I get into writer's heads, and using a potent mix of tough love, proven strategy, and book-seeing super powers, inspire them to stop talking about writing a book and actually write the book.
I published my first book in fourth grade.
In fourth grade, our class published a book of poetry. Submissions were optional, but the acceptance policy was generous: all entries would be included. From the moment I understood what we were doing, I wanted to see my name in print. I knew what being published was all about, because my dad was a writer. He wrote on a green-keyed typewriter in a study at the end of the hall, and his books sat on a bookshelf underneath the window. I somehow knew that those books also went out into the world, into the hands of people who loved them. I wanted that for myself, so I wrote poem after poem for my class book. We made cardboard bindings with crinkled tissue paper covers, and the pages were run off on the purple-inked mimeograph machine. I can still remember the thrill of seeing my byline for the first time: by Jennie Nash. I was hooked.
I have spent 30 years in the world of books.
My first job out of college was at Random House, where I worked for a fiction and a non-fiction editor at a time when manuscripts came into the office by mail, on floppy discs.
I spent years in the world of magazines, where I learned how to edit a story, meet deadlines and crank out catchy copy.
I've written for publications ranging from The New York Times to GQ to Child.
I published my first book at age 25, and have published seven total—four novels, including The Threadbare Heart, The Only True Genius in the Family and The Last Beach Bungalow; and three memoirs, including The Victoria’s Secret Catalog Never Stops Coming and Other Lessons I Learned From Breast Cancer — a book that has more than 100,000 copies in print. (What?! That was thanks to a special cross-promotion I did with Ford Motor Company.)
I self published my last novel, Perfect Red. It was pretty much a total sales failure, even though it's a great book. The startup gurus say you're so supposed to fail fast in order to maximize learning. Done!
My latest book is a brand-new little advice book called The Writer's Guide to Agony and Defeat.
I have been an instructor at the UCLA Extension Writing Program for eight years, where I have taught hundreds of writers. I love a classroom, a white board and a group of eager students. I always learn something new, either about about writing or life.
I am the founder and chief creative officer of Author Accelerator, an online program to help writers get from inspiration to publication.
My private-coaching clients have landed top New York agents, and had books published by Scribner, Simon & Schuster, Norton, Ten Speed and SelectBooks. You can read all about my client successes HERE. My book are below.
These are my books.
But we're not here to talk about my writing. We're here to talk about YOURS...
So why would I stop building my writing career to help you build yours?
It has to do with that superpower thing.
I'm a good writer. I wrote some good books that have touched a lot of readers and I'm very proud of my work. But it turns out that I am an exceptional book coach.
I love the creative process — not just mine, but yours. I am a student of how people make things, of how they take nothing and create something, and of why they do it, and why it is so satisfying, and why it involves so much pain, and so much courage. I am a devotee of the creative process, and I get as big a kick out of coaching and guiding and inspiring you as I do out of doing it myself.
Here's a story about that:
My client, Sam Polk, whose memoir, For the Love of Money, came out from Scribner in 2016, pitched an 800-word piece to The New York Times while his agent was pitching his book to publishing houses. I had the honor of helping Sam with both the book and the article. The NYT called Sam to ask if he could make the 800-word piece into 2500, and he called to ask me, "Could he?" He'd never done anything like that before. He wasn't sure he could. But of course I knew he could.
I happen to believe that Sam can do anything he puts his mind to. And odds are good that I will believe that about you, too. I don't think we are born with talent. I think we fight for it every step of the way. So I helped Sam with the piece. And then the NYT called one day to say it was going to be on the Sunday Review cover the next day.
I was on vacation, so I had to get up and go out and track down the newspaper. The moment I held that paper in my hands, I felt as proud and as thrilled and as filled with the power of possibility as if I had written the article myself.
It was a great day. I loved that day.
A couple weeks later, Sam got the offer on his book. That was a great day, too.
I love what I do. I would love to help you get to a great day, too.
And by sheer chance, another book I helped bring into the world came out the same week as Sam's book -- Wear and Tear by Tracy Tynan. (Read this rave review of Tracy's book in the Los Angeles Review of Books.) It's not every day that a book coach can go to one of our nation's most awesome independent bookstores and see *TWO* books she helps bring into the world on the front table.... but that happened to me at Book Soup that wonderful week in July. So to mark the moment, I bought this beautiful hand stitched pillow from the shelves of BookSoup -- a one-of-a-kind work of art. It contains everything you need to tell a good tale, so I thought it was appropriate. What better what to mark the occasion -- supporting another artist, being part of someone's story, keeping the love alive!
For more client success stories, click here:
What's on my desk?
- English Breakfast tea
- 5x7 yellow pads – a lot of them
- A picture of one daughter at Disneyland and the other daughter running cross-country
- A quote about a legendary Harvard crew coach: "He made people prove themselves to themselves."
- Lucky stones from the beach
- A massive Apple Thunderbolt screen
- A quote by Scott Dilbert: "The market rewards execution, not ideas."
- A paper calendar
- A little red clock
- A tiny ceramic bear
What exactly is a book coach, anyway?
- Read this Q&A I did with my client Lisa Cron, author of Story Genius and Wired for Story over at Writer Unboxed. It's a short and sweet peek into why a story coach elected to work with a book coach.
- Listen to this podcast I did with my client CJ McClanahan, author of The Overachievers Dilemma. We talk about why a writer might need a coach, what a coach adds to the mix, and what the process is like. It's 30 minutes of great insight into how coaching works.
- Read this blog post from my client Audrey Monke about how understanding what "tendency" she has (Gretchn Rubin's concept of personality profile) led her to know she needed to work with a book coach.
Read this New Yorker piece by surgeon Atul Gawwande is a fascinating look at how even the most seasoned pros can use a little help from time to time. It has nothing to do with me. Or writing. But it speaks to the power of wanting to get better at something.
Official author bio
Jennie Nash is the author of four novels, including Perfect Red, The Threadbare Heart, The Only True Genius in the Family and The Last Beach Bungalow. She is the author of three memoirs, including The Victoria’s Secret Catalog Never Stops Coming and Other Lessons I Learned From Breast Cancer. She has been an instructor at the UCLA Extension Writing Program for eight years and is the founder and chief creative officer of Author Accelerator, an online program to help writers get from inspiration to publication.
Jennie runs a private book-coaching business. Her clients have landed top New York agents, and had books published by Scribner, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, Norton, Ten Speed and SelectBooks. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two daughters.
I have blogged on the following awesome sites