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Interview with Melinda

How long have you been doing what you do, and how did put together your FINALLY Write Your Book system for writing books?

To best answer this, let me share a few experiences from my past that have really led me to where I am today.

I've always loved writing -- I have a bachelor's degree in journalism and a master's of fine arts in creative writing nonfiction. Right out of college as an undergraduate, I got my first professional writing job as an editorial assistant for an editorial and publishing services firm. Aside from working in Barnes & Noble, this was my first experience in the publishing world. While working there, I ghosted and edited articles and books for the company's clients, who were professional speakers, coaches, executives, and consultants who had a big message they wanted to get out into the world.

The book was their vehicle for doing that because it allowed them to reach larger audiences, stay with people for longer, and actually change the way their readers thought about the world, which, if you really think about it, is a power that only a book possesses.

Back then, I learned just how overwhelming writing a book can feel -- it's hard to get organized, it's hard to get started, it takes skills to know how to keep a reader's attention, and it's hard to find the time to actually do the writing. Plus, your book is an extension of yourself, in a way, that's sent out into the world to represent you and your ideas. So it has to be great!

I remember the day my boss asked me to take on my first book project -- I was excited and completely nervous all at once. It was my first book, a big step up for someone who'd only written five-page articles! But then reality started to sink in. I had to write a book -- a whole book -- all by myself!

At that point I was stuck -- I had to do the book because it was my job. So I dove in and started working. It was something that I had to figure out. I looked at other books (both good ones and bad) and how they were constructed, how the material was organized, how the author used stories and example, and how the author led the reader through their information. I read, I analyzed, and looked for clues as to what made the books successful.

In this process I learned that books contain certain elements that make them work as a whole. Once I had all the pieces of the book essentially figured out, I just had to put them together. As a person who makes a living working on books, figuring out this system was HUGE! It made my life so much easier.

Since leaving the publishing company and starting my own business in 2006, I've used this system, or a version of it, for almost every project I've worked on and it's the same system I teach my clients.

But that's not all there is to it. When I went back to school to get my master's degree in 2007, I had to write a 150-page thesis manuscript, in addition to other school work, reading, and my work and home responsibilities. I learned pretty quickly that the best way to write a project of that length when you have a million other responsibilities is to break it into small, manageable pieces.

If you're running a business or have a family or a full-time job, then you can know what it's like not to have time. In your heart you know that writing a book will make big things happen for you, but in your head you know that taking time to write a book means working more without getting paid for it, or reducing your number of clients and making less, or giving up something else that's important to you.

This is why so many aspiring authors don’t ever complete their books—they don't know how to fit writing into their schedule, and this is a core piece of my system. I encourage my clients to not only develop a writing practice they can easily manage, but also to give themselves deadlines.

Through these experiences, plus in working with numerous clients over the years, I put together my FINALLY Write Your Book System—a series of steps you can use to write your absolute best book and ensure it gets done faster and easier than you ever thought possible.

Who are your clients, exactly?

I work with people just like you who have an important message they want to share with the world. Some want to share their personal experiences, and others need to write and publish to establish expertise and differentiate themselves and their business. My clients want to be seen as thought leaders, and they understand the importance of being a published author in achieving that. That said, my clients come from a variety of backgrounds and professions.

* Accountants and Financial Planners
* Athletes
* Attorneys
* Business Coaches
* Consultants
* Doctors
* Editors and Proofreaders
* Entrepreneurs
* Executives and Business Leaders
* Holistic Health and Wellness Practitioners
* Life/Personal Coaches
* Marketing Consultants
* Parenting Coaches
* Real Estate Agents
* Speakers and Trainers
* Virtual Assistants
* Yoga Teachers

What if you haven't yet worked with people in my field?

I have worked with a diverse array of professionals on a variety of different projects. But if I haven't worked with someone from your particular field, that's okay. The fundamentals of writing a compelling, effective book are universal. And if other professionals in your field are writing books, my guess is that many of them end up sounding pretty similar, which creates a lot of repetition. What my current and past clients have found exceedingly helpful is that I bring a fresh perspective to their book material, and help them put together a manuscript that is unique in the marketplace and authentic to their personality and business. Because of this, their book helps them stand out and differentiate themselves from everyone else in their field.

What makes your system different from other write-your-book programs?

Unlike many writing coaches, I only work with people who write nonfiction, including memoir, self-help, how-to, and business books. Many times, my clients don't consider themselves, first and foremost, writers. They are people who are working with me to develop their writing skills and complete their book. This makes my editing and coaching services unique and highly focused toward a particular result.

And my system is unique in that it isn't focused solely on getting your book done and published as fast as possible. My system focuses on quality, rather than speed. I want your book to be great -- an authentic representation of you and your business – not just another brochure with a cardstock cover.

That means I actually teach you how to write and put together a good book, skills you can use again and again for everything you write in the future. And we'll still get it done faster than what you could do on your own.

What type of personality do you work best with, and what is expected of me?

My programs were created for people who are excited and ready to do what it takes to get their book done. They don't want to lie awake for one more night thinking about how great it would be to be an author – they're ready to live that dream. The programs were created for people who are tired of putting the project off, tired of false starts, and ready for a system that works.

My programs are a good fit for people who feel like they have a big mission in life -- like reaching exponentially bigger audiences, attracting new clients and opportunities, speaking and consulting for higher fees, and helping thousands of people -- and writing a book is a way to fulfill that mission.

