Phil Sexton

Phil Sexton - Editor

Maplewood, NJ, USA

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

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Overview

Reviews (2)
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
Languages
English (US)
Non-Fiction
Biographies & Memoirs
Children's - Non-fiction
Cooking & Food Wine & Spirits
DIY & Crafts
Education & Reference
Entertainment
Self-help & Self-improvement
Writing & Publishing

Work experience

Vice President and Publisher

Media Lab Books
June, 2017 – Present (over 2 years)

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.

VP, Group Publisher

F+W Media
May, 2010 – January, 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.

Vice President of Sales

F+W Media and Adams Media
July, 2007 – April, 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 Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Walmart, Books-a-Million, Baker & Taylor, Ingram and many others.

Portfolio (17 selected works)

Happier Every Day: Simple ways to bring more peace, contentment and joy into your life

Paula Munier

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 cultivating happiness, including the most recent data and discoveries, all distilled into layman’s terms. Readers will also find 100 practical... 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 cultivating happiness, including the most recent data and discoveries, all distilled into layman’s terms. Readers will also find 100 practical... read more

The Official John Wayne Handy Book for Men: Essential Skills for the Rugged Individualist

James Ellis, Media Lab Books

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 place of pride on one’s bookshelf.Filled with step-by-step advice and real-world examples, it illustrates dozens of essential skills, inc... 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 place of pride on one’s bookshelf.Filled with step-by-step advice and real-world examples, it illustrates dozens of essential skills, inc... read more

I'm Just Here for the Drinks: A Guide to Spirits, Drinking and More Than 100 Extraordinary Cocktails

Sother Teague

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 drink recipes you’ll soon commit to memory. Better than bellying up to some of the world’s best bars with a veteran bartender, this series o... 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 drink recipes you’ll soon commit to memory. Better than bellying up to some of the world’s best bars with a veteran bartender, this series o... 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 personal letters and mementos, and more memorabilia from the Wayne family archives. Carefully curated by the editors of the Official John Wayne... read more

“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 personal letters and mementos, and more memorabilia from the Wayne family archives. Carefully curated by the editors of the Official John Wayne... read more

Mastering Plot Twists: How to Use Suspense, Targeted Storytelling Strategies, and Structure to Captivate Your Readers

Jane Cleland

"...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 memoirs to thrillers and stage plays to screenplays--is filling your stories with unexpected twists and turns. By integrating Plot Twists,... 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 memoirs to thrillers and stage plays to screenplays--is filling your stories with unexpected twists and turns. By integrating Plot Twists,... read more

Find Your Wine: A fun and easy guide to selecting the right wine, every time

Kaytie Norman, Nick Johnson

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 focus that puts the reader’s personal preferences at the forefront, enabling them to buy and talk about wine, discover what they like, and ... 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 focus that puts the reader’s personal preferences at the forefront, enabling them to buy and talk about wine, discover what they like, and ... read more

My Little Pony Baking Book

Christi Johnstone, Media Lab Books

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 the tastiest treats in town. Pinkie Pie will give readers a “tour” of the bakery, during which readers will learn all about baking. She... read more

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 the tastiest treats in town. Pinkie Pie will give readers a “tour” of the bakery, during which readers will learn all about baking. She... read more

The Writer's Lab: A Place to Experiment with Fiction

Sexton Burke

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, diagramming, and planning stories, essays, and more. The "Lab" is loaded with fun exercises that foster creativity and a love of writing, along wi... 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, diagramming, and planning stories, essays, and more. The "Lab" is loaded with fun exercises that foster creativity and a love of writing, along wi... read more

Damn Fine Story: Mastering the Tools of a Powerful Narrative

Chuck Wendig

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, and what happens to them. It's making your audience feel the tension and emotion of a situation right alongside your protagonist. And t... 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, and what happens to them. It's making your audience feel the tension and emotion of a situation right alongside your protagonist. And t... read more

Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel Revised and Expanded Edition: The Complete Guide to Mystery, Suspense, and Crime

Hallie Ephron

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 craft, and a clear blueprint for combining the plot, characters, setting, and more. And while patience and resilience must come from you, t... 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 craft, and a clear blueprint for combining the plot, characters, setting, and more. And while patience and resilience must come from you, t... read more

The Emotional Craft of Fiction: How to Write the Story Beneath the Surface

Donald Maass

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 journey of its own, one as involving as your characters' struggles, discoveries, and triumphs are for you. That's where The Emotional Craft... 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 journey of its own, one as involving as your characters' struggles, discoveries, and triumphs are for you. That's where The Emotional Craft... read more

Just Write: Creating Unforgettable Fiction and a Rewarding Writing Life

James Scott Bell

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 veterans, find their careers stuck in neutral. The solution is simple: Just write. Write yourself past fears, doubts, and setbacks, and use yo... 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 veterans, find their careers stuck in neutral. The solution is simple: Just write. Write yourself past fears, doubts, and setbacks, and use yo... read more

Mastering Suspense, Structure, and Plot: How to Write Gripping Stories That Keep Readers on the Edge of Their Seats

Jane Cleland

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. Mastering Suspense, Structure, & Plot is your hands-on guide to weaving suspense into your narrative. Award-winning author Jane K. Cleland... 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. Mastering Suspense, Structure, & Plot is your hands-on guide to weaving suspense into your narrative. Award-winning author Jane K. Cleland... read more

Comedy Writing Secrets: The Best-Selling Guide to Writing Funny and Getting Paid for It

Mark Shatz, Mel Helitzer

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 comedy-writing techniques that you can apply to a variety of print and online markets. If your aim is to make 'em laugh--and make a career in... 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 comedy-writing techniques that you can apply to a variety of print and online markets. If your aim is to make 'em laugh--and make a career in... read more

Plot Perfect: How to Build Unforgettable Stories Scene by Scene

Paula Munier

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--in your novels, short stories, memoirs, or screenplays--just as irresistible?Plot Perfect provides the answer. This one-of-a-kind plott... 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--in your novels, short stories, memoirs, or screenplays--just as irresistible?Plot Perfect provides the answer. This one-of-a-kind plott... read more

Writing Monsters: How to Craft Believably Terrifying Creatures to Enhance Your Horror, Fantasy, and Science Fiction

Philip Athans

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 symbols of our society--not to mention they're a lot of fun--but each should serve a purpose and enhance the themes and tension in your f... 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 symbols of our society--not to mention they're a lot of fun--but each should serve a purpose and enhance the themes and tension in your f... read more

Story Trumps Structure: How to Write Unforgettable Fiction by Breaking the Rules

Steven James

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 most powerful, emotional, and gripping stories.Award-winning novelist Steven James explains how to trust the narrative process to make yo... 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 most powerful, emotional, and gripping stories.Award-winning novelist Steven James explains how to trust the narrative process to make yo... read more

Phil has 2 reviews

Professionalism
Professionalism
Quality
Quality
Value
Value
Communication & Punctuality
Communication & Punctuality

John Moyle
Excellent experience. Phil has been a great guide and offers highly valuable feedback. I would work with him again!

John Moyle, August 2019

Phil Sexton
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.

Reply from Phil Sexton


Frank Fitzpatrick
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.

Frank Fitzpatrick, February 2019

Phil Sexton
Thank you, Frank! I appreciate the kind words. Your project was a delight to work on and I appreciate the opportunity to do so.

Reply from Phil Sexton

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