I've been asked by the Text and Academic Authors Association (TAA) to develop workshops for them to offer. They will pay my expenses to universities who want me to come to yell at--I mean help--academics about writing and publishing. The universities pay me a fee. So far I will be going to Furman University (September 26-28) and University of Virginia (February 11).
Here's the description:
Book-worthy: How Smart Academics Write To Get Published
This workshop is for people who understand that all writers, especially good ones, struggle to be better. Are you a careful writer? Do you care about your sentences? Do you know how to use a semi-colon? (Are you sure?) Do you sometimes slip into the passive voice and not realize why that can be a problem? Do you use paragraphs to give your reader a break? Do you know how to create a narrative arc? What are the bad habits of academic prose and how can you avoid them to write a book that is publishable?
This workshop will attempt to help you determine
- If your topic is actually book-worthy (and adapt it if it’s not)
- How to write (so that somebody other than your mother will be willing to read you)
- How to approach publishers and what to expect from the process
- What attitudes, behaviors and disciplines are required to write and publish a book
We’re all enamored with our topics. Most academic writers deliver content in a way that fails to keep the reader in mind. This workshop will address, in a way that should not be too painful, how to move through your infatuation—or desperation—to figure out what is worth writing about, how best to present your material, and how to get it published.
Our focus will be on the craft of writing. Who are the good writers in your field? What makes reading their books a pleasure? What tricks and moves do they use that you can steal in your own work? What are the practices and habits of successful writers?
We will also discuss the publishing process, including how to talk to editors at conferences (please do not try to give them copies of your manuscript), how to write query letters, how to respond to reader’s reports, what you need to know about contracts, and the sad fact that your work isn’t finished when you hand in a final manuscript.
Rachel Toor was for a dozen years an acquisitions editor at Oxford and Duke University Presses. She currently teaches creative writing in Eastern Washington University’s MFA program and is on the faculty of Pacific University’s low-residency MFA program. A cum laude graduate of Yale University, with an MFA from the University of Montana, she is the author of three books (Admissions Confidential: An Insider’s Account of the Elite College Selection Process, The Pig and I, and Personal Record: A Love Affair with Running) and writes a monthly column on issues in writing and publishing for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Her work has appeared in Inside Higher Ed, Glamour, Reader’s Digest, Ploughshares, The LA Times, JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association) Running Times, Marathon&Beyond, and Runner’s World among other publications.