How to Connect with Readers
Claire: At different points in the book, you lean into the self-help genre, humorously addressing comments you imagine your audience will have while reading and assuaging their concerns. What other strategies do you use to connect with your readers?
Carla: My most important strategy for connecting with my audience is authenticity. I do my best to show up as a real person and write honestly about parenting challenges and just being a human in this world. I also write in a casual style, not dissimilar from how I might talk to a friend in a coffee shop. It’s more fun to write that way, and I think/hope it’s more fun for readers to read!
Evolving Your Writing Style
Carla: My writing has evolved a lot! My first book, Parenting in the Present Moment, was so earnest. 😂 I wrote that book right after I finished my doctorate in clinical social work, and my brain was still in academic writing mode. Unfortunately, that book wasn’t academic, but it also wasn’t funny! I was a little more humorous in Ready, Set, Breathe, but it wasn’t until I realized that I could use profanity in self-help books that I found my voice and wrote How to Stop Losing Your Sh*t With Your Kids and more recently, You Are Not a Sh*tty Parent.
Working with a Book Coach
Claire: You worked with a book coach, Jennie Nash; how did she help you with your book, and from what stage in your writing/publishing journey did you start working with her?
Carla: I’ve worked with two coaches: Lisa Tener and Jennie Nash! Lisa helped me finalize my book proposal for How to Stop Losing Your Sh*t, and Jennie was with me every step of the way through You Are Not a Sh*tty Parent. Both Lisa and Jennie were invaluable in helping me clarify my thinking, organize my writing, and get the work done!
Dedicating Time to Write
Claire: Besides being an author, you are a clinical social worker and a mother of two. What advice can you share on setting aside time to write?
Carla: I am reliant on deadlines. Whether a book coach, an agent or an editor, I have to know that someone out there is waiting for me to get my work done. Otherwise, I would never write a word! It’s also important to share that my daughters are older – 12 and 13 – and fairly self-reliant, and I have a super supportive parenting partner. Without my husband, none of this would be possible.
Balancing Multiple Projects
Claire: You have another book coming out as well, How to Stop Freaking Out, a children’s book coming out in 2023. Was it challenging publishing You Are Not a Sh*tty Parent while also working on publishing your next project?
Carla: Working on two books simultaneously is a blessing I am so grateful for and not a great idea! Between my full-time job, parenting, and working on two books at the same time, I was pretty stressed. So I’ll try to space things out better next time.
Claire: I understand you are going on a book tour for You Are Not a Sh*tty Parent. What other ways are you promoting your book?
Carla: Due to covid concerns, most of my book talks will be virtual. In addition, I’m speaking on parenting podcasts and writing and pitching as many articles as I can for online publications. I also have the support of the incredible publicity and marketing team at Workman Publishing, which I am so grateful for.
Writing with Humor
Claire: I enjoyed reading You Are Not a Sh*tty Parent. I appreciated that you addressed many issues parents face, not only with compassion but humor that deescalates parent guilt’s seriousness. When approaching a serious topic with humor, how do you determine what is appropriate and not out of bounds?
Carla: That’s a great question! I do my best to pay attention to that little voice inside me. If I notice any hesitation or part of me wondering if I should crack that joke, I take it out. If unsure, I reach out to friends and family and ask their opinion.
Writing from Personal and Professional Experience
Claire: When writing parenting books, you have personal and professional advice. Do you feel you approach your writing more professionally or as a fellow parent?
Carla: Both. 100% both. I can’t imagine writing a parenting book without having the hard experience of being a parent. I also draw extensively from my professional training and clinical experience as I write about emotional regulation and self-compassion topics.
Working with a Literary Agent
Claire: You’ve used traditional publishers for all four of your books. What advice can you share for writers struggling to get their books published? Do you recommend using a literary agent?
Carla: Oh, man. Writing and getting published are so hard. I am immensely grateful to have been published by three different publishers four times. I sold my first two books without an agent and my last two with the help of my amazing agent, Gillian MacKenzie. Working with an agent and traditional publishing houses is the right choice for me. But when it comes to self-publishing vs. traditional publishing and working with an agent or not, I think it all depends on folks’ goals for their books. So talking to a book coach like Lisa Tener is immensely helpful in clarifying what you want and the best way to get there!
About the Author
Carla Naumburg, Ph.D., LICSW, is a clinical social worker and mother. She’s the author of four non-fiction books, including her international bestseller, How to Stop Losing Your Sh*t With Your Kids (Workman, 2019), as well as You Are Not a Sh*tty Parent, and the forthcoming How to Stop Freaking Out, the (completely swear-free) middle-grade adaptation of How to Stop Losing Your Sh*t With Your Kids.
Carla’s writing has appeared in various online and print publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Mindful Magazine, Slate.com, Psychology Today, WBUR’s Cognoscenti Blog, Brain, Child, Motherwell, Parents.com, PsychCentral, and Today Moms.
Read Carla’s previous interview on writing her international bestseller, How to Stop Losing Your Sh*t With Your Kids here.