In the twelfth episode of This Podcast Needs a Title, Peter and Erica chat with author and writing coach Isabel Sterling about burnout, the upcoming release of her new novel (The Coldest Touch), and how her coaching services help authors find their publishing power. Isabel also spills the beans on why and how she recently scrapped an entire work-in-progress without setting her life on fire.
BONUS: Isabel coaches one of the co-hosts!
Hey everyone, welcome to this podcast needs a title. I'm Erica Davis. And I am Peter Malone Eliot. And this is real talk about Writing, Publishing and everything in between, I guess, in a few minutes we're going to be talking to our positively grand guest, Isabel Sterling. Oh is an author and a writing coach. Whoa. But first, she's so cool. Erica. How are you doing? I get it. Today is good day. It is my husband's birthday. Whoo and dandy. Yeah, as I love birthdays, I don't care whose it is especially love my birthday. Do not get me wrong. Your 18th birthday. Okay, my favorite day of the year I'll tattooed on my body so I don't forget. Okay, thank you. So those are just my he took the day off and he has tomorrow off too. So he's just he's relaxed and it makes it's just nice when he's home and I get to what we just goof off and watch office this morning and he had some presence. It was great. The best gift that he opened in my worldview is the the Funko Pop that I got him. It's Duke silver Nick Offerman his alter ego on Parks and Rec, it's x bone sex. Let's not affect them. But it could have been I didn't I don't know music. The other the other piece of how I'm doing is I've recently got some pretty helpful confirmations from my grief counselor and ADHD assessment. grief counselor confirms that I have PTSD for a long ago car accident. And that's why I don't like driving anymore. And I had something close to a an anxiety attack about it a couple like a couple days ago. And I'm just, I'm sick of it. Like I don't, I don't want to be scared of driving anymore. And the other thing was confirmed for ADHD dash inattentive type, which I suspected. If my parents were still here, they would have been like, Oh, I think I know why I talked so fast in general, because I am always on the verge of being about to forget what I'm going to say. Right? Because there's 1000s and 1000s and 1000s of thoughts going through my head at any given time. Like, you know, the slot machines 777. Like, us sort of like like if I don't catch it at the right spot. We'll be talking about whatever snacks. Oh, I love snacks. I had blueberry well, okay, how are you, Peter? Well, first off, thank you for telling us that and for the courage and honesty that is close that good for you. Thanks, man. We support you and love you. Love you too bad. Yeah. All right. Good. You everybody. Bye, bye. I'm doing I'm fine. I'm fine. I'm, I'm taking my first vacation in a couple of weeks. And I haven't had a vacation. And I literally can't even tell you how, like surreal, like haven't in a couple years or a couple decades, I'm guessing no. decade in like a couple of years, probably. So I'm very excited for that. Things are good. I'm very excited about getting all of the unpublished winners and runner's UPS out the industry. So I've been sending lots, which is fun. That's so great. Yeah. And I've zoomed with all them. And they're all wonderful people if they're listening to this, otherwise, almost Well, this is kind of going to the accountability goal. So I guess Should we just roll straight into the accountability goal? Heck, yes. Heck yeah. Heck yeah. Fuck yeah. Oh, God up there. The checkbox explicit. Tim, Erica, how did you do in your accountability goal, my accountability goal was to have about 10 interviews, transcribed, give or take. I only got to transcribe, to have of those. But then I got three responses from the written version of the interviews. And I'm realizing I thought the verbal interviews would be much more productive. It's actually more work for me to transcribe the verbal interviews than it is to hear to read the written interviews. So I have a total of seven interviews printed in hand. And, but I didn't literally transcribe all of them. So I didn't mean it. But I'm okay with that. That's all right. Yeah, I'm plugging away. And I'm actually, I'm taking a three day break from the patient project, because on November 1, I will be starting with our fellow NaNoWriMo. Warriors on our new NaNoWriMo group hashtag pipeline artists, right stuff. Who writes with a W. M assume, right? Yes. Alrighty. Yep. The acronym is pause, if you will, because I'm actually going to use that as focus sessions for pounding out the rest of the three sample chapters I'm doing for my proposal that my agent is looking for in the next couple of weeks. How did you do on your accountability goal? I did well, my accountability goal if memory serves and it does, because I looked it up before this before this podcast. I the accountability goal, I said was to finish chapter 18 of the book and to pick out the headshots that I wanted retouched. You share did and I did both. I'm sorry to chapter 18. I actually picked five to be slightly retouched. They weren't like retouched huge but retouched a little bit. So the the PR people for the film have them and they they're out. They're gonna be out there. Oh my gosh. Oh, you did that for the film film? Pipeline. No, no. I mean, like, I mean, I'm gonna use them for like, you know, other things to biographer did a great job. Yeah, she's great. She's great. Kimberly Hewitt. Shut up. Science. So we should talk about ZACK No. Oh, it's such a great name. I feel like you should be a like a crime fighter in crime fighting DJ. Okay. Zack, no. Does you fight crime? Wiley's DJ, does he have like equipment like strapped to Molly's? Yeah, that's a bad guy. His cover is spinning mad beats. Okay, and he can hit you know, replay? What's it called out? Then he can hit. It's unrepeated he hits the repeat button and then go solves crimes in the dance club. Only crimes in the dance club. Okay, this is a really niche. crime fighter. Okay, fine. Fair enough. Zach. No. Tech, no. So his original goal was to go to bed before midnight at least five days in a row and get eight hours of sleep, which is a great goal. I'm quoting I can say proudly. I did this but only because I caught the flu was totally it was just totally drained. So I guess life held me accountable. Smiley face and quote. So Zack, Zack, I'm sorry. You got the flu but for getting more sleep, Russ that messed up big brain of yours. Yeah, your body was listening to the podcast. It's like okay, buddy wants sleep. Let's do it. Give him the flu. hit that reset. I'm sweating need to eat soaping and I haven't had that when people Yes, that's exactly what happens with the fool. You have to eat saltines That's right. Okay. Yeah, you only mean you're not wrong, Erica. Yeah, I think we should introduce our next guest. Abs. Okay, I wasn't gonna fight you for it. But okay, sure. To the death Peter. Oh man seems a little extreme, but that's fine. Death for Frodo. Here we go. I'm going you guys today on episode 12. We have Isabel Serling who's full disclosure she is one of my in real life. motional support writing buddies not unlike Shelly page or Hetal Avani who were our earlier guests on the show, but Isabelle is a writing coach and LGBTQ advocate and author of these witches don't burn, this Coven won't break and the forthcoming female female vampire novel The coldest touch when she's not I know right? When she's not writing Isabel can be found crocheting projects, she'll never finish completing crosswords with their spouse and trying not to destroy her garden. Oh, Isabel, I feel that on a molecular level. Isabelle lives in central New York where the winters are frigid. The summers are too hot. And autumn is perfect. Oh, my God, Peter. And welcome, Isabel. Thanks for joining the show. Yeah, thanks for having me. Wow, it's so good to see you both in the same room. I was just saying before you record that you were two