Honor your writing and sell your book.
Carmel-by-the-Sea, California beckons…
“Linda Sivertsen’s writing retreat in Carmel is one of the best gifts I have ever given to myself. And, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. From our first Introductory emails, I knew Linda was special. Her light shines that brightly. Her brilliance as a writer is only matched by her magical ability to share her skills, expertise, and contacts. And deliver. Man, does she deliver! My TED talk was a vision she had at my retreat last February, and by October, I did my Talk at TEDWomen2016. (It was through her contacts that the door opened… and performing on that stage was a career- and life-highlight!) Linda worked her magic on everyone—connecting one gal to her dream agent (who got her a book deal soon after our retreat), etc., etc. The amazing food, friendships, and support were only possible through Linda’s coaching and wisdom.”
Taylor Dayne, singer/songwriter, with 18 top-10 Billboard hits. [*From Linda: This talk/sing surprised us all. I saw it in a flash during our second group brainstorming, and within minutes had her performing pieces of it to our giddy cheers. I don’t know what made me tell her I’d get the tape to TED–I had no contact. But four days later, when they magically contacted me about speaking in the fall, I said, “Me?! Sure! But I have someone else you must see,” and that was that. You can’t imagine how surreal it was being in the audience in San Francisco watching Taylor kill it on stage. I seriously have the BEST job in the world!]
“Your retreat helped me immensely. I knew the story I wanted to tell but your intuitive skills helped make it a much bigger, much more helpful book. Before, my book would have been just okay. Now, it’s epic. And you can quote me on that. And a side note, I met my new best friend at my retreat and we’ve supported each other on this adventure each step of the way. She’s coming to visit me in Paris in the spring and I can’t wait!”
Janice MacLeod, artist & author of New York Times bestseller Paris Letters, Sourcebooks (click here for Janice’s thoughts on her follow-up memoir, Paris Year, with St. Martin’s Press–Summer, 2017)
Every few months since 2009, I’ve been blessed to lead dreamy writing retreats in one of the most alluring artist communities in the world, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. In this treasured hamlet, a longtime favorite of legendary residents Jack London, Mary Austin, Upton Sinclair, and Ansel Adams (and rated the #8 Travel Destination in the U.S. by Condé Nast magazine), my extraordinary organic chef pampers 4-5 writers and me so that we’re able to pamper our art. Experiencing the mind-blowing magic of sisterhood & synchronicity in this enchanting place is one of the greatest joys of my life.
It’s in this creative soup (recently covered in CARMEL magazine) that new books emerge, old books are sorted out, and everyone has psychic revelations for everyone else. Yep. It’s that otherworldly (did I mention that women are magical?). And, most importantly, it’s WORKING, as you’ll see by the book-deal testimonials sprinkled throughout this section. Retreaters are getting agents, publishing contracts, and so much more.
In the photo to the left, for example, 2 of the 3 gals with me from that retreat have signed with lit agents I referred them to, and both memoirs we worked on have become New York Times bestsellers (Paris Letters and Misdiagnosed). The 3rd is finalizing her proposal to shop soon. And, we’ve all become dear friends.
That’s my favorite part of all of this, what I hoped and prayed would happen… life-changing RESULTS and relationships. In this book + brand + business-building retreat, I draw upon all of my 22-year experience combining creativity & commerce–writing and marketing award-winning, bestselling books (and magazine cover stories)–and building solid, powerful platforms.
Need an agent? I tap my best agent connections in the industry with the goal to get my gals ready for representation + SOLD, often working closely with the agent to strategize and celebrate.
Increasingly, too, publishers are reaching out to me to meet directly with my retreaters. In the past year I’ve connected writers with editors (some via agents, some not) at imprints for Simon & Schuster, Sounds True, and Workman. By the way, I’m not an agent and I don’t take a percentage of anything; I just LIVE for the squeals and happy tear-filled sniffles of are-you-sitting-down GREAT news. To see those results, updated often, go here.
As I shared in a recent blog post, I’ll be scaling back my retreat schedule as of May 2018 to concentrate on finishing my own books. Stay tuned for what that will look like going forward. (In other words, you’ll be the first to know… once I do:)).
To make an appointment to chat with Linda, go here.
“Linda’s Carmel writing retreats have become my yearly tradition—the gift I give myself to oxygenate my art. I grew up ‘just one of the guys’ playing sports, and had a tough time relating to ‘emotional’ girls. As a direct result of these retreats, I finally learned what men have known for centuries: Girls rule. It’s hard to describe the magic that occurs when women from around the world come together, open up their hearts and minds, and share their creative projects. Year after year, the groups change, but the tremendous love, support, and genius I witness never ceases to amaze me. I highly recommend everyone give themselves the gift of five days with Linda in Carmel.
