Episode #4

How to Publish Your Non-Fiction Book

Show Notes:

I believe that everyone has a story to share on their experiences in life and business! With the self-help genre booming right now, I'd love to help more women authors line the shelves at Target! If you have something to say, I want to help you get it on paper and published! In this episode, I'm sharing the five things you need to think about when publishing your non-fiction book!

All of your experiences (good, bad, and funny) add up to a story, and the value in every lesson is the story that goes with it. What story will you tell?

Meeting Bob Goff (4:18)

Before Publishing Chasing the Bright Side (2:48)

Using Your Story to Help Others with Their Story (6:09)

5 Things to Think About when Publishing Your Non-Fiction Book: (6:22)

  1. Think of your book idea as a before/after point for a reader.
  2. What do you want to be known for?
  3. Your book should be similar enough to some of your favorites, but different enough to stand out.
  4. Don't write your whole book, write your proposal.
  5. Your book is your business card.

The Episode’s One Liner: All of your experiences (good, bad, and funny) add up to a story, and the value in every lesson is the story that goes with it. What story will you tell? (14:41)

Links:

instagram.com/jess_ekstrom

 

Review the Transcript:

Hey everyone. So before we dive in, I want to tell you a quick story. So the other day there was a Barnes & Noble that was open, I always like to go in and check out Chasing the Bright Side, maybe sign a few copies. And I went in there and I went down to the business section and I was just looking at the wall of books and I realized that every single front facing book was a man, every single one of them in the business section was a man that was forward facing, they're best sellers, the ones that people gravitate to first. And I just had this moment where I was like, this is not okay, we need to diversify the voices that we hear from in speaking and publishing, what we label as experts, who we listen to. And you know that I started Mic Drop Workshop to help create more women speakers, but now I want to help more women write books, and I want to help them get traditionally published like I did with Harper Collins.

So that's why I am hosting Write the Dang Book Conference. It is a free five day virtual conference for women to get their non-fiction books published. So from September 21st to the 25th, you'll join a closed Facebook group of other women writers who are on the same publishing path as you. And each day, I'll kick off live, but you can always watch the replay later and there'll be new topics with publishing, crafting your book idea, getting agents, and there'll be challenges, lessons all around getting your book published and then you'll listen to different speakers. We have Amber Rae, author of Choose Wonder Over Worry, Meera Lee Patel, author of Start Where You Are, just about their writing process, advice that they have for you to get your book out into the world and I am super excited for it.

We're still building the show notes on businessonthebrightside.com, so that site isn't live yet. So instead, I'm going to have you go directly to my Instagram which is @Jess_ ekstrom and hit the link in my bio. You'll see where to sign up for the free Write the Dang Book Conference, sign up, you'll get a free moment to meaning worksheet to get started on your book idea and then I will see you on September 21st.

What's up everybody? It is Jess Ekstrom and welcome to Business on the Bright Side, the podcast where you can learn how to make a living and make a difference at the same time. Life is short and so is my attention span, so let's get started. For a while I thought my book, Chasing the Bright Side, wasn't going to happen. The irony was this book that I wanted to write was about optimism and pushing through failure and getting past rejection when I was facing rejection after rejection from literary agents. And the book that I was pitching originally wasn't exactly Chasing the Bright Side, it was more about stories from other successful people and kind of the middle from their start to where they're at now. And it was kind of this like more Chicken Soup for the Soul style and I think that I was actually trying to hide behind other people's stories because I wasn't ready to tell mine and we got past that.

But I was feeling like this book, this traditional publishing route wasn't going to happen for me. I had one agent say that I needed a ghost writer to write a book if I ever was going to write one, I had one tell me that I was probably going to need to prepare myself to spend $100,000 on a writing coach or for someone to write my proposal for me, and I felt like I just kept hitting dead end after dead end. And now I realize the way that I was pitching this book and the way that I was positioning it wasn't something that was going to attract literary agents or publishers, which I'll get into later in this episode. But it wasn't until I was speaking at an event and Bob Goff was one of the speakers at this event. And of course he is a big time author and New York Times bestseller and I was standing backstage and I saw him and I was about to go up and speak and he had just gotten done speaking and I just thought, this is my shot, this is my chance.

And I went over to him and I introduced myself and I was like, "Look, I have this book idea, I keep running into dead ends with agents, do you know someone that you could introduce me to where they might be interested in working with me with a book deal?" And he immediately gave me the name of an agent, said talk to this person and then he was like, "Here's my personal phone number, if you ever have any questions or anything about publishing, you reach out." And I was jaw to the floor, oh my gosh, Bob Goff just gave me the name of a literary agent and gave me his personal phone number. And then after I went and watched his talk, I realized that at the end of his talk, he put his phone number on his slides for like all 3,000 people sitting in the audience. And I was like, "Oh, thought I was special, guess I'm not." But no matter what, I was super grateful.