of my favorite people in the universe. So worlds colliding? Oh, shucks Tell me more. So Isabel, I mean, right off the bat, you have a book coming out in December relations. Tell us tell us all about it. Oh, gosh. It was a book that I wrote actually pretty much all during quarantine. And I love it so much. And it's the coldest touches out December 7 And it follows get a nice dual POV situation. We have a human girl who can see the death of anybody she touches and tragically foretold her brother's death but was unable to prevent it. And she Yeah, a lot lots of emotions in this book, which is my favorite honestly. And then she is introduced to a vampire named Claire who has been sent to help her master her power and chaos and murder and a nice slow burn romance and soon are so good. And it's coming out who's publishing it is out with Razorbill, which is part of the Penguin Random House. Yeah, that's a great imprint. I'm looking behind me again, guys. I have at least one of your books, Jaime, I can feel it watching me. There it is. This look at this cover. Wow, it's on my to be read pile, but I already started. It's just such a great title, which is don't just don't burn. And there's your name. I'm so proud of you. Thank you fourth book for third or technically fourth kind of so I have two full length novels in print that are a duology. Right. And there's also like a e novella that just tells it's a very short tells a story of what happens before book one cool, gives you a little bit of insight. So technically I have three titles out will be four but it's the third full length novel that's going to be like in hardcover. That's really cool. Very Do you have a tradition for celebrating the release? Is there anything? Oh, yeah, yeah, I've done different things every time. The first one, I also didn't help that COVID That happened the first one. Yeah, COVID. And I very slowly went to work that day and was so distracted and got nothing done, I should have just taken the day off. But I got to go to Barnes and Noble and nobody told me that my book was going to be at the front of the store one of those like racks. I'm gonna like, go back to the white section, and it was just right there front. And I like about lost my mind. It was very cool. And then when this Coven won't break came out, it was right in the height of the start of the pandemic. So I actually, I did like a thing on Instagram Live. And then a couple days later, I was able to go to my local indie to sign books for folks would order through them, but didn't get to do a whole lot. And this will probably also be something virtual, that a cool preorder campaign. Cool. That'd be fun. But otherwise, yeah, it's gonna be probably pretty low key. I just I'm so curious, given that the kind of the release marketing stuff has changed so much, because the pandemic is, you know, virtual. I've talked to some authors that say that they actually prefer virtual events in some way, in the sense that they can reach more people and that it's recorded and blah, blah, blah, what do you what do you think about that? Do you prefer live um, so I think they both have their pros and cons. Being an introvert, I love virtual because I can, like, be there do the panel be you know, high energy, and then as soon as it's over my energy crashes, and I can be out. So that part's great. I do miss being able to, like, meet readers in person, like, that's so much fun and being able to, like, get together and go places. In 2019 When my first book came out, I mean, I was able to go to Boston and Rhode Island and I want to I got invited to go up to Toronto. And that was like, really cool, because I'm not really somebody who travels much. So that was super fun. And then, you know, just sort of been trapped in my house ever since. Trapped in those wood paneled walls. This is my little basement office writing area showing the creepy room. This little creepy thing up here. Yeah, pulls down. It's like the crawlspace under the house. Oh, yeah. It's not well disguised, like hinge and break in the upper part of the basement wall. Yes. And no way I'm making me uncomfortable. Whenever Isabel and I are having a co writing session, or virtual writing or whatever. I'm just like, I'm always looking up at you, like, sit opening it. During one of your writing sessions, just like leave it open a crack. Record and like pull it encouraging. Both of you, I would like to say that is about yours is one of the first books that I bought from an author who was first a friend of mine, a writing buddy, I have to say on the record, that's weird. It's so like, oh my god, she wrote this, these are her words. And that was my metal bookmark that just fell out. It's very interesting. reading words by somebody you already know, weird enough to the fact like, it's hard for me to separate author and story like I keep picturing you and all the parts. Like laying all the parts. Yeah, yeah. So I need to stop making friends with authors. So I can enjoy the books as they were meant to be. One of the reasons why I think like, as a writer, slash author, like, I never really pushed anybody to read my books, or like, follow up with them. Because like, I don't want to know if they do. I don't want to know, there's 1001 reasons I do not finish a book. I mean, there's books behind me from people that I adore in real life that I've met at conferences, and I wasn't able to finish their book for one reason or another might have been a personal choice just might have been bored. But the writing is good. It's just not a story for me. God helped me if they ever asked that and I like it because I don't know what to say. This is Eric his way of breaking up with the shots. Peter never we've are and by the way, we have already hit had to hit the explicit button because Peter said the F word. I dropped an F bomb dropped an F bomb a farce. Whoa, is that this has allowed that is mine. I curse a lot. I've ever heard you curse. So I'm doing really well. Isabel here. Yeah, no, I think it's more when I'm complaining about things. I don't complain to you a ton about Oh, f so I think it's fucking great curse. When we first reached out to you and talk to you about coming on the show, we you and I were talking Isabel about what would be on your mind. And I was really excited to hear that author burnout is on your mind and specifically stuff about authors who are feeling powerless and how they find your professional voice and parallels that is your new coaching service. I wanted to kind of open up that discussion. Let's talk about burnout. Yeah, I mean, and there's so many ways you could take care Of all parts of this conversation, but I do see burnout happening so much at so many different stages of being a writer. So you know, you've got your early writers who are just starting out, you've got the folks who are querying books, you've got agents, like at all levels and up to folks who have, you know, five, six books already traditionally published, and there's burnout happening in every stage. And I think there's a couple of reasons for that. One, just sort of, I guess, environmentally is that a lot of us? Well, one, we're in a pandemic. So we'll just set that aside for a second because this was a problem. Well, before that, yeah. But a lot of us, you know, are writing while doing other things. So a lot of us work full time while writing. I think the percentage of writers who work I don't have the numbers who write full time, but I know it's pretty small. Yes, compared to what we think it is, right? So a lot of us are juggling other careers and family and then trying to write in the little pockets or people will sacrifice their sleep, which I don't understand, because I can't function with less than a person doesn't work. Definitely. But I know people who do this, okay, I'm gonna sleep like five hours. And that's all I can write. And I'm like, oh, no, no, no, that is a recipe for disaster. Like it might work in the short term. But so I think that's part of it. And then I think another key part of