Our guest today: Jenny Lisk
Jenny Lisk and I will cover the creation of her new book, FUTURE WIDOW from conception to release in January 2021. Her book tour is on-going because the work should not stop when the book comes out.
Jenny Lisk is an author, speaker, and host of the Widowed Parent Podcast, which has been featured in The Washington Post and ParentMap. On her Hundred Dreams list is riding a camel. And milking a cow. And raising $44,000 for brain cancer research, in honor of her husband’s 44 years. The author of the memoir Future Widow: Losing My Husband, Saving My Family, and Finding My Voice. She is passionate about helping widowed parents increase their family’s well-being. You can download her free guides What I’ve Learned About Widowed Parenting and How to be Helpful: Tips for Allies of Widowed Families.
Watch our interview
Jenny Lisk How self-publish & market your book in 2021 w Jenny Lisk, author of FUTURE WIDOW – powered by Happy Scribe
Feisworld podcast helps independent creators live their creative and financial freedom. I’m your host, Fei Wu, and I’ll be taking you through a series of interviews with creators from around the world who are living life on their own terms. Each episode is packed with tactics, nuggets you can implement origin stories to make listening productive and enjoyable. We’re not only focused on the more aspirational stories, but relatable ones as well. We also have none interview based miniseries releasing throughout the year to help Deep dove into topics such as freelancing, marketing, even indie filmmaking that will benefit creators like you.
Show notes, links and ways to connect with the guests are available on Feisworld.com. Now onto the show.
Hey, everyone, this is Fei from Feisworld Media. I am super thrilled to be here with my friend, my colleague Jenny Lisk, who recently published the book called Future Widow. And I must say that this is not one of the books that I heard received from an email. Got it. Because I’ve known Jenny for a long time and I just have huge respect for everything she’s put into this book. And you know who she is, who I got to know in the past couple of years, running a podcast with Old Parent podcast and the people she introduced on her show and then in the past year how much she dedicated into this book.
This is remember, that wasn’t just any last year, 2020. So she was raising her two kids by herself while writing this book, reflecting on a very special period of her life. So welcome, Jenny. I’m so glad you’re here with me on a Saturday afternoon.
Thank you. Thank you, Fei. It’s great to be here. And I should say in my times, and it’s still Saturday morning, so I’ve got my coffee here. And I hope you won’t mind if I continue working on that when we speak.
Oh, absolutely. And you are in Seattle, so you get some good coffee there. What is that you’re drinking?
Well, you know, I have the Costco big old thing, a coffee that I threw in my coffee maker right before we get on this call. So it’s it’s it’s great that you made it your way. So for anybody who’s watching, doesn’t matter where you are. If you’re on YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, my personal page or the face roll page right now, feel free to leave questions. I always go back and kind of gather them.
Maybe we’ll do a follow up video. But I also am going to monitor my YouTube channel live because this is kind of a YouTube live. You do premiere situation. So if you’re free to chat with us there, if you want, I’ll try to pick up as many questions as possible. So. All right, we’ll get started. I gave Jenny full permission to kind of also help us navigate the conversations to what’s most helpful, interesting to her as well.
So, Jenny, you published this book in January. Twenty twenty one.
Oh, my God. So much has happened. So so could you give us I mean, we’re going to talk so much about this book, your journey, you know, the fact that you lost your husband, you saved your family, you raised your two kids and you found your voice as a podcast or as an author, as a YouTube as well. Jenny, you have a YouTube channel. But I’m going to talk about the first two line items here.
Could you give us maybe like a little brief history of basically what made you want to write this book and what is the story about?
Yeah, yeah. Brief. OK, I will try to be brief so we can talk about this all day because there’s so many different aspects to it. But five years ago, actually, right about now, five years ago last week, my husband died of brain cancer. It was glioblastoma, which is a very aggressive type of brain cancer. And you might have heard of it because it’s actually in the news over the last few years. First, Beau Biden died of it and then John McCain died of it just a couple of years ago.
And Dennis actually got sick in in May of twenty fifteen. And so it’s going to be coming up on six years here from when this whole thing started and. It was the weirdest thing because it just there was no dramatic like passing out or, you know, it was kind of like I’ve been feeling a little dizzy lately. That started the whole thing and, you know, people could be dizzy for all kinds of reasons, you didn’t drink enough water, you know, or whatever.
