Sage Advice and A Tribute to Shelly Longenecker
In this latest episode of the PublishHer Podcast, I paid homage to a dear friend of mine who recently passed a few weeks ago, Shelly Longenecker. This special interview was recorded a few years back for the Women in Publishing Summit, where she shared excellent tips on book marketing, audience growth, and how to grow your business with a book. She will be greatly missed, and you can learn a ton of knowledge from her amazing story in this episode.
Shelly was a valued member of the Women in Publishing Summit, having been a guest three times at the conference. It would have been her 48th birthday this year, and I know she had so much more that she wanted to give into this world. She was the author of “Dinner for a Dollar,” a book full of great tips on preparing clean, wholesome meals for your family on a budget. Shelly used this book to grow her email list and make collaborations and partnerships to scale her business.
Shelly was more than a client, and it was wonderful how I witnessed her amazing story and how she walked through life with cancer. She launched her book and business on the same day, October 1st, 2018, without considering having an audience. Quickly realizing her mistake, Shelly booked a call with me, and that was the beginning of many appointments and marketing calls. By mid-January of the next year, she launched her book on Amazon. By March, she was getting ready to release her audiobook. And by April, she got diagnosed with ovarian cancer. And as you can imagine, getting a cancer diagnosis was devastating and put her in a dark place. Looking back on her life, she realized that she had been putting it on hold for 17 years. She was at a point where she was ready to live fully and get back to pursuing her career and doing the things she loved. Shelly was finally having the time of her life publishing her book and building a business, but all that came to a sudden stop.
“Why don’t you keep having the time of your life?”
Shelly was depressed and talking to a friend when they said those powerful words to her. It changed her perspective. She realized she had a choice on how to live, fight, and recover from cancer. By facing death in the face, Shelly gained clarity. She made a promise to never forget that she was going to die. That may sound morbid, but it’s true for all of us. We just tend to ignore it most of our lives. In every choice that she made, she made sure to consider them in her five-year plan. She would ask herself, “if I were to die in five years, would I do this?” This was her blueprint for making the decisions for her life, family, marriage, friendships, community, and business. It was one of the main reasons why Shelly was so passionate, intentional, and laser-focused. She completely believed in her business because she knew her mission was important.
Out of her passion, her book was born. We all know that eating healthy is essential, but we don’t do it. Maybe because we often think having a healthy lifestyle is expensive and takes too much time. But Shelly breaks down those common misconceptions in her book and teaches us how to save while eating healthy. So, she published her book in mid-January, got diagnosed with cancer by April, and received her last treatment by November. When December came, Shelly decided to spend those quiet moments with her family as she recovered her health. By January 2020, she already had 18 speaking engagements, and from here, she started to grow her email list. Shelly was doing lives, setting up book clubs and programs to accompany her book. Everything was exploding for her, and she had multiple revenue streams set up. By this time, Shelly had one goal, and that was to grow her email list from 900 to 10, 000. She discussed in detail all of the things she considered in making her list grow, which all came down to providing value to your audience.
As authors, we aim to have a system that would bring money all year round. I have talked about this topic in multiple episodes and I want to emphasize again the importance of having multiple revenue streams. Shelly extensively discussed how she built her system around her book in this episode. And it begins by knowing who you are and what you have to offer your audience. Once you have those foundations, you can build your marketing strategy around that and build a system that will work for you and your business.
Shelly was a light in this world, full of knowledge and wisdom. I hope you listen to this episode and witness how amazing of a woman she was. She will be missed.
- It is essential to grow your email list because you cannot sell to the same audience over and over again.
- When you have a growing audience, engage and communicate with them regularly to add value.
- Market your strengths and leverage them to add value for your audience.
- Make use of micro-holidays. Find the ones related to your topic and use them for marketing your book.
- Know your audience. Know what they need and provide services that will answer those needs.
- Understand affiliate marketing, and you will know the value of networking.
- Establish yourself as an expert in your field by doing speaking engagements.
- Learn how to promote yourself.
