Talk about great books titles!
Alexandra O'Connell, an award-winning indie book editor and writing coach in Denver, CO (oh, you all know I miss my CO), has worked with over a hundred writers, many of whom have become award-winner and bestsellers.
Her genres include memoir, fiction (adult and YA), and nonfiction, with topics such as business and leadership, health and nutrition, spirituality, and personal development. She has a Masters in Linguistics from Trinity College Dublin and is a past president of the Colorado Independent Publishers Association.
In this Smart Conversation we laughed, and joked, and shared some funny stories. But mostly we talked about her latest book: Lean Into Your Yuck: 7 Steps to Mastering Nonfiction Book Structure. Available at the link here.
Work It Out - Make the Lean
Our conversation also includes advice for the new writer, would-be author, and budding professional speaker looking to use a book to get on the speaking circuit. Since we're both in the same industry, and both editors and book coaches, we had a lot to talk about and share.
Alexandra mentioned early on that she likes to use humor in her approach to her work and you can tell she's got a great sense of humor just by looking at her book, Lean Into Your Yuck. Oh, not the cover, that's not humorous, it's superb, as is the interior page design and layout - but the humor is obvious by looking at the title itself and how it reminds us that sometimes chaos has a purpose. One thing to note is that the book is a workbook. You'll want to be prepared to work a bit while you read. It is, after all, a book about nonfiction book structure.
So Emotional! That Bunch of Yuck!
I asked her how she came up with the title and she told me, "People tend to get emotional about their work. They often get to a point where they think it's just a bunch of yuck." Well, she wants you to lean into that yuck - accept the challenge. Move on from whatever mess or disorganization is holding you back. It's exactly when your book is not matching your idea of a perfect experience, that you need to lean into it and keep working. And it may also be when you need that helping hand the most. Someone like Alexandra, to keep you moving forward.
Alexandra echoes much of my own advice but I love the way she approaches the task of being a book coach and editor. She reminds us "you don't know what you don't know" and where better to find it than with someone like her - a professional who's only goal is to make you look good? Indeed. Her advice: don't work in a void. Use a coach, get beta readers, give yourself permission to ask for help. Yes, we all know the story of the starving writer, but it's just a fictional character in a book written hundreds of years ago. You aren't alone in this journey!
Oh, another thing, your book... it's not a perfect snowflake all in and of itself.
You watch the video to figure that one out. We get into it early on when we're talking about how many different authors there are for any one genre or category of book.
If you're paying attention to who your audience is (she covers that in her book, btw), you'll be okay. That's a key piece of advice to understand at the onset of your writing journey. Who are you writing for? If you don't know that, find out. Work it out. You might be surprised.
By the way, if you're writing your book for an audience of one - yourself - maybe it's just a journal. And I don't mean just a journal as in that's a silly thing to do. Journals are great! Sometimes you can use content from your journal for your book. But, if all you want is a bound version of your journal, well, you don't need me or Alexandra. You just need a printer.
We want serious writers who are looking to create books that will entertain, inspire, transform lives, and just be a product that the author is proud of and the reader is delighted with.
The Bookworm in the Tree House
In the story of how she came to be a book coach and editor, she reveals her childhood as both a bookworm and a bit of a tomboy. Dichotomy at work.
I don't know if she ever found herself reading in a tree house, but wouldn't that be a great place to take a good book on a lazy summer afternoon? I bet she's thought about it. Watch and learn how to make your book a success using advice and insight from a woman who has worked with hundreds and knows how to make your accomplishment a success to celebrate.
For a while, she tells me, she worked as an editor medical writing. But she was more attracted to literary works. That led her to where she is today - helping create more tangible results for her authors. What joy is there in holding that product, that book, after all the hard work and effort that went into it - a real life object to give any author a true sense of accomplishment.
Alexandra calls herself each Book's Fairy Godmother. To be able to help writers achieve that goal, becoming a published author, which is something most other people are in awe of, is what Alexandra finds her joy in. She reminds us that most people, despite saying they want to, will never actually write a book.
Best Sellers and Awards
We talk about best seller status, too. But more than that, we talk about awards. About the value of a book with "award winning" in the cover. It's more compelling than best seller, for some books. And, there is a long list of places that offer awards for Indie books. Once you have an award, your book sales will definitely increase. Once you have an award, you will definitely be asked to speak at events and on podcasts.
Finally, we both agree that if we are here to help you and each other. If I can't be your book coach, I definitely recommend Alexandra. And vice-versa, because we both book clients far out, and want to make sure you get the best support you can get, if one of us is not it.
You'll see this conversation goes a little bit longer... because, Yes, I lost track of time! I loved every minute of this talk. It's the kind of conversation that can make a big difference in any writer's life - if they take notes and make the decision to get the help they need to finish that book!
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