it, which I don't know this necessarily unique only to writers, but it's maybe something with a lot of creatives in general. And honestly, just the human condition is always think that once we achieve like the next level of success, things will be better. So we hustle ourselves to the ground at that first level of like, okay, like, I've seen this a lot with folks who like, Okay, well, I'm gonna just like put my nose down, ignore all my friends and family and just get this book done so that I can query it by x date. So they're working really hard, working really hard, working really hard. And then they query it. And then they start getting rejections. And then they're like, oh, no, not gonna write the next book. Or they actually get an agent. And they're like, instead of taking a breath and enjoying it, and being like, This is amazing. They're just immediately like, oh, no, I got to revise it for submission. And so there's this constant hustle of like jumping to the next level, without ever really enjoying where you currently are. And also without, like, realizing that when you get to that next level, aside from the fact that you're at a different stage in your career, your life is almost exactly the same. So I yeah, I joked in a recent newsletter, I'm like, I still have to, like clean the cat litter and pick up dog poop, like my life isn't that different? It's pretty much the same. Wait, if you don't get it, when you get a book deal, someone doesn't pick up your cat poop for you? No, they don't take out the trash. Like they don't make you stop arguing with your siblings. Rude honestly, very rude. Given that you're a writing coach as well, it seems like just taking a quick glance at website that you really kind of design how you coach someone based on their specific individual needs. I mean, thinking about author burnout in everything that you just talked about, why why do you choose to take that individualized approach instead of kind of just offering like a catch all, I will edit your full manuscript and give you notes? And that's it. What What made you want to decide to do the former not the latter? That's such a good question. So a couple reasons. One, I actually don't. So as a writing well, writing coach or you know, life coach for writers, however, you want to say, I actually don't ever look at their work, I really focus on their ability to kind of be a career coach. Yeah, so yeah, go to like, manage their all of their stuff so that they are able to get their work done, feel creative. And, you know, interact with this industry in a way that isn't going to leave them feeling like hollowed out and miserable. Sure. So it's really more focused on like longevity, helping you have the ability to like stay in this industry, especially for folks who, you know, I think about, you know, a lot of writers tend to be very anxious people who like to know what's going on, they feel like they troll. Sure. Okay, no. It's an industry that is horrible for that there's so much opacity, like there's so much out of your control. So giving people the tools to actually go through and deal with that. And just let me in. And what's the reason why I do it in a way that is really individualized, which may change over time. But right now, I want to be able to work with anybody from, Hey, I've always wanted to write a book. But I've never been able to get past a certain point because I give up to folks who like I have six books out and I've got so many things under contract. And I'm like, don't know how I'm going to do everything. I'm completely burned out. So anybody in that role? Huge range. Yeah, I want to be able to help them find them where they are, and figure out what is keeping them from getting to that next level, and then help them develop the skills to get there. That's amazing. And what what made you want to do that because that's just such a awesome thing. I mean, I feel like most writers wouldn't think oh, I also want to help Right. So I think part of it was when I was debuting, I was both very excited and very miserable. I was, you know, at a, an, I'm somebody who like I like to because publishing is so opaque like, I like to just be like, This is exactly what I got for my advanced when somebody asked so that we can like, you know, talk about it and whatever, versus the sort of like, you know, what's high to somebody is low to somebody else. And that's just not right. But in feeling that, especially when I was first a few, and I would see like, Okay, well, we have similar books, and this person got paid twice as much. So that means my book, you know, is only half as good, or I was starting to make all these comparisons, that were really making me feel really shitty about myself. Because I kept thinking like, Well, my publisher doesn't believe in me because they didn't pay me X amount. And I was making all of these assumptions about what these numbers meant. And it was really hard to get out of that mindset and just like, step back and be like, the version of me five years ago, who was first starting to write and wanting this dream of being an author would be like, What is wrong with you? This is what we wanted. But that is I think, you know, I had such a hard time. And I was so stuck in that, that I couldn't see the cool things that I was doing, because I was always looking at like, well, that person got this thing. And I did, and that person got this thing, and I didn't, which just felt like garbage. Yeah, it was not helpful. And I was so stressed about like, marketing, and I was gonna do it wrong. And like, I was afraid that if my book didn't sell the way I wanted it to my career would be over. And there was just so much drama happening in my brain that I was sort of like doing to myself, yeah, that was taking away like, sort of like the magic of the moment of like, I'm like, right now, like, I'm living somebody's dream right now. You know, that's freaking cool. Yeah, like, and it's so easy to forget that when you get mired in all the like, Well, I wish I had made this much money. So I could have paid off my student loans, and like all of the yada yada, right. So, around that time, a lot of my book came out, I actually found coaching. So I was, there were any really writing coaches, but other like mindset coaches, I found podcasts and things I was listening to. And that really helped me realize, and work on myself in terms of, you know, this is why like, I'm not miserable, because my friend got a book tour, as an fictional example, like, I'm already miserable about it, because I'm thinking that it means something bad about me. And it means nothing about me, doing all of that, and then learning for myself, or now I'm at a place where like, of course, I want my books to sell well, but also, like, I just love the book so much, and I want readers to enjoy it. And I know they're going to, and I'm just really at peace with that. Like, I'm not like freaking out, I've got a book. I mean, it's out in like six weeks, and I'm totally chill, who am I, I'm just like this books coming out. There's all this stuff with like, the paper shortages, and like, the books might not go yet. And, you know, and I'm just like, you know, whatever happens is going to happen, I'm gonna do my best, and it's fine. And that is, I think, a level of emotional calm that most of us in the industry don't have and that I definitely didn't have when I was a debut. So I really want to pass that on to other writers. And I really want to shift sort of the landscape of publishing where we, I see so many writers, especially those sort of like pre agent, yeah, who just feel like they're sort of at the whims of this bigger industry. And then when they finally get an agent, they sort of feel like they're beholden to their agent, and they're not an equal to them. I think a lot of that is we're just, at first so excited that like, we finally did the thing that we wanted to do that we forget that like, you know, these were partners with publishing, like without authors, there are no books to