Mentioned in this episode:
You Are Not Your Worst Mistake
Have you ever made a mistake that changed your life? A mistake where you felt like you could not come back from it? That is exactly what happened to our guest, and in this episode, she told us how she helped someone escape from prison, went to prison herself, and how her world has evolved since then.
In this episode, I sit down with Toby Dorr, whose life is like an actual movie – almost. Lifetime is making a film based on her extraordinary life. She has a phenomenal story detailed in her memoir “Living With Conviction: Unexpected Sisterhood, Healing, and Redemption in the Wake of Life-Altering Choices.” Her story started on February 12, 2006, when she helped a convicted murderer at Lansing Correctional Facility escape from prison. They ran for 12 days until authorities caught up to them in Tennessee. They were forced onto a highway median at a hundred miles per hour and into a tree. The arresting US marshal said to Toby, “Don't let this be who you are.” Twenty-seven months later, she completed her time in federal prison. She has since remarried, finished two master's degrees, and has successfully rebuilt a broken life.
“You are not your worst mistake.”
That is Toby's message to all our listeners and readers. She knows how “the escape” will surely be her most extraordinary experience. But Toby also knows that her gift to the world is greater. She has a message to all the women out there who said, “that could have been me”. This story was difficult to share, but Toby knew that the lessons shared from her experience would be a blessing to others. She describes “the escape” as something out of character for her. Toby felt invisible her whole life, but that changed when she met John Maynard, the prisoner she helped escape. Some events contributed to her story, including the loss of her daughter, Emily, 18 hours and 31 minutes after birth. Toby would keep crying when Emily was mentioned, and her husband didn't know how to deal with her and her emotions. They went in different directions in how they processed their grief, grew apart, and now they are divorced. These difficult moments in Toby's life led her to where she is now. A good place where she can acknowledge her experiences and gain wisdom from them.
In one of our episodes, I mentioned that you don't need to have a difficult past to have a story worth telling to the world. In Toby's case, however, her story was most extraordinary, and it was really important for her to share her experiences with the world. I admire her bravery in telling such a powerful and personal story. She hopes to impact those women who also feel invisible and tell them they need to escape their own personal prisons. Toby went to an actual prison, where she realized that her previous life was more of a prison.
“Be honest with yourself.”
When Toby decided she wanted to share her story, she started filling up journals in prison. She reminds us how important it is to be honest with yourself, even how ugly your story gets. Try to process the feelings associated with those memories and just write them all down. The most important thing is to write down everything you can remember and avoid leaving any details out. Your readers will know when you are not telling the whole story. Your story is worth nothing if you are not being honest and protecting yourself.
Toby also published a workbook series to provide hope and inspiration to struggling women. The “Unleashed Series” contains programs and exercises to help women grow and find their purpose. Her series is a great company to her memoir, which can inspire readers to be the change they want to see in the world.
“Those really difficult places in your life are the ones you need to be the most grateful for, because that's where character is born.”
In this episode, we have witnessed how great Toby is. We gained a ton of wisdom listening to her talk about her struggles and the difficult choices she has made. She is the perfect example of how you can choose to live your life on your own terms and how you can change your story after life throws you the worst curveball. Her book resonates with many women because we were all stuck in our own prisons at some point – whether it's a literal prison or something difficult happening in our lives. These prisons exist so we can break them down and emerge more powerful and braver than ever. Toby shared her story, and may it give us the courage to look into our lives and make our own changes.
- Finding a publisher who can understand you and make your story work for you is crucial. A publisher who's willing to listen and get your book where you want it to be.
- Consider indie publishing if you want to be part of the whole process. You can be involved in all the discussions and decisions about your books, and your story will not suffer.
- Reading your book aloud or with an App can help you with the editing process.
- If you know someone who's struggling or hurt or in prison, be that person who makes yourself available to them. And you can then be part of a big change in the world.
- It's okay to let go of some people who do not support you and don't want to come along on your journey. Know that you can make it through without them.
