When Asking for Help Feels Good

Published: June 28, 2016

Do you have trouble asking for help?

For entrepreneurs, it’s tempting to say, I’ll do it myself. I don’t want to impose on anyone by reaching out for help. But the incredible thing is that people actually want to help if the cause is inspiring.

I’ve been reaching out to fellow publishing professionals to help up to 20 young non-fiction writers sharpen up their ideas for a book at an evening seminar at the end of August. It’s free, no strings attached, and I’m asking the pros to donate their time for free — plus a glass of wine and tapas after.

The cause is great: We want to hear hot new ideas from writers under 30, and we want to help them because the doors to publishing are so hard to open. The most surprising thing to me so far is that terrific professionals are so eager to help young people.

Jonathan Kay, editor of The Walrus, quickly volunteered to coach as soon as he was asked. Debby de Groot and Debbie Gaudet, both long-time pros in the sale of books and the promotion of authors, were all too happy to sign up. Kate Lunau, the former Maclean’s health writer who is now the Editor of Vice Motherboard Magazine in Canada, didn’t even wait for me to make the ask when we met at the Canadian Science Writers’ Association convention. She’s in.

Bernard Simon, the brilliant writer who used to work for Financial Times’ Canada who now teaches at the Munk School of Global Affairs, happily volunteered.

Three young writers jumped in to help spread the news — Zoe Knowles, a McGill grad who’s writing a book of fiction; Nora Beqaj, who’s going to London to write; and Laura Thistle, a soon-to-be lawyer with a passion for international development.

At a time when so many people in publishing sound so depressed, these great publishing professionals truly make me happy. I’ve learned that people actually want to share what they know when the cause is meaningful to them.

There will be more names of coaches to announce this summer as we prepare for the Young Writers Night on Thursday, August 25.

We’re eager to hear from anyone under 30 who wants to write a non-fiction book. They just need to send their book idea, in 30 to 300 words, to submissions@barlowbooks.com.

The deadline for submissions is July 25. We’ll choose up to 20 young writers and announce their names in early August.

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