publish. Such a good point. I know that on the surface level, but hearing now as a newly agented author, hearing that from a published author is that's groundbreaking for me, I forget the partnership thing. Even with that Kimber, my agent, I find myself hesitating to reach out to ask her a question. Meanwhile, 100% of the three agents we've had on the show so far have said always ask your agent questions always know. stuff always and I literally their job. Yeah, literally their job and I can there's still some mental block things growing up in the 80s and 90s. That's like, Don't bug people don't don't inconvenience other people. The thing I always tell the the contest winner and runner ups and finalists that I work with when I'm circulating in the industry, is that the thing it's a cliche, kind of but it's a true cliche. The partnership with an agent is exactly that. It's a partnership. It's a relationship. It should go both ways. You shouldn't be feel like it's a one sided thing in just because an agent, you know has sold a bunch of things if they're not the right fit for you. You should not sign with that agent. You need to see who they are as people and if you mesh with them as people and that should be the most important thing and then You know, the other things are important too. But that's number one. Yeah. Within your coaching service, how is it that you do start helping us authors? Find our own power, what it's, I mean, it sounds very Lord of the Rings for me, and I'm okay with that. What's my journey to mortar, like, you go to the website and you click on the for writers tab, it'll bring you to all the information about coaching. And because what I do is so personalized to the individual, we actually start with a free consultation. So we just get on the phone, it's super casual, but I'm going to ask a bunch of questions to figure out, you know, where is the person currently? What is standing in their way? What do they think is the problem versus what is the actual problem. So it's almost a little bit of like, diagnosing of like, you know, they think the problem is that they are, you know, don't have an agent yet. And the problem might actually be that they aren't taking risks, because they're afraid to like stand out, or Ah, but figuring out kind of what they think their problem is, what it actually is, and then where it is they want to go. And so that is sort of step one is figuring out what they're trying to get towards. And then I have a whole toolbox of different techniques, I can teach them over the time. So depending on what it is, so is it that they have just like chaos with time management, and they keep wanting to write in, they just keep not. So we've got tools to help them overcome that. If it's that they are just terrified to show somebody their work, because they've got their personal human worth tied up in their book, like, I can help them separate that and have that be, you know, so that taking the rejection, so personally, because there's nothing to do with them. So it really depends what it is. So we'll work together on the console to figure out, you know, where they are, where they're going, and let them know how I'll get them there. And then they decide whether or not we want to work together. And that's a journey they want to take. Sure. And then it's the coaching. So and really the coaching, it's it's part teaching, teaching the different techniques, and also really like helping them see what is happening in their brain. So a really kind of brief, the way kind of coaching works in the in the style that I was taught, as we look at what is the cause of the problem? So we look at what is happening, what are the facts of the situation? What are you believing about it or thinking about it. And whatever that thought or belief is that's going to drive your emotions, and then your emotions drive all of your actions. And then whatever your collection of actions are gives you the results you're creating in your life. So I'll say, so here's a good example. So I also I'm very stubborn. It's like one of my character traits, and I think, but so I, you know, queried three books, I didn't get an agent. And then I had a query, the fourth book finally did get an agent. And then my agent left the industry and I had a query a fifth book. But the reason I was able to keep going and keep going and keep going is that I believed in my heart of hearts, like it's inevitable that one day I will be on bookshelves, and I just believe that so strongly, that just sort of had this like, feeling of like determination. So I always wrote a next book, I always kept going, I never was going to stop. And when you never stop it, it becomes inevitable eventually, you keep leveling up. But if I had gotten those rejections and been like, Man, I must be a really shitty writer, I should just stop this, then I would have stopped, right? The only difference the reductions would have been the same. The only difference was how I was interpreting that. Damn, oh, God, right. Okay. Where's the sign up? I really standing in line, all my mind right now. Circling back to Peters question from Episode 10. Pete, you asked me about any anxiety I experienced during the submission process. And I hadn't had I haven't had any yet. Because I've never been on submission before. I think you and I did talk about anxiety in general. Isabel, you and I, when it was just you and me just chatting. You had some amazing insight on that. And I'm going to mute myself because the dogs are crazy. But I think that's a really great conversation you and Peter can have right now. Yeah, Peter, you should ask Isabelle about? Yeah. Well, so I'm working on my first novel. So I'm kind of new to the whole novel writing thing. But you know, I'm a represented screenwriter, I have a movie coming out November and I've taken out a bunch of specs and had them you know, optioned by producers yada yada so like I'm used to the submission process but it's incredibly it never gets any easier the the anxiety about waiting to hear back from people waiting for people to read things, you know, in the film and TV world waiting for agents to rethink so they can circulate it to actors to attach you know, it's it's, it's such a demoralizing it's kind of a melodramatic word, but it's just so everything is so far out of my control. And I'm wondering if there's any words of advice you have for me, even though I'm used to the process, it's not getting any easier. Yeah. So do you mind if I like Coach a little bit, please? So I'm just gonna get myself set up over here. All right. So the main feeling you would say that you're feeling about So say I'm saying you got a project on submission, as are facts of what's happening. And would you say the main feeling is that anxiety, anxiety and also kind of dejected pneus? Because I've had a lot of projects get to like the one yard line, and then kind of fall through at the last minute. So kind of a fear that the same is gonna happen again, I suppose. I said, You're afraid that, like, it's going to get basically getting to get almost all the way and then get rejected? Correct? Why would that be a problem? Well, I mean, I suppose I suppose in the grand scheme of life, it's not that big of a deal, right. But I just I've been plugging away at the film and TV thing for so long. And I'm confident my abilities, and I know that I'm good enough to succeed. It's, it's frustrating when things get passed on for things that have nothing to do with what's on the page. Okay, for our listeners at home, Isabel is diligently writing No, yeah, I'm sorry. Don't apologize. And to kind of add on I when I see, you know, I see peers of mine that are writers getting success very quickly, you know, and that's great. I'm so happy for them. It's not like I'm jealous. Makes me a little frustrated. You know, it's like, well, what, I'm, I'm doing everything right, what the what the fuck, you know, this? Yeah, essentially. So the thought is sort of like, I'm doing everything right. It should have happened by