The Secret Library Podcast

The truth about writing books. By speaking to authors and other book lovers, I'm diving into the mystery that is the book world today. From writing to editing to publishing and all that goes into the creation of a book – all of it is open for discussion on the show.
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The Secret Library Podcast





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Now displaying: Category: reading for a living
Jul 20, 2017

Megan Hannum is about to help you face your first draft without fear.


Have you ever been writing away, actually building some momentum in your writing only to have these sorts of fears creep in: "Is there enough detail? I'm only writing plot, how is anyone going to know what anything looks like??" Or perhaps yours is "I need to do a LOT more research before I write this. I have no idea what the dating customs of medieval Mongolia actually are. Guess it's back to the drawing board for the next six months."

I have suffered from these fears, as have the members of the Coffeeshop Writer's Group and when Megan joined us recently as a guest expert, we all started to feel a lot less freaked out by simply getting on with a draft knowing that everything will not be answered the first time around. 

I had Megan on to talk about what you should worry about in the first, second, and final drafts of a project, and what you can set to the side for each of these drafts until the next time around. Finally, we talk about when it's time to get an editor involved and what you should look for when seeking one. 

This promises to be an episode you can return to again and again as you progress through your projects. I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. And... woohoo for 60 episodes! I cannot believe we've gotten to such a big number. Thank you all for listening and supporting the show. It means so much that this project makes you as happy as it makes me. 


Full show notes here

Jun 15, 2017

Once you sell a book, you're going to have to sign a book contract.


Thanks to Autumn coming on the show, this doesn't have to be a terrifying process. Every writer who has come on the show has emphasized book contracts as something you need to understand before you sign. I don't know about you, but despite the fact that the majority of my friends are lawyers, I wouldn't feel comfortable reading and signing a contract without some help. Autumn speaks in simple language in this episode and clarifies all the areas you'd need to understand and the areas you need to consider before signing a contract. 

In this day and age of eCourses, eBooks, and spin-off options for books, there is a lot more to a contract than just royalties and hardbacks and paperbacks. This is the beginning of a conversation you'll want to have with a lawyer yourself when it comes time to publish your book. This can apply as well if you're self-publishing as it's possible you will get picked up from there for print rights or if there is a movie in the offing, a la The Martian. I promise this episode is just as fun to listen to, even if the content is more practical. Autumn is delightful and very passionate about supporting authors. Get ready to feel a whole lot more confident when you sell that book one day. Hopefully, you can feel that day getting closer already. 

May 11, 2017

Natalie Obando knows how to get your book in front of the right people.


PR is one of those topics that seems to scare writers to death. It feels like the most extroverted part of writing, and the one that is the furthest away from writing your book. I was thrilled to have Natalie Obando on the show because she specializes not only in PR, but PR for books specifically. Her company, Do Good PR, promotes books with a message. 

I had Natalie on for another reason: she doesn't think every author needs to have a fancy PR firm backing them up to have a successful book launch. We dove into what good PR looks like as well as what you can do yourself for your book. We also got clear about when you might want to call in the pros in order to handle specialized situations that they are trained for. It's a great primer in PR and one that you'll need to listen to before you get your book out in the world. I'm so glad to be able to make this topic a bit less intimidating. 

Full show notes with links

May 4, 2017

Rob Cohen and Christine Roth didn't plan to start Rothco Press.

But watching the explosion of content that eBooks and self-publishing has created, the couple realized that good books weren't getting the attention they deserved. With so much content to wade through looking for what you want, many books just drown. 

With their experience producing film and television, Rob and Christine bring a unique approach to publishing- dedication to the story itself and a desire to see that story reach the world in whatever form it can. What does this mean for a writer? If you have a great story, Rob and Christine not only want to see it published as a book in print, but also explore the way the story could be a TV show or a film. From their point of view, the best way to get a story made into a movie is to write a book that can be adapted. 

