San Miguel Editorial Services

Writing and editing for impact and sales.

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This writing secret could change your life!

In a May 2, 2021 interview with The New Yorker, comedy writer John Swartzwelder shares how he consistently churned out award-winning scripts for “The Simpsons”:

I have a trick that makes things easier for me. Since writing is very hard and rewriting is comparatively easy and rather fun, I always write my scripts all the way through as fast as I can, the first day, if possible…. Then the next day, when I get up, the script’s been written. It’s lousy, but it’s a script. The hard part is done…. All I have to do from that point on is fix it. So I’ve taken a very hard job, writing, and turned it into an easy one, rewriting, overnight.

To read the entire interview, click here.

Want to Be a Better CEO? Work on Your Writing

Image: Getty

Strong writing skills aren’t just for bloggers, marketers, and salespeople.


By age 25, I had lived in more than six countries and bootstrapped a million-dollar business all by myself. None of that would have been possible if I wasn’t a good writer. The power of cold email and persuasive copywriting helped me create countless opportunities in business and life. Here are a few ways sharpening your writing skills can help you reach new levels as an entrepreneur, and enhance your life overall. 

Get to know your team on a deeper level.

I’ve been managing high-performing remote teams for a decade, well before the pandemic. While Zoom calls are a nice way to get to know your team, one-on-one calls are time-consuming and don’t scale. However, it only takes a few moments to send an email or Slack message. Interacting with team members that don’t directly report to you is a great way to get a better pulse on your company.  

Simply asking a few questions (which you could even automate) lets you know where there’s a big opportunity versus a potential fire to put out. If you find something interesting, you can always follow up with a one-on-one meeting. 

Become a better manager at scale.

One of my leadership secrets is great documentation. Not only does it save time with onboarding new hires, it also helps things scale with consistency. The best process documentation is detailed and thorough, but still as simple and short as possible.   

Create great morale.

Great writing is electric. It draws people to you and rallies them behind your mission, helping you make your dreams a reality. While digital content like video and images help with business storytelling, writing is the backbone of any brand. Even the marketing plans and creative strategy behind most digital media content requires written instructions. Regularly sharing positive messages (even very brief) with your team and leadership can go a long way to keeping everyone motivated and excited. A compelling email can be the difference between getting everyone’s buy-in versus having a project die in its infancy. 

Create new opportunities without a big budget.

I don’t have to tell you how important your social-media brand is these days, especially on platforms like LinkedIn. Creating and sharing content online can help you recruit new hires, gain customers and business partners, and even find investors sometimes.At age 24, I started to amass a large email list, and quickly became a major thought leader in the space I was defining. My tiny, bootstrapped company was beating corporations with hundreds of millions of dollars in funding. Many of our best hires were avid readers of my writing. People loved my content because it was unique, irreverent, and genuine. I firmly believe none of this would have happened if I had just hired a ghostwriter or marketer to run our blog.

Become more agile.

The best part of building your personal brand is it stays with you, whether you stay at that company forever or decide to found something new. This is especially important and valuable if you’re a serial entrepreneur, or decide to transition from being a founder to an investor or value-add adviser. 

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FEB 10, 2021

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Malcolm Gladwell defines successful writing

Book cover: What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell

To write well, first read good writing. Any book from Malcolm Gladwell would qualify, but for sheer enjoyment, pick up What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures, a collection of essays previously published in The New Yorker.

In his preface, Gladwell says, “Good writing does not succeed or fail on the strength of its ability to persuade. It succeeds or fails on the strength of its ability to engage you, to make you think, to give you a glimpse into someone else’s head.”

Some people don’t like puppies.

Wow, it’s been a LONG time since I’ve posted, and for that I apologize. Part of the reason is that I’ve been busy working (yay!) and adapting to pandemic life, as have you. So good to get back in touch with you!

Here’s what inspired me to post today: another writer, Kate Foster, and her brilliantly encouraging tweet that all writers everywhere need to see:

Kate Foster (blue tick) @kfosterauthor
While #writing and worrying about people not liking your story and getting negative feedback, remember this: SOME PEOPLE DON’T LIKE PUPPIES. Yeah, it makes zero sense to me either but what you gonna do?

That’s it! She’s right! Keep on writing!!!



Follow me on Facebook (and Twitter and LinkedIn and YouTube and…)


One thing that bothers me about social media is that whether we’re bloggers or information seekers, we’re expected to post the same information across multiple platforms—or to follow everyone everywhere—from websites to Twitter to Instagram to LinkedIn to Facebook to Google+ to Tumblr and the list goes on.

My rule is, I’ll follow you on the medium most comfortable and convenient for me. Usually that’s Facebook or email since I’m on both of those channels all the time. If you’re only on Twitter, I may check in once in a while or set up an email alert for your posts, but I won’t be there 24/7 and that means I’m going to miss most of what you want me to know.

I understand there are programs that “push” posts from one social media platform to all the others (HootSuite does that, I think), but my brain is too full of other stuff to delve into that. So I post different content on different sites, when and where the wind (or the desire to procrastinate) takes me.

These days you can find my posts about writing, editing, and public relations on Facebook (my writer page, not my personal page), Twitter (follow @Esscritora), and LinkedIn, as well as on this site. You won’t find duplicate content, at least not very often, but you’ll be able to stay in touch on whatever platform you like best. Facebook gets updated most often, so that’s what I recommend if you’re a writer looking to commune with your tribe.

If you want to know about moving to and living in Mexico, that’s at my MOVE TO MEXICO! blog, and you’ll find more photos and commentary about life in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico, on Pinterest.

And if you’re into karaoke, especially if you plan to visit San Miguel de Allende, check out my San Miguel Karaoke blog. In fact, if you’re a music lover, check out the website I made for Latin jazz ensemble Jazzoneando.

