I help authors with inspiring stories write and publish life-changing books.
I’m Chris Jones, a three-time Virginia Press Association award-winning writer, graphic designer, and editor. I’m also an author, book writing and publishing coach, and a podcast host. All of which I’ll tell you about in a few moments.
Born to Write? Probably So.
I’ve wanted to write books since childhood. As a kid, I would take my allowance and buy loose leaf paper and report covers to bind my own books. I wrote about astronomy exclusively then, a hobby that I maintain to this day.
In my teens, I got a typewriter for my fifteenth birthday, and I would watch football games on Sunday afternoons and then write complete game stories. Each story more colorful than the last: “Packers Go Berserk on Lions, 27-10” “The Broncos Ride Roughshod Over Seahawks, 31-7” “Bears Maul Jets, 24-3.” I’d highlight the action and hold fictitious interviews with the players, and close out with a box score. All of those things I learned from religiously reading The Washington Post and the USA Today.
Also as a teenage boy with hormones as volatile as a penny stock, I tried my hand at writing poetry. Inspired by the R&B crooners of the 1990s, I was a smooth-talking bard who loved the ladies, but failed to woo them with my sappy love poems—“Aw, this is really sweet” was the classic friendzone response in my day.
I tried to transition into romance (not something I tell everyone) but let’s face it, teenage boys are more plug ‘n’ play than wine ‘n’ dine. Needless to say, that genre never got off the launch pad.
When I began community college, I went in as an education major which lasted all of six weeks. By the time my Art History and Rendering professor found out that I could draw well, she pushed me into fine and commercial art. My creative ability was apparent to her and she challenged me to not let it go untapped. After completing my first two semesters, she had my ticket punched for Pittsburgh.
From Graphic Designer to Writer and Editor
In 1998, I earned my degree in graphic design for the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. I spent part of my first year out of college working as a graphic designer for a records management company and the other part in a community college marketing department. Having the opportunity to learn how to communicate ideas with design would prove invaluable down the road.
I left Pittsburgh to return home to Virginia where I began work as a production designer for a local newspaper. I spent my days designing brochures, correcting art, setting publications, and ensuring that all inbound files from vendors were press ready.
After several months of production, I noticed a sports writing vacancy one day when I was reviewing the Classified section paste-up boards. After three weeks of seeing the listing go unanswered, I asked for an opportunity to write. The sports editor got the green light from the managing editor and I was given my first assignment the next Friday—covering high school varsity football.
When I arrived at work the following Monday morning, I was told that the publisher wanted to have a word with me. I panicked, but my creative services manager told me it was going to fine. I met with the publisher who informed me that he received a lot of positive feedback on my game story and he wanted me to move into sports full time. My creative services manager took me to coffee and encouraged me to make the move into the newsroom. Seventeen years—and a few job changes later—I’m still writing stories. It’s not always easy, but the joy of sharing the stories and lives of others is worth every keystroke.
Since that day in 2001, I’ve worked as a sports writer and sports editor at a daily newspaper, as a stringer for a weekly newspaper, as managing editor for a parenting magazine, and as an editor-in-chief for a health magazine. I’ve also been a marketing copywriter, a web content writer, an editor for two niche health websites, and a public relations consultant who has used those same writing and communication skills to help his client’s media attention and win industry awards.
While writing for magazines, I interviewed a few cool celebrities and influencers. Among my favorites were HGTVs Sabrina Soto, Food Network’s Rachael Ray, Supernanny’s Jo Frost, Pretty Little Liars actor Keegan Allen, and America’s Supernanny Deborah Tillman.
Crossing Over into Books
I got the idea to write a book in 2014. When a friend mentioned NaNoWriMo in a Facebook message, I wasn’t sure what language he was speaking. NaNo what? Once he gave me the dish that it was National Novel Writing Month and what its significance was, I was all in.
I bombed at the 50,000-word contest but walked away with 22,000 words and confidence that I could finish a book. It would be 18 months, a major revision, and a round of Camp NaNo—the lightly participated summer version of the larger fall event—before I actually finished the book.
As I got toward the end of writing the book, I decided to produce a podcast, The Art & Business of Writing, where I interview writers, authors, and creative professionals who influence the writing and publishing world. Some of my guests have included New York Times bestselling authors John David Mann and Joanna Penn (of the Creative Penn Podcast), USA Today Bestselling author Toby Neal, EOFire’s Kate Erickson, and Foundr Magazine CEO Nathan Chan.
Listening to the stories from my guests helped me to have the confidence and clarity to complete and publish my book. I released The Art & Business of Writing: A Practical Guide to the Writing Life, in December 2015 as a tool to help writers hone their writing skills, balance their author work-life, and learn ways to better write, promote, and sell their books. It was my greatest career accomplishment to date.
Nearly a year later, while toying with the idea of writing a second book, I was contacted by a local woman named Cornelia Jude who wanted to know if I would be interested in ghostwriting her story. We met and once I heard what she wanted to share, I was in. Over the course of the next two years (from 2016-2018), we wrote and published Mended Faith: A Life of Abuse, Pain & Redemption (Morgan James Publishing), which chronicled Cornelia’s story of overcoming childhood sexual abuse and spousal abuse through her newly discovered Christian faith.
As we head in 2019, I’m still actively promoting Mended Faith and working on a revised version of The Art & Business of Writing and a personal development book for writers and authors.
Why Work with Me
As a coach and consultant, my primary objective to help authors with inspiring stories write and publish life-changing books. I believe in the power of books to influence culture and shape society. In partnering with authors of diverse backgrounds and perspectives, I can help them to publish books that create hope, inspire change, provoke thought, and engage reader’s imaginations.
In my book coaching sessions, I emphasize the importance of digging deep to bring the reader into your story. It’s not enough to tell a reader what’s happening, how you did a thing, or even how to do a thing, but instead the goal is painting pictures with words—information through entertainment. It’s how YouTube, Netflix, and other forms of media connect with audiences. They captivate you with story and then share their information. It’s my responsibility as a book writing coach to teach you how to write books with the same appeal.
You’ll know and understand your target audience, where your book fits into the market, and why people should buy your books and how to encourage them to do so. By the time we’ve finished our coaching sessions, you’ll have a completed book and the confidence necessary to promote it.
Want to Learn More?
If you’re interested in the services I offer authors who want to write books, you can get it on the Book Writing & Coaching page. There you’ll learn about the programs I have for authors interested in self-publishing. From time to time, an author comes that’s interested in traditional or hybrid publishing. I can help there too. I have relationships with two hybrid publishers and can guide you through that submission process as well.
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