MY PROMISE

I want to invite you to work with me, but first I want to start with a promise:

Choose me to help write your next memoir, personal narrative, or just about any book that involves your life and thoughts, and I promise to deliver an experience you will remember for the rest of your life. A big promise you might think, but one I’m confident I can keep.

Why? Because I put the most important part of book writing right up front.

I make writing fun.

Let the fun begin

I’ve developed a way to turn the humdrum of penning a 75,000-word book into a run on the beach.

You see, I’m a runner, and writing a book gives me the same joy as doing sprints by the ocean at dawn.

Or even better, cruising through the redwoods in Wunderlich Park, ascending the switchbacks to Skyline for a truly remarkable view. I live not far from the coast in Palo Alto, California, and the place is crazy with gorgeous running trails.

Once we start working together, I’ll take you by the hand and show you just what a blast writing can be.

Why not make this experience—you and me working together—a happening you will cherish forever? The way I see it, to aim for anything less is hardly worth the effort.

Who I Am

I’m Sally Collings, a full-time writer and editor.

I’ve written six books under my own name and ghostwritten more than a dozen memoirs in the last decade or so.

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Before going it alone, I spent several years as a senior editor with HarperCollins, and prior to that a stint as editorial director with leading UK book packager Amber Books, and a shorter stint as executive editor with Websters Multimedia in London.

None of that matters, really.

What matters is that I’m very good at what I do.

And what I do is make writing fun.

I’m an artist

There, I said it.

You know what? You are too.

You are the creator of your life, your memories, and your stories. The very process of taking an idea or a memory or a random sequence of events and finding a thread to tie it all together, that’s art. And that’s what we will do together. The process of making art can be boisterous and campy and sometimes foolish, but do it right and it will always be fun.

I prefer to work with other artists. I choose people like you, people who can collaborate creatively and openly. And I think theyyouchoose me for the same reasons.

I’m also a runner

Why? One reason, at least for me, is that running surprises me.

I didn’t figure on getting better at any athletic activity in my fifties. In the three years I’ve been running, however, I’ve gotten faster, stronger, better. And I’ve discovered my sweet spotrunning up hills, not down them.

This notion of surprises has crept into my writing.

During our interviews, I’ll ask lots of questions. I’ll nudge you for hidden motivations, for untold stories, for successes and humiliations too embarrassing to let outin other words all the gritty stuff readers demand of a great story. I’ll gently push until I hear something I hadn’t expected, because if you can surprise me you can surprise your readers, and there is no greater delight than turning the pages and running head on into the unexpected.

Who I Work With

I recently worked on a book with Shay Carl Butler and his son Gavin, a father-son weight loss memoir called Fat Dad, Fat Kid.

Shay is a super-star video blogger with three channels on YouTube and several million subscribers. In addition to his YouTube stardom, he recently sold his company, Makers Studio, to Disney in a tricky deal valued at over $500 million.

Prior to the book project, Shay lost 100 pounds and began running marathons.

Now Shay had a new idea: a 30-day healthy eating challenge.

The plan was for father and son to encourage each other to drink lots of water, avoid sugar, exercise, and otherwise live ultra-healthy for the next month, and I would add my two cents on how turn the experience into a book. When we met, Shay challenged me to come along for the ride, meaning that I too should go healthy for a month.

As a writer, I’m seldom part of the story, but in this case it sounded, well, fun.

When I returned home to Palo Alto, I told my two girls about the idea. My ten-year-old has a sweet tooth. “Look,” I said, “I don’t want to do this alone.”

“Why do it at all?”

“You know what I’m asking. If Shay and Gavin can do it, why not me and you?”

My youngest is fond of a bit of cashola, so it wasn’t long before we had a deal. “Fine,” she said. “I’ll do it for a hundred dollars. One month. No longer.” The money, she said, would help buy the new Ninjago Lego set.

Then her big sister got in on the act. Then my husband agreed. We were a go.

Faster than anyone thought possible, Shay, Gavin, and I had a manuscript in our hands. Once we launched, the book was an overnight Amazon sensation:

  • #1 in Books > Health, Fitness & Dieting > Children’s Health
  • #1 in Books > Audible Audiobooks > Health, Mind & Body > Health
  • #2 in Books > Audible Audiobooks > Health, Mind & Body > Diet & Nutrition

Here’s the thing:

Reaching #1 on the bestseller list was cool. But . . .

The experience of creating the book was way cooler.