And so, you know, he made an appointment to go see his his regular internal medicine doctor. And it very quickly became, let’s do an MRI. You have something very wrong with your brain. You need to go to the neurosurgeon tomorrow. The neurosurgeon says we’re doing surgery the next day. And so this was, like I said, in May of twenty fifteen that started eight months of caregiving, ultimately hospice, E.R. visit after E.R. visit multiple surgeries.
I mean, I think at one point in the book, I think I made a comment that we had like four visits in one week. I mean, so just thing after thing for eight months. And ultimately, he died at home here with with hospice five years ago, like I said.
Well, so, you know, this is a very. Special book, because most of us will probably assume and it was very difficult to write, a lot of the pieces came from your journaling of what happened. First of all, I was really you know, before I read the book, I kind of want to surprise myself, not to listen to all the podcasts. And I really want to kind of just immerse myself in it. It’s it’s like I lost my dad almost exactly 11 years ago.
And I remember being in the hospital, being a care giver alongside my mom. And those were pretty horrific days, like terrifying days. I remember the worst part of it, just being feeling so scared all the time, not just the actual pain and the procedures themselves. And yet, you know, so much of it down, which I didn’t I think it was another way of for me was about reading other books or watching movies and writing my own book at the time.
What made you realize at the time that your only journaling consistently, who is it for then?
Yeah, well, that’s an interesting question because I didn’t initially want to start the Zakarian Bridge online blog, basically, which a lot of people use to update friends and family when there’s some kind of crisis or medical situation going on. And when he was having his first surgery and we’re sitting in the hospital waiting room for all these hours and my sister said, maybe you should start at Cambridge. And I was like, nah, I’ll just keep sending some texts and a couple emails here and there and just kind of keep people in the loop.
And pretty quickly, it became obvious that that was just not going to work because we were very lucky that we had a large number of people who really cared and wanted to know what was going on and help. And we needed a lot of help for a long period of time. I mean, eight months is a long time. And and I should say, by the way, we had meals delivered for the better part of a year, three times a week, because so many people wanted to help and which was terrific.
And I realized that if I started writing and caring bridge that I could post an update and not be sending a million text trays. Just in the beginning, it seemed more efficient. I’ll post one update. Anybody who wants to look at it can look at it. If they don’t, that’s fine. And it seemed efficient. And you can see my posts in the beginning when you read the book, they’re very much more like, OK, he had surgery and he’s out and maybe he’ll come home on this day, kind of more matter of fact status update kind of thing.
But as I went on, eight months is a long time and things change. And I started becoming more reflective and sharing more of what was going on, either behind the scenes or what I was thinking about or reflecting on this just strange situation we were in. And also so the kind of multiple layers to it. I was also really being deliberate about sharing with people, you know, like what I appreciated that was helpful and also trying to, like, show people what was going on that they didn’t need to be afraid to ask me something if they ran into me or acknowledge it pretty quickly, find out that some people don’t know what to say and some people do.
And, you know, which is totally fine because it depends on what you’ve experienced so far and stuff. But I realized that I could share some of that and that would be helpful, you know, to me, making things less awkward when I ran into people and hopefully to them as well. And some people did mention that I was. You know, kind of showing people along the way some of this, I think that was part of it.
Yeah, I now it really makes a lot of sense. And I realize that you actually didn’t mention a caring bridge several times in the book. The fact that you don’t have to send so many text messages and have to update people the same information every single time. I realize that caring bridge wasn’t something that my mom and I had access to. There’s probably some sort of a local we’re in China at the time is something equivalent of a system that we weren’t aware of or we just didn’t really think about.
We don’t really have that support network to us. So it was just there’s so many for people we’re watching because I got to say that even though we are somehow all scared of the word cancer or serious illness in general, we are all so connected these days it doesn’t even need to be cancer these days. We have covid and, you know, 18 million other things to worry about. So somehow just there a system approach that you’ve embedded in your book that I found really helpful for me 11 years later, I, I kept thinking to myself, wow, it will be this is a great idea.
Doesn’t have to be a technology piece or. Well, I wish I did that. And I you know, there’s no feeling of regrets or pain, but rather makes me smile to realize that your book is an invaluable resource to people who are facing this, who will face this. You know, at some point we all face illness, whether that’s ourselves or our loved ones. So this is this is truly a labor of love.
