The Pro Writer Mindset Podcast, Ep. 6: An Interview with Memoirist Marion Roach Smith

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Guest Bio:

Marion Roach Smith believes that everyone has a story to tell. The author of four books, all of which contain a large degree of memoir, her most recent book is The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing—and Life, an irreverent, quirky, provocative product of the countless memoir classes she has taught for more than a decade.

Under the name Marion Roach, she is the author of The Roots of Desire: The Myth, Meaning and Sexual Power of Red Hair; the co-author with famed forensic pathologist Michael Baden, M.D., of Dead Reckoning; and of Another Name for Madness. A former staff member of The New York Times, she has written for The New York Times Magazine, Prevention, The Daily News, Vogue, Newsday, Good Housekeeping, Martha Stewart Living, Discover, and The Los Angeles Times. Since 1998, she has taught classes in writing memoir and now does so both in person and online. She can be found at MarionRoach.com.

Show Notes:

I had the pleasure of not only hearing Marion speak on memoir writing at the 2016 TRIBE Writers Conference, but I also was lucky enough to sit at a table with her for three days. She is FANTASTIC and has so many incredible insights about writing memoir.

Here are some of my takeaways from the interview:

  • Memoir is about moments of transition and transcendence–this is one of my favorite pieces of memoir-writing advice Marion shared. I’ve always thought memoir was a genre I’d never touch, and now she has me thinking about writing a memoir (listen to the episode to hear the topic I’m considering!)
  • Write from a place of phobia–I loved hearing her say this, because I’m someone who overcomes fears by facing them head-on.
  • Read above you–rather than reading at the level you’re used to, if you want to learn how to write better, you must read above you, by finding authors who are better writers and studying what they do.

Be sure to check out Marion’s book–The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing and Life, available now! 

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What’s A Writing Empire and Why Do You Need One?

I love that phrase: writing empire. It sounds so awesome, doesn’t it?

Having an empire that you created with your writing at the center of everything.

Usually when you think of an “empire,” you imagine someone like Martha Stewart or Kim Kardashian or some other celebrity brand. But writers can have empires too.

Remember the other day when I talked about diversifying? That’s what building an empire is. It’s finding ways to diversify in your writing life so that you’ve got streams of income coming in from different things.

Freelance. Copywriting. Nonfiction books. Novels. Workshops. Virtual events. Live events. Digital products. Writing services. Coaching services. Editing.

There are tons of ways for you to diversify and build your writing empire. And here’s the best part: you get to create it however you want it.

If you hate doing live stuff, you can be 100% virtual. If you love live events, you can build those into your brand. Whatever you love to do, that’s what you should focus on and build your writing empire around.

I love teaching, I love writing, I love speaking, so that’s what I’m building my writing empire around. I have books, digital products, live virtual workshops, live events (more live events coming in 2017!), coaching, writing and self-publishing services.

The other thing about an empire is that it’s also a legacy. It’s the legacy of the person who it’s built around.

An empire will live on long after you do.

So really think about that for a second. What do you want your legacy to be?

I want to be known for changing the way writers think. For showing writers what’s possible when you set your mind to it. For being a living example of the power of combining practical physical actions with energetic mindset actions.

That is my legacy–the one I’m creating.

These are all things you’ve gotta think about if you want to be an authorpreneur. Not just a writer who publishes a couple books, but someone who builds a business around being who you are and doing what you love.

That is the true power of taking control of your writing destiny.

And you can absolutely do it. It’s yours to create, exactly as you want it.

For some examples of legacy and what a writing empire looks like, check out:

Robert McKee
Larry Brooks
Joanna Penn

These are writers who have diversified. They’ve found what they’re awesome at and they’ve built a business around those things.

If you want to make a living as a writer, this is the best way to do it. Yes, you could just write books, but you’re limiting so many things when you do that, including growth, reaching additional audiences and, of course, the money you can make.

Diversifying is where it’s at. And while you’re at it, you may as well build an empire and create a legacy that lives on.

And speaking of empire… I wanted to introduce you to my new 1-1 coaching program:

Build Your Writing Empire

This program is your springboard to making a living as a writer.

For 6 weeks we will work together to:

Map out your writing empire, including all the things you love to do
Start setting up and implementing the systems and structures you need to support your empire (including an author website, if you don’t already have one)
Overhaul your writing life so you’re aligned with and set up for the success you want to create
Get your nonfiction eBook written and published (at least one, but possibly more than one, if you’re up for it)
Grow your following
Sell more books

You will walk away with a published nonfiction eBook, a blueprint for your writing empire–including what to focus on and in what order–and feeling confident and ready to continue growing your audience and your author brand.

With this program you get:

> Six 1-1 calls with me via phone or Skype (up to 60 mins each)
> Unlimited email support between calls
> Feedback, edits, guidance on everything you create while in the program, including your eBook

And as a BONUS, you get a FREE 1-YEAR MEMBERSHIP in the Bestselling Author Mastermind group (a $348+ value). [This is extra-awesome because I’m going to soon be announcing some major changes to BAM that include giving the group access to pretty much everything I’ve created (and the price is going up).]

This program is PERFECT for you if you:

> Have lots of ideas for books you want to write and just need help getting started/organized/productive/etc
> Want to build a writing empire and legacy with your author brand
> Are someone who takes action and follows through
> Are ready to get your damn writing career off the ground
> Want to finally get your first (or next) nonfiction eBook written and published

This program is for writers who are action takers and willing to put in the work.