Connect with Toby Dorr and find out what she's up to:
Book, Living With Conviction: Unexpected Sisterhood, Healing, and Redemption in the Wake of Life-Altering Choices by Toby Dorr
The Power of YOUR Story with April Pertuis
In this episode of PublishHer Podcast, I interviewed April Pertuis, and we talked all about storytelling. As authors, of course, we are all familiar with traditional storytelling. But in this episode, we talked about the type of storytelling that can be used as a marketing tool to build your platform, engage your audience, and sell your books. April also gave out actionable tips on leveraging your own story to help grow your business and get it to the next level.
April and I met last year during a business building event in Montana which was the first time I had gotten together with other people in over a year because of the pandemic situation. Meeting her was so much fun, and we bonded over margaritas and nachos.
April is a master storyteller. She is passionate about helping authors and other business leaders expertly share their stories with the world. May it be in the form of podcasts, books, stage performances, and social media content – April is the go-to expert when you need someone to engage your audience with your story. She is the CEO and Founder of LIGHTbeamers, a community dedicated to helping business owners make sense of their story and gain clarity, confidence, and connections that would help them share it with the world. April also hosts the VIP Visibility Accelerator program, where she helps women dig into their stories and use them to grow an engaged audience. She is also a best-selling author. Her first collaborative book, “Elevate Your Voice” was named one of the Top 10 Women & Business books by Amazon. April is also an accomplished podcaster. Her podcast “The Inside Story Podcast” was ranked among the Top 200 Business Podcasts on Apple Podcasts. She was a former television journalist and video producer and has spent the last 15 years in video marketing. There is no one better who can understand the importance of telling “the story,” April has the skills and the experience to harness your story and effectively communicate it for broad appeal.
“Everyone has a story.”
April firmly believes that each of us holds a story worth sharing, whether or not trauma or loss is involved. Many people have come upon April and asked for help because they really don’t know how to tell their story. At the bottom line, storytelling for April is just a way to communicate and share your journey with someone else. She also points out that effective storytelling involves picking out parts in your journey where you learned a few lessons, gained some insightful experiences, and encountered a transformation. You don’t need to tell your story in chronological order from birth until you are about 40 years old. April helps her clients understand the transformative parts of their life and use them as illustrations of light and positivity to serve as teachings for other people. As a business owner, telling these powerful parts of your story will magnetize people to you and help you build an engaged audience.
As authors, we are public figures and storytellers by nature. Every time we put out a book, there will be a story behind it. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first time getting published or if it’s your 27th book, your experiences evolve. There’s always something unique happening every time you go through that process. Storytelling also means that you have to understand that your audience wants to experience that journey with you. There might be people in your audience who are aspiring to be an author, and they might be living vicariously by listening to your stories. Behind-the-scenes stories are essential, but there are also stories about your characters, the scenes, and the motivations you had while writing your book.
“We just have to trust the process.”
Writing and sharing your own story can be difficult, but we have to trust the process. We have to remind ourselves that it is not about ourselves but the people we serve, our audience. We have to disregard our fears and insecurities and let our audience decide if our story created an impact on them. Let them decide if they could relate or if they gained any value in our stories. We must trust the process and share our own story the best way we know how – by being real and vulnerable.
- Meaningful stories can come from different stages of your life. April is a master storyteller who can help you make sense of your journey and pick out the parts worth sharing with the world.
- Building your audience from scratch is hard work, but telling your own story will help you grow an engaged audience.
- April has a podcast with weekly episodes where she shares her own inside stories alongside the powerful stories of people, brands, and organizations and how they came to be successful.
- Storytelling is not all about advertising or marketing; it’s more about making an impact. It’s about reaching people and allowing your audience to experience the journey with you.
- Stephen King is known as the best horror writer of our time, but one of his best-selling books is about his writing journey. Stories are powerful, and people want to read about Stephen King’s story to experience that journey with him.
- Social media is a gift. It has provided a great service to connect with our audience where we can treat them as our best friends.
Resources and links mentioned:
Connect with the master storyteller, April Pertuis:
Listen to our guest’s Podcast, “The Inside Story Podcast with April Adams Pertuis”:
Get VIP treatment from April and let her help you make sense of your story.
Listen to this episode!