I’m to you. Well, I was just, as you mentioned, this book being a research. I couldn’t help but think about this, what it says right here on the very top, on the front. And I’m so thrilled that B.J. Miller provided a blurb for this and what it says right here, a poignant memoir and de facto guide for caring for a loved one. And he’s a hospice and palliative medicine physician. As you obviously know. You have a picture of him behind you.
I know you’ve worked with him extensively and interviewed him as well. But I just remember what you were saying reminded me. I mean, there are multiple kind of things going on in this book and. One aspect is people have readers have told me that. It is, in a way, a guide to to help not everybody obviously has the exact same situation, but I think there’s a lot that can be learned from studying other people’s situations and taking what we can from them.
Beautifully said. And I am so proud of you to have reached out to so many people. You’ve done your research above and beyond. If you guys go to Jenny Lisk Dotcom. Am I butchering that right now? I feel like everything’s under Jenny Dotcom. Right.
Or and then why LDK Dotcom? Yeah, there’s multiple ways to spell Jenny, but get out of the way in there.
Oh, that’s this is the only way I just realized. I really mean, Jenny, I know you don’t spell it any other way.
Oh, no. There’s a G and I and I e and one and and there’s a lot of Jennifer’s in my age group growing up in this country. And so I get my name spelled differently than Starbucks cups and pizza boxes. And, you know, so interesting.
I actually thought for a moment that’s only what we as immigrants experience because Fey will be spelled God. How many ways? Uh, but I never thought an American name all the time.
And, you know, I started saying, this is a division. But one time I called for a takeout pizza or something. And and Jenny Jenny was away and the person wrote Yenny Wii and why? Oh, I guess I can’t say it that way anymore.
That didn’t work. You never know what you’re getting.
That’s awesome. Maybe that should be like your your pen name or something.
You have a masquerade that way.
So generous gets on the screen. You guys check out her website, because I got to say, I have build many, many websites. I’ve nurtured and babied mine for a long time. It is so thoughtful. There are resources and guides not only for patients, caregivers, families, but also people, clinicians, people care as well as people. Just even you find yourself either in or out of the situation. You find something really, really useful there.
And I think you’re getting are you speaking about the allies when I call them the people who are or allies? Yeah. Yeah. Supporting the friends, their family, their colleagues, their neighbors who are in some kind of crisis or after a death or in a critical situation. And this is one of the ways I kind of wanted to give back. I learned so much from this tremendous support of the people around us that excuse me and had people happiness in so many different ways that I started.
Well, after my husband died, people started reaching out to me and saying, hey, my friends, colleagues, somebody just died and have these three kids, what should I do? And I realized that I could put together some information of how to help people, help their friends, how to help them be supportive. And so, yeah, that’s a big part of what I’m doing as well with some of the YouTube’s as well as some things can be downloaded and other information.
To me, that’s exactly kind of how sort of how we met. First of all, a shout out to Tammy Guler for introducing us. And now, I mean, with full transparency, Jenny and I get to speak or see each other around Zoom at least every two weeks. So we started this conversation about the book, about a podcast years before. So it is such a privilege because for me, I feel like I’m really seeing a lot of the puzzle pieces, you know, before they were pulled together.
And I want to just really address a lot of people who may be watching this right now, whether you are content creator, YouTube, podcasters, authors. There is something and I definitely want to hear the next part from you, too, is a lot of us creating something from scratch right now. Feels like we’re so excited, one so excited, so proud of ourselves. We can give up the weekend nights and weekends and just do this. And then phase two is like, what the heck am I doing?
Like, this is Inkosi Engo here and I’m not qualified. I’m stupid. I don’t, I don’t deserve to do this. And then a lot of people come to that point will quit. The families don’t feels like what, what is that you’re doing. You can’t answer that question. I don’t have enough resources. I can’t even pay for the software. You know, the cover isn’t good enough. I’m a failure. So what is what is that like for for you?
Jenny, did you ever run weather with this book or with a podcast or with the website? Did you ever run into the wall or where that feeling of what exactly am I doing? Or was I not not part of your creative process all the time? And this wasn’t like it happened once. And I get over it now all the time. And I would add to your list of questions and doubts. Is this making a difference anyway, is this helping anybody anyway?