now. Yeah. Yeah. That's probably a sick way of putting it. Yeah. So when you're thinking, you know, it should have happened by now. What feeling kind of like runs through your body? Anger? frustration, sadness? And the feeling like, I want to quit? I never do actually quit, obviously. But you know, that feeling does rush through me. Yeah. Yeah. So which one do you think is the most prominent specifically from it should have happened by now? Which one is really fun? Because you mentioned a few things and like, you know, you know, I failed or No, but I'm confident in my abilities with all those different thoughts are going to have a slightly different feeling. So while we do like, so in real time, you've probably got like 20,000 different thoughts, producing a yes, wide variety of feelings. It's all jumbled up of like, I'm confident in my work. But it's bullshit that nobody appreciates you when I'm doing all that at once. But with this particular thought, you know, I've been doing all the things it should have happened by now what's like the primary feeling with that thought? Frustration, okay. So when you are feeling frustrated, because you're thinking it should have happened by now, what are some things you do? So I, I've learned in the past couple of years to not put all my eggs in one basket, but to realize that once I finish writing a project that I can't control, what happens after that is to move on to the next one. So part of that has realized that I don't want to put all of my eggs and basket eggs in the film TV basket, it's why I'm working on a novel now. It's why I've written plays in the past. It's, it's, it's not putting, and then so there's that and then also, you know, taking care of myself, you know, going to the gym regularly, exercising, taking walks, not reading the trades obsessively, because you know, when you read the trades obsessively, you just spiral of what the fuck? What the fuck? Why isn't this? Yeah, I'm gonna pause you for a second. So it's interesting, because you kind of told me the things you do, to try to escape feeling frustrated. Because you're, what you're doing is instead of so when you having this sort of this thought of like, it should have happened by now I feel frustrated. So I ignore my frustration. And I think, well, let's not put all my eggs in one basket. Let me write novels and write plays and write other things. So that's how you're trying to escape that feeling. Sure. And because you're trying to escape it, you're not processing all the way through it and able to like let it go. Oh, this is a therapy session. No. Coaching. Isabel, I'm here, I'm here for it. Yeah. Okay. So let's, let's see if we have like, is there a specific time recently where you got a rejection that made you like, particularly frustrated, like, is there a specific time you can think of? Yeah, I mean, it's, it's not really a rejection as much i There's a script that I wrote, that's an outpatient one of my mom's novels, that has a producer attached, and it's being packaged by one of the bigger agencies and we're just we've been waiting for months now at this point to hear back from a couple of handful of directors and other agents within this agency. And it's one of those projects where because it's an expensive period piece in order to get it greenlit it's going to need attachments So I'm just kind of twiddling my thumbs waiting. And I don't know how to do that healthily? Because this sort of thing has happened several times, and it's already blown up. So that's so that's kind of the most thing that's fresh in my mind right now. Okay, great. And this is actually, I think, great for listeners, too, because so much of you know, publishing with novels is waiting, and waiting. And that is where so much of the drama comes in, and the like, you know, refreshing your email every three seconds. So when you think about the thing about for a second, like, you're you been thinking about that project, and you're frustrated, because you're thinking it should have happened by now, or, you know, these folks are taking forever? What are some of the things you do in that moment? Or maybe things that you do that you wouldn't be doing? If you weren't currently feeling frustrated? So it's maybe this is things like, you know, are you refreshing your email? Are you complaining to writing friends? Like, what are those kinds of things that are like sort of the really driven from that frustration? Yes, I don't refresh my email. I don't do that. I do vent a lot to friends and family. I have a handful of people that, you know, that I feel safe going to and venting out my airing out my dirty laundry, so to speak. Yeah. And what about things that you would be doing if you weren't feeling frustrated in that moment? Or anything you're avoiding doing? For me? If I am feeling frustrated with the publishing industry, I'm very unlikely to actually sit down and work on my book, for example, I see oh, it's like things I'm actively avoiding. ICSE? Yeah. Um, no, I don't I don't know if there's anything I'm actively avoiding. I mean, the the one thing, I was a competitive athlete for most of my life. So I'm very think I'm very good at time management and setting things aside and keep working on things. So I've I'm almost done with my novel. So that hasn't suffered stuff in my day job. And with pipeline is going great. So I don't think that's suffered either. The the thing that I would maybe says, I probably am losing some sleep over it, probably that probably be the biggest thing. Yeah. But I don't think like my daily, like work functions has suffered, if that makes sense. Well, and that's likely because this isn't the only thought running at the time, you probably have a lot of other thoughts that get you into action. They're also happening at the same time. So that makes sense for sure. Anything else? That happens when you're frustrated? What does that look like? So say like, let's just say for example, we're going to go a little bit hypothetical, in hopefully this scare your brain, but 10 for a second, that, you know, this project hits on the roadblock, and all of a sudden, like this thing you're working on falls through. And you're feeling that frustration, like, what does that look like in the moment? Like, are you sitting quietly feeling frustrated? Are you pacing the room? Like what does that look like for you when you're like frustrated like that? Initially, it would probably be pacing the room and cursing loudly and yelling, probably. And then, once I've kind of cycled through that it's I get very quiet and introspective and very internal and very sad. Yeah, yeah. So when you're doing all of that, you're venting, you might be losing some sleep. And then you know, if we get to a place where you know, a projection is maybe fresh, you're pacing and cursing and yelling. And then as we get all that work that were sitting quiet and sort of reflecting, when you're doing that you end up focusing on all of the things that haven't happened yet, and not on the progress you've already made. Oh, and so what we think we think we're frustrated, because it's taking so long, or we think we're frustrated, because we've got rejections coming in. And that's not what's causing the frustration. The only thing causing the frustration is the thought it should have happened by now. Hmm. But it's not like we can just like erase that thought and have it go away forever. Yeah. And it's not like we're gonna go and go to fairytale land of like, I'm exactly where I need to be. My time will come like, I was, like, if you don't pull, that's why like, I'm not super a huge fan of like, mantras. If you're just like, saying nice things to yourself that you don't believe what's happening is like, you might say, I'm exactly where I am. And you bring those Yeah, but okay, we should be there right now. Like, this is really Yeah, yeah. So part of now, we're not going to go through the whole session, because it could like take an hour, and I'm not gonna take up all your time. But like, if we were coaching, what