that word. So when you have your new book published, did we even say the title.

Speaker 3:

I don't think so. The Intuitive Author.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's the Intuitive Author how to grow and sustain a happier writing career, which I just again. I love that title, I think. I don't know. I'm all about intuition, I guess.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, well, of course we are right. We're right brain, left brain people. A lot of us are more right brain and I do think that it's there's so much focus especially I mean it grew out of the editing thing because there's so much approach to editing as if it were this mechanical, technical process and it isn't just that right Like, it is still a creative process and it's kind of the same in creating the career you are creating a creative career.

Speaker 1:

So of course there's intuition and creativity that goes into it. Yeah, yeah. So when that book comes out, we obviously are going to have to have you back on, because this has been just. I mean, I do feel like we're all preaching to the choir here, talking to each other, but I do think that our listeners are going to love this one because it's just so broad.

Speaker 1:

You know it's just so broad.

Speaker 1:

There is so much the writing craft I mean is so important.

Speaker 1:

Much the writing craft I mean is so important because you might as we've been saying, we're kind of doing quick tips episodes on writing craft this month you might be able to market a really crappy book and sell some copies, but your chances of selling some more books after that are pretty slim.

Speaker 1:

If you do so, you know you're shooting yourself in the foot. So it is the place we all start is learning to write a passable book, you know, a book that checks the boxes for at least some people, and you know getting that done. And but in order to do it's sort of the witch came first the chicken or the egg, because in order to do that, I think you have to do also what you're talking about in your new book, which is what kind of career do you want? You know, because even with that, I mean, there are a lot of writers who've made a lot of money writing a book a month and I'm sure that they are decent craftsmen or they would not be able to sell all those books, but they're also not. They don't have the luxury of taking the time to really polish and hone and sculpt that story either, and maybe they're okay with that.

Speaker 3:

That's the thing. If they're great at that, great good for you. But somebody else would not be Right, and stuff like that can be held up as the school proof. One size fits all model if you just work hard enough. But that's not right for every author, because it requires things of you that may not be what your goals were when you got into this as a career.

Speaker 1:

And you may, and you just may not have their skill set either you know right, oh, that's a great point. It's like my mind. I get like a third of the way into a book and every plot idea I thought was going to happen just crashes and burns and I go no, this is the stupidest book anybody has ever decided to write.

Speaker 3:

That's the demons, that's the demons coming in right there.

Speaker 1:

Work it all out again, and then I get about two thirds through the book and I do it again. Work it all out again, and then I get about two thirds through the book and I do it again. Oh wow, this is just so lame, I have to do it again. So everybody has their process.

Speaker 3:

That's just mine, what you just said, all the things that creatives are balancing. You're balancing the craft, you're balancing the inner demons, you're balancing what the career demands. You're balancing the rest of your life. That's a lot of balls in the air, yeah, yeah. And I think we think of it so much as the writing part and we don't take into account how many other things writers are also grappling with and need the tools to deal with. So, before I ask you to tell people where they can, find out more about you and your books.

Speaker 1:

I have a new career idea for you, tiffany. Lay it on me. I ask you to tell people where they can find out more about you and your books. I have a new career idea for you.

Speaker 3:

Tiffany.

Speaker 1:

Lay it on me I think you should become a writer. Therapist.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

And then we can all call you and for 60 bucks an hour we can go to Tiffany.

Speaker 2:

I'm so upset? No, it's a new podcast. You're going to be like the writer therapist online to call in. It's a call in show the dear Tiffany. I love this. People present their problems and you, you help them work it through. I love it. So now you have your podcast idea and I'll be your first. I will be your first. It will be your first, oh my gosh.

Speaker 1:

Yes, tiffany, this was so good and honestly, I do think I'm not sure I can afford you for editing, but, like for therapy, I totally need you.

Speaker 3:

I loved this conversation. I love that word, that you guys are talking about it on your podcast. As much as it's difficult to see, so many authors are struggling with this right now in the current challenging environment. I love hearing them talk about it because that's the way we all find our way through it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that is beautiful. That's so good. So tell people where they, because they are going to run and not walk. Tell people where they can find out more about you and your books and your website and all the things you have to offer.

Speaker 3:

Probably the easiest way is just to go to the website that's foxprinteditorialcom Fox, like the little animal, my little totem animal, and that's where you'll find I do a weekly blog that is full of craft tips and also a lot of the stuff that you, that we've all been talking about here the the squishier side I call it the career stuff and then I also have online courses. I have a ton of free resources, including free downloadables on hiring an editor, what to look for, what it should cost, how to vet them. I have a large checklist of self-editing checklist that will help you when you're getting your manuscript as strong as you can get it. I've got a beta reader template. There's a ton of free stuff on there. So, best Place Box Print Editorial you can find my book Intuitive Editing there, and the new one will also be announced there as soon as I have a production date for it.

Speaker 1:

Now, that's great. I am going to your website when we get off this call.

Speaker 1:

So, yeah, all the good things. So, listeners, I hope you got as much out of this as me and Megan did, because we sure did. And I just wanted to give you a quick reminder, because every single person we talk to this month, this topic gets brought up. If you are struggling through understanding your brand and your author promise and what on earth you're trying to do, we do have a free seven-day course on our website, authorwheelcom.

Speaker 1:

That's called Seven Days to Clarity Uncover your Author Purpose, and we walk you through some of these things, including how to come up with an author mission statement and tagline. So you can run over to authorwheelcom and find that there. And also, if you enjoyed this episode, we surely would wish you'd consider sponsoring us for as little as $3 a month. It helps us keep the lights on and keep this podcast rolling and also, if you do, we will give you a sponsor shout out and we'll tell the world about your books or your author service, whatever it is you want us to tell people about. So again, that link, all the links to all the wonderful things we talked about are in the show notes and until next time, keep your stories rolling.

Author Wheel Interviews Tiffany Yates Martin
Navigating the Editing Journey
Navigating Writer's Craft and Mindset
Navigating the Creative Career Balancing Act
Building a Writing Career With Intuition
Brand Clarity and Sponsorship Opportunities