From inside the film world in Hollywood, this fresh perspective on getting ideas and stories out in front of people where they can read, watch, and enjoy them was hugely galvanizing. I love the matter-of-fact energy these two bring to books. I'm sure you'll love hearing this conversation. Enjoy! **Also, Rob and Christine were kind enough to provide the show with some books to give away as part of this episode! Make sure you're following us on Instagram to find out about the contest where you can win free books!*

Full show notes with links | Sponsored by Scrivener

Apr 13, 2017

Guinevere de la Mare is a renaissance woman, with books.

I met Guinevere because I stumbled upon a meeting of the Silent Book Club at the XO conference last September in Portland. I was delighted to see a whole group of people quietly reading together, out in public. Finally, the perfect social outing for introverts! 

Upon connecting with Guinevere to learn more about this reading haven, I was fascinated to hear about her career at Chronicle Books prior to creating the SBC. Even better- she has a book coming out this August and was excited to talk about that. So... if you're into discussing the perils of calling yourself a writer, the early days of online media for publishers, how to start your own chapter of the Silent Book Club so you, too can read peacefully out in the world, this is going to be a very happy episode for you.

Full show notes with links | This episode sponsored by Scrivener

Nov 17, 2016

Getting an agent can be intimidating.

It doesn't have to scare you away from meeting the right person. Terra Chalberg of Chalberg & Sussman talks to us this week from inside the literary world. I am so grateful for her generosity and willingness to share her process of connecting with authors and choosing who she'd like to work with as an agent. This conversation is a must-listen for anyone considering going the traditional publishing route. If you've ever wondered how to get an agent and what it takes to get your manuscript into the hands of someone who can help you get your book out there, this episode will give you the guidelines.

Learn how to query an agent so they'll read your message rather than deleting it right away. Learn what you might be doing that turns agents off immediately. AND learn something you can be doing right away that will help agents find you. (It's not what you think- I was surprised, and delighted, to learn how Terra finds many of her authors.) Get ready to understand the agents' world a whole lot better. I know it will help you understand next steps so much better.

Show Notes for Episode 25 with Terra Chalberg:

  • Themes in looking for stories (2:45)
  • Going from film to publishing (3:30)
  • Film vs. publishing and taking risks on new stories (6:40)
  • Starting Chalberg & Sussman (7:15) 
  • Becoming an agent (8:45)
  • Publishing contracts (11:15)
  • How to get your foot in the door with a query (& how to lose an agent right away) (12:30)
  • Knowing that an author and a book is the right fit (14:45)
  • Tips on connecting with potential agents (17:00)
  • The importance of having a platform (19:00)
  • Where Terra finds a lot of authors (so cool!) (19:30)
  • Why blogging is still worth it (20:15)
  • Questions to ask an agent you're considering working with (22:30)
  • The editorial process with an agent (25:30)
  • Timing on when to get an agent (26:15)
  • Next steps once you're working with an agent (27:15)
  • The inside story on publishing houses (28:30)
  • Books Terra is excited about (29:00)
  • Book trends and rising to the top (32:00) 
  • Becoming a runaway bestseller (33:00) 
  • Upcoming books Terra is excited about (35:40)
  • Making time to read (37:00)

Sponsored by Muse Monthly

Nov 10, 2016

Are you in a media bubble?

I knew I wanted to have Meghan Dowell on the show when I met her. We talked about how our access to media and reading changes who we think we are. I was hooked. We talk about everything from print media to bookless libraries to the #syllabus movement that expands study to social media. If you're ready to get your mind blown by all the possibilities for reading out there, you'll be pumped this week. 

As someone who could stay in school forever and be perfectly happy, I was more than delighted to learn about how universities collect books and how they address the unique needs we have for learning today. If you are into Google and a good old fashioned book, you'll be pumped. Get ready to take your reading to the next level. 

