Do you want to get your book written and finished, but you’re not sure how?
If so, check out my INTERVIEW (30 minutes) with Luci McMonagle. I talk about how to get started, how to write it, and how to make sure you finish!
Wealthy Wednesday Radio show is hosted by Luci McMonagle, an Abundance Breakthrough Coach, author, and public speaker. The show is for ambitious professional women and entrepreneurs who want to make an impact on the world and are interested in financial freedom as a means to make a difference.
Know Your Purpose, Your Audience, and How to Get Writing Support
Lucy: Hi welcome to the Wealthy Wednesday Show. This is your host Lucy McMonagle. I am so excited today that we have a very special guest for you especially if you’re looking to become an author of your own best-selling book. Today we have Laura Bush, Ph.D. She works as a ghostwriter, writing coach, and editor. Before she started her writing and consulting business in 2012, she taught composition and literature courses in college and university classrooms for over 20 years. She has the literary experience that you need to create a best-selling book.
She’s also published a groundbreaking book in Western woman’s autobiography, entitled, Faithful Transgressions in the American West. Let’s give a warm welcome to Laura to the Wealthy Wednesday Show. Welcome to the show Laura.
Laura: Thank you Lucy. I’m so glad to be here. Thank you for inviting me on.
Lucy: You have many years of experience as a writer as teaching individuals how to use literary experience and how to do educational literary, but currently you have your company that empowers entrepreneurs and individuals who want to write their book, but they want to write it so that it’s a best-selling, profitable book. Can you tell us a little bit about how your career path has led you to your current business?
Laura: I started out my life as an English teacher, teaching for about five years at a junior college in Idaho. Then I came here to Arizona, Tempe Arizona, to get my PhD in English. My emphasis in my PhD program was autobiographical studies, specifically in western women’s studies. I have loved reading nonfiction, creative nonfiction, autobiography, and memoir for the last 15, even 20 years, so that’s what has been my actual academic study.
Then in 2012, I started my own business, and I’ve been working with experts to write their nonfiction book about their expertise to share their message and establish themselves as authorities ever since. I also work with people who simply want to write an autobiography or memoir. There’s also a lot of overlap in those two areas because to write an expert book, you will want to write about your life and your expertise, and you’re telling stories, either about yourself or other people.
Lucy: Basically, what you’re telling me is that the experts who want to write their books. Let’s say they’re an entrepreneur, and they want to give all this knowledge and content, but they also need to be in touch with the audience, so we need to kind of weave their personal story into their content. You empower them. You show them how to read that so that it makes more sense and so that people can identify with them rather than like a textbook study.
Laura: Right. You’ve got to be able to tell a story, and I help them tell a story. I help them learn how to create dialogue, set a scene, and it may be about their life, but they want to engage people. You want people to want to read your book. From the first few pages, you’ve got to have them want to read your book, so it’s got to be engaging. I’m working on that with them and then not only to weave the story, but to weave in their expertise. People often don’t know how to do that, and I help them to accomplish that goal.
Lucy: Wow and that’s really important to have a best-selling, profitable book. Could you tell us a little bit more about how you help entrepreneurs, speakers, and coaches write and finish their book?
Laura: The key there is actually finishing. Lots of people, especially entrepreneurs, even people who are autobiographers, they talk about wanting to write a book. But they often have false starts. You know, they’ve started and stopped; it’s there on their hard drive, or it’s under their bed, and they’ve been writing on it. My goal is to help people finish their book, and I can work with people in three ways. One as a ghostwriter. As a ghostwriter, essentially, I’m doing most of the writing for them. I’m interviewing them. They’re the author of the book, but I actually write it for them, so they’re the source of the information. And then two, I love being a writing coach, either as a private writing coach, one-on-one sessions, in which I meet with people virtually. And all my work is done virtually also, so that it’s very convenient for people to get their book written using my services. I do it very much like this with them and then I have group online programs. Authors can also come to me with a manuscript that’s waiting to be edited. It’s almost done or it’s very near that, and they know it just needs to be polished. There are several different levels of editing services and those are the ways that I help people get their writing done.
And three, I offer workshops and retreats. I have a retreat that is coming up to jumpstart people’s writing because sometimes it’s hard. Your life is busy. Things are coming at you so much. When are you going to write? When do you write? And that’s another thing I help people do is look at their writing process: when it works best for them to write, and I provide opportunities like retreats and workshops to get started because sometimes, if you can just get started, then all sorts of things open up and you get inspired about what’s possible. You get over that first hump—those fears. Then you can overcome things that have been keeping you from writing your book.
Lucy: That’s important. To write your book, you do have to look at creating a writing schedule. You must look at if you’ve already started writing it and you have it somewhere on your hard drive and you have bits and pieces here and bits and pieces there. You know how to put that together. Or you know coming to your upcoming retreat, which you’re currently going to be having soon, so that you can have a jump start. About that, can you tell us a little bit about what – why would somebody want to go to a writer’s retreat and how does that get them to jump start their book or to elaborate more on their book?