And it was that agent that really saw the potential in me, in my story and instead of hiding behind other people's stories with this original book idea that I had. And the thing with self-help, sometimes self-help I feel like it a bad rap that you have to be in so much emotional turmoil to pick up a self-help book or it just has this stigma attached to it. But really, self-help is about using your story to help people with their story. And as you can see from my story, the book writing and book publishing and industry as a whole can be kind of bumpy and really just this uncharted territory. So I wanted to give you guys five things that you need to know to get your nonfiction book published.

Number one, think of your book idea as a before and after point for a reader. So when you think about your book idea, a lot of people lean on a story or lean on just a certain topic, but think of your book as the transformation point, as a turning point for someone. I'm sure maybe you've read a book that after you've read it you thought differently about something. So how will your book serve as a before and after point for someone? So the value of a book or a speech or really anything is about solving a problem. And it's always more about what it will do for them and less what it will do for you. So we'll also talk about what a book can do for your career, but it's important to start with what the book will do for others. Your book, isn't just a way for you to share some of your successes or gain credibility, it has to provide a transformation for the reader.

So that's why when you think about your book idea, think about what problem is it solving and then focus more on the takeaway than the topics. And I talk about this and speaking it with Mic Drop Workshop as well is you can list topics all day long; leadership, confidence, empowerment, but people care more about the takeaway, the tangible takeaway than they do about the topic. So what are the takeaways that people will gain from your book?

Number two, think about what do you want to be known for? So maybe you're someone who has a lot of ideas, like me. I feel like my head is constantly spinning. Whether it be because of too much coffee or whatever, but my head is always churning with ideas. And I always feel like, oh, I could write a book about that, I could launch a podcast about this and there are so many things that you probably could do. But at the end of the day, think about your book being something that is going to be before your name, being at the top of your Google search, being attached to you for at least three to five years. So what do you feel confident enough in to have that tied to you for that amount of time?

And so a book isn't just about a topic that you can speak on or maybe get a few gigs from or a side hustle that you're starting, what do you want to be known for? I remember I had an idea to write this book called That's What She Said and it was going to be about our inner dialogue and making our inner dialogue our cheerleader. And I remember being like, "Oh yeah, I could totally crank out a That's What She Said book." And then I literally pictured an announcer on stage being like, "And we have Jess Ekstrom, author of That's What She Said coming to speak to us today." And I was like maybe I don't want to be known for that for three to five years. So think about what do you want to be known for and how can your book support that?

Number three, your book should be similar enough to some of your favorites so the concept is proven but different enough so it stands out. So this is called comparative title analysis, which sounds super fancy, but really what it is, is about tying your book to something that is popular out there. For example, Chasing the Bright Side, in my comparative title analysis I tied it to Girlboss because it's similar with an entrepreneurial story but it's also different enough because it starts with some really raw and authentic things about my life and how we can use optimism to create that world that we want to live in. And so the reason why you want to tie it to a best-selling book with its similarities is because you want a literary agent or a publisher to be able to see that, hey, people are looking for this, this is a proven concept. But then you want to add why it's different enough because you want to add your personal flare to it.

So finding a good book idea is walking the line of what's already out there versus what you can bring to the table. So I would challenge you, when you have your book idea, think about what are three to five different titles out there that have sold well that you can draw similarities to but also make a point as to why it's different. Number four, don't write your whole book, write your proposal. So I made this mistake with that first book idea that I was talking about where I was like, I want to come into a meeting with a literary agent or a publisher and say, "Oh, don't worry about it, I've already written the book, this is why you should sign with me." But they don't give a crap about if you've written the whole book because they want to see the idea. And usually what happens is they see the book idea and they want to make tweaks or they want to change the angle a little bit and then you've written a whole book that is no longer what they're looking for and you have to start from scratch.

So what's more important than writing the book is writing the proposal, and I have resources to help you with this, you can head to my website for that. But writing a proposal is basically like the menu on the outside of the restaurant that an agent or publisher reads and they decide if they want to walk in and eat there. It's something that they're going to look at, where they can get an idea of who you are as an author, what this book is going to be about, why it's relevant, comparative titles, maybe your reach or your network or something along those lines where they can just get a taste of whether or not they want to engage further. So don't write your whole book, start with your proposal.

Last but not least, number five, your book is your business card. So making money with books is really all across the board. You'll hear some authors that are getting the six-figure or even million dollar deals who are super advanced, but then you'll also hear some authors that get smaller deals from traditional publishers and then you'll get authors who self-publish and they're just making money off of each sale but they didn't get the advance or something from a traditional publisher. So the financial opportunities with the book itself can vary so much. You can make good money off of a book, but what I would argue is your book is actually your business card to other financial opportunities.

