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[067] How to write and publish your own non-fiction book with Joanna Penn

Joanna Penn is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling thriller writer and non-fiction author who has sold over 450,000 books in 74 countries and 5 languages. She's also a speaker, podcaster and online course creator.

In this episode she shares her advice on how to get your book idea out of your head and onto the page, including invaluable tips on becoming an Indie author.

Here’s what's covered in this episode:

  • How Joanna left her job in accounts to achieve her dream of being a full-time writer
  • The essential tools and resources Joanna uses to publish her work as an Indie author
  • How using dictation software has helped Joanna write non-fiction more quickly
  • Joanna's Facebook marketing tips, including how to select images and write great copy
  • How Joanna avoids overwhelm in her business
  • What freedom means to Joanna and that impacts on her writing business

Key resources

Joanna's website 

Joanna on Twitter and Instagram

The Creative Penn podcast

Joanna on the Inspirational Creatives podcast 

Kindle Direct Publishing

Self-Publishing Success Joanna's online course

Createspace (Amazon's print-on-demand company)

Joanna's recommended editors and book cover designers

Scrivener

Dragon Dictate

Nick Stephenson's Reader Magnets course

How to write a non-fiction book 

**MY NEW BOOK - OUT 7 JULY 2016 AND AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER NOW ** Your Press Release Is Breaking My Heart (A Totally Unconventional Guide To Selling Your Story In The Media)

Soulful PR Live (meet eight national journalists and find out what they're looking for in a story)

New Media Europe 2016  June 18 and 19 (I'm speaking on how  to get big media coverage on a small business budget)

The Soulful PR Business Club 

My FREE Soulful PR Facebook Community

What to do next

If you enjoyed today’s show, please share it using the social media buttons at the top of this page.

I’d also love it if you could take a few minutes to  leave an honest review and rating for the podcast on itunes. I read every one personally and may even read yours out on the show.

And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, to get automatic updates every time a new episode goes live.

 

How to tell your story in the media (without being boring)...

We all love telling stories. What’s more, we’re generally pretty good at it. Each and every one of us has our own ‘library’ of stories to draw from when we want to impress, empathise or entertain. Mine include: a government minister shaking his fist at me in parliament, being airlifted to hospital following a car accident and a teacher putting me in a ‘ginger identity parade’ at school (yep, that really happened).

We also love trading stories about things that happen to us, day-to-day. Not the mundane stuff, like unloading the dishwasher, taking the dog for a walk or helping our kids with their homework. We share things that are a little bit out of the ordinary - the rude shop assistant, the nightmare holiday apartment or the ex who’s turned into a stalker.

So it fascinates me to see what happens when people start trying to tell their story in their media. While they wouldn’t dream of telling their friends about their new industry benchmark standards, content management system (CMS) or the fact they've painted their boardroom yellow (ok, the last one might be a teeny exaggeration, but hopefully you get the point), they think people might be interested in reading about it in a national newspaper.

Journalists are professional storytellers. So the more you understand about storytelling - and the parts of stories people find most appealing - the better placed you’ll be to get media coverage.

Narrative Theory and Storytelling

Applying narrative theory can help. There are various theories on narrative structure, but my favourite is Tzvetan Todorov’s which states that most stories or plotlines (i.e. in books, films and TV) follow the same path (explained here, in my own words):

  1. The story opens with a state of equilibrium or balance
  2. Something happens to disrupt the equilibrium and/or create a problem
  3. The characters recognise that something has gone wrong
  4. Characters attempt to solve the problem
  5. The problem is solved and a new equilibrium is restored

Media stories are exactly the same - with one significant difference: journalists aren’t terribly interested in the ‘equilibrium’ stage i.e. the company that’s doing fine, the happy marriage or impeccably behaved children. They’re far more likely to share stories about the equilibrium being disrupted and/or how people are trying to put it right e.g. the company whose share prices have fallen, the celebrity marriage that’s falling apart or rising school truancy. In fact, media stories rarely give you the full narrative 'arc' (i.e. stages 1 - 5). They generally focus on one or two stages (generally 2-4). 

