Charlotte: What made you decide to write your business book, Success Without Stress? What inspired you?
Teri: I was the Educational Coordinator of a networking group for nine years. Once a week, I presented a five-minute learning/inspirational talk. They were fun, accessible and had an exercise at the end. I constantly received great feedback on how helpful these tips were. I thought, this is a book!
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Charlotte: What were some of the first steps you took to get started writing Success Without Stress? What did your process of writing this business book look like? Can you describe what this looked like both in your everyday process and your long-term writing process?
Teri: My first step was I signed up for Lisa Tener’s 3 month writing program. I love Lisa. Her program taught me the book writing process, how to identify my ideal readers and target market, how to stay inspired and how to begin. I enjoyed the supportive group calls. We were all in this together sharing our challenges and triumphs. It was helpful to have an outline of the book, deadlines and of course, Lisa’s smart feedback.
Charlotte: Does Success Without Stress have a specific target audience? If so, what are some of the things you did in your writing to target and engage that audience, such as use a particular voice, vocabulary, design, etc.?
Teri: My target market is smart, hard-working, type A, overwhelmed women business owners. They are amazing at what they do, completely committed, have integrity, want to be highly successful, work way too many hours, put their businesses before themselves and are harsh critics of themselves (even though they are fabulous!) I wrote it for women who are already in business but now I see how it can help women who want to start a business, as well.
As a business coach, many of my clients were my target market. I worked with them every day. When I owned my design firm I was also one of these women! I understand their personalities, drive and challenges intimately.
Charlotte: Did most of the information in the book come from personal experience? Did you have to do any additional research? If so, what did this research process look like? How did you turn that information into writing?
Teri: I learned and designed many of the techniques in the book for myself when I ran my business. They were techniques that worked so I decided to share them with my clients. I immediately saw how they worked for them as well. The research lab was working with my clients. I added a few scientific facts to support the techniques and ideas.
Charlotte: How did your personal experiences as a business owner inform the writing process? You include a few personal stories throughout – why did you decide to include those? Were you concerned at all about including personal stories?
Teri: I was upfront in the introduction that I was once one of these driven women. I thought adding personal stories would help the reader identify. Also, since the style and tone of the book was light, friendly and chatty it seemed appropriate. Like girlfriends sharing their stories.
Charlotte: Reading this business book almost feels like personal journaling, as there are so many areas to fill in my notes and exercises to follow. What effect do you think that has on the reader?
Teri: Thank you. I’m glad that I achieved a personal journal feeling. I wanted the book to have a conversational, fun, easy tone. Not be a long, traditional, way too serious business book. That’s not fun. Besides, what overwhelmed business owner has time to read that book?
Charlotte: How did you design or develop the exercises in Success Without Stress?
Teri: The exercises were informed from the chapter ideas. I wanted them clear, simple and short so readers could accomplish them in 5 minutes. I knew the exercises worked because I used them myself, offered them to my clients and presented them to my networking group.
Charlotte: The chapters in this book are fairly short and you mention that readers can jump around in the chapters, rather than having to read them in order. How do you think these aspects affect the reader’s engagement with the information and the book itself? Were you worried that readers wouldn’t get all of the information you provide or wouldn’t read all of it?
My Head is Going to Explode: How To Title a Chapter Tweet This
Teri: The chapter heads are words my clients say, like, “Why did I take on this project?” “My head is going to explode” and “I don’t even have time to pee.” I wanted my reader to identify with one or two and say, “Oh, that’s me!” and then read that chapter. I felt fine with readers jumping around. I hoped that the chapters they read would be helpful and fun and encourage them to read the others. I see the book as a business manual. If you need help with a particular issue you can go to that chapter. I don’t see it as a book you read once but rather a reference book you use throughout your career.
Charlotte: You are also a speaker who has spoken at several national conferences and seminars. How is the process of writing those speeches different from (or similar to) writing a business book? How did you translate information you speak into something written that a wide audience could read and process?
Teri: My role is that of a communicator — whether I’m coaching, training, speaking and songwriting/performing. I always ask myself—What is the message? How do I get it across clearly? What stories can I tell to support the message? How can I help the reader or listener have an emotional response so it will stick? How do I add humor to keep the piece fun and fresh?