So your book is really that golden ticket for those speaking opportunities, those coaching opportunities, positioning yourself as an expert, being a guest on podcasts. People love to book or interview people that have a book. My friend, Maxie McCoy, who is author of You're Not Lost and actually a speaker at Write the Dang Book Conference, she says that a book gives someone an opportunity to react to it. So when you have a book and when you have something that's like, yes, this is mine, this is what I'm known for, this is what I stand for, it gives people, whether that's a conference director or a potential customer something that they can draw a line between you and what you stand for in a really clear way. So although maybe a book itself might not be the crazy money generator that you're looking for, although it can be, it could lead to other opportunities that are.

When Chasing the Bright Side came out, I got more requests for speaking, my speaking rates went up and so many more opportunities for, I don't know, like influencer marketing and stuff like that came my way because I had this title beside my name. So don't put so much pressure on the book itself to be the opportunity where you make money, but use your book as a business card where you can have further opportunities to make money. I'll leave you with this, all of your experiences, good, bad and funny add up to a story, and the value in every lesson is the story that goes with it. So what story will you tell? Thanks for listening to Business on the Bright Side. And remember I am hosting a free Write the Dang Book Conference for women to get their non-fiction books published. So head to my Instagram, head to the link in my bio, click Write the Dang Book and I will see you September 21st.

Thanks for listening to Business on the Bright Side, I'm your host, Jess Ekstrom. For all the show notes, head to businessonthebrightside.com and be sure to tell me what you thought of this episode on Instagram. And if you're picking up what I'm putting down, subscribe and write a review wherever you consume podcasts. See you next time and keep chasing the bright side.

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MEET JESS

I'm JESS EKSTROM

EVERYTHING I CREATE IS TO HELP YOU TELL AND SELL YOUR STORY, SO YOU CAN MAKE A LIVING AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE…

at the same time

I GIVE A 💩 about you, your time & YOUR MONEY.

Let me be straight with you – I’m not that perfectly filtered influencer on the internet that promises you the world and doesn’t follow through after that credit card is swiped.

Enough about my story, let’s discover the purpose of

your story

Take my THOUGHT LEADER QUIZ to help you discover the best way to monetize your story.

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Finish this sentence: by the end of the year, I bet I will ________________. 👇👇👇👇
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My husband always laughs at me because I HATE gambling or making bets. If I’m going to put $5 on something, I’d rather put it towards my business. I like betting on things that I can influence- so I like to bet on myself 🎲
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By the end of the year, I bet I will ________________. 👇
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Facts about my family 🥰👇
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- we’ve been living and traveling in an @airstream_inc since March 2019
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- Jake and I met in class at NC State. He claims we met when he passed me a pencil but I told him I haven’t used a pencil since 1997.
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- we found our pup, Ollie, on Craigslist
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- our favorite band is @zacbrownband (our wedding song was Free)!
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- Jake is an enneagram 7 and I’m a 3 😅
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- shows we’ve binged together: entourage, game of thrones, alone, the good place and all bachelor series (but he’ll deny the last one) 🤣
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Tell me a fact about you and your family! 👇
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367 45

I’m a recovering people pleaser.
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I thought my ticket to success was winning people over...
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But if you try to win over everyone, you’ll actually lose people because that means you’re not standing for something. Don’t be afraid to pick a lane and drive in it. The right people will join you there.
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Figure out what YOU want, what you stand for and what you want to create. Find or create the community that you can serve with that message. Listen to other opinions but listen with a filter.
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Remember: you’re not going to be for everyone...you’re going to be for someone. And that’s GREAT news.
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Are you a recovering people pleaser? What are some strategies you use to stay true to yourself?👇
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I’ve been building something special since April and I’m SO EXCITED for you to try it 😬😬😬
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@writebrightpages is your own online private journal with:
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✍️ daily writing prompts
✍️ prompt pathways based on specific goals
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✍️ and so much more
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Right now we have a few people on the platform testing it and we’ll slowly roll it out over the next few months. 😬 If you missed Business on the Bright Side podcast episode yesterday, head to wherever you consume podcasts to listen to yesterday’s journaling episode to hear more about it 🎧
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Follow @writebrightpages and then head to brightpages.com or the link in my bio to sign up for the waitlist!
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Are you excited to try out @writebrightpages?! 👇
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Some high quality education 🎓
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Leave me a comment if your business school was Google 😂👇
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You know I’m down for a good IG challenge 💪
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On the left was my first @headbandsofhope table when I started the company in college. I “employed” my best friends @ajdinkel and @emily_wheet to help me sell headbands. Oh- and the headbands are displayed on oatmeal boxes that I spray painted yellow. #winning
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On the right is my first appearance on @qvc last year. We’ve had dozens of airings since then, but it’s crazy to think about where we started and how far we’ve come as a team 🥰
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Remember, you can cringe at your beginnings and still be proud of them ♥️
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You just have to start ⭐️
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My job is to help women look for meaning in their moments so they can write books and give keynote talks. 🎤📖
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But sometimes I encourage my students in Mic Drop Workshop or Book Pop Workshop to step back before they slap a label on a season of their life.
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We’re so quick to say a moment was: good, bad, helpful, or hurtful. But the reality is sometimes we have no clue how our moments will play out in our story.
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It took me 11 years to share my story about my family in chapter 2 of Chasing the Bright Side because I was still connecting the dots.
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We’re all going through a season right now. The lesson and the meaning is still taking shape. Some silver linings just take longer to develop 🌈
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I’m speaking 🎤
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Two simple words that puncture centuries of silence.
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Our voice is one of the most powerful things we have. Let’s teach young girls to use it by using it ourselves 🗣