Applying narrative theory to PR

Applying narrative theory to PR

That doesn’t mean journalists only share negative stories - ‘disruption’ can simply mean something that’s out-of-the-ordinary - like this yarn-bombing granny:

Yarn bombing granny

Or the chocolatier who created a 'Cumberbunny':

Chocolate make makes Cumberbunny
Chocolate make makes Cumberbunny

What businesses get wrong

The biggest mistake I see businesses and brands making with their PR is pitching too many ‘equilibrium’ stories e.g. the ‘isn’t my business wonderful?’ story or the ‘we’ve won an award no-one has heard of or even cares about about’ story.

If you want to get journalists interested in sharing your stories, you need focus far more on being disruptive which, as the examples above show, isn’t about what you’re doing badly. It can simply be about how you are doing things differently or solving problems that affect other people in your industry or ‘tribe’.

You also need to ensure your story has characters. The reason journalists aren't interested in sharing stories about the equilibrium (and people aren’t interested in hearing them) is because they’re very one-dimensional.

Pitch a story about how well your startup did in its first year of business and you’ve only got a hero (you).

Pitch a story about how you started your business because you didn’t want to take maternity leave and you’ve got a small cast of characters: the villain (big corporates with inflexible work ethics), the hero (you - because you broke the mould), the helper/sidekick (your parents who joined the business to help you), which immediately adds drama and tension. It’s also disruptive: leaving behind a great career to move to the country and run a business with your parents goes against perceived wisdom about what defines career success.

If you want get more detailed, you might also want to look at the work of Vladimir Propp who breaks down narrative structure into 31 functions and identifies seven character archetypes including the dispatcher (who sends the hero off on his/her quest) and the false hero (who takes credit for the hero’s action).

Personally I think there is an awful lot of fluff out there on PR and storytelling and doing these two things alone will improve your chances of getting media attention:

  1. Recognising that journalists aren’t generally interested in ‘equilibrium’ stories (and people aren’t interested in hearing them)
  2. Ensuring any stories you pitch have a small cast of characters e.g. hero, villain, helper

So the next time you find yourself wanting to pitch a story ask yourself this:

Is this a story that people will want to share with others?  Something they will actually care about or have an opinion on? Or is it the professional equivalent of an anecdote about washing the dishes or clearing out my sock drawer?

If it's the latter, you might want to have a rethink.

Did you find this article useful? If so, you might like: how to write emails journalists will actually read. 

 

 

[029] Fearless self-promotion with Jen Gale

It's easy to look at other business owners who keep popping up in high-profile publications, and on radio & TV, and think that kind of success is out of reach for you. They must have friends-in-high-places or be working with a PR company, right?

Not necessarily.

The truth is, you don't need a PR company - or an established network of media contacts - to get great media coverage. All you need is some good ideas, a bit of common sense and a lot of determination.

Former vet turned lifestyle blogger Jen Gale is one such example, and in this episode she explains how she  made it happen.

Here’s what's covered in this episode:

  • Jen’s decision not to buy anything for a year - and how it turned into a blog and business
  • How Jen secured regional and national media coverage - without any formal training
  • Jen’s strategy for coping with negative online comments about her articles
  • Why Jen believes  you can’t be ‘vanilla’ if you want to get media coverage
  • How one newspaper article led to Jen being featured on national, regional and international TV & radio shows

Key resources and links

Jen’s website

Jen in the Daily Express, Daily Mirror, Daily Mail & the Guardian

Jen on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram

How to land a regular column in a magazine or newspaper

Jen’s TEDx talk on her make do and mend year

Soulful PR for Starters (my self-study PR programme)

Soulful PR podcast episodes mentioned in this episode

How to build a memorable brand with Natalie Sisson (episode 9)

You can do your own PR with Melanie Haynes (episode 11)

How not to get press coverage with Natalie MacNeil (episode 19)

Guest post like a boss with Kimanzi Constable (episode 21)

How I landed 200 media interviews in a year with Denise Duffield-Thomas (episode 23)

What to do next

If you enjoyed today’s show, please share it using the social media buttons at the top of this page.