Laura: There are several reasons that writers go to writing retreats. Professional writers go to writing retreats and non-professional writers go to writing retreats. One of the major reasons is simply because life is always going on, and you don’t get to your writing, or you want to create an opportunity for special time to get a lot of writing done, to jumpstart to kick-start the process. That’s what’s really great about a writing retreat. The second reason to go to a writing retreat is that there are other writers there at the retreat. It’s always invaluable to get other people’s feedback, to have a real audience listening to your writing and your ideas and helping you percolate, discover, develop them. You’ll hear, oh, that’s what they think and that’s not what I meant or, oh yes, I’m on the right track with my ideas. That really does make a difference for writers.
That’s one reason that I have people work with me as a writing coach, because I say there’s whole myth about the lone rider that we write alone. No successful authors write alone. None. Zero. If you look at an acknowledgement page of any book, you will see all the people that contributed to someone’s writing. A writing retreat gives you an audience. And finally, I think the very best reason to attend a retreat is just to reenergize yourself. My retreats that I create for people are in lovely, beautiful settings.
I’ve gone on retreats myself life. Sometimes you just need to, you know, defrag the computer. Get out into a beautiful setting. Relax. Breathe again. Peace and restore yourself to what you’re really about—what you’re really committed to in life. You really want to make a difference and to share your message and recall what that is without all the noise that’s always going on in your life. You take those two days. After this retreat, you leave saying, okay I know who I am again. I know what I was doing this business for. I know why I was writing this autobiography. I am energized.
Also with my retreats, it’s important for me to have a structure to support people. I would say for anyone who goes on a retreat to seek this out. Some kind of cohort or writing group afterwards, which I build into the retreat, so you’re not just off on your own with all that energy and inspiration. You know you can go away from something really excited about writing and then you just go back into your life and there’s no structure there to keep you on track. With this retreat I have two months of online writing group virtual support to keep that going with the people that you already started and jump-started. So those are the three reasons to go to a retreat. I would really encourage anyone to start to get involved with some kind of writing group period.
Lucy: And that’s good. Where would somebody start looking for a writing group in their local area if they wanted to get involved in one?
Laura: That’s a great question. There are several ways to find writing groups. If you do a search in your area you will find a meetup group, and if you don’t find one, create one because there are people out there who want to write and want feedback on their writing. Meetups are free or low cost. Another place you can find writing groups is in local libraries or coffee shops, and there are bulletin boards if you have a college or university you can stick a note on a bulletin board that you want to start a write a writing group. If all else fails, talk with friends or family members who are saying they want to write and create your own writing group.
Lucy: Wow writing group be impersonal or should it be more virtual like clicks where you live in a very small town and you know you have internet access but you don’t really know a lot of people or people you know they’re not interested would you suggest starting a virtual online group or finding like in Yahoo goo or a meetup group or something that does meet online?
Laura: I would. In fact, I think I’m beginning to just love online group meetings. And with Zoom conferencing software or Skype, you could have at least three people. That’s what I would suggest as a group, and I you can go for just a writing partner, but sometimes, if your writing partner isn’t available, you know you have a backup, so I would say a group is three people. That’s what I would recommend at the very least a writing partner. Yes, do it virtually. My other recommendation is that people set a set date and day and time each week to meet with their writing group so that they schedule it on their calendar and their person’s schedule.
Now can you change that a bit if somebody has something come up, but what you really want to do is be able to count on people that they’re going to be there and consistently. The best way to do that is to work together at a time and date and day that works for you. Zoom conferencing software you can get free for just two people, and you don’t have to pay anything and you can do just what you and I are doing right here or using Skype. It can be rather low cost and you can get a lot of value from just sharing manuscripts that way, writing each other comments, and then coming together and explaining your comments to each other.
Luci: That makes a lot of sense. There is a lot of different software that you can use. If you know in person might be the best for you, look at your local library look, at coffee shops, look at bulletin boards, go to your local university to see if there’s anything posted on their boards. You can start looking at local groups for writers or potential writers and that will get you in person you know if you want to create an online writers group, or if you want to be involved in one, you can look at the numerous different sources: Facebook groups, yahoo groups. And you can use software such as Zoom, Google Hangouts etc. that can give you the in-person feeling, but you can still do it virtually. The most important thing is to just start somewhere and have the support that you need to start moving forward in your book.
Can you tell us what other kind of advice would you give potential authors how to write the book? Is there any specific structure or secrets that you know as a ghostwriter and a writing coach that you could give our audience?
Laura: First, get clear for yourself about why you’re writing this book—your purpose. That may change over time, but usually, what will make the most difference for you is if you get connected to the reason for your writing.