Being a writer myself, I work best with clients who recognize the importance and value of writing a well-written book – not just any book, but a book that they feel confident sharing with the world.

My program is an action-learning course. You will be expected to commit to your exciting, life-changing goal of writing a book -- no more excuses -- with lots of support from me as you work toward your goal of getting your book done.

For what type of person is this program NOT going to work for?

Please understand that I am selective about the people I work with and I cherry-pick my clients, choosing to gently turn away people who aren't suited for my programs and won't get the results they signed up for. It wouldn't be fair for me to do otherwise.

The FINALLY Write Your Book programs are not for people whose main concern is getting the book done as fast as possible, whether it's well-written or not. I’m not saying these folks are wrong in any way, but they will be frustrated by my program because it focuses on learning to write better.

And my programs are not for people who are HOPING to make big money from their book. I work with people who KNOW writing a book can attract new clients and opportunities for greater income to them. They understand that getting their book done is an investment in their business and themselves that will pay off over and over again. And they are ready and willing to step into that greater level of success.

What exactly is your system and what does it include?

Writing your best book is a combination of strategy, planning, writing, and revising. Here's what we'll work on:

1. Make writing a priority. Writing is like exercise, it's a practice that you can get good at, but you have to work at it. The first thing we'll look at is how you're spending your time and come up with a regular writing schedule that is both manageable and sustainable for you, so your goal of getting the book done is actually met.

2. Profile your ideal audience. One foundation of good writing is attention to the reader. We'll work together to get clear on who your ideal reader is and what your book offers them.

3. Get clear on your book's topic and what it's REALLY about. Understanding how your material and information makes life better for your reader will allow you to write in a way that speaks directly to their most pressing wants and needs.

4. Drafting your book. I'll be with you throughout this process, offering coaching, motivation, and accountability, as well as strategies to make getting your first draft written as easily as possible.

5. Polishing your draft. We'll work together to clean up your draft and get it ready to publish. I'll reveal all my secrets for self-editing your work, and making your book more valuable to readers.

6. Preparing for publication. This step is customized to meet your needs and publishing strategy. I can help you decide the best route to publication for you, and help you figure out how to get your book ready.

7. Preparing for launch. Once your manuscript is ready, we'll look at other elements your book needs to be a success, including supplementary materials like sales blurbs, back cover copy, press releases, and a web site. We'll also talk about marketing strategies and how to leverage your brand-new book for greater success!

By the end of our time together, your book will be ready to go off to a publisher. Plus you'll know the FINALLY Write Your Book process, which can be used over and over again for all the books you'll write in the future.

Does this system really work?

Yes! As long as you follow the steps and keep up with the writing, your book will get done, and you'll feel good about it! (See my client testimonials.)

What results can I expect?

You can expect to:

  • Get your book done;
  • Feel confident in your manuscript;
  • Hone in on what your ideal readers want and what they're willing to pay to find out;
  • Create a compelling book that will hook your readers and get them to contact you;
  • Use simple techniques that dramatically improving your writing;
  • Find writing easier than you ever imagined it could be;
  • Develop writing habits that are painless to maintain and continually produce pages and new material;
  • Be accountable to your goals;
  • Get a stack of checklists, templates, samples, and tip sheets you can use every time you write;
  • And learn writing skills that you can use every day, forever!

How quickly can I expect results?

Obviously, this depends a lot on you, and how much you put into the assignments and your writing. That said, you'll start writing in our first week working together, and we'll come up with a writing schedule that, as long as you stick to it, will get your book done as fast as possible. Most of my clients, when they can dedicate at least an hour a day to writing, get their draft done in three months.

How can I guarantee myself that I will get my book done with this program?

Do the writing and assignments. And stick to the writing schedule we create for you. I will do everything in my power to make sure your writing improves and you have everything you need to stay accountable to your goals, but you have to do the work.

Will I recover the investment I put into this coaching program?

Yes! Getting your book written and published involves an investment, but you'll see so many new opportunities when you do it. Some examples are paid speaking engagements, new clients, and the ability to increase your fees.

Just think about what one new client is worth to you (probably $3,000, $5,000, or even $10,000 or more). If you get just one new client from your book, you will have paid for the program. And your book will continue to attract new clients and opportunities to you for years into the future!

Melinda, based on everything I've read and heard about you, I know you're the book coach for me. How can I start working with you?

Congratulations! Your writing life is about to change!

Signing up for my coaching program starts with a get-acquainted session. E-mail me at melinda@writerssherpa.com to set yours up now!

If I'm not sure I'm ready to get started, is there a way I can sample your work at a low cost?

A way to sample The Writer's Sherpa programs is by subscribing to the weekly e-mail newsletter. The WRITE Path E-zine provides you with writing tips and publishing strategies, plus updates and offers on programs offered exclusively to subscribers. It is a must-read for anyone who wants to write and publish to grow their business. And as a free gift, you get my "Jumpstart Your Book E-Course." Subscribe here.

Okay, I'm ready to do this for myself, but I have a few questions. Can I call you?

Good -- you're one step closer to your writing success! And yes, if you have questions, send me an e-mail to arrange a phone call. I'll be happy to answer any questions you have. I can't wait to meet you, and am honored to be the one to help you write and publish to your true potential. Let's get going!

Your story deserves to be written...I'm here to help.

Contact me to get started!
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The Writer's Sherpa, LLC
P.O. Box 3673
Bluffton, South Carolina  29910