Publishing's Secret Side-Door: Episode 337 Writing Object Lessons and Books-for-series with Maria Teresa Hart

Publishing's Secret Side-Door: Episode 337 Writing Object Lessons and Books-for-series with Maria Teresa Hart

Sometimes your first book is a gateway. For me—KJ—it was Reading with Babies, Toddlers and Twos, a book I wrote in 2006 with Susan Straub. Susan was the expert and I was a rising writer with a lesser expertise riding on her coattails. We pitched the book before I had many bylines at all—but adding the words “is the author of the forthcoming book…” to my pitches opened a lot of doors. The book itself was shorter and much differently formatted than standard non-fiction.

Many writers get started this way, with gift books, guides and other non-fiction books that follow existing formats or fit into existing series. (The fiction version would be work-for-hire chapter books or books within a fandom—and we’d love to talk about that if you have guest ideas.)

Maria Teresa Hart is a writer and editor who works most often in food and travel, with a series of impressive bylines that range from the New York Times and The Atlantic to VICE and Business Insider, but she came on the pod to talk about the experience of writing a book for a publishing house within an existing series. Her book, Doll, is part of Bloomsbury’s Object Lessons series. We talk about how that happened, what it was like and how an experience like this can become an doorway into larger opportunities in publishing.


Maria Teresa Hart’s book, DOLL, is a pop-culture feminist critique of doll history and culture, from Raggedy Ann to Barbie to android sex dolls. Find it HERE.

Readers of Jane Friedman’s The Hot Sheet (if you’re not a subscriber, I recommend it, find it HERE) can read an interesting piece about work-for-hire in fiction fandoms in the 9/28/22 issue.

High Heel, Summer Brennan

Object Lessons Series


Object lessons essay series in The Atlantic

Maria Teresa’s essay on Bidets

33 1/3 series

33 1/3 WEBSITE

Barbie movie


Maria Teresa: The Witches of Willow Cove, Josh Roberts

How to Be Eaten, Maria Adelmann

KJ: The Final Girl Support Group, Grady Hendrix

Small Town, Big Magic by Hazel Beck

https://www.mariateresahart.com, Twitter: /maritehart, IG: @mariathart

Don’t forget that Author Accelerator is your one-stop for getting a coach on board to help you with your work, no matter where you are in the drafting game. Need a pro? Click here. And if you’ve considered becoming a book coach, here’s your link: Click here.

Also…. you know we here at #AmWriting tend to think working with a book coach or developmental editor is the gold standard for getting help with your project. But that’s not always in the cards—and even if it is, doing as much as you can before bringing in help is often a smart approach. (Although throwing small amounts of $$ at things for years until you’ve spent as much as you would have if you’d just gone all in is not…. so if that resonates with you go find a book coach already!)

The women of Pages & Platforms have created a course they call Story Path after years of going through this process on their own, and helping many clients fix their stories and finish their books. They saw how many people struggled with getting from a zero draft to a professional, working draft and made Story Path to help other writers get to “the end” faster. 

Here’s what you’ll get in the course:

  • You’ll have the tools you need to understand what type of story you’re telling and how to use it to satisfy readers

  • You’ll finally be able to have an objective means to evaluate important aspects of your story

  • You’ll map a plan to a complete professional draft that will have readers eager to turn the page

  • You’ll have the confidence to keep on the path!

The developmental editors of Pages & Platforms provide 20 multimedia lessons, worksheets, exercises and quizzes to help you apply your knowledge to your work-in-progress, monthly live group coaching calls and 12 months of access to the course materials.

Here’s some feedback from a real student when she first started (she’s now querying her completed novel!):

“Already ‘Story Path’ has proven invaluable, and we’re barely halfway through the course! It’s given me (an aspiring novelist stalled on bringing my rough draft in for a landing) the tools, frameworks, and inspiration needed to confidently tackle both my ending and effective revision of a complete ‘professional draft.’ Hawley, Ramirez, and Campbell probably saved me from tons of angst and flailing around. I highly recommend this course!”

—Carolyn Cowen, novelist 

This one is NOT FREE. But putting your $$ where your mouth is can be very very motivating. So if it sounds like it’s for you, get all the details and register HERE. We’re an affiliate, so we do make a little something if you decide to sign up —but please know that we only team up with people and businesses we trust!

Entertaining, actionable advice on craft, productivity and creativity for writers and journalists in all genres, with hosts Jessica Lahey, KJ Dell'Antonia and Sarina Bowen.