1. Where you are from and where are you now?
I’m a desert girl with a California streak. I was born and raised in Arizona, spent some time in Los Angeles, and currently live in Phoenix, while saving money to buy a summer home (tent? campsite? apartment?) in the Bay Area.
2. How did you get started writing?
I’ve been writing all my life, but not consistently. I used to think that inspiration had to strike before I could sit down and write. About ten years ago I came across a quote attributed to Oliver Stone: “The simple formula for a finished manuscript is Ass+Chair.” I applied his formula and found that he was right. One published book, a second one almost finished, and a third one in the planning stages, resulted from taking this advice.
3. What do you do when you are not writing?
I am a business coach. I help solo entrepreneurs create successful businesses doing the work they love.
4. What would readers like to know about you?
I love movies, hiking, National Parks, the West; I got an MBA from UCLA which gave me the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval but wasn’t much help in running a small business, and I’m learning to play the ukulele.
5. What inspired your first book?
I attended a business plan workshop in 2005. We used a book to help us write our plans, but I was frustrated with it because it was too complex. I started leading business plan workshops myself and created a 20-page handout to help people in the workshops. With lots of assistance and feedback from the business owners who attended my workshops, the handout grew into this 300-page book.
6. How many books have you written?
I finished two novels (three, if you count the fact that I wrote one of them in third person, then re-wrote the whole thing in first person), that will never see daylight, plus the book that was just published and the next two in the works.
7. What are the titles of your books and what genres are they?
My book is entitled Passion, Plan, Profit: 12 Simple Steps to Convert Your Passion into a Solid Business. It is non-fiction, in the small business category.
8. Why are you specially qualified to write about this topic?
I’ve owned my own businesses for twenty years, and made pretty much every good and bad move you can make. I’m honest, especially about my mistakes, which puts people at ease, and lets them know that if I can run a successful business, they can too.
9. How do you manage to keep yourself focused and on track when you’re writing a book?
I’m lucky, in that I enjoy writing, so I don’t have to work very hard to stay on track (so far). I’d like to be able to spend more time writing than I already do. That said, I still do some things that keep me focused, as follows.
I use a trick I learned from a book called The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. He gathers some talismans around himself when he writes. He uses a small cannon and some other reminders; I place my lucky (small, painted wooden) crab at the top of my laptop to remind me that I’m in my writing time.
I let my mind wander if I get stuck. I keep my crab perched on my laptop, but I let myself read the newspaper or read some of my favorite blogs to occupy myself while my unconscious works on whatever problem I’m wrestling with. In this way I keep working on the writing, even if I’m not actually writing something every minute.
I schedule specific writing time in my calendar every week, and guard it with my life.
Finally, I try to make it easy on myself to start back up after I’ve stopped the previous day. I make notes about my thought process and mark the place I stopped so I know where to pick up. This is called building a bridge between yesterday’s and today’s writing.
Finally, I have a coach. I shouldn’t put her last, because she is one of the primary ways I stay focused. I commit to giving her a certain number of pages per week, and I pay her to help me stick to my commitments, read my writing and give me feedback, as well as to talk me out of the slumps that every author experiences.
10. Do you write to make money, for the love of writing or both?
I write for both reasons. The internet gives authors (especially ones of non-fiction, but novel-writers too), a powerful, unseen-in-the history-of-humankind, way to reach our audiences. I wrote my first book to reach solo entrepreneurs, so I hope to change their lives with this book while it makes money to support the writing of subsequent books.
12. What are some unique methods of marketing you have used? Which were the most successful?
I’ve put up an author site on Amazon, I am blogging and am about to embark on a blog tour; I lead face-to-face and tele-seminars to take people through the book; have been interviewed on numerous internet radio stations, am sending out a monthly newsletter, and occasionally post on Twitter
So far, I’ve been most successful in selling my books when I am face-to-face with solo entrepreneurs. There are so many business plan books on the shelves that people feel both overwhelmed by the sheer number, and a bit cynical about the utility of doing a business plan. When people hear me talk about the book and why doing a business plan using the book is both a great idea and FUN, they catch my enthusiasm and buy the book.
13. Do you sell through a website? If so, what’s the address? If not, why not?
I sell my books on Amazon: www.amazon.com
14. Where can people order your books?
They can order them from Amazon. Go to www.amazon.com and type Passion Plan Profit into the search box. My book comes right up!
15. What format are your books – e-book, print, audio etc?
Because it is a workbook and people need to write in it, it is currently a print edition only.
16. Will you write more books?
I am in the process of doing that right now.
17. What do you have in the works now?
Two books: You Hate to Market and What to do about It, and another book about how to build a community for your customers around your business.
