Wednesday, April 5, 2023

What’s a Little Advice or a Quick Fix Worth?

Last week I typed THE END on the first draft of the next Seamus McCree novel. Given the naming convention for the series, this will be the “H” novel. I have a working title, but it’s so off-genre, I won’t share. My fans and I will find an excellent one, so I’m not worried. “THE END” is a fine excuse for a celebration, right? Sure, sort of.

On Saturday, I finished teaching my second month-long course this year. The first, which I have been teaching for years, focuses on “Revision and Self-Editing.” The second helps authors become “Indie Publishers” (or decide that’s not a good fit for them). It’s the first time I’ve taught that course, and I am anxiously awaiting feedback on what went well and what I can improve, and whether the organization will want me to teach the course again. (I have fingers and toes crossed.)

And completing that work is also a reason to celebrate. Sure, sort of.

Because what I realize and forget, realize and forget, realize and forget, is I like teaching more than writing. And I do enjoy writing. And finishing a first draft is worth celebrating. But, while I enjoy writing, I mostly love teaching people who want to learn. (Mostly, because even teaching has tear-out-your-hair moments. Every so often, I have a desire to kill a student or rip up a draft lesson that isn’t working.) Those frustrations are minor glitches compared to the pleasure I feel when a student gains some hard-won new knowledge. And the thrill of seeing their “ah-ha!” moments as a new frontier opens before them is nearly priceless.

While I am in a confessing mood, there’s another issue, a weakness, I should mention. Despite knowing I must do it to succeed, I do not enjoy marketing. Tooting my horn, or my book’s horn, is difficult for me—I can (and do) blame my parents for their injunctions against such self-serving behavior. My distaste for marketing is so profound, I can’t even get excited about the math behind figuring out which ads are most successful—and I enjoy playing with numbers as much as I do teaching.

That problem with marketing holds back both the success of my books and my opportunities to help students. Because I haven’t marketed my courses, I have exactly zero classes booked for the future.

So, to get that endorphin fix from helping people, I’m hanging out my shingle—similar, I think, to Peanuts’ Lucy with her “Psychiatric Help 5¢” and “The Doctor is In.” Fans of my "Revision and Self-Editing" course value my outside-the-box solutions to plot problems and my ability to spot alternatives that will strengthen a scene. My work on the "Indie Publisher" class gave me a new realization that I can often diagnose and fix Word document and eBook formatting issues that befuddle others.

What’s that worth? I don’t know, and so I shall try an experiment. I’ll invite authors to let me assist with their issue/problem/concern. For payment, I’ve created a link on my website where people can “Buy me a book.” (It’s run by the “Buy me a Coffee” folks.) Anyone who thinks I’ve helped them out can easily send me money in $5 increments. If something looks like it will take a ton of time, then we can negotiate an upfront price.

You heard it here first (well, technically second as it posted yesterday on the Writers Who Kill blog.) Details at

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James M. Jackson authors the Seamus McCree series. Full of mystery and suspense, these thrillers explore financial crimes, family relationships, and what happens when they mix. You can sign up for his newsletter and find more information about Jim and his books at