Writers@Work: Publishing Prescriptive Nonfiction
April 11, 2023
Note From Rochelle
You have just a few more days to sign up for April’s class on Overcoming Procrastination. We meet April 17 and 24—and I’d love to have you there!
So many of my clients put off the things they REALLY WANT TO DO because they feel scared or worry they’re not good enough.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
At Overcoming Procrastination, you’ll learn how to deal with those feelings so that you can get your work done.
Don’t let this opportunity to help yourself pass you by. Here’s the link to sign up: https://writenowcoach.com/workshops/workshop-overcome-procrastination-and-write/
For today’s tip, I interviewed Jennifer Fink about her new book, Building Boys: Raising Great Guys in a World that Misunderstands Men. If you live in the Milwaukee area, you can see her at Boswell Book Company tonight at 6:30. You need to pre-register with Boswell to attend.
Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach
Writers@Work: Publishing Prescriptive Nonfiction
An Interview with Jennifer Fink
Welcome to the blog and congrats on your new book, Building Boys. Tell us about it!
Building Boys: Raising Great Guys in a World That Misunderstands Males shows parents how to raise confident, secure, kind boys in an era of evolving gender norms. It offers 10 broad, science-based guidelines that parents can use to direct their parenting decisions – guidelines that are as relevant to parenting toddlers as they are to parenting teenagers. It also includes dozens of real-life parenting anecdotes, including plenty of stories from my experience raising four boys!
Unlike so many books about parenting boys, this one is by an in-the-trenches mom who understands the challenges (& joys) of living with boys. I know—from experience—that schools and society aren’t particularly boy-friendly, and I also know that those who are raising boys today don’t have time to wait for schools and society to change. I want people to know that it’s possible to raise great guys right now, despite the challenges. I believe it’s critically important to build boys into men, and this book is a blueprint.
You’ve also written The First-Time Mom’s Guide to Raising Boys: Practical Advice for Your Son’s Formative Years. Can you talk about how you got your book deals?
The First-Time Mom’s Guide to Raising Boys was a Callisto Media project, and they came to me. Callisto Media develops book ideas after analyzing data about what people are looking for online; then, they find an author—usually, someone who already has some expertise in the book topic—to write the book. That was a work-for-hire project (which means they own all rights to the book), and I wrote the book based on an outline they created and provided.
Building Boys is all me. I’d already written the book proposal and was in the process of looking for an agent when The First-Time Mom’s Guide deal came to me. I said yes to that one in part because I figured it would make me (and my proposal) more attractive to prospective agents and publishers. It took me more than a year to secure an agent; then, on his advice, I rewrote the proposal. He sent it out to multiple publishers. One, Rowman & Littlefield, made an offer. Rowman & Littlefield is my publisher.
I know that you juggle book-writing with all sorts of writing assignments, podcasting, parenting and more. What are your tools for getting writing done?
- My Planner Pad. I’m a paper planner person, at least for work, and this one allows me to list my current projects as well as what needs to be done each week, and then slot it in.
- Timer. I’m a terrible procrastinator and almost always have something I’d rather be doing than writing. Getting down to work is a challenge for me, so I use the timer of my phone (or an online countdown timer) to “trick” myself into writing. I typically set the timer for 30 minutes (20 or less if I really don’t feel like working) and then get to it. I almost always end up going longer.
For the book, I also had 2 large 3-ring binders that I used to keep track of my work. Both were divided by chapters. One contained all my notes; the other, printed out versions of finished chapters. I needed to see physical progress!
You’re cohost of the podcast On Boys. What advice would you give to people who want to start a podcast to help build their brand?
Find someone who can help you. When I got the idea for the podcast, I reached out to Janet Allison of Boys Alive! and asked her to collaborate with me. I’d worked with Janet previously and knew that she was a go-getter who’s not scared of technology. I also knew we worked well together. Having a partner helped me make a dream a reality because her enthusiasm fueled mine. She dove in and figured out the tech side—including audio editing—and I handle the duties.
Also: a podcast is a lot of work. Probably more than you think. But if you’re starting a podcast to help build your brand, you can kind of “double dip.” We interviewed dozens of experts on ON BOYS – and some of the info they shared ended up in the book. The podcast also helped me develop relationships and connections with others who care about boys, and that’s been a boon to my marketing efforts.
What are you reading now?
Right now, I’m mostly reading magazine & newspaper articles and stuff online. I recently got a puppy, and she takes up a LOT of time and attention. I can’t sink into a good book because I can’t look away from her for that long!
Next up for work, though, is The Emotional Lives of Teenagers: Raising Connected, Capable, and Compassionate Adolescents, by Lisa Damour, PhD. We’re having her on the podcast soon, so I need (and want) to read her book. I’ve long admired her work. (Her “potted plant” method of parenting teens is fantastic – and mentioned in my book.)
I’m also looking forward to digging into Rough Sleepers: Dr. Jim O’Connell’s Urgent Mission to Bring Healing to Homeless People, by Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy Kidder.
About the author: Jennifer L.W. Fink is the mother of four sons and has been parenting boys for two decades. An award-winning freelance journalist, she is the author of the book The First-Time Mom’s Guide to Raising Boys: Practical Advice for Your Son’s Formative Years. She’s also the founder and creator of BuildingBoys.net, a website and global community for parents of boys, and cohost of the podcast On Boys: Real Talk about Parenting, Teaching, & Reaching Tomorrow’s Men. She lives in Wisconsin.