we would do is we would start to pull apart like, why should it have happened by now? You know, and so we start, just pull it apart, pull it apart, pull it apart till we get to sort of the core belief that is fueling all of this. And once we find that we can start to question it, and find a place where we're not going to sunshine and rainbows land. But we're just going to like, you know, the practice of being like, yeah, where I am right now. You know, I have everything I need right now. I'm sitting you know, I have you know, food, clothing, shelter and creativity, I'm going to be fine. Or whatever it is you find that thing you can actually believe. Or if you want to feel frustrated you once you actually feel the feeling, it doesn't actually last that long. It lasts like, you know, maybe 90 seconds. Each time you think the thought. So interesting, okay, it takes all the hormones and stuff to flow through your body. So you learn to sit quiet and be like, okay, my frustration feels like, you know, attention to my chest and a fidgety feeling in my hands. And you just notice it. And as you notice that you're distracted from the thing that was like making you frustrated. Yeah. And that allows you to kind of get into action. It sounds like you're pretty action oriented already. You want to get back and doing things. But yeah, so that is a very quick, short, little sort of like, quick and dirty version. That's great. What coaching would do. Oh, thanks. Thank you. That was really fascinating to watch for a lot of reasons. Because I know both of you outside of the podcast, obviously. And to his credit, Peter, you do have a tendency to be like, oh, yeah, we got the posters for my movie launch. Whatever. It's cool. It's like that's huge. You are a very humble person. And you deserve to shout it from the rooftops. Thank you. That's very nice. You very quickly, gloss over Yeah, I have a movie coming out. I didn't call you on it. I didn't notice that. Even as I hear you talk about it. I'm like, yeah, it's great. It's amazing. It's whatever. I don't think you're really feeling that, like you're saying the words. But I don't think it's resonating in your body. You're not actually getting to feel the amazing. That experience is exactly why I want to do this because it's so easy to get jaded by all the shit that happens that we don't actually get to enjoy it beyond the like, logical. Like, I know that I know. It's technically going well, so I should feel good about it. But we don't actually get to like, enjoy feeling good about it. Yeah. What the hell's the point? If we're not enjoying what we're doing, man? Absolutely. No, that mini coaching session just now was really powerful to watch. Because I don't think it would have been as impactful even for me a third party viewer, if Isabelle you hadn't already been in these situations, you you know, firsthand. What's what's happening here. And I wasn't even picturing you talking to Peter, I was picturing you talking to me because it was directly applicable. And you should be clearing your schedule, because I'm guessing you're gonna get a lot of inquiries in the next couple of days. And thank you for doing that for free for us. Thank you. Oh, she'll fill us later. Yeah, I'll send you my voice heard of what so, so fun about being able to, you know, I mean, I don't coach when I do a consultation, but I still help you see where you know, where what you think is the problem isn't actually the problem, you know, so you actually, even if you don't end up coaching with me, you're gonna learn so much about yourself that you're gonna be able to make some progress anyway. I mean, obviously, you'll make more progress with me because I am an expert, and I know what I'm doing. Even if you don't like you're still, once you have some awareness of like, what's actually happening, it makes a huge difference. Follow up for Peter. What was that like? Going through a coaching session just now? Really good, really good. I mean, I've it's obviously this isn't therapy, right. But it kind of felt like professional therapy in a way in the best possible way. And I've done you know, years and years and years of therapy outside for other issues. So this is something that I definitely like to open up the hood on a little bit more and explore so they can welcome Isabel sterling.com For more information about Sterling's coaching services. Okay, buy as a writing coach, and as someone that's, you know, been through the publishing trenches yourself, when you're working with, with writers that are looking to publish their first book, or what have you, what's the what do you think is probably the biggest misconception they have about the industry when you're first talking to them? I think one of the big ones I see a lot which I've been working lately, a lot with some debut writers, folks who have books coming out in 22 and 23. But doing some webinars with those groups, and I think one of the concerns that I see and they don't always say it, but I think it's sort of the undercurrent to all of their other questions. Is this belief that if this first book isn't a wild success, their career is over? And I think that's where a lot of the like urgency and like pressure and stress comes in with debut is like there's this thought that if this book is my one best chance to make it, right, it's really not like of course once you've debuted you have a sales you know, track that you know, future publishers or your you know, your publisher will look at when thinking about next book deals and things. But a career is built over the long term of many, many, many, many, many books. And whether or not this is my opinion But whether or not you go from having your first book deal to getting a second, and then getting a third has so much less to do with your sales, and so much more to do with your ability to not give up, you know, so I see sometimes writers that like try to sell their option to their publisher, and maybe sales weren't great. And the publisher is like, No, I don't think we want to take this. And then they sort of just like, tuck their tail between their legs and like, Go hide, which I think it's fine to, like, you know, feel upset, and to really sit with that for a while, they really think that, you know, not being willing to like, try new genres, or try new age groups or, you know, be willing to, you know, go on submission wildly again, like, I think those are the things that keep people stuck. And of course, I mean, there are definitely people who, you know, maybe they sell their first book, and it takes them a while to sell a second one. But I really, honestly truly believe if you have the skills to write and be a published writer, because the only reason you would ever never published again, is because you decide not to, you know, may not happen at the speed. I mean, you know how you want it to, but I really think that like having the ability to weather whatever publishing throws at you will determine whether or not you are a one book writer or 10 books. There's also a misconception with a lot of people starting out. And this is true in both film and TV and the publishing industry, how long it takes to get paid. I think there's a misconception. I think there's a conception with writers like well, I sell the book, and then they just cut me a check, right? No, no, it takes months, and months and months. And you know, there's money off the top. And anyway, so yeah, oh, my God, I hadn't even thought about the money part yet. Yeah, yeah, that's a good if you haven't really covered that before. I think that's it's such a good thing. And it's actually something I pre pandemic, I when I would go into high schools and talk to kids about it. I was very upfront about like, how publishing works, where, you know, so using, you know, so my first book will use real number examples, and I'm gonna butcher the math, but so I got paid$20,000 per book, okay, for my first book for North American rights, yeah, then, you know, you don't just get 40 grand, which would