Right, like I’m doing all these things and as you know, running a podcast is a lot of work and why am I doing this anyways? It’s helping anybody. And so there’s a few things. Well, you can’t see here because it’s in the other side of the camera. But I put a little envelope on my wall and I printed out. Sometimes I get social media comments or emails from people saying, you know, I love what you’re doing.
This is how it’s helped me or some kind of nice and supportive comments. And you know what have I’ve printed some of them out and I’ve laminated them and I put them in this like it got all these things here. And I put them in this little envelope like just like on the wall right behind my desk. And sometimes when I’m like, why am I doing this? I just like I put these out and I read them and I’m like, OK, this is why it is actually, you know, and you know that if if you’re getting a certain number of comments that are positive and supportive, then there’s that’s like a tip of an iceberg.
Right. And there’s a whole bunch of people who maybe are thinking those same things but haven’t reached out to, you know, to actually say that for whatever reason. And so that is is helpful for sure. And I’d encourage anybody to go back and pull out some of that stuff and think about it, because it really is when you go day after day after day, late night after late night, and it’s just struggling to get these things done.
That’s part of it. Part of it is finding myself. Procrastinating, I find that usually because I’m afraid of something, afraid of feeling afraid of. Tackling something, and there was actually a Adam Grant had a. A text or another text, a tweet a while ago where he talked about like unpacking what causes procrastination and so really identifying those things has been helpful. And the other thing I would mention. You mentioned our mutual friend, Tamika Loeb.
She and I actually have been writing to accountability partners, and so we’ve been meeting regularly to work on each of our books and having somebody that you can meet with week after week. You both know what each other working. And I can’t tell you how many times she kind of talked me down when I was like, why am I writing this book anyway? You know, maybe I should just calm the whole thing. And having somebody there who’s familiar with what you’re doing, who can be like, don’t you remember?
This is why you’re writing it, you know, and you’re right. You’re right. Sometimes you need that outside perspective, you know.
Yeah, that’s so true. It’s like the seven of us get together every two weeks to talk about something, to overcome something together or for each other separately. Well, one of the things, if you remember that came up is life dreaming. And that really surprised me because you threw out a question. Just leaping does answer is like, oh, this is how you do it. And a day later, oh, my God. And a day later and for the next month, a few months or so, I saw you going live with OB’s.
For people who don’t know, this is like logo here newscasting in kind of rolling scripts. I don’t even know what those things are called. And you’re going live like a pro with other people. So it’ll tell us a bit about that. What was that experience like for you?
Yeah. Yeah, well, I’m not apologizing. I spilled my coffee, so that’s the cause of my life. Now people know that it’s live life. This is right. Otherwise you’d be cutting that out. I’d be saying stop. Let’s edit this. Yeah. OK, so so we met in our Saturday group. I didn’t even know it. Obst was and just was talking about using ABS and and I’m like, OK, wait, wait, wait.
Jess, what is obvious is that she explained it very helpfully and I started messing around with it. And I should also say this refers back to the previous question. Reasons I was procrastinating on Zoom book, regrets that I needed to do, like I seriously needed to reengage with some pretty massive isn’t the right word, some pretty substantive revisions that I needed to get my teeth into. And I was totally procrastinating. I think I was afraid to tackle it.
So I was like, oh, but I can figure out OBEs and I can figure out live streaming because that’s still something productive, right? Well, I’m not doing the things I need to be doing, and so I am. Part of it is my tech background, too. It has been 20 years corporate I.T., so not practical related to this stuff, but just made it kind of fun to work on these things. But I got it set up so that OBES is where I’m going live and then that’s hook to stream.
And then re is OK to my Facebook, my Twitter, my YouTube and my website. Mm hmm. And I realized that Children’s Grief Awareness Month was coming up in November, this past November, I mean, every November. But this specifically a few months ago here and Children’s Grief Awareness Month is a month when raising awareness of children’s grief is a really I think it’s an important opportunity for that. And that’s why podcast is all about parents. Widowed parents are still raising their kids in their teenage years and how those parents can help.
