From writer to author: Madrona Workshop Troupe offers a self-publishing weekend on Whidbey

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 BY PATRICIA DUFF, Whidbey Art Source editor

The beautiful and unique Pacific Madrona trees that border Penn Cove’s southwestern edge in Coupeville were the inspiration for three island writers who have collaborated as the Madrona Workshop Troupe. They had an idea designed to help streamline the process of self-publishing.

Like the Arbutus menziesii, a tree with a rich orange-red bark that, when mature, naturally peels away in thin sheets and leaves a silvery smooth appearance, so too these publishing experts will offer fellow writers the chance to demystify the publishing process and show them how to present a mature manuscript in its utmost silvery-sleek, ready-for-print quality.

The troupe’s purpose is to act as a resource for writers who wish to become authors and debuts with a two-day self-publishing “Weekend on Whidbey,” Aug. 18 and 19 in Coupeville.

Tom Trimbath of Trimbath Creative, Molly Larson Cook, founder of Skylark Writing Studio, and Wynn Allen of WGA Consulting, are three Whidbey authors with experience in all phases of self-publishing, and are the dream team who’ve created this new opportunity for their fellow writers.

“Writers are frustrated by fragmented information about self-publishing,” said Trimbath, an author who has self-published nearly a dozen books.

“They’re looking for help in navigating the process and marketing their books. Madrona Workshop Troupe was created to pull together in one place all the pieces that make a self-publishing project successful, no matter how large or small the project, and to make the product as esthetically pleasing and cost-effective for writers as possible.”

The island weekend of workshops entitled, “From Writer to Author: Getting the Words, the Process and the Marketing Right,” will cover three critical phases of self-publishing with sessions led by each of the Madrona principals including,

  • How to prepare a high-quality manuscript;
  • How to choose and work with a self-publisher; and
  • How to develop and implement a successful marketing plan.

“They can’t buy it if they don’t know it’s there,” Allen said, sending home the most important thing to remember about any published book. There’s more to online publishing than sending one’s book to an online publishing service, and Allen is prepared to tell participants all about that conundrum.

Allen, an author with years of experience in marketing and entertainment, sees the technology of publishing as a new opportunity for writers.

“Over the past two years books published electronically out-sold books sold in bookstores. Traditional publishing is not dead, but writers who want to become authors have choices, and this is the way of publishing in the 21st century,” he added.

However, for many writers, the toughest part of this new option is marketing.

“This is where the business side of writing and publishing kicks in, and it’s too often the most-neglected piece,” said Cook.

Cook is a professional editor/writing coach and author of two self-published books. Her workshop will demystify the process of revising and polishing the manuscript for publication. “The better your manuscript, the more likely you are to sell books. Reviewers, bookstore owners, and potential readers are impatient with poorly edited books. It’s up to the author to prepare the best possible manuscript for publication. The best writers know this. Remember, Ernest Hemingway rewrote the ending for ‘A Farewell to Arms’ 39 times.”

The workshops will be supplemented by discussions, activities, shared meals and informal consultations to allow writers to interact with the Madrona team and with each other.

“Instead of gatekeepers and guardians like agents, editors and marketers standing along the process each ready to say, ‘No,’” Trimbath said,  “today’s process allows the modern writer to shop, select and choose. We as writers get to decide where and when to say, ‘Yes,’ on our path to becoming authors.”

“Weekend on Whidbey” will be held at the Pacific Northwest Art School in Coupeville. The weekend fee is $240, with a 20 percent discount for registration before Aug.1.

Have team will travel! The Madrona Workshop Troupe’s self-publishing weekend is also available for writers’ groups or other organizations in other locations.

Additional information is available at or by contacting any of the three principals, Trimbath at, Cook at, or Allen at

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