be sweet. But that's how that happens. So you get, though, and it's all it's hard to, it's all different. It's changed now with a pandemic, but mine were split into three payments. So I got a third of each book on signings, I got a nice that kind of two thirds of 20%, k minus 15%, for my agent minus 35%. For taxes, the cheeses club becomes very nice and small, comparatively. And then it's, I think it was like six or eight months between selling the book and getting the first payment. So that's almost a year. And then it's yet to finish all your edits and the book to come out, which could be a year more in the book could get pushed, if no fault of your own, and then it gets delayed another year. So yeah, that's why a lot of writers have day jobs so that we could have money more than twice a year. Yeah, that came up and pipeline symposium the other the other night about the people who have worked in writing rooms, they also had, like, none of the writers in that writing room with me, are full time writers, we all have other jobs. And just like for TV writers Well, and that's why I think it's so important. Whenever I'm advising writers of any stage, you know, just one time to think about people who maybe they're querying, and they're holding off on writing the next book, or maybe they're on submission, and they're like, wanting to work on a sequel. And I'm always just like, do not we're going to do that. And also, like, it's always the best idea to write something new. Because no matter what the outcome, eventually you'll need something new. Without you know, even if even if you get one of those magical, like six figure book deals. But you know, you're maybe getting like 20 to 30 grand of that per year maybe. And so really, it's the people who are writing full time typically are folks that have you know, 5678 novels out that have royalties regularly coming in, and they're all a little bit, but when you add it up by like 10 books, it becomes enough that you can live on and a lot of them have spouses with good paying jobs and health insurance a lot of the times too. I want to be honest, I laughed just now. I laughed, because you two were laughing about telling an author like no, don't start a sequel. How come? Oh, so two main reasons. And in my opinion, one is, if the project doesn't sell, then you've written a book, you can't do anything when no one cares. And then the other reason is, especially thinking like, in my case, my book one change so much during the editorial process, but anything I would have written would have been completely irrelevant. And if I had already written my sequel, I may have been, I mean, me personally, probably not. Because I love revision, and I'm willing to throw anything away. I may have been resistant to wanting to make those changes to make the book better, because I didn't want to make my book too irrelevant. Gotcha. So it's never a good idea to write a sequel before a book sold. Yeah, I mean, I won't say never never because like sometimes people will sell books and they'll come out every six months and whatever. There's those are outliers. Yeah. Don't try to be an outlier, I think good point. Because whatever you tell, you know, certain writers is they'll go well, what about this one? Really extreme rare? Yeah, it was like, yeah, there's always exceptions. I also think too, like, I definitely remember being a new writer and being like, how cool would it be if my first book sold? And, you know, I, I thought, I mean, those kind of thoughts sometimes drove me to keep working and be excited. But looking back, like, I'm so glad those first three books didn't sell. Are you kidding me? Like, thank goodness, God, they just weren't good. They weren't good. Or they would have put me in sort of like a different genre versus what I ended up in that I really love. Oh, I mean, I always wrote fantasy, but like, you know, they just weren't. You know, I'm so happy that I debuted the way I did. I think it's set me up to be able to write a lot of things that I'm really excited about. So yeah, I think it definitely worked out in my in my favor. But oh, and it also it is tricky. Because as you grow, and you write more books, I won't say anything bad about my previous, like my published books, like, you know, I love them, but they're also like, almost like a snapshot in time. Sure of like, you know, when, when anybody ever like reads them, I love it so much. And I just want to be like, I've grown so much since then you should read the new books don't want to, like, you know, diminish their excitement for it. Yeah, but it is very much like a snapshot in time. And the books before that were just, I was doing the best with the skills that I had at the time, which is really all you can ask for Kara Duggan said the same thing about her book that just came out. She's like, I think it was like hinting that she was a little bit embarrassed, because she's so much better of a writer now. And that's like, what, two and a half year process like? Yeah, and that's what's hard to think about, like, you know, my first book came out in 2019. But I didn't touch I didn't touch it since 2018. Well, maybe it's pretty early in 2018. So you know, and now it's 2010 or 2021. I'm working on what'll be book number four. So I've got a new book coming out that I need to focus on. But I haven't touched that in like eight months, and I'm working on something new. So you're constantly holding like a bunch of different stories in your head. And I'm bad at that. So people will ask me Oh, why did you plant this detail in the book? And blankly Oh, character name? Who is that? That does happen to me sometimes when people like asked me about something I wrote like a year ago, and I have to like, write Yeah, characters. Totally. Is Isabel Sterling? If you could change one thing about the publishing industry? What would it be? Peters question. It's a great question. It is a great question. I mean, there's so much to change, I love more transparency and stuff like that would all be great. I would love you know, to root out all of the systemic racism and all that garbage. Like that would be great. But I also I mean, I think just add a starting point of like, if we could just, and it's part of again, part of what I'm trying to do is like, get writers where they're not feeling like they are so great. I mean, I think gratitude is a wonderful thing. But when you're so grateful for basically, we sell our stuff to publishers, you know, they're buying the rights to do things with it, you know, but oftentimes writers are like, Oh, I'm assuming they gave me this chance, I can't possibly rock the boat. And then that's how they get taken advantage of sometimes in my opinion with like, shitty advances and, you know, different things. You know, I just, I would love to see, I don't know just more transparency and you know, more I think, I think on an individual level, it's okay, like, you know, my editor is amazing, my agents amazing, but I think sort of like publishing the big the model Brit piece of it, I think that I think really forgets how important the writers are. Just because there are so many more writers and there are books to be published but that doesn't mean they're all good quality books, right? You gotta you know, we do a lot of chasing of debuts of like oh, they're gonna throw like a million dollars at this random debut. We have no idea if they even know how to edit under deadline they'll have like a you know an author they've had three four or five six books with them and they're having to fight for like a three to five grand raise. It's like that's tough. I think it's silly given that you predominantly for do me correct me if I'm wrong, right in the YA fantasy space. What are what are some current authors in that space that you love that you think are doing a great job? Yeah, I haven't read a list because I left my own devices. My brain goes blank whenever I get a question like this. I'm like, Oh, the last book I read um, I don't know what some folks I think are doing