How badly do authors need a coach to help them through the writing and publishing process? Here’s a clue: University of Wisconsin–Madison Continuing Studies announced a mentoring program called Pathway to Publication in April 2018, and it sold out in 25 minutes.
Pathway to Publication matches authors with one of several expert coaches from the Continuing Studies Writing Program. It doesn’t matter if the authors are aspiring or established; just getting started with a manuscript or ready to finish one. It doesn’t matter if they work in fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. In each case, the author and coach agree on a set of goals for the next six or 12 months. Perhaps it’s to write one page a week, or one chapter a month. They also agree on how often to check in with one another. The coach helps the author through trouble spots, reads a portion of the manuscript, and provides pep talks where necessary to keep things on track.
“Pledging to participate in the Pathways to Publication program is the opportunity I needed to finally make the act of completing my book a priority,” says Christine Schultz, who is working on a nonfiction manuscript with writing coach Laurie Scheer. “When someone wants to get serious about accomplishing anything that requires discipline and effort, they have a coach to hold them accountable and push them to that success. My coach is making crossing the finish line less scary, more exhilarating, and most importantly, achievable!”
In its first year, Pathway to Publication has helped 30 authors whip their manuscripts into shape. The program started after the 2018 Writers’ Institute and will celebrate its success at the 2019 event, scheduled for April 4-7 at the Madison Concourse Hotel.
For those interested in exploring all the latest paths to publication, the 30th annual Writers’ Institute features presentations by authors, literary agents, and UW-Madison faculty. It provides practical tips for writers of fiction, and nonfiction, including such genres as mystery, romance, memoir, history, and true crime. They learn how to polish, publish, and promote their work, drawing on UW-Madison expertise. They also have the unique opportunity to pitch their manuscripts to industry professionals, who attend the conference to find new authors and to help attendees sharpen their skills.
Secrets to success
The 2019 Writers’ Institute features agents from Curtis Brown, Ltd., Fuse Literary, Nelson Literary Agency, and D4EO Literary Agency. Speakers include publishing insider Jane Friedman, who specializes in business strategies for authors and publishers; and book coach Jennie Nash of Author Accelerator. UW-Madison faculty will conduct master classes and manuscript critiques, and previous attendees who’ve published their work will share the secrets of their success.
This year, the Writers’ Institute will also include a panel made up entirely of participants in the Pathway to Publication program. They’ll describe the progress they’ve made with the help of their devoted UW–Madison coaches.
“I’m having a great experience with Pathway to Publication,” says Sylvia Cavanaugh, who’s writing a novel with help from writing coach Christine DeSmet. “I feel that my writing is already improving with Christine’s guidance. She is incredibly supportive and helpful, and I’m so glad to have embarked on this journey.”