I’d also love it if you could take a few minutes to leave an honest review and rating for the podcast on itunes. I read every one personally and may even read yours out on the show.
And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, to get automatic updates every time a new episode goes live.

[026] PR for introverts

If you hate calling journalists or would rather cut off your own nose than go to a networking ‘do’, you may wonder if you’re cut out for PR. 

But being shy or reserved doesn’t mean you can’t be great at getting media coverage for your business or brand. In fact, many introverts have unique qualities that make them brilliant at PR.

In this episode I share what these are, and how you can use them to your best advantage.

Here’s what I cover in this episode:

  • Why being an introvert isn’t necessarily a bad thing
  • The unique qualities many introverts have that make them shine at PR
  • Why hating the phone doesn’t mean you can’t get great media coverage

Key resources and links

How to do PR if you’re an introvert

Dealing with haters

What to do next

If you enjoyed today’s show, please share it using the social media buttons at the top of this page.

I’d also love it if you could take a few minutes to leave an honest review and rating for the podcast on itunes. I read every one personally and may even read yours out on the show. And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, to get automatic updates every time a new episode goes live.

Want more information? Get my free download: the shy person’s guide to networking with journalists

[020] How to tackle your creative blocks

As someone who loves setting goals and making plans,  this time of year can be magical for me. But it can also be a time when I feel creatively blocked; as much as I want to dream and make plans, sometimes the ideas just aren't there.

So, with that in mind, I'm sharing three things I do regularly to clear my creative blocks (plus a cheeky bonus tip).

Here’s what I cover in this episode:

  • How 'forcing' ideas can cause creative blocks (and how to stop doing it)
  • Why procrastination can be good for you (and how to do it productively)
  • How letting go of the 'shoulds' in your life can make you more creative

Key resources and links

Danielle LaPorte's Desire Map (I talk about this with Natalie MacNeil in episode 17 of the podcast)

What to do when you feel 'should-y' about your business & In which I choose my life over a book deal by Sarah Von Bargen

Big Magic: creative living beyond fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

Denise Duffield Thomas who I interview in an upcoming episode.

What to do next

If you enjoyed today’s show, please share it using the social media buttons at the top of this page.

I’d also love it if you could take a few minutes to leave an honest review and rating for the podcast on itunes. I read every one personally and may even read yours out on the show.

And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, to get automatic updates every time a new episode goes live.

Want to get more press coverage in 2016? Click here to download my FREE media calendar. 

[019] Why you need to build a personal brand with Chris Ducker

Serial entrepreneur and Youpreneur founder Chris Ducker has been featured in dozens of high-profile publications like Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Inc, Forbes & the Huffington Post. Yet he's never pitched a single story to a journalist.

Chris puts his PR success - and many of his achievements in business - down to having a strong personal brand. In this episode, he shares his tips & advice on how you can do the same. 

Here’s what's covered in this episode:

  • How building a personal brand can help you grow your business 
  • Why Chris believes you need to be prepared to share your personal life (or bits of it) to build your brand
  • How Chris has secured some really major press coverage (despite never having pitched to a journalist)
  • The best social media platforms for building your personal brand
  • How to keep your brand consistent when your business is changing
  • Why Chris believes you need build your brand on and offline (including creating opportunities to meet your 'tribe' in person)

Key resources and links

Chris Ducker's website 

Chris on Twitter, Instagram & Facebook

Chris's podcast interview with Amy Porterfield on email list building 

What to do next

If you enjoyed today’s show, please share it using the social media buttons at the top of this page.

I’d also love it if you could take a few minutes to leave an honest review and rating for the podcast on itunes. I read every one personally and may even read yours out on the show.

And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, to get automatic updates every time a new episode goes live.

Want to get more press coverage in 2016? Click here to download my FREE media calendar. 

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