a really fun inventive things and why fantasy? Ar cappetta has done some really great things in Thomas of cemetery boys are good I heard of him. Next book, or most recent release. I haven't gotten to it yet. My also my brain doesn't like to read lately. And that's bad. I need to get more audio books. I loved I have it on hand, or is it there? Isabelle is also looking at her shelves. It's not just me, Peter. Oh wait, America the trap doors open an inch should not only be on the Ruby Vale by Mara Fitzgerald and the sequel comes out soon and I have not read the sequel yet. And I'm metabolics I really want to read it. It is just actually blurbed this book because it is so good. It's a bloody ambitious story. And we never get to see like ambitious girls who are like convinced they're the hero, but they're doing terrible things. And I just good stuff. Oh, that's amazing. But yeah, there's there's a whole bunch. I mean, I also loved Christine Lin Herman's work, Brian Lasala, his debut, his more recent stuff isn't as magical, but his debut had a really cool, magical twist to it. And there's lots of really good, and then to why fantasy happening right now. Very cool. Erica, there's one more question I'd like to ask. But I also don't want to steal your thunder. Do you want to ask it? All yours, pal? Sure. I am. So Isabelle, given that you're a writing coach, how do you think that experience as being a writing coach, as informed your writing? And how does being a writer inform you as a writing coach? Oh, yeah, so I'm gonna the second part of that first, I think, and that is the main reason why I really wanted to focus on coaching writers is that there are so few people, there's a ton of people who are, you know, certified in the same school as me, I'm certified to the Life Coach School who have all the same tools and coaching. But there isn't really anybody that could find who was doing this work in the traditional publishing space. And I think it is an industry that really lends itself to needing all the things we talked about. So the experiences, I've had been able to see how I was sort of like my debut year, before I found coaching for myself, and was able to use the tools for myself. And after, like, you know, to see how different that was like, I want that for other people. And then in terms of how it's impacting my writing impacts in a couple of different ways, like, it definitely makes me feel less, like anxious about it, or I'm much more confident to be able to communicate with my publisher when I need something. So for example, I actually had a book that was due beginning of this month, and I decided that an Erica Gnosis story, I decided that the book really wasn't coming together the way I wanted it to. And I wanted to throw it all away and start over and sort of restructure it as a, you know, traditional sort of like, thriller with paranormal elements, versus like, the kind of weird thing I was trying to do before that just like wasn't coming together. And I think pre coaching, I would have agonized over that decision for weeks and felt so bad about telling my publisher, and with these tools and being able to really feel I really, like have my own back in my decision. So I was able to decide that I needed to do this. I told my agent and I was like, hey, I need to ask for an extension. This is what I want to do. And now I have until March. And so I get to start slowly over I had room to really brainstorm and get the world building and kind of where I wanted it. And I think I may have made the same decision pre coaching, but I was able to do it with like, almost no drama. I was like, This is what's right for the book. And that's fine. I think it's pushed a season, whatever. Versus being like, Oh my God, they're gonna hate me and I, my career's gonna be over. And like, that whole thing, which was very much me before it was actually a couple weeks ago, I'm making my coffee. And I hop on our private writers slack group chat, and there's message just like, Hey, morning, guys. I'm scrubbing my book and starting over. What do you do? It's just just like you said, Isabel, you were just in complete control the decision on like, well, well, well, wait, is this an Enter? Do you need an intervention here? Like, like, no, no, it's a good thing. I'm ready to go work doing it. I'll get an extension from my publisher. And we're good. Didn't know we could do that. Yeah, and, and that was really something that I struggled with when I was writing my sequel is that I, again, this was, you know, pre having these tools. And I was so afraid to disappoint my editor that I wasn't reaching out for the help that I needed. And I ended up having to I turn in a draft that she told me to delete and start over in a very nice way and much deservedly so. And so now it's kind of nice to instead of writing the entire book three times and then having my editor tell me to delete it. I keep getting I kept getting like, you know, I got like, 20,000 words. 30,000 words, and I was like, This isn't working. So why don't I just instead of forcing the book that's broken. She's gonna make me throw out anyways. I'm gonna stop here and fix it myself. I want to be honest, Isabel, I thought Peter was gonna ask you if you snack on the row. Eric, I would never take that question. Thank you. Hey, Isabelle. Do you snack while you write? I'm not really because I need to my fingers to type. Fine I think it's time for a cow. Isabel, why don't you go for it? Do you have one already? Or do you want us to come back? No, I'm good. So in the next two weeks, I would love to I want to finish up the last little bit of prep. And I'm going to start writing this new version of my book. So I want to have at least a few chapters that I feel really solid balance. Great. That's a good goal recently. Peter, Milan, Elliot, Oh, wow. My accountability goal is to finish the first draft of my book, because I'm almost done. I'm like a chapter and a half away from being done. So that's awesome. What's your goal? My accountability goal is to have sent the first draft of my sample chapters to no less than one no more than two beta readers in the next few weeks. Hmm, that's it. Exciting Go Team. Go Team is about is there anything that we have not covered yet that you still wanted to shout out? Say? How do we find you? How do people reach you? Best best way to find me is just an Isabel Sterling calm, where you can find me on I'm mostly just on Instagram these days. And only sometimes mostly, if you want cute pictures of dogs and babies like that's where you go. And then I do some about once a week I post a like writing advice type situation. But otherwise, definitely on my website, make sure you preorder the coldest touch so we avoid all these weird printing issues. We've got some gorgeous character art to send out to to folks who preorder so thanks for coming on. Thank you, Isabel. Yeah, thank you. There's a wonderful conversation. And that concludes episode 12 What a great guest isn't so good. Awesome. He's, she's just always on in our Slack channel when I'm struggling with something and like I was one of our guinea pigs for starting up the coaching business and she's good. She's just so good. She was great. And thanks for coming on again. Isabel. Yeah, up next to Episode 13. Our next guest is to be announced. I'm leaving you in suspense. Ah. He won't Gridley up. She heard that through my headphones. And if you have any questions, rants raves about writing or you want to learn more about us or pipeline, please visit us at Pipeline artists.com. And you can follow us on Twitter at the podcast title on Instagram or Facebook at this podcast needs the title. You can follow me at the Davis girl. We follow Peter at p m e writer. That's better. That is better. And in order to follow me you have to say it like that before you press the Follow button. I'm a writer. And if you don't I won't follow you back to the death. But Frodo I don't know I've never seen Lord of the Rings. Friendship terminated. Well, we had we had a good run