One of my favorite things to watch is how Linda opens up her rolodex to connect us to the perfect person who can catapult our journey or launch our endeavors. I’ve seen her get agents—and even Taylor’s TEDWomen talk—for retreaters in days (not months). In my case, when I mentioned at the last one that I’d LOVE to interview the legendary heart surgeon/author Dr. Bernie Sanders for my documentary, HEAL, Linda said, “I KNOW Dr. Bernie! I’ll email him right now!” She did, and just like that, I was on a plane to the East Coast. Unbelievable. These photos are all because of you, Linda! I love you!”
Kelly Noonan Gores, actress, writer, director, and producer of HEAL, healdocumentary(.com). As of Dec. 2017, Kelly’s masterpiece is the #1 documentary in the U.S., Canada, & Australia, and continues to climb the top ten charts worldwide. Yay, Kel Kel!
“My time in Carmel was nothing short of amazing. What could have taken many months took but a few short days, and I will forever be grateful. This experience will always hold a special place in my heart, right next to my first kiss and my first bite of chocolate…”
Laurie Wajda, Internet Marketer and mother of four, Staatsburg, NY
“After YEARS of talking/dreaming about writing a book, I took the leap of faith and attended Linda’s retreat. I can’t believe it took me so long and I can’t wait to go again! Not only did Linda help me clarify my message, she also offered a fresh and clear perspective on how to share it with the world. Since then I’ve been published in three books, released my own book, and am now working on the next book proposal with Linda’s incredible support and guidance. If you’ve been thinking about becoming an author, go spend a week in Carmel-by-the-Sea. It’s indeed where magic happens!”
Elise Museles, founder of Kale & Chocolate (.com) and author of Whole Food Energy: 200 All Natural Recipes to Help You Prepare, Refuel, and Recover, Barron’s Educational
What do we work on? In Carmel you breathe life into your book proposal, novel, memoir, non-fiction business, self-help book, cookbook, overall business & career marketing plan… WHATEVER is whispering (or yelling) in your ear for time and loving attention.
Come with merely a few ideas or a belly full of them, nothing but a title and a gut feeling, or two full manuscripts. It all works. I love helping wide-eyed first-time writers and veteran authors; people at the BEGINNING of their creative process (to shortcut their path from IDEA to DONE), and battle-weary pros in need of a creative B12 shot. If you’re a newbie, we’ve got you. You won’t feel that way past day #1 (and, it’s likely we’ll save you years of doing it the hard way). Conversely, if you’ve been at this for FOREVER and ache for an infusion of fresh perspectives and insights, you’re so coming to the right place. And, I’ve got one hell of an address book, so if it’s connections you long for, I love making this intros when the time is right. Birthing a book takes a team, and I’m all about team love.
Regardless, you’ll be served world-class organic meals (and snacks) in this “think tank” of the most loving order–where you can stay in your PJ’s all day if you choose. This brain-trust-by-the-sea is about being cozy and renewed, with nothing but writing, brainstorming, pampering, camaraderie, gut laughs, and ocean ions to help get your book up, out, and onto bookstore and home library shelves around the world.
Never felt supported in your writing before? Those days are about to be long gone…
“Linda is one well-connected mofo. In our very first session at Carmel she sent my book proposal to multiple literary agents. BIG ones. Like, agents that were so big I nearly peed my pants.
She knew exactly who would be right for me. By our second day together I already had a promising lead with an agent at a big, badass agency. I ended up signing with that agent (at Writers House) and a month later we pitched my book to publishers. MULTIPLE publishers were interested–including a top publisher who said my title was “too edgy.” That’s a deal breaker for me.
Thankfully, an indie press–ECW (who, according to Publishers Weekly, is “one of the most diversified independent publishers in North America”)–courted me and I fell in LOVE with the editor. SOLD! Somebody pinch me! I wouldn’t have found my agent without Linda. Seriously, just give her all of your money and go to Carmel. #WORTHIT”
Sarah Vermunt, author of Careergasm: Find Your Way to Feel-Good Work, March 2017. [*From Linda: Dudes! It hasn’t even been a full month and Sarah’s book is already the #1 bestselling Career book in Canada! #Goosebumps.]