Program investment: $997 (payment plans available)

Interested? Email me or send me a PM on Facebook.

5 Ways to Make Money From Your Writing

Last week in my Facebook group, The 1% Writers Club (you can join the group here—it’s free), I asked: who wants to be a full-time writer? 
 
Out of the 65 people who responded, 60 said HELL YES, that’s me! 
 
And it makes sense. Most writers who were born to write want to do it full-time. That’s kind of a no-duh, I think.
 
Problem is, most writers don’t know what it really takes to be a full-time writer (and most aren’t willing to do the work—but that’s a whole other thing). They just imagine Stephen King or J.K. Rowling and see themselves sitting around all day drinking coffee and writing fiction. 
 
And that’s totally fine. We’ve all imagined that scenario before.
 
But a lot of times it doesn’t quite happen that way. And when you look at most writers who are making a full-time living from their writing, you’ll find that, nine times out of ten, they’ve diversified. 
 
They’re not just writing novels. They’re also writing nonfiction eBooks, freelance articles, doing some editing and creating digital products and services, for example. 
 
A writer who makes a full-time living from their writing knows you can’t put all your eggs in one basket. At least not at first. 
 
Unless you really do want to stay in your day job until you can write fiction full time. (That could take a while.) If you do, then go ahead and wait. 
 
But if you’re totally impatient like I am, I want you to know that can actually make a living from your writing in 8 to 12 months (maybe even sooner) if you diversify and don’t just try to do one thing. 
 
And really, why would you want to do just one thing? Owning a writing business and being a full-time writer is so much more fun when you’re doing lots of different things.
 
When I first quit my job in 2012 to take my writing business full-time, 90% of my money came from freelance writing projects, including writing copy, blog posts, emails copy, and social media content for companies. The other 10% came from my eBooks and coaching writers.
 
After a couple years, those percentages shifted, and most of my money was coming from coaching, writing services (like editing) and selling digital products. 
 
And now, after years of dreaming about it, a decent chunk of my income each month comes directly from my books (like this month, for example, I’ve made $1,190 so far… and the month isn’t even over yet).
 
Did this happen overnight? No.
 
Did it happen from one book? No.
 
Did it happen from doing only one thing? No. 
 
It came from diversifying. From writing fiction and nonfiction. From creating digital products and doing virtual workshops. From offering writing services and private coaching. 
 
I no longer do freelance writing. I no longer take on writing projects where I’m required to write for someone else.
 
All of the writing I do is stuff I actually want to be writing. It’s writing I want to be doing. 
 
The point of all this is to show you what it really takes to make a living as a writer. And also to inspire you to see that you don’t have to wait until you’ve made enough money from your books to become a full-time writer.
 
You can start right now. Here’s how:
 
Act As If—whoever that writer is you dream of being, be that person RIGHT NOW. Pretend you’re already a writer who makes a full-time living from your writing and then ask yourself every single day, what would I do if I was already that writer? When you absolutely believe at your core that you ARE that writer—even if your reality says otherwise—you WILL become that writer.
 
Start Doing Some Freelance Writing—there are tons of websites out there that list paid freelance writing gigs. Some pay more than others, but even the lower paying ones can be great experience for a writer who wants to get a foot in the door. One of my favorite freelance gig sites is: jobs.problogger.net.
 
Get On A Freelance Site—sites like fiverr.com and upwork.com are great places to offer writing services, depending on the kind of writing you enjoy. You can set up a profile and then offer yourself up as a writer-for-hire. 
 
Ask Around—let people know that you’re looking for paid writing gigs. You never know who has a connection or contact. When I first left my job I reached out to all the people I used to work with and asked them if they knew of anyone looking for content marketing and social media services (which is how I was using my writing back then) and I ended up with several new projects only a couple weeks later. 
 
Write A Self-Help Book—now you should only do this if you’ve accomplished something worthwhile or if you’ve got a lot of knowledge and experience in a certain topic. But in 2014 (the most recent stats I could find), self-help was a $10 billion dollar industry, a big chunk of which included books. Just imagine where it is now! And the reason?

People, more than ever, want to learn, grow and achieve things in their lives. They want to save money and learn how to do stuff themselves. They want to self-heal by using advice and experiences from people who’ve gone through what they’re going through and came out the other side. 

 
So writing a book about something you’ve been through or know a lot about is a great way to jump-start your pro-writing life and, if you do a good job, make some money. 
 
There are so many ways for you to start your pro writing career RIGHT NOW TODAY. You just have to be flexible and open to the idea of diversifying. 
 
Yes, we’d all love to do nothing more than write and publish our novels (or nonfiction books). And, yes, this can absolutely happen. 
 
But it’s not gonna to happen fast (in fact, it could take years and years and years). Whereas you can literally start freelance writing tomorrow. Money in hand, writing out in the world.
 
Pro writer, baby.
 
A lot of writers who see themselves as making a full-time living from writing only see themselves writing books. And while you can do that, you’re much better off diversifying. 
 
There are a lot of different ways to get in the pro-writer game, so don’t limit yourself. Explore all of your options and push yourself to try new things. 
 
Your full-time writer self will thank you for it.

Share With Us

Which of the 5 options will try to start getting your writing out there and making some money.

Ready to write and publish your nonfiction eBook? I have a self-paced eCourse coming out in mid-August that will help you do just that. Stay tuned!