Let me tell you about a client of mine who is just finishing up a book about taking care of terminally ill patients. She’s been in nursing and palliative care. When she started writing her book, she thought she was talking to everyone about dealing with death because she’s dealt with death quite a bit in her work. She knew that when death comes knocking at your door, people are often very taken by surprise. But we realized her intended audience was too big, so the second thing I would say you want to know beyond your purpose, is who’s your audience? Meina wanted to help people deal with death, and she thought she was talking to everybody because everybody deals with death. What any author needs to do, though, is niche to a particular audience. If you try to talk to everybody, you’ll talk to nobody. So, as I talked with Meina, we said you’re talking to medical professionals who have a whole wealth of knowledge about dealing with terminally ill patients and all the complexities of that
As we got halfway through the book, she knew why she was writing (her purpose). She was going to support people who are dealing with terminally ill patients, both the medical professionals and then the impact that would be on their clients. Eventually, we niched down even farther, saying her book was for nurses and not doctors. It was for new nurses and people who had never encountered someone with a diagnosis of terminally ill or potentially terminally ill. That niche gave Meina all sorts of other ideas about why she was writing this book to really empower those new nurses. It also gave her momentum. So, I would say be really clear about your purpose and your audience. But those will also adjust as you’re writing along.
Another thing I would tell writers is to make sure they have a support group and that they know how best they write. When they write, experiment with when and where works best for them. Then have people in place to support that writing, whether they’re paying for those people to help them (which is the surest way to get writing finished) or whether they become part of an online group, or hire a writing coach or a ghostwriter. Whatever way you can invest in that, just make sure that you have that support and make sure your family is on board too.
Those are the three tips: purpose, audience, and writing support. This will give you the most leverage for you to really being able to explain why you’re writing the book who are you writing the book for and how you’re going to get it written
Lucy: now is there a normal timeframe than individuals have when they’re writing their book is it like a month is it three months in a year could you explain on what can a new author or emerging author expect when they first excite to sit down and start put all their knowledge and information together.
Laura: The answer to that question is a little bit complicated. It’s a little challenging depending on what you want to achieve with your book and the type of book that you want to write. There are programs that you can write a book in a weekend. I would say that that book is probably going to be a shorter book, and I don’t consider this a real book. A “real” book is closer to 45 to 50,000 words. People who have programs for writing a book in a weekend write probably about 20,000 words. So, you want to also determine what am I going to use this book for? How much ever do I want to put into it?
I recommend the people at the very least give themselves three months, and I do have a blueprint for writing a profitable book in three months and a system for you to determine how many pages you need to write a day for five days of the week that is three double-spaced pages, 750 words a day, for five days a week, and you will have a forty-five-thousand-word book at the end of that time. But I explain in my blueprint, you’ll get a draft done in three months if you keep to that schedule right.
Lucy: Is there anything else that up-and-coming potential artists and authors should think about when they’re writing their book?
Laura: All authors must have some kind of structure for support to get it done. I tell people my house is never cleaner than when I’m starting a new writing project because I procrastinate and put my writing. There’s just something about writing that can be very intimidating. You question yourself. You know that little noise in your head, but all of us do it, so you’re not alone. Doubt doesn’t mean you’re not a writer. If you have any fears or concerns about your writing, you just need to put in structure that will have you get your butt in the seat and writing.
Number two, when writing a book, it’s not simply that all that information and knowledge is in your head and once you start writing, it’s going to just flow out onto the page. I say writing is thinking and discovery, so you’re going to discover things and allow yourself to be discovering. Don’t think you have to know it all or have it all figured out. That’s what writing is about. Yes, you’ll have an outline. I suggest you know how to create an outline, but then allow yourself to play. Allow yourself to discover. Allow yourself to think with other people. Allow your writing to percolate. Let it sit for a day and go back to it, especially if you get stuck.
Every writer struggles. Hemingway talks about the hundreds and hundreds of times he had to revise just one sentence. Now I don’t want you to make it too hard because it doesn’t have to be too hard, but just know you’re a human. If you can speak and tell a story, you can write. You can communicate. Then you just hire an editor to clean up the stuff that you don’t know well.
Lucy: Explain a little bit about how entrepreneurs hire you.
Laura: People can go to my website at peacockproud.com. and click on Contact to schedule a 30-minute complimentary book writing strategy session. No obligation to buy. I’ll just talk with them about their book wherever they are and about the next steps to take and the various ways that I can support them in getting their book finished.
Lucy: Fabulous! Laura it’s been such a pleasure for having you on the wealthy Wednesday show. I’m so grateful that you have given us such wonderful nuggets and information. If you’re starting to listen to your inner self, you’re probably getting ready to birth that book into the world. Give Laura a call or check out her website at peacockproud.com. My name is Lucy McMonagle. Until next time, many blessings.