“Linda Sivertsen is my angel! I came to Linda’s Carmel Writing Retreat with two books. I’d already written a proposal for one, but was ready to ditch it because agents had told me there was no market for it–that helping people make the best choices regarding eldercare (the topic of my work and book) was easily done online. Linda refused to believe that, telling me that our aging population made this book unique and timely. She saw my heartbreak and wouldn’t let me give up. She quickly polished my proposal to make it stronger, introduced me to a great agent–Jeff Herman–who immediately wanted it, and celebrated with me when it sold. I’m now working one-on-one with my dream editor at a publishing house–the senior acquisitions editor–who loves the book. I can’t express how much Linda and the retreat changed my life or how much she means to me.”
Becky Feola, author of The Eldercare Consultant, AMACON Books–Winner of a prestigious 2017 Nautilus book award.
“First, gratitude to you, Linda, for creating such a sacred space. The retreat was really magical for me, personally and professionally. But not just for me. I’ve talked with our “crew”–Katie, Holly, Janice, and Jen. You created this space where everybody was free to be themselves, and to be the best version of themselves. And what amazing women you attracted! These are people I’m in touch with frequently, and will know and love forever! How often does that happen in just a week? Thank you! My proposal’s done. My manuscript’s done. Your final notes in our session following the retreat were specific, clear, and brilliant, and I’m so looking forward to meeting the agent(s) you have in mind. In short, I am forever grateful. I was hesitant on the price, but now I can’t think of a better investment I made last year.”
Jody Berger, author of the NYT bestselling memoir: Misdiagnosed: One Woman’s Tour of—and Escape from—Healthcareland, Sourcebooks
*Update: I knew Laura Yorke at the Carol Mann agency would love Jody’s memoir and pitched it to her in person. I called Jody 5 minutes later from the sidewalk of 5th Avenue and told her to email it directly to her, before we’d even had a chance to tell other agents. Bingo! Two days later, they were bonding over the phone–both graduated from Duke–and discovering friends in common. Jody signed her contract that afternoon and Laura sold the book to an amazing publisher who had the cover done before the contracts were signed!
“I had so many ideas, but wasn’t sure which was the BEST one—what to focus on to be a winner. I heard an interview with Linda, called her, prayed for guidance and decided to cancel everything, make the big commitment, and attend her Carmel retreat the next day! I have already written several books, I live down the street, and have wonderful women friends. I even lead retreats–so what I wanted was to be supported to take a dramatic leap into a much more personal voice with clarity, depth, and a good business sense of what would sell.
Linda is a bit of a psychic, and zeroed in on key things that made my project much stronger. I’m delighted to say I’ve found a dear friend in Linda and am very appreciative of her support and direction professionally and personally. She has helped bring me to the next level; through her editing, brainstorming, and business acumen, I got a great deal with a formidable publisher (planning to also promote my book in their national magazine). In Linda you can find a wonderful partner to help bring your book forward into the world!”
Elizabeth Murray, painter, photographer, Monet gardener, and author of Living Life in Full Bloom, Rodale
From Linda: This photo of President Obama is amazing to me! Four years ago this book was a dream-in-progress in Carmel. Now it’s a beautiful reality, with our Pres stopping to appreciate the Lizzie Murray Full Bloom Garden at Camp David. You just NEVER know where a book will go!
“I cannot accurately call this a writing retreat, as it was a much more sacred experience for me. I was swept away and engulfed in a deeply spiritual space of creation—like church—where the forces bathed us all with the energy and assistance needed to write from our hearts in a most profound and powerful way. I wrote more efficiently and effectively in one day than I had in several years.
Linda, you are beyond a wordsmith, and surpass the syntax of magic! I am still awed, speechless and deeply grateful for one of the most remarkable adventures of my lifetime. I used to think they were about exploring external spaces and places. Now I know, the truth. The greatest journey of them all is the one that takes us deeper into heart’s core, and expressing its love. This week has been one of the most loving, profound experiences of my entire life. Thank you, my dear Linda for creating this most magnificent opportunity to grow more fully into myself as a writer, a woman and a human being!”
Elaine R. Ferguson, MD, author of Super Healing: Engaging Your Mind, Body, and Spirit to Create Optimal Well Being, HCI (and PBS special)
Jan. 8-12 (full/wait list). Feb 19-23, 2018. April 16-20, May 21-25.
I’m in the process of finishing two books (more on that soon!). Thus, I’m capping retreat size to 4-5 participants so that I have time to workshop pieces myself. This means more energy to focus on you and your book(s), and additional time to dive deep with the others. It also allows me to more freely share what I’m working on. For example, at a recent retreat, I read a keynote speech I’d just written. The inspired feedback I received helped each of us, revealing sections that worked and needed work for me, and sparking a lively discussion about additional ways everyone could share their work in the world.