I also show up once in a while on YouTubeInstagram, Storia and Muckrack. Maybe other places, too. My head is spinning now. So is yours, probably. Hope to see you somewhere … sometime … soon!


Yes, you DO need an editor!

why-editTwo years ago I was happy to reconnect with a former public relations agency client who sought me out to promote his glossy new hardcover book on the evolution of retail store design. Against my better judgment and to my ultimate regret, I accepted the assignment.

And then I read the book. It was awful, and my client wouldn’t admit it. On the contrary, he said he’d been told be people whose judgment he trusted that it was an excellent read. It wasn’t.

But a promise is a promise, and I sent the tome around with a press release and cover letter touting the author’s preeminence in his field and explaining why the content was unique and important (given that I couldn’t find other compilations of information about retail store design). I left out any mention of literary quality.

I did succeed in producing some hits in the local business press and some national architecture and retail industry trades, and I got him a five-minute interview on National Public Radio (before which he refused coaching as it would have meant adding a few hundred dollars to my fee, and after which he complained that it wasn’t long enough).

My client ended up selling a pile of his books at a retail trade show but I’m not sure if he ever sold more than that. Its rating is laughable. That’s partly because the book wasn’t well marketed. But mostly it’s because it’s not a very good read—and it could have been.

The message to authors who self-publish: take the budget you set aside for cover design and HIRE AN EDITOR instead. Give yourself a fighting chance to get reviews that you don’t have to pay for, and then you can put a fancy cover on the second edition.

If you’re not convinced that an editor is worth the money, read the articles referenced here: Study Shows the Value of Copyediting.

“My book needs no editing” is always a fantasy.


Recently a client resurfaced from fifteen years ago and asked me to promote his new book. It had to be great, I figured—after all, this man is an industry leader and a frequent public speaker, and the company he founded has a good back-story.

I accepted the project based on the marketing materials another book promoter had written. Big mistake.

While much of the content was perfectly relevant and the cover and pages were professionally designed, the book had been in circulation four months without sales (most reviewers won’t pick up a book older than two weeks off the press); it was poorly organized and defied categorization (eBay classified it as “Books—Other”); there were dozens of spelling, grammar and usage errors that the proofreader had failed to correct; yet I had promised to promote it.

The self-edited author is as foolish as the self-medicated patient.

I was able to generate both local and national media coverage by presenting excerpts that I carefully selected according to the audience and style of each newspaper, magazine, broadcast and blog—not by asking for reviews. I decided to promote the author, not the book.

My client expressed his displeasure with my methods one day on the phone. It should be “easy peasy” to generate reviews of his book, he said. (In other words, my work wasn’t worth much because the book would sell itself.)

Then he declared, “I had a proofreader but the content needed no editing.”

He was wrong, but I didn’t tell him that. I simply forwarded the feedback from the reporters I pitched, and continued on my track of promoting the wisdom of the author, rather than arguing for the relevance of the book.

As I was wrapping up the project, I found a free PDF of entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki’s ebook on self-publishing, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur—How to Publish a Book. I sent a copy to my client.

Chapter 8, “How To Edit Your Book,” contains brutally honest language: “The self-edited author is as foolish as the self-medicated patient.” Thank goodness Mr. Kawasaki said it so I didn’t have to.

Want your own copy? You can order it here. And don’t forget to call your editor!

Registration opens for 10th Annual San Miguel Writers’ Conference & Literary Festival


Minnesota friends with Calvin Trillin at the 2014 conference.

Looking for a catalyst to start writing that memoir? Need an agent to represent the novel you’ve kept in a drawer for years? You may want to attend the San Miguel International Writers’ Conference & Literary Festival, February 11-15, 2015, in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico. Hey, it’s an excuse for a warm-weather vacation, and you might even get a tax break on the tuition!


“Life of Pi” author Yann Martel at last year’s conference.

Keynote speakers this year include Gloria Steinem, Alice Walker, Scott Turow, Tracy Chevalier, and other luminaries of the literary world.

“Early Bard” pricing is $490-$745 USD depending on the package of conference events and extracurricular activities you desire. Transportation and accommodations extra. (Check out my listing on Airbnb and opt to stay in a real Mexican neighborhood if hotels aren’t your IMG_3714thing.)

Register now if you’re inclined to give your writing a boost—the conference tends to fill early and I predict it will be sold out again this year.

WIN A FULL CONFERENCE PACKAGE PLUS HOUSING AND AGENT SESSION! Click here to learn about the writing contest (deadline Nov. 15, 2014) and be one of three writers who get a free ride.

Free e-book download through Jan. 1, 2014!

Congratulations to another successful published author and client of San Miguel Editorial Services! From Therese Pautz, author of Rain and Revelation:

With gratitude, I’m offering a free ebook download of Rain and Revelation (December 28-January 1, 2014) to celebrate its one year publication anniversary. What a great year! Rain and Revelation was named a Finalist in the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, over 25,000 people have downloaded/purchased the book, nearly 100 reviews have been posted and I’ve been fortunate to talk to many book clubs and business groups. Thanks to all and Happy New Year! Therese

News from the blogging trail

DSC00372My favorite exercise isn’t jogging—it’s blogging. As a writer and editor, I tend to have several projects open on my desk at once, and I get intensely involved in each of them—until it’s time for a breather. I almost always need to set my work aside for a day or so and come back into it with fresh eyes before I will declare a project done.

For me, blogging is fun. It’s my snack between meals.

Recently I posted a comment to a blog called, and the publisher asked me to be a guest blogger once a month. So in my spare time, I am writing short personal essays on aging. Read my column here, and please share your comments.

Are you a blogger who helps writers to improve their craft? Please send us your blog URL and we’ll consider listing it in the Resources section of this website!

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