Editor’s Note: I’m pleased to feature this interview with author Jenny Blake as part of the Winning Edits Expert Interview Series.
Blake is an admired life coach, Gen Y thought-leader, and blogger at LifeAfterCollege.org.
In 2005, Blake translated her blog into a popular book, Life After College, a portable life coach for 20-somethings.
Follow Blake on Twitter @Jenny_Blake
Matt Gartland: Your first book Life After College was a big endeavor, and big success. How did that experience change your views about what it really takes to create a book that matters and make it successful?
Jenny Blake: I used to think writing the book was the impossibly hard to achieve part. What I didn’t expect was that the publishing journey (at least for me) would present a few equally formidable challenges: writing, editing, and promoting.
Promoting and sharing the book with those who can benefit will be a lifelong process for me, if I’m fortunate enough to have a book on backlist (i.e. one that gets re-printed year-after-year).
Most people will tell you that “a book is not a business” because it doesn’t really generate direct income; and yet, the way to make a book successful is by treating it as a business, one in which you’re in for the long-haul even if you don’t see immediate results.
MG: You have a wonderful online presence, are very pro-digital, and are good friends with thought-leaders advancing the causes of the publishing revolution. Now, having been traditionally published, what’s your current stance on the state of the publishing industry.
JB: Thank you so much! My thoughts on traditional publishing are that while it still garners a lot of prestige and respect, it is absolutely NOT mandatory for people who are ready to share their thoughts with the world.
The biggest advantage of traditional publishers is distribution, and with so many people buying books through Amazon and Kindle, that is becoming less important.
As for the prestige piece – I still advise authors to go for a traditional publisher if that’s what’s calling to them (and to at least know they tried), but not to shy away from self-publishing if things don’t work out.
MG: You were a great writer long before you wrote a book. Given your experiences, why should a talented writer pursue a book (of any publication), and why should she not?
JB: What I loved about writing a book is that it felt so much more permanent than blogging. I happen to LOVE books and new-book smell, and wanted to expand my audience and their experience of my work beyond the digital screen.
It means a lot to me that people can give my book as a gift, and that people who are feeling lost can actually write in it like a journal. Those are experiences you just don’t get online.
MG: You are a tremendous lover of books, read loads of them in various forms and genres, and are well in-tune with the affairs of publishing. Given these perspectives and joys, what’s your hope and projection for the future of books?
JB: My hope is that we continue to encourage people with ideas to share them with the world, even if they have fears that “the book has already been written.”
When I started thinking about writing Life After College, there were 11 other books on Amazon that shared the title. I almost didn’t proceed.
Then someone told me, “Your book may have been written, but it hasn’t been written by you.” That’s all I needed to hear, and now my book has sold over 7,000 copies despite my fear that it would only sell two — one to each parent.
MG: What’s the #1 piece of actionable advice you’d give to writers aspiring to author their first book well, or aiming to make their next book better?
JB: Just get started!
Don’t worry about every single step of the publishing process up front. Cross each bridge as you come to it. If you’ve got something to say the most important thing you can do is sit down and start writing.
Images provided by and used with permission from the interviewee.