Spots fill fast! If your intuition is telling you it’s time, and you’re jonesin’ to join us, sign up here (no commitment necessary) so we can schedule a phone/Skype chat soon to discuss your project!
Why a Retreat? A few reasons…
- B/c you’ve been going it alone too long already. Isolation can be lonely & SLOW.
- In the right space, Group Think becomes loving/healing/magical Muse Think.
- Your sister-in-words writing pals will champion your dreams far beyond the retreat.
- When you know you’re reading aloud at 7 pm, you get BUSY! Prepare to amaze yourself.
- While hearing feedback for others, you gain radical insights into your own work.
- Oh, and because it’s ridiculously FUN!
I live to help you. I’ve written book proposals for clients that have garnered 6- & 7-figure book deals, and have worked with most of the major publishers. In the last decade, aside from championing/coaching several hundred writers, both individually and in groups, I co-authored among other collaborations: Harmonic Wealth, Hyperion; Generation Green, Simon & Schuster; Closer Than You Think, Hampton Roads, and Your Big Beautiful Book Plan, self published with Danielle LaPorte. The first two won multiple awards and hit the bestseller lists, the third is now published in 9 languages, and the forth has led to countless book deals. I also collaborated with Emmy-winning life coach Rhonda Britten on Do I Look Fat In This? (Dutton), and with the publisher of SUCCESS magazine, Darren Hardy, on his business bestseller, The Compound Effect (Vanguard Press, a NYT, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestseller). Meaning: I love this stuff!
And I’d love nothing better than to help YOU ink a book deal. In these competitive times, a book with your name on it increases your market value, your credibility, your opportunities, and your professional profile in every way. Not to mention, it’s a BLAST. Your world will never be the same. But you know that already, or you wouldn’t be here right now.
I cherish the creative process of crafting book proposals—the lengthy business plan publishers must have before they can offer you a book deal—something many people find intimidating or boring. You’re free, however, to work on anything you want feedback on, including the sections of your website + agent query letters. If your topic is non-fiction, the great news is that you don’t have to write your book to get a publishing deal. In fact, literary agents and publishers don’t need you to. All you need is a unique concept, backed by a winning book proposal, with a few beautifully written sample chapters (that’s where receiving your 8 hours of audios + hundreds of pages of 20+ proposal samples that sold in Your Big Beautiful Book Plan–a gift with the price of the retreat–comes in seriously handy.)
No matter what you’re working on, you’ll tap into your inner muse during this retreat and rock your book’s casbah once and for all! Hasn’t that idea been rolling around in your brain long enough?
Retreat size = intimate, so everyone gets maximum value.
Fun photos, all taken at past retreats!
The Deets (what, where, when, price…)
Where: Our gorgeous, sprawling treehouse in the hills of Carmel, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. You’re close enough to the sea for stunning views from your writing table, but far enough away to stay focused.
When: Each retreat starts on Monday afternoon and ends Friday at noon.
What: Dinner on Ocean Ave., at my favorite eatery, il Fornaio, where we gather to start sharing our dreams and intentions.
The following three and a half days are rich and full: private consulting, writing, and editing sessions with me; hours of peaceful writing time; energizing reading & brainstorming sessions with the group; brisk walks; insanely delicious meals served by our private chef (napping anyone?); sisterhood (and sometimes brotherhood, too!); synchronicity, and more laughter (and perhaps tears) than you’ve had in years! You’ll arrive as strangers and depart as lifelong friends & writing comrades. For an in-depth breakdown of our daily schedule, click here.
Price: $10,000 for the week—$5,000 due upon sign-up (to hold your spot) & $5,000 due 30 days before departure. This covers ALL of your expenses—lodging, food, & all instruction—except travel. Plus, you’ll receive your private two-hour editorial session with me when you’re ready, after we return.
My goal is to help make you agent ready, and to facilitate those introductions when you are! I work with top agents in NYC and elsewhere, and can’t wait to send them your project when it’s ready. They’re always on the lookout for new, powerful voices + material, and I’m always looking to help my clients SELL. If you think about it, helping you WIN helps everything I’ve worked a lifetime to create rolling. These retreats have become a career for me in themselves, and have taken the place of my ghostwriting–even slowed my own book writing (hence, the higher fee). But my father raised me with the notion that business should be collaborative and a “win-win-win” all ’round. This is his philosophy in action. The agents win. My clients win. And, I have the greatest experience acting as midwife.