18. What does the future hold for you and your books?
I hope to become more Internet-marketing savvy with each book, successfully reaching a wider audience. I also hope to build a community of solo entrepreneurs around my books. My dream is to provide a forum for my readers to find each other and do their work together, posting their results on my website, and giving me feedback to improve subsequent editions of the books.
19. What was the most successful thing you did to promote your books?
It’s early in the process, so a bit difficult to tell what will actually be most successful. Right now, I’m most successful in selling the books in person.
20. What was the least successful thing you did to promote your books?
Since it’s so early in the process, I don’t want to brand anything I’ve done so far as “not successful.” It takes time to build momentum to sell a book, especially a non-fiction work by an unknown author like me.
Even though I can’t yet link selling copies of the book to the radio interviews I’ve done, or to the blogs postings I’ve written, or to other internet-based activities, I’m working to create an internet presence that becomes larger and more compelling over time, which will, I hope, drive more and more book sales.
22. What makes this book special to you?
It’s special to me for numerous reasons. It’s the first book I wrote that actually got published. It gives me the opportunity to explain business terms in a way that would have been very helpful to me in my earlier, floundering days as a business owner, (so I am, I hope, lowering the floundering time for other business owners). It can reach far more people than I ever could personally. And it represents a completed goal for me: I finished a book that is helpful to people.
23. What sort of comments have you gotten about the content of the book?
The comments all center around one theme: “You explain things so clearly!”
24. What makes this a book that other people MUST read and WHY?
The one factor that derails many business owners is not the quality of their work; it’s the inability to handle the business side of the business. This book explains the concepts that all business owners need to understand so that the business side of their businesses work.
Owning and running a successful business boils down to three things: doing excellent work, paying attention to the business side of things, and responding to change. This book helps business owners keep abreast of these three factors.
25. What people NEED to read this book and WHY?
One of the most daunting actions anyone can ever take is to start a business doing work you love. In the back of your mind, this question keeps repeating itself: what if I fail? Or worse, what if you already have failed, and don’t want to try again? You need to read this book so you can increase the odds of succeeding, doing this very important work that you love.
26. What sparks your creativity? Any tips to help others spark their own creativity?
Four things spark my creativity: working with business owners on their own businesses, reading, writing, and down time.
Working with other business owners (who are my perfect audience for my books) keeps me in touch with what’s important to them, so that I can incorporate those things into my subsequent books. Reading brings me in contact with good business ideas, especially from large corporations, that I can translate into useful concepts for small business owners. Writing itself creates more creativity, ironically. Finally, down time (which is the hardest to do) gives my unconscious a chance to work on new ideas, undisturbed.
Julia Cameron wrote a brilliant book about nurturing creativity, called The Artist Way. She gives her readers great ideas about how to incorporate down time into their lives.
27. What do you think motivates people to become authors? What motivated you to get into this unusual industry?
The conventional wisdom says that you can’t make money writing a book. None of us authors ever believes that about our own books, but statistics show this statement to be true.
So why do I write? Three reasons: two practical, and one not. This book and the ones in the works extend my reach; they can touch people I don’t even know about. That’s the first practical reason. The second one is that the book forms the foundation of my coaching practice. I now have a teaching tool that I can use, whether with individual clients or with groups.
The impractical reason is that I wanted to see if I could do it. I found out I could.
28. Tell me about the most unusual things you have done to promote any books?
I’ve thought about streaking through a bookstore, but my publicist discouraged this. So I’m doing more conventional marketing: blogging, setting up an author page on Amazon, posting on Twitter, doing an email newsletter, a blog tour, interviews on radio shows, and hosting business plan workshops in person and on the phone. If streaking becomes the new way to promote books, I’ll have another discussion with my publicist.
29. If a potential reader thinks that your book wouldn’t interest them, what would you say to convince them to buy? I’m thinking something better than “It’s the greatest book ever.” Give me something more specific
Even though I’d like to sell this book to everyone; it isn’t for everyone. It’s strictly for people who want to create successful businesses doing the work they love. I would say to this group: if you’re longing to have a business doing the work you love, but you’ve either already tried and failed, or are afraid to try at all, this is your book.
30. Why does the topic of your book interest you? Why would it interest potential readers? Give us a hook to reel in new readers.
I know what it’s like to do work that didn’t use my best skills, or fulfill my purpose in life. It was painful. This book is for anyone experiencing that pain; it’s written to help people create a business doing the work that they love, that they were destined to do. This book gives people who love their work the tools to create a successful business around it. If you’re in pain, this is your prescription.
About Christy Strauch
Christy Strauch is the author of Passion, Plan, Profit: 12 Simple Steps to Convert Your Passion into a Solid Business. In addition she is president of Clarity To Business and has worked with over 300 small business owners, from artists to real estate agents, helping them do what they are passionate about – and make a profit. Her book is available at Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/Passion-Plan-Profit-Simple-Business/dp/0984055703