Weekday Wisdom, Episode 102
An interview with Joan Gelfand, Part 1
What does it take to write and complete a book? In today’s episode of the Weekday Wisdom, I talk with author Joan Gelfand about just that topic.
Joan is a writing coach. She’s been teaching the four Cs to aspiring authors at writers conferences for the past 10 years while helping writers around the country realize their dreams of becoming successfully published. She has mentored college professors, CEOs, doctors, ghostwriters, poets, and playwrights.
CARMA SPENCE: So you wrote this book, and it talks about craft, commitment, community, and confidence. Why are those the four Cs?
JOAN GELFAND: When I first started to write seriously and was determined to get published, I realized that working in a void, working alone, was not enough to build up my reputation to get published. One of the questions you and I talked about before this meeting was, “What’s the changes that writers can expect in the world of publishing?” And one of the changes is that a publisher will ask you, “What’s your platform? Who are you? What have you done out in that community besides your writing?” And also ask you, “What Have you published?”
So my mistake, in the beginning, was that I started writing a novel instead of small things. And so if you just go out with just a novel but you have no online presence and you have no reputation, you’re going to hit some resistance.
So, that’s why I came up with the four Cs. Yes, of course, it’s craft. Any writing instructor will tell you it’s craft. But a lot of writers start projects that they don’t finish. So then I wanted to have a chapter on commitment because I want to talk about what it takes to get a project from Point A to Point B. That’s why it’s called the four Cs of successful authors. There’re a lot of authors out there that don’t feel successful because they’re not disciplined or they’re not finishing things. So that was commitment.
And community: I just realized that you need to have a presence out in your literary world. Yes.
And then, of course, confidence. We can talk about a little bit later. That’s kind of a no-brainer. You kind of can’t do anything until you have the inner strength and belief in yourself to put it out there.
So I came up with the four Cs when I had done a BA and an MFA and still was hitting walls. Then I realized, “OK. I’m going to like really look around and see what is it that gets a writer from unpublished to published.” These are the four kinds of components, elements.
CS: Exactly. Exactly. And a platform is a big thing for publishers these days.
JG: Yeah. I mean if I was going to be in my curmudgeonly, cynical … But we’re not there because this is Weekday Wisdom … But if I did want to wear that hat for a moment, I would almost say to writers, “Kind of prepare yourself. Because to get a publisher interested in you these days, you almost have to be famous.”
And it’s really daunting because, writers are like, “How do I get famous?” You know? I don’t mean fame like, you know, Cyndi Lauper.
CS: No. But They want you to have a sizable Twitter following or Facebook following. They want you to have a following.
JG: They want to know that more than your mother is going to buy your book. Definitely, definitely.
CS: So what inspired you to write this nonfiction book, if you start off with novels?
We’ll get to the answer that question in next week’s episode of the Weekday Wisdom.
I hope you enjoyed today’s video. If you did, please give it a thumbs up on YouTube. And let me know in a comment below.
Remember you are capable of more than you know. And when you have the four Cs you are going to be able to live out your abilities.