FOR WRITERS AT ALL LEVELS
"Story Merchant" Dr. Ken Atchity has spent his lifetime helping writers
get started with and improve their careers. For nearly twenty
years as a professor of literature and teacher of creative
writing at Occidental College and UCLA - then since 1995,
through through Writer's
Lifeline and as a literary manager with AEI
Online Dr. Atchity has helped literally hundreds of writers
find a market for their work by bringing their craft and technique
to the level of their ambition and vision. More
ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)
BY DR. KEN ATCHITY
Q. I’m thinking of submitting my work to the “project launch analysis.” Is it possible that can lead to representation, publication, or production?
A. That’s a good question! The purpose of the “project launch analysis” is to provide you with an assessment of your work’s current condition from both an artistic and a commercial point of view. Here are scenarios we frequently experience:
· Your work is in every way ready for the commercial marketplace.
When that occurs and it has indeed occurred, we’ll let you know by email and ask to make a telecom appointment with you to discuss your options. Options can include: a traditional representation agreement from Story Merchant, an invitation to submit your manuscript to Story Merchant Books for publishing by Internet and/or print, or a referral to another company that represents writers and is more suitable than our companies are for your particular work. We’ve dealt with hundreds of agents over the years, and if that’s the scenario, will do the best to find you a match.
· Your work is very commercial (in its concept), but not yet “ready for prime time.”
When that occurs, and many of our bestsellers over the years have fallen into this category, we will tell you in our detailed response exactly what you need to do in order to make the book ready for the next stage. We may also suggest that you work with an editor, one of ours or another professional editor that you find on your own, to guide you through the process of revision toward a commercially-representable manuscript.
· Your work is ready for representation, but is not right for the mainstream commercial market.
When that occurs, as it often does as well, we will advise you, in the followup phone call, what your options are.
Q. Tell us about The Writer's Lifeline, Inc.
A. In over thirty years in the literary world-as a writer, editor, teacher, consultant, and producer-one of my greatest satisfactions has come from helping promising writers bring their skills, craft, and expertise in the business to the level of their talent, vision, and ambition. Helping hundreds of writers get their novels and nonfiction books published--and dozens of them make deals with Hollywood studios--led to the founding of The Writer's Lifeline as a means of formalizing what I've learned and been able to share with others from my first career as professor of comparative literature and creative writing.
We started the company because we constantly ran across projects that were "great ideas" but "not ready for prime-time" because of the execution. We realized that there was no sales-focused group out there helping writers bridge the gap to the professional world-editorial companies tell them, we edit but don't sell. The Writer's Lifeline not only edits, but edits ONLY for sale; and then connects the writers with either STORY MERCHANT or with an agency to make that sale happen. No company that I know of has a track record like ours, and I think it's because we care enough to be tough on the writers who work with us.
Our goal is to facilitate and educate: To help writers with stories that need to be told find the expertise to get them told--and sold. To mentor writers who haven't yet achieved the level of competitive professionalism, until their technique equals their talent. The basis of all Writer's Lifeline consulting begins when I put together the right team to help you reach your professional goals, whether those goals are primarily artistic or primarily commercial. That team might include writers, editors, development execs; and the mentoring may include concept analysis, character development, market refocus, structural editing, dialogue editing, style editing-the necessary combination that will best steer your work forward to publication and production.
Our purpose is to help a writer's investment in himself or herself pay off. And our financial goal is to make writers ready for representation and cut down your learning curve as much as a decade. The Writer's Lifeline, historically, has been AEI's and Story Merchant "farm team"-accounting for roughly 70% of AEI's sales.
Q. Does The Writer's Lifeline take on all projects for development or do you only choose projects that show a lot of promise?
A. We base our decision on two factors:
(a) a project's marketability, which we communicate to the prospective client immediately upon analysis; and
(b) the client's needs.
Although our primary purpose is to build that "bridge to the professional world, we sometimes find clients just want to learn how to write, and aren't as worried about marketability as we are. Early in our consulting career, when we were determined to work only on books and scripts that we thought would sell, we turned a client away after a few sessions because
(a) she was resisting our advice at every turn; and
(b) we finally "realized" that, as things were going, her book was far too self-indulgent to ever be published.
She was very disappointed, and surprised that we wouldn't work with her further. Two years later, a copy of her published book arrived in the mail. I opened it to discover two things:
(a) it was dedicated to me, thanking me for helping her learn to be a "non self-indulgent writer," and
(b) she'd taken out all the junk she'd been clinging to.
From this experience I learned our fundamental mission, beneath the commercial drive, was simply to educate-following my seventeen years in the academic world, I guess you can take the professor out of the classroom, but you can't take the classroom out of the professor. If a client walks away with nothing else, he or she will have learned what makes trade writing different from casual or professional or technical or academic writing.
Q. What do you see as the ingredients of a promising project?
A. Everyone's proverbial fourth grade teacher said, "Write from your heart" and don't worry about anything else. What a disservice! Unless you're living in Latvia or Sri Lanka where society is so small that you can break in just by being talented.
In the massive jungle marketplace of the U.S., the primary market that drives the global market in books as well as films, I've long ago changed that advice to: "Write from your heart about things that matter to all of us." The purpose of competitive commercial marketing is either to instruct or entertain. That's what makes a promising project-that it changes our lives by moving us (if it's a novel or screenplay), or it changes our life by telling us something new (if it's nonfiction).
Q. How does The Writer's Lifeline charge for development?
A. The fees range from low-priced "project analysis" fees to hourly consulting. We also construct customized packages tailored to the specific needs of individual writers and projects.
Q: The AEI and Story Merchant website have a link to The Writer's Lifeline, Inc., which is an editorial development company aimed at making writers "ready for prime time" (prime time = commercial representation). Ken Atchity is chairman of a family of companies, each created to serve different writers’ needs. Does a Story Merchant client have to work with The Writer's Lifeline?
A: Absolutely not. Story Merchant accepts clients who are ready, or nearly ready, for representation and offers them "final" editorial notes, at no charge, as part of its managerial services in perfecting their projects for submission to the book and film market. But when a would-be client offers us a project that is a great idea, but is not executed professionally, we're happy to be able to offer them an alternative to the simple rejection that they receive from agencies and other management companies by suggesting that they find editorial help either on their own or through our affiliated company. No one is required to seek such help. Ken Atchity founded The Writer's Lifeline because he found a vacuum in the market for a sales-focused organization that helped writers achieve professional readiness for commercial sales (most editorial companies disclaim all responsibility for sales).
Also see these interviews with Ken:
$150 Quick Report
Click Here for More Info
AGENTS AND MANAGERS
If you're a literary agent or manager and could use our help
perfecting your clients' projects for publication and/or production,
we'd love to work with you because we're experienced at fixing stories
that aren't working yet.
Writer's Lifeline, Inc., based on our track record, can add potentially
multi-million dollar value to projects that you haven't been
able to sell, or wouldn't consider representing, because of
the "shape" they're in.
In one case, we turned a great idea for a novel into
a $1.1 million preemptive film deal, then re-edited the MS
and auctioned it for $2.2 million. In another, we took a novel
MS that had been shopped to publishers and production companies,
worked on it for nine months, then changed the name and sold
it for $750,000!
When we receive the referral from you, we will work
out our relationship (including referral fees, where appropriate)--which
may also involve having our parent company Story Merchant co-rep the work with you.
DID YOU KNOW?
developed by Writer's Lifeline have accounted for approximately
seventy percent of sales (over $31 million and rising) made by its
affiliated literary management and companies, AEI,
Inc. and Story Merchant.