Charlotte: Did you find yourself writing this business book in a style similar to how you would speak at conferences?
Teri: The writing style and tone of the book is my voice, my humor, my sensibilities. I like to use specific everyday experiences to illustrate big, universal ideas. Early in my career, I spoke at a small conference and when I was done my friend said, “You were awful. What happened up there?”
He said I sounded like a speaker with no personality (what I thought a speaker sounds like.) He said, “Where were YOU? Where was your lively, fun personality?
Excellent lesson. Now I bring my whole personality to my speeches. I have more fun and so does the audience.
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Charlotte: What are some of the steps you took to get Success Without Stress published? How did you choose this method of publishing? What do you think worked well with self-publishing and, specifically, print on demand (POD)? What do you think didn’t work as well?
Teri: I researched big time. As the former owner of a graphic design firm, I knew it had to look great and I had experience with printing. Originally I hoped I would be 2 colors inside but the cost was too expensive because I’d have to use off-set printing using metal plates and a traditional printing press. I’d also needed to print 2,500 to 5,000 copies to make each book affordable. I was initially disappointed when I had to choose just black printing for the inside spreads. But it looks great. The key is you must have a beautiful design. Hire the best designer you can find.
I was reluctant about “Print on Demand” because of the quality but I was pleasantly surprised. I’m a huge fan. With Print on Demand, one book costs the same per unit as 2,500 books. I could also request proof after proof until I was happy with the finished book. I choose Create Space, a division of Amazon, and they worked out great. Their prices are great, too. Definitely the cheapest place I found. They were knowledgeable, friendly, open 24/7 and super helpful.
I didn’t have one account executive I worked with and always got a different person but it didn’t seem to matter. They had all my information in their computer. The printing quality was fine too. The printing on a few books was crooked and they immediately sent me new copies to replace them. CreateSpace is big on customer service and want their clients to be satisfied. Another advantage to CreateSpace is they help you get your ISBN number and you get on Amazon.com easily! (I should do sales for this company, don’t you think?)
Charlotte: Did you encounter any roadblocks during the writing and publishing processes? How did you overcome these? What advice do you have for readers encountering similar roadblocks?
Teri: Yes, I started the book years ago and then stopped writing it for four years! I thought it was too hard, I lost my momentum and the book wasn’t exactly the book I wanted to write. Then a writer friend offered to help and she got me back on track. She totally believed in the book and kept saying, “This book must get out there! People must read this book!” She believed in the book more than I did and was a huge support and cheerleader. She kept me motivated, set deadlines, and offered super smart suggestions like, “Use a less formal tone… write in your own voice… that exercise is too complex or it will take too much time… Your target market wouldn’t think (or say) that… reduce the number of chapters… make it more fun.”
When the book was 3/4 complete— I stopped again! I got stuck on the design and printing. It had to look great, it was going to be expensive, I would have to promote it with Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, You-tube, podcasts, newsletters… eeeeeek. It all felt too much.
The reason the book was finally completed was I hired to speak at a women’s conference and the client wanted to buy 50 copies for the participants. The meeting organizer asked if the book would be ready in 3 months and I said, “Sure. No problem.” (Eeeek, again!) I hired Lisa Tener for another round and worked really hard. Deadlines work. The conference was cancelled but I didn’t care. I finished my book. Yay!
Charlotte: What are some of the positive results or responses you have received since writing and publishing Success Without Stress? Has writing this business book given you a particular insight into your own business practices that you didn’t have before writing it?
Teri: People love the book and I’m delighted. The response has been amazing. And I LOVE being a published author. I haven’t been this excited about my business in years. I also see the potential for more speaking gigs and new clients.
Readers love the tone, the information, the size, the short chapters, the simple exercises and the humor. Someone said it’s like getting lessons from a big sister.
‘Success Without Stress gave me quick, easy tools to apply immediately to my business. I found myself employing many of the tips the same day I read them—and I was calmer, more productive and happier.”
“Smart, funny, practical and relevant!”
“A marvelous, easy-to-read compendium of Teri’s sage advice. The book offers practical tips that not only improved my business, but my quality of life.”
Charlotte: How can our readers reach you?
Teri: Readers can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
View my website and buy the book at Savvy Biz Owner.
The book will be available on Amazon.com in September.