Show notes for episode 24 with Meghan Dowell:

  • The ability to find books and how libraries are organized (1:45)
  • The difference between public and academic libraries (2:30)
  • Collecting for academic libraries and the Hashtag Syllabus movement (3:00) 
  • DIYing a degree and making the ivory tower more available (7:15)
  • Librarians on Jeopardy? (8:45) 
  • The path to being an academic librarian (10:00)
  • The romantic notion of the library vs. tech evolution (14:00)
  • Evolution of the library catalogue and collecting electronically (15:15)
  • Collecting books with space limitations and print vs. digital (16:45)
  • Libraries without books (17:30)
  • Device debates (18:30)
  • Book hoarders anonymous (19:30)
  • The impact of algorithms and information access on personal image (20:30) 
  • How our search choices put us in Filter Bubbles (23:00) 
  • The existential crisis around being an informed reader with all that content (28:30) 
  • Picking books as a librarian aware of all those books (30:30) 
  • Finding books we wouldn't have found otherwise (32:30) 
  • What Megan is reading now (35:40) 
  • The blue book librarian joke (37:15)
  • How many books are Americans actually reading annually? (38:45) Mentioned: Research on the length we want to read
  • On finishing books and letting them go (40:00)
  • On spoilers and knowing the endings (41:30) 
  • Pairing books with drinks (44:20) 

Sponsored by Muse Monthly

Oct 13, 2016

I've known Michelle Wetzel since we were in high school together (not so) many years ago. I've been watching the trend and evolution in the world of young readers who create bookstagram accounts and rack up the follower counts into the thousands. Michelle is a high school librarian in Wayne, PA just outside Philadelphia, so she was the perfect person to turn to as I've wanted to dive into the world of young adult readers. 

If you want to know where the cool kids get their books, this is the episode for you.

Show notes for Episode 20 with Michelle Wetzel:

  • Love for the nerds (2:00)
  • Not enough time to read in high school (3:00)
  • One book, one city at the high school level (3:30) 
  • Fiction vs. Non-fiction in academics (4:30)
  • High school trends (6:00) M
  • Bookstagram and the high school demographic (7:30)
  • Student reading clubs and reading lunch (8:45)
  • Action book club (9:15) 
  • Trends in YA (11:00) 
  • Cover design in YA (12:30)
  • eBooks vs physical copies in the school library (13:45) 
  • Knitting and reading (15:45)
  • Audiobooks in other languages (17:00) 
  • Digital magazines reading (19:00) 
  • Traveling with devices vs. hard copy (19:45)
  • Digital reading for kids (21:15) 
  • Kindle vs iPad reading (22:30)
  • Buying print books versus checking them out (23:45)
  • Reading physical books as a parent (24:45)
  • The commonalities of the high school book junkies (25:00)
  • Library volunteers (26:20)
  • Bringing reading out into the community (27:00) 
  • Trying to find YA that's not depressing (28:30) 
  • Fan fiction & how to find it (31:45) 
  • Harry Potter as the cure for grad school (34:00)


Full Show Notes with links | Sponsored by Muse Monthly

Aug 4, 2016

It's here! We've hit episode 10 and we are still going strong. 

Today I'm so happy to have Julia Callahan of Rare Bird Books on the show. She's Director of Marketing and Publicity and dishes on how to best work with a small press. If you've ever wanted to go this route, this is a must listen. 

In addition, we talk roller derby and about the book celebrity that makes us both totally weak in the knees and sweaty-palmed. 



Jul 7, 2016

If you've dreamed of reading books and drinking tea all day instead of staying in a soul-sucking job that creates nothing but stress, this is the episode for you. 

Join me as I chat with Christina Orlando, founder of Muse Monthly, as we talk about creating a book and tea subscription service, and how she gets dreamy books to her subscribers every single month. 

We talk about searching for first-time authors and those from underserved voices to create a really special experience for readers out there. 

There's nothing like talking to a book nerd AND someone who loves their job every day. This conversation was such a treat. I know you'll enjoy it as much as I did.