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.
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 several years on staff of a slick New York magazine where I learned how to edit a story, meet deadlines and crank out catchy copy.
I began writing for a wide range of publications — everything 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!
I began coaching other writers when Lisa Cron, a colleague who was teaching with me at the UCLA Extension Writers’ program, asked me to guide her. She landed a two-book deal at Ten Speed.
My second client, Sam Polk, wrote a memoir called For the Love of Money. It came out from Scribner in 2016 to enormous acclaim in The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Slate and many other news outlets. Sam's favorite review was in The New Yorker. He appeared on The Today Show, The Tavis Smiley Show, CNN, NPR and Oprah.
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 helped bring into the world on the front table.... but that happened to me at Book Soup that wonderful week in July.
Why? 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.
My private-coaching clients have landed top New York agents, and snagged 5- and 6-figure deals from publishes such as Scribner, Simon & Schuster, Norton, Ten Speed and Hachette, among others. Here are some of my clients books:
The goal was to bring my book coaching systems and strategies to a wider audience. We currently have 25 book coaches on our team and just launched a book coach training and certification program.
We’re on a mission to transform the way writing is taught.
You can visit us at authoraccelerator.com ➤
These are some of the places where I have appeared as a guest expert: