Q&A: On Ups and Downs of Writing a Book

Paula Tarnapol Whitacre

I’ve been an independent writer and editor a long time. But no one I know does a better job of running a professional writing business than Paula Tarnapol Whitacre. She kindly devoted space this month in her newsletter to interviewing me about my new book.

Here’s the link to read it.

Paula seems to quickly master all the tools writers need for marketing and promotion, while I can’t seem to learn all this fast enough. Publishing a newsletter, growing a mailing list of followers, maintaining a blog, promoting a book through different avenues — it’s practically a full-time job! And Paula does it all seamlessly.

We met years ago at the Washington Biographers Group, and I picked up lots of tips from watching her publish and promote her own book, A Civil Life in an Uncivil Time: Julia Wilbur’s Struggle for Purpose (Potomac Book, 2017). I got a glimpse of Paula’s professionalism firsthand at a Washington Writers Conference when she came armed with a book proposal so polished it landed her an agent for her book.

Paula’s book, like mine, grow out of a local story she discovered that grew into an obsession with writing the historical narrative of a significant woman who was long overlooked.

I feel privileged to live in an area that offers such a supportive community of writers. My own monthly book-critique group has been going strong for more than a decade, after we all met at a workshop at the Writers Center in Bethesda, Md. They’ve read about every word in my new book, Eliza Scidmore: The Trailblazing Journalist Behind Washington’s Cherry Trees, some chapters multiple times!

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