Sometimes writers can feel as if they’ve “caught something” in the air and definitely not Covid-19! We refer to the zeitgeist where we subconsciously pick up on a bubbling mood which then does come to the surface and grabs public attention.
For me, and for many writers recently, that bubbling mood has been about changing direction with our writing. This has manifested itself in two distinct ways. Firstly, this has been in taking on new roles which are likely to be permanent (editing for me). Secondly, the other change has been in writing something different from what we are usually known for (as I’ve recently discussed with Val Penny and will be again soon with Jennifer C Wilson).
This week, I invite Scottish crime writer, Wendy H Jones, back to Chandler’s Ford Today as her new venture is something very special indeed. Wendy is the only UK writer in the The Power of Why (see Amazon link). There are 23 stories in this collection of women from around the globe who have taken steps to change their lives by starting their own businesses.
Wendy is an creative writing entrepreneur whose work covers detective fiction for YA upwards to marketing books to young children’s writing and now she is in a rather special anthology, details below. She is also behind the podcast, The Writing and Marketing Show, which I had the pleasure to be guest on earlier this year talking about flash fiction.
Wendy and I will be talking about her involvement with The Power of Why and why the question of why matters – and it does!
The Power of Why
If you are not starting your business by asking yourself “Why?”, then you are starting in the wrong place.
Five main questions should be answered when contemplating starting a business – What, Why, How, When and Where? Often women entrepreneurs do not give thought to the order of these, yet research by top universities shows the most important is Why?
Compiled by Purvi Tantia, this book tells the stories of 23 powerful women from around the world, who share the fears and aspirations which led to their Why. This book should be the starting point for any woman wanting to understand the Power of Why in her life.
There has never been a better time to define the power of why around female entrepreneurs than today. In this timely book, you will learn that there is no perfect “Why” to start a business, and your unique “Why” sets you apart from other women and other businesses. Told with a mix of storytelling, quotes and anecdotes and told completely from a female perspective, this book is the breakout for which you are searching.
Now over to Wendy to tell us more about how she came to be involved with this book and what she hopes it will do for others, especially women.
Allison: Welcome back to Chandler’s Ford Today, Wendy.
1. This new book is a very different direction for you to take. Can you tell us how this came about and why you decided to take part in it?
I was invited to speak at an international Women Entrepreneur Summit where 100 highly professional women spoke about different aspects of business. Following this, 23 of these women from around the globe were invited to contribute to an anthology aimed at empowering women. This was a real honour and I decided to take part for two reasons. I am passionate about giving women a voice, worldwide. I was also blown away by the skill, experience and expertise of the women involved in the project. I have learned so much from them and their stories. It truly is an honour to be in this book alongside them.
2. Most writers will have had a “past life” before getting into writing seriously. In your case, it was a career in the Army and the Navy. What led to you wanting to write stories? Has your military career helped in any way? I am thinking along the lines that being disciplined wouldn’t be an issue for you and so on, and that does help a writer enormously, but has it come into your writing in any other way?
I have always been a reader and a writer. I am fascinated by words and I love weaving stories for others to read. My military background has made me more disciplined; I can sit down and write anywhere. I have used my military background in my novels but I can’t say too much without giving the plot away.
3. I believe this is the first book you’ve co-authored. Being used to working alone on your writing, did you find this challenging? Would you co-author again or was this a case of this being such a special project you just had to go with it?
I have been involved in other anthologies, where I was the editor, so I do have experience. Co-authoring is a challenge but I would do it again. In fact, I am also a contributor to another anthology, Women Win Against All Odds, which also aims to help empower women and that will be out this year too. I am honoured to have met a lovely American lady called Kimberly Lawson through the project. As Lawson is my family name it is likely we are related somehow. She has invited me to contribute to her upcoming anthology, Empowering Her, which will be out in January 2021. So, these are all anthologies about helping women to become the best person they can be and I am proud to be a part of this global initiative.
4. What would you like The Power of Why to achieve? I’ll take becoming a multi-million seller as a given here (!), but more seriously, how do you think it would help other women? Why do you think The Power of Why is needed?
Thank you for the multi-million best seller status. I’ll take that as well. On a more serious note, I want it to help women find their own Why, find their voice and know that, no matter what life throws at them, they can change and completely transform their life. They control their own destiny.
5. How did the writers come together for this book? It’s wonderful there is such a mix of backgrounds and countries represented here but I would have thought it was not an easy task to bring this all together. How did you overcome the challenges of that?
A powerful Indian businesswoman, Purvi Tantia, has a vison to empower women. She actively seeks female entrepreneurs to share their wisdom as part of the Women of Wisdom movement. Purvi truly is a visionary and has the knack of making everyone feel they, and their contribution, are important. The biggest challenge of bringing the book together was ensuring that the book remained readable whilst not losing the local voice of the women involved. This meant that we were using British, American, Indian, Canadian, Nepali, Jamaican and Australian English. It is a fine balancing act but the long hours of work are more than worth it. The book is also all the better for it.
6. Knowing what you do now as an author entrepreneur, what would you do differently if you could/had to go back in time and start again and why?
I am not sure I would do anything differently. Not because I got everything right, far from it, but because I have learnt so much from these mistakes. This has made me both a better writer and a better businesswoman and entrepreneur. Making mistakes is a part of growing and developing.
7. What has been the biggest thing, technological or otherwise, to help author entrepreneurs such as yourself? I would nominate the availability of Print on Demand, as that has made a huge difference to indie authors and indie publishers (such as Chapeltown Books, my publishers), but what would you pick and why?
The whole technological revolution has helped us as authors but if I may, I would like to mention two. Firstly, I use a website/app called vellum.pub which formats books in seconds and I mean seconds. This has revolutionised my life as it makes formatting so simple. This is a paid app and only works on Mac computers, it is brilliant. Ingram Spark, a highly professional print and distribution company, have their own free version so that is an option for non-Mac users.
8. What would you like to see come in that would benefit author entrepreneurs and why?
I think there are a lot of things already in development which will help Author Entrepreneurs but the one I am most excited is AI for Voice. This will revolutionise the way in which audio books are read and make this much more accessible to all authors.
9. Writers have a balancing act to perform in that we balance our creative writing side with our marketing side etc. What would you say were the three things a creative entrepreneur should look to do and why? What tips would you give for effective time management here?
2. Keep your ideal reader at the forefront of everything you do.
3. Put some time aside every day for marketing.
Effective time management comes with knowing yourself and keeping a diary and using it. Set time aside for everything, writing, marketing and a social life. Yes, plan in time to rest and enjoy yourself, otherwise your entire life can be subsumed by this. Also, plan in end dates for your projects. Where you want to be with the book by what date. Doing this will help focus and productivity.
10. Where would you like to see your writing business in five years’ time?
Going back to that multi-million best seller status we were talking about previously – that would be nice. Over and above that I would like to have established my series, bring out new series and be helping others to become more effective writers.
Many thanks, Wendy, for your fascinating insights. Good luck with The Power of Why. Nothing in life is certain except for death and taxes (and the former, to quote the late great Terry Pratchett, generally only comes the once), but opportunities can slip through your fingers so easily.
I know as a writer I have to give what I do my best shot to make the most of the opportunities that arise for me. Every writer who is not just seeking to write for their own pleasure, which is fine and the way most of us start, has to decide on what paths they are going to pursue with that in mind.
Hopefully The Power of Why will prove to be hugely encouraging for all who read it.
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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