Thank you @rowlandjordyn for this tweet. #vote #vote2020
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I got mad at myself the other day.
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A hiccup happened at work and I broke. My mind went swirling: am I even qualified to do this? Why do I have a business if I keep failing at it? I’m letting everyone down! I’m supposed to be the optimist author and I’m drowning in negative thoughts 💭
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Then I thought to myself: I used to be able to handle this stuff and not fall off the deep end. What changed?
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Well, 2020 changed. And it’s important to recognize the impact this year has had on ourselves.
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I finally realized yesterday that on a scale from 1-10, my anxiety has been living at a steady 6 this year. Usually, it’s at like a 2 or a 3.
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So something small that happens at work or in my life used to just bump me up to a 5 or a 6. But now, the small things bump me up to a 8 or a 9 because my foundation is already high.
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That realization was actually a relief for me. I could finally give myself some grace and say: you’re still strong. You can still handle everything life throws at you. Your strength hasn’t changed, just your environment.
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So I want to propose the same thing to you. Go easy on yourself this year because our starting point for anxiety and uncertainty is already high- so knowing that the little things can impact you differently makes you stop questioning yourself and start understanding our environment.
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To me, this is good news. Give yourself some grace. Go easy on yourself. Take time for your mental health. Go outside. Watch silly Netflix shows. Take a bath. Get the fancy latte because you want to. We can handle this. ♥️💪
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This is usually the dialogue when deciding on takeout. 😂⁠
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Anyone else?! 👇
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We're in Yosemite this week!⁠
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This place has been on our bucket list for our entire trip and we thought it might not happen with the fires. But we are here and couldn't be more grateful ♥️⁠
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What's your favorite national park? 👇
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There are a lot of reasons to be an optimist 👇
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You’re more innovative, you’re more resilient, you’re more of a risk taker, you’re more of a leader...
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But at the end of the day, it’s just way more fun to be an optimist.
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You can enjoy life more when you believe that the future is good and that YOU can be the one to help get it there.
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So if you’re looking for a reason to start Chasing the Bright Side (😉) and seeing the good in the world, just remember that optimists have more fun 🥳
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Do you consider yourself an optimist? 👇
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#maskup but make it fashion 😷💃
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So proud of my girl @mrs.bgauvin (our @headbandsofhope Wholesale Director) for selling out on @qvc last night during her FIRST SHOW! 📺
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The torch has officially been passed 😂 y’all head to headbandsofhope.com to stock up on our tube turbans and masks! 🛍
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I’ve had a few “check yourself before you wreck yourself” moments this week 🙃
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Sometimes when we feel ourself reacting, we need to take a step back and look at WHY we’re reacting instead of what we’re reacting to.
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I talk about this in the Business on the Bright Side episode this week (link in bio).
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Do you feel like you’re self aware? I’m working on it! 👇
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Bring on the PSL, fall scented candles and sweater weather 🍁
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Tag someone who loves fall in the comments 👇
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You can’t write an amazing book without a messy first draft. 📖
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When I read this concept in Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird, it changed who I am as a creative.
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In fact, you can’t do anything well without a messy beginning. 🙃
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If that’s the case, then don’t put so much pressure on your first drafts. You can’t edit a blank piece of paper, but you can edit pages of jumbled mess and start to make sense of it.
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This week in my Write the Dang Book Conference we have over 2,000 women from all over the world starting their messy first drafts and I couldn’t be prouder to be their guide 🥰
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You can still grab your free ticket for day 2 with the link in my bio. All videos will be available until October 1st, so if you can’t make it live, you can watch the replays until then.
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Cheers to messy first drafts 🥂
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