What do I mean by the magic of sisterhood and synchronicity?
Here’s an example: Sarah from Santa Barbara has a page-turner of a book. All of us women hang on her every word. The subject matter is heavy—but her voice is funny and wise, spiritual and suspenseful, so we’ll follow her anywhere. Trouble is, her woo-woo title stinks! It’s a snoozer and we can’t let her step out with it. We have to protect our new sister in words! It’s got to be catchy, twisted, and memorable—something like Running with Scissors or A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Her work resembles those off-the-charts bestsellers; to call it something light and cosmic would be tragic. This is easy. Helping Sarah nail down a winning book title takes all of about 5 minutes!
With tea mugs in hand, and juicy, lively energy crackling, we simply ask a few more detailed questions about her topic, and BOOM! It’s right there, under her nose. In the midst of outlining a common comedic situation in her life, she utters the PERFECT sound bite, and we all jump on it at the same time—laughing and squealing. Within minutes, we’ve pulled up Amazon.com to find out that NO ONE in all of Amazon’s 2,000,000+ titles has EVER written a book with this name. Then, she does a global search and finds that the domain name is still unclaimed. Within a few more minutes, Sarah has registered the domain for her book (something publishers will love when they consider buying + promoting her). High fives are shared all around. Another pesky dilemma, handled. Bam.
I could go on and on.
What makes sisterhood so magical?
These retreats have transformed my life. At the risk of sounding dramatic, they’ve saved me. Reliving it makes me a bit emotional, so rather than repeat myself, I’ll point you to a short piece I’ve already written about how they came to be + uplifted everything during the most gut-wrenching crisis of my life. See my About page (in the paragraph starting with, “I started these retreats…”).
As for the participants, what makes them go back home and create Facebook writing groups and schedule phone sessions and even take trips together? Aside from their newfound sense of community, and of being seen (and heard) and supported in untold ways, there’s something else going on. My friends Katherine Woodward Thomas and Claire Zammit talk about a study done at Harvard University that revealed that people wanting to manifest goals in a group were 6X more effective than the individual. I don’t want to paraphrase, and don’t know much about stats (having dropped out of statistics in college), but that’s how it feels to me. And, the reality of it keeps expanding.
For instance, when working on a book that needs just the right story, I think of my retreat gals and what they have to offer. When Deb and I needed a few more stories for Closer than you Think (about the use of ritual to help people deal with loss, the importance of forgiveness, and a spiritually comedic perspective), I reached out to Ritual expert Elizabeth Murray, Forgiveness Expert Ana Holub, and Spiritual Blogger Alexandra Hill, all of whom gave stunning stories for the book. The author, Deborah, was cheering when she read these additions because they were exactly what we needed to round out the book, and my girls were elated, as they had an instant writing credit complete with promotion (in the resources section of the book). It was a win-win-win all around.
That’s the magic of sisterhood and synchronicity. I can’t wait to share it with you live and in person in Carmel!
“Linda Sivertsen—my guru and mentor extraordinaire. I have only the universe to thank for getting us together in Carmel, and the rest is history. Your friendship, guidance, and mad writing skills, along with the blueprints on how to write a winning book proposal, were the defining moments for this project. You are an incredible support to writers everywhere and one of the finest women I know.”
Julie Colvin, author of A Cure for Emma (Norlights Press)
“Linda and I met as writers, which is sometimes hard to accomplish, given the solitary life of our profession. She was an immediate sister in words. But beyond that, she helped me. Being a published author was new to me, and Linda went out of her way to share a spectrum of excellent advice with a natural and abundant spirit. I would soon come to find that this is who Linda is/can’t help not being. Helping writers is central to her spirit and explains why she extends her talent in this capacity so effortlessly—in championing their book proposals, and in creating inspiring writing retreats. She is as interested in your writing, as he is in hers. And that is rare. Linda Sivertsen is rare.”
Laura Munson, New York Times bestselling author of This Is Not The Story You Think It Is, Putnam
I’m so looking forward to meeting you for this magical five days, where it’s all about you, your voice, your book, and your legacy. I want this to be one of the best gifts you’ll ever give yourself–truly the start of a blessed and creative new beginning!
So… you’re feeling ready already, right? Contact me before you get sidetracked and another year flies by. (It’ll be Christmas in five minutes… you might as well just leave the tree up all year ’round.) Seriously, creativity has a way of slipping through our fingers. Breathe life into yours. Schedule it. Make it real. Let’s start a life-long friendship (sounds corny, but it’s true) and let me help you script your success. Your book plannin’ paradise awaits!
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