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Author Interview: She Writes Press Publisher Brooke Warner

Today I’d like to welcome publisher of She Writes Press and founder of Warner Coaching Brooke Warner, who is here to talk about She Writes Press and her new book, What’s Your Book? A Step-by-Step Guide to Get You From Inspiration to Published Author. Next month, Brooke will be back to talk about self-publishing and the changes going on with the Big Six Five. Brooke Warner worked in the publishing industry for thirteen years, first at North Atlantic Books, then at Seal Press, before cofounding She Writes Press in May of this year. Warner’s new book, What’s Your Book? was published by She Writes Press in September.

Comment below to be entered to win a copy of Brooke’s book! The deadline to enter is midnight on Monday, November 19. I will announce the winner the following day, Tuesday, November 20.

MW: You recently left your position as Executive Editor at Seal Press to launch She Writes Press with She Writes founder Kamy Wicoff. Tell me about She Writes Press.

BW: She Writes Press gives writers an opportunity to publish with an imprint that has a strong reputation with a big fan base. We have 21,000 subscribers. It’s author subsidized, and it is technically self-publishing, but it’s vetted. You have to meet certain standards to publish with She Writes Press. There are three tracks: You’re accepted, you need a copy edit, or you need development and coaching.

MW: Can anyone who wants to get published through She Writes Press do so?

BW: Even something that’s not ready can be massively improved through developmental editing and coaching, but there will always be those authors who almost need a ghost write. We have had a couple manuscripts that have come through that had too many technical flaws, the character development is not there, the plot development, whatever. Flat writing in particular is something that is tough to fix. Our hope is that our authors will see the problem and be super excited to dive in with one of our coaches. But right now we do say that if you are on an editorial track, you will publish with She Writes Press, but our editorial staff has to sign off that it’s “publish ready.”

MW: How does Warner Coaching relate to She Writes Press? Is there a conflict of interest?

BW: I don’t see it as a conflict of interest. If one of my clients wants to publish with She Writes Press, that’s awesome, and I’ll encourage it. Since the majority of my clients want to traditionally publish, I see She Writes Press as a back up for them. For instance, if I have a client who is high profile in their industry, I would support them all the way to get a traditional deal. And Kamy and I both are supportive of all She Writers around their publishing pursuits. For us, She Writes Press is not just about making money; it has to be the right fit for the author. And then there are those authors I’m working with who need more time. I have a client who is interested in She Writes Press right now, but her manuscript is not in good enough shape. People come to me as a coach because they’re stuck, and sometimes they just need to do the vomit edition, and then they need to work with a developmental editor after that. Sometimes that’s me, but sometimes it’s another editor. It really varies, and I refer to my coaching process as organic. It shifts according to the authors’ needs. And you never want to put out a book that’s not the best it can be.

MW: Tell me more about your book.

BW: I wrote it in six months and that was a challenge. I’m teaching a class called Write Your Memoir in Six Months, and I wanted to see what we were going to be asking our students to do. And it was challenging. I knew that if I was going to leave Seal and have a full-time writing and coaching business, I should have a book published. I wanted to see what it felt like to do what I coach my writers to do. And I think it’s made me a better coach. And the timing was such that it could be the first book out by She Writes Press. Now we have one more book published, and sixteen more in the pipeline, all of which will be out by April 2013. And we have a storefront out on She Writes Press.

MW: Can you tell me a little about the content of your book?

BW: It’s equal parts psychology, publishing strategy, and tips for getting your writing done. It’s very much what the title says—from inspiration to published author. I draw as much on my coaching background as on my publishing background. There’s a whole chapter on the hurdles that you have to overcome. Chapter 4 is about platform and Chapter 5 is about strategies for getting published.

MW: What was the most surprising thing you learned by writing this book?

