When A Story Wants to be Told, There's No Denying It
This is the third in a series of Author Interviews we have done with Relevant Pages Press Author Team members. It is our hope that these interviews will both educate you about the writing and publication process and encourage you that you are not alone in all you face as a writer. Please be sure to connect with the authors by leaving a comment below!
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I never really set out to be a writer. I was content to teach high school English and, later raise and home school my two kiddos (Taylor who’s 18 and Christopher who’s 14) while moving around the country for my husband’s job (we were born and raised in the Bay Area, moved to Mt. Pleasant SC, and are now currently located in the St. Louis area of Missouri). I was also content to tell my story to women face-to-face rather than commit to writing anything down. I started by teaching time-management strategies to end the chaos of summer to a bunch of women at our church. Then I began to teach small groups and share my tips and tricks for living the Cultivating Peace Lifestyle (the class was called Cultivating Peace) and I was content with that but, when a story wants to be told there’s no denying it really. When I moved from SC to MO I left a huge class behind and so I had to write down what I had been teaching so the leaders I had trained could carry on the class. I then moved to speaking to MOPS groups and at women’s events around the country. Currently, I am the owner of StehanieHaynes.net, a website dedicated to spreading the word about the freedom we can have in a life organized and balanced according to God’s priorities and plans for our lives over our own, and the co-owner of Relevant Pages Press LLC where I work with would-be authors as an (en)Courage Consultant who holds writers accountable and encourages them to follow their dreams.
What is the title of your book, what’s it about, who should read it and where can we buy it?
The title of my book is Cultivating Peace: Receiving God’s Peace within Your Chaos. You can purchase it on Amazon as either a paperback or an e-book.
If you are a woman who believes there has got to be a better way to gain control over her family’s scheduling chaos, this book is for you. It is both my testimony of the power of Christ’s love and grace in our lives, and a practical guide for learning to allow God’s plans to supersede our own and the pathway to receiving God’s peace no matter how chaotic the schedule or life situation.
How did you come to the decision to write a book?
Cultivating Peace only saw the light of day because I moved away from the classes where I was teaching the content and the leaders I left behind needed something to share with the women who had signed up for the classes. Seriously. I never wanted to write a book and it didn’t start out that way. I first self-published it with Lulu.com as a compilation of lectures and discussion questions. Then I hired a pay-to-play publisher to turn it into a workbook of stories and personal reflection questions that women’s groups could use (complete with video teachings for each chapter). Now it’s a book which challenges women to open up their hearts and their schedules to God, with an available (free!) study guide for those who want to dig a little deeper.
What challenges did you face during the writing process and how did you overcome them?
My biggest challenge was myself. I have a lot of fear about not being “good enough” and writing your life story well enough for others to get it, not judge it, and learn from it is really, really scary. However, I am also a perfectionist in recovery so the fear of writing it lost to the desire to write it well. It also helped to have a core group of women around me cheering me on and holding me accountable to following through.
What's one thing you would tell yourself to do differently before starting to write it/ while writing?
If I could go back and give myself any advice, it would be this: stop writing for everyone else and write for the younger you who needs to hear what you have learned so she can come to the realizations you have before the chaos destroys her.
Why did you choose to self-publish?
Originally I wanted to be traditionally published but when I was told I lost my chance, after making it 75% of the way through the process, because I didn’t have a big enough platform for the publisher to invest in me, I decided I didn’t want to wait until I was big enough for anyone. Self-publishing has allowed me to be in charge instead of allowing someone else to be.
What's one thing about the self-publication process that surprised you? Why?
The biggest surprise came after I sent my finished manuscript off to be uploaded for the publication process. I thought that was the end, but it was really only just the beginning. True, I had a published book, BUT no one knew about it. The marketing phase, which should have started much earlier than I did, was just about to begin. It is as if writing and editing the manuscript are only part one of a three-part system that includes the publication, marketing and branding of myself as an author. It was way more work than I anticipated.
What promotion strategies are you using to help sell your book? Why? How are they working?
Creating “Bubbles” for Bublish, an online marketing program for self-published authors
Creating an e-book format of my book
Using a launch team to help spread the word
Creating additional products to complement the material within my book (free downloads, webinars, etc.)
Creating an email list of subscribers who want to receive blog posts from me relating to the Cultivating Peace Lifestyle
Speaking to various organizations in my area and beyond
Using social media to add value to my followers by sharing posts that encourage them to trust God and follow His lead.
How are they working?
I have sold more books with this new release than ever before and have had more speaking engagements as well. My following has increased in each of the social medial platforms I use regularly as well.
What, in your opinion, is the most crucial part of the:
Having a team help you sort through what stays, what goes, and what needs to be better written for my target audience.
Having a fantastic interior layout person.
Knowing what you want to achieve as a result of all your efforts. For example, you want to sell x number of books or want to get x number of people to review your book or x numbers of new subscribers to your email list.
Are you planning on writing another book? If so, what changes will you make in each of the above areas?
I am not planning on a whole book but I am considering a series of smaller e-books. The biggest change I will make will be to take the advice I would give myself at the beginning of writing: write for my target woman and forget about everyone else.
What’s some advice you can share with other authors who are just beginning their writing and publication journey?
Take the time to visualize yourself through the entire process from starting to write through building your author band and selling your book and then ask yourself: “Is this what I want to do?” It doesn’t matter if you know how or if you feel qualified. That will come. What matters is whether or not you have the heart to see it all the way through no matter how long it takes (Note: my book took 10 years…)