Phil Sexton

Phil Sexton – Editor

I'm a publisher and content strategist with more than 20 years of experience, specializing in nonfiction publishing and consulting.


I'm Phil Sexton, former publisher of Writer's Digest, speaker, teacher and content strategist. I help people get their nonfiction books published by teaching them how the industry works and how to position their work for the best results before and after publication.

Services I offer include:
- Book proposal critique, including annotated feedback and recommendations for improvement (recommended for those interested in securing a traditional publishing agreement)
- Book proposal creation, for those who want to hire a professional to create an effective nonfiction book proposal for them
- Fiction and nonfiction cover design critique, including detailed feedback on strengths, weaknesses and recommendations for improvement (recommended for indie authors)
- Nonfiction developmental editing (recommended for both indie and traditionally published authors)
- Editorial assessment, with special focus on positioning and marketability (recommended for both indie and traditionally published authors)
- Query letter critique, including detailed feedback and recommendations for improvement
- Book business consultations, for who desire a greater understanding of what nonfiction editors are looking for, how they think, and how to improve your odds of success
Biographies & Memoirs Children’s Non-Fiction Cooking, Food, Wine, & Spirits DIY & Crafts Education & Reference Entertainment Self-Help & Self-Improvement Writing & Publishing
English (US)

Work experience

Media Lab Books

Jun, 2017 — Present

In this role I oversee all book acquisitions and product development for Media Lab Books. I'm also responsible for profitability and success of the book program overall. Media Lab Books specializes in nonfiction works, many of which are brand-driven developed in partnership with licensors such as Disney, Hasbro and John Wayne Enterprises.

Media Lab Books is a distribution client of Macmillan Publishers, one of the largest publishing houses in North America.

F+W Media

May, 2010 — Jan, 2017 (over 6 years)

In this role, I led the editorial, design and marketing departments for several publishing divisions that produced books, magazines, and online content, along with robust e-commerce and online education businesses. Content areas of specialization include writing, publishing, how-to, humor, and general reference.

Divisions under my purview included Writer's Digest, one of the nation's largest and most respected brands devoted to writing and publishing, Sky and Telescope, The Writer's Store, and Digital Book World.

In this role, I was primarily devoted to helping authors improve their work, learn the business of publishing, and get their work published. I was responsible for Writer's Digest books, magazines, online education, writing services, conferences, writing retreats and more.

F+W Media and Adams Media

Jul, 2007 — Apr, 2010 (almost 3 years)

Responsible for book sales for twelve different publishing divisions (400+ titles per year), including Adams Media (now owned by Simon and Schuster). During this time I was a key advisor to the company's publishers and helped determine book acquisitions across all divisions.

High-level sales experience to accounts such as, Barnes and Noble, Walmart, Books-a-Million, Baker & Taylor, Ingram and many others.


This eye-popping book, packed with color and wonder, will transport young readers into the world of My Little Pony, specifically, the Sugar Cube Corner Bakery where fan-favorite pony Pinkie Pie works for Mr. and Mrs. Cake, the two pony bakers who create all of... read more
For many, wine can be an overly complex, intimidating and – dare we say it – mysterious topic. And while it’s true that there are things about wine that can be overwhelming for beginners, Find Your Wine skips such topics in favor of a simple flavor-related foc... read more
"...A unique and absolutely invaluable toolbox for any author..." ~Kate White, New York Times best-selling author and former editor-in-chief of CosmopolitanUnlock the secrets to superior plot twists! The key to keeping people on the edge of their seat--from me... read more
John Wayne: Made in America

Editors of the Official John Wayne Magazine

“Sure I wave the American flag. Do you know a better flag to wave?” ―John WayneA true American to the end, there was nothing John Wayne loved more than his country. In John Wayne: Made in America, John Wayne’s patriotism is explored through photos, his persona... read more
Sother Teague, one of New York’s most knowledgeable bartenders and Wine Enthusiast's Mixologist of the Year (2017), presents a brief history of both classic and lesser-known spirits with modern-day wit and old-school bar wisdom, accompanied by easy-to-mix drin... read more
Any man who has ever aspired to become a better, more self-sufficient and honorable person will benefit from reading The Official John Wayne Handy Book for Men, a tough little handbook, perfect in size for taking on-the-go, but eye-catching enough to adorn a p... read more
Happiness. Contentment. Peace of mind. These are the qualities of life that people long for today, even as they seem harder than ever to attain. In Happier Every Day, author and yoga instructor Paula Munier details a simple yet comprehensive approach to cultiv... read more
Don't limit your fiction - LIBERATE ITAll too often, following the "rules" of writing can constrict rather than inspire you. With Story Trumps Structure, you can shed those rules - about three-act structure, rising action, outlining, and more - to craft your m... read more
Monsters are more than things that go bump in the night...Monsters are lurking in the woods, beneath the waves, and within our favorite books, films, and games--and there are good reasons why they appear so often. Monsters are manifestations of our fears and s... read more
Build an Exceptional Plot, One Scene at a Time!Think of your favorite story--the one that kept you turning pages late into the night, the one with a plot so compelling, so multilayered, so perfect that you couldn't put it down. How can you make your own plots-... read more
The Must-Have Guide to Humor Writing Bring on the funny! With Comedy Writing Secrets 3rd Edition, you can discover the secrets of humor writing that will keep your readers rolling in their seats. Learn the basics of joke construction, as well as in-depth comed... read more
Enthrall Your Readers! Suspense is one of the most powerful tools a writer has for captivating readers--but it isn't just for thrillers. From mainstream fiction to memoir, suspense creates the emotional tension that keeps readers on the edge of their seats. Ma... read more
Enthrall your readers, love the process, & become the writer you are meant to be! Writers are given a wealthy of opportunities to cultivate a successful writing life, break out, and find an audience for their work. Yet so many writers, from beginners to vetera... read more
Engage Your Readers with Emotion While writers might disagree over showing versus telling or plotting versus pantsing, none would argue this: If you want to write strong fiction, you must make your readers feel. The reader's experience must be an emotional jou... read more
A Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award Finalist for Best Critical/Biographical Work Discover the secrets to crafting an unforgettable mystery! To piece together the puzzle of your mystery novel, you need patience, resilience, a solid understanding of the cra... read more
Hook Your Audience with Unforgettable Storytelling! What do Luke Skywalker, John McClane, an da lonely dog on Ho'okipa Beach have in common? Simply put, we care about them. Great storytelling is making readers care about your characters, the choices they make,... read more
The Writer's Lab provides writers, journalers, and creatives (anyone with a desire to write, really) with a medium for playing around with prose, poetry, etc. There are no rules here - only creative prompts and plenty of room for writing, sketching, diagrammin... read more

Phil has 3 reviews





Frank F.

Frank F.

Jan, 2020

Phil is a professional with the highest integrity and commitment to excellence in his craft. He is also a wonderful, collaborative, and caring human being - making him a true pleasure to work with.
John M.

John M.

Aug, 2019

Excellent experience. Phil has been a great guide and offers highly valuable feedback. I would work with him again!
Phil S.
Thank you John! Working on your proposal was a real pleasure. You've got a great project that I think will help a lot of people.
Frank F.

Frank F.

Feb, 2019

Phil is a highly skilled and committed professional of the highest integrity. He help me prepare a Book Proposal for my new book. His take on the material, knowledge of what publishers want, and ability to eloquently put that into words was at a level I have found to be extremely rare.
Phil S.
Thank you, Frank! I appreciate the kind words. Your project was a delight to work on and I appreciate the opportunity to do so.

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