BW: The discipline entailed and how easy it is to put it off. I talk to my writers a lot about valuing their now time, especially for women who feel their writing doesn’t come first, or who have trouble putting their writing above their families or whatever else—the sacrifices you have to make to write to publish, which is different from writing to write. I sacrificed sleep, date nights. I left the house some nights to write instead of spending time with my kids. It taught me how present you really have to be with your writing to accomplish this goal, and that’s a never-ending process for people who want to write a lot of books. But it was also very rewarding, a major accomplishment. So I got to feel what that actually feels like to be a published author, after all those years working in publishing and seeing books land on my desk every week. It gave me some awareness of how unique each and every book is. Being in the industry, I’d lost that perspective. It gave me a deepened understanding of how important it is to celebrate every author.

MW: What is one of your tips?

BW: The biggest one is repurposing a blog post to become social media posts. Another is writing out all of your social media posts on Sunday and loading them up on Monday using a tool like Hootsuite. You should still monitor your page and your comments, but at least then you’re not trying to come up with original content on a daily basis, which involves using creativity that could be used toward your book.

MW: Let’s talk about platform for a minute. Agent Rachelle Gardner wrote a blog post recently stating that the idea that all authors need blogs isn’t necessarily true anymore. What do you think?

BW: I still think an author should have a blog. The blogosphere may be more competitive, but you never know which post will be that standout post that gets you traffic. All you need is one really popular post that gets picked up by more popular outfits to get visibility. I talk about repurposing content in my book. I think aspiring authors should write blog posts and repurpose that content in their Facebook and Twitter posts, so you’re killing three birds with one stone. But I think more important than a blog right now is building a database. To have a database, that’s gold right now. If you have 500 or 1000 subscribers who’ve opted in, they’re your most loyal people right there. Social media, blogging, speaking, it’s a tapestry. You can opt not to do one or two of them or all of them, but the main value of anything that is building your platform is succeeding in driving people to you. If you’re looking at your Google Analytics, and no one is reading your blog, then something isn’t working. But I wouldn’t not start a blog because you’re anticipating no traffic. You have to have content that people want to read.

MW: Thank you, Brooke, for taking the time to talk with us! We’ll see you back here next month to hear your thoughts on self-publishing and the changes going on in the publishing industry.

BW: Thank you!!

If you have a question for Brooke about She Writes Press or her new book, What’s Your Book? please leave it in comments. If you don’t have a question, be sure to comment anyway to be entered into Brooke’s real live (print) book giveaway! I have a copy, and I love it!

18 comments to Author Interview: She Writes Press Publisher Brooke Warner

  • annerallen

    Interesting stuff. I've heard very good things about She Writes. I think there are more of these presses springing up that aren't like traditional publishing, but aren't self-publishing either. You aren't totally alone out there and you get help polishing your work. Sounds like the best of both worlds.

    Brooke's message about valuing your time is all-important. Thanks for the interview, Brooke and Meghan!

    • meghancward

      Thanks for stopping by, Anne. Brooke will be back next month with some more tips about self-publishing. And She Writes is a great community even for writers who aren't interested in publishing with She Writes Press.

  • I've wondered about the She Writes process. So, thanks for sharing this. And, a great tip to schedule social media posts.

    • meghancward

      Stacy, I schedule tweets but have never figured out how to schedule posts to my Facebook page (HootSuite defaults to my personal Facebook profile.) I wrote a post about the etiquette of prescheduling tweets here:

    • meghancward

      P.S. Stacy! You're the winner of a free copy of Brooke's book! Please send your contact info to me at meghan (at) meghanward (dot) com, so Brooke can mail you the book.

  • sherreya

    Thanks for a highly informative interview, Brooke and Meghan! Look forward to reading both this book and the one you mention on memoir writing.

  • clarbojahn

    I Just took a four week class with Brooke and am taking the six month write your memoir class. I am psyched! I am already working on it. Trying to make an outline etc. And I want this book. Please put me in the kitty!

    Thanks so much for the interview. 🙂

    • Unfortunately, this giveaway took place in November of 2012, but you can still buy the book on Amazon! What four-week class did you take with Brooke, by the way?

  • clarbojahn

    Oh I didn't realize this post was from a year ago!! Silly me!
    The class I took was the four week kickstarter class on memoir. I will buy the book, thanks. 🙂

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