The organizing and editing, the time on the phone with Shay and Gavin sharing our dietary struggles, the hours laying in bed with my girls pining over missed chocolate bars, the gobs of water we ingested, the exercise and runningall of that made the adventure one I’ll never forget. Neither will my girls. Neither will my client’s Shay Carl and Gavin Butler.

Testimonials

Shay Carl Butler

“To my very favorite writer, Sally Collings, who came in after I’d written only three chapters in seven months and took the reins. She crossed the I’s and dotted the T’s, asked the questions that needed to be asked, and never got in the way.”

Shay Carl ButlerAuthor of Fat Dad, Fat Kid
Shane Jacobson

“We began as collaborators, but I ended up a fan. I had the absolute pleasure of having Sally Collings work with me on my memoir, Shane Jacobson: The Long Road to Overnight Success. Her ability to organize, structure, and polish my stories was astonishing.”

Shane JacobsonAuthor of Shane Jacobson: The Long Road to Overnight Success

How I Work

You and I will talk a couple of times a week.

This part of the process—listening to you retell your stories, thoughts, and ideas—it doesn’t get any better than this.

One hour at a time, you talk about whatever’s on your mind—your history, relationships, ideas you’ve never told anyone, business and personal victories, and of course, I want to hear all about your fears—past and present—those intangible terrors that have kept you from reaching your dreams.

For most clients, I’ll need about 30 hours of interviews.

We’ll also spend some time talking about how best to structure the material. Is this a chronological tale, a book of ideas, or something more challenging in which concepts are grouped into themes and the themes linked together in some unique way?

Then we start the writing process—turning that mishmash of stories, notes, and journals into a cohesive narrative so good it’s impossible to put down.

You and I will send drafts back and forth until the story structure and tone and pacing is just right.

Our goal is beauty personified, and I’m unlikely to settle for anything less, partly because I know you won’t either.

Nuts & Bolts

Put it all together and the book writing process is no more difficult than following a well-defined plan.

My plan looks disarmingly simple, I know. But there’s power in simplicity.

  • Interviews

    One month. Or, it takes as long as it takes. In addition to recorded interviews, we’ll gather all of your notes, journals, emails, photos, old videos and anything else you care to share.

  • Transcription

    I’ll have the audio recordings professionally transcribed into a Word document.

  • Outline & Story Structure

    One month. A great story is more than a retelling of factual events. A great story requires a great story structure, and a great structure takes time to develop.

  • CREATIVE WRITING

    Five months. It took you forty or sixty or eighty years to create your memories, and it will only take me around five months to get it all down on paper.

  • EDITING & PROOFREADING

    Two months. I don’t rely on just one editor and one proofreader, but at least two of each.

  • Delivery

    Total elapsed time: Nine months. And what you get for all your effort is a compelling story in the form of a polished document for you to deliver to your publisher or prepare for print.

Offer & Pricing

Choose me to help write your next memoir or personal story and I’ll deliver 200 pages so good readers will forego sleep rather than stop reading.

That’s what your readers get.

What you get is much more valuable.

You get a long-term engagement with a professional writerjust the two of us, you and methat you’ll treasure for the rest of your life. I can’t promise it’ll alway be easy, or that we won’t take a wrong turn or two, or that all that talk won’t work on your emotions at times. I can promise the effort will be insightful and purposeful and fun.

Like most everything else I do, I aim for simplicity. I’ve taken a similar tack with my pricing. I offer two services, writing and editing.

For writing a book-length memoir or personal story, I charge $80,000.

For editing a manuscript you’ve already put your heart and soul into, I charge $15,000.

Are you ready to get started?

If so, email me now at sally@collings.co.

CONTACT ME

Congratulations. You’ve read all the way to the bottom of the page.

That means you’re interested in working with me. I can feel it. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t have come along for the ride.

Let me leave you with one last thought.

Last year, I ran my first trail marathon—up a mountain and down the other side. At mile six, I was stung by yellow-jackets. At seventeen, I fell and sprained my ankle, the snapping sound so loud I expected to see splintered bone. After a few moments to regroup, I figured the only way off the mountain was to finish what I started, so I did. I arrived at the finish line in just under five hours—my thigh showing off three giant stinging welts and my ankle a size no ankle should ever be.

I share this story to say that running has taught me the art of not giving up.

Choose me to help write your next memoir and I’ll never give up on you.

I mean that. If you decide to move forward, I’m here to help. Email me at sally@collings.co or, if you prefer, fill out the form on the right.

Either way, let’s talk soon.

Sally

Sally Collings
Writer & Editor
PO Box 1014
Palo Alto CA 94302
sally@collings.co

Copyright © 2016 - Sally Collings