And resources and ideas and information. And I realized that I could go live in November. I decided to do it one or two times a day, which is kind of crazy in the end. But interviewing different mostly grief centers. There are kids and family groups, centers in different cities around the country, and they each have programs and most of them have groups for kids and teenagers and adults. And some of them run camps in the summer and they have other resources.
And I wanted to be able to highlight each of those places. And and also so kind of had multiple purposes. Right, because I could go live across all these platforms at the same time, raise awareness. And then also, of course, the video got saved and then put it on YouTube on the right playlist and then built out the resources section of my website to say, OK, you know, organized by state. If you’re in California, then here, here’s Kyra.
You could look up. And the idea is you can then click on their page, see a shirt like a ten minute interview with the person who runs it and a description of their program and some bullet points about what kind of programs they have and links, of course, to other stuff. And so as a way to help get the word out. And I tried to really be strategic about tying it back in with my website, you know, not like just doing the livestream and then having that be the one opportunity for that content to be in the world or.
Well, I guess you could say for opportunities because YouTube and LinkedIn and not LinkedIn, Facebook etc, but I wanted to capture that as a kind of a permanent research because someone spending ten minutes talking about their program isn’t just relevant on the day I interview them. It’s relevant, ongoing for quite a long time. And so building up that research on my website to then be able to have listeners, for example, in my podcast, go and say I’m in this state, oh, there’s something near me.
And the whole objective was to be like, oh, like watch the ten minute video and say, they sound helpful, they sound nice. I’m going to call them. Right. It also helped me build more connections in the field by interviewing all these people who are doing work in this in the same field. So I tried to really think through all the different elements of how to make it be mutually beneficial and how to make it. Live beyond the one 10 minute period where I was talking with them live and be something that could be leveraged ongoing.
I really love the fact that you’re talking about this part in such details. Right. We’re by the way, this is completely unscripted and really give Jenny a lot of the questions ahead of this livestream.
But you can give me any questions, no question.
But we you know, we connect all the time. And I really love how you are prompted with these questions and just kind of reacting, responding live, because for people who are considering self publishing or you have written the manuscript and even with the editor at this point, definitely, I would say pay close attention to what Jenny is saying and maybe reach out to Jenny directly, because we are you know, all of us are noticing Jenny’s unique ability in exploring this kind of ecosystem for authors.
So it’s really to me what I learned from you and from other people I’m helping, I’m witnessing is that, oh, my God, publishing your book like this part is very, very hard. Writing it put it on Amazon. Being one of the best sellers in the category is a lot of work, but so many people just drop it like you’re exhausted. I know. Or have you’re not quite here yet. You know, you’re going to be exhausted because you will be.
However, no one, like you said, Tammy, as is being a counterpart, accountability partner. I feel like Jenny, when I published my book, I want you to be my accountability partner. I know Tammy already signed up with you, but I’m just announcing my position.
Sounds good. Sounds good.
But also, you know, I think you’re so creative when it comes to reaching a kind of lighting up the networks around you because so one person can ask, all of us can argue, and this is a very personal story, you could easily make it about all about you, your two kids, that it may be your sisters and your, you know, Denny’s families. That’s it. But instead, you really broaden the reach and the connections between this book and the communities and all these organizations, charities.
And I feel like everybody, no matter what book you’re writing, that’s what you should be thinking about. It is giving sharing your platforms you can’t really see. I’m kind of proud of this, like rise by lifting. Nice. Yeah. Rise by liveness that or this. But even though I wish you can see more of it.
Yeah I know that’s the problem with the camera with it, but yeah that’s what you’re doing. And you know I’m wearing this and I think that’s what you’re doing. And if you guys want to explore something with Jenny, I feel like that this is really the hidden gem. So brow and really great job. So think you. Well, you know, you’re absolutely right, I guess. And to underscore that point, I mean, having a book.
That ends up. Something you can hold in your hand is is critical, step one, it’s important to realize it is only step one, right? I mean, the writing it and getting it professionally edited and having an awesome cover design and thinking through it like. That is the critical, but it’s so much not sufficient to launch your book into the world. I mean, think it is enough to get the book in your hands. Yes, but how many other people’s hands do you want to get into?
Lots of people’s hands. Right. So that’s the whole other side of being an author and. A lot of authors. I here don’t like they have an aversion to marketing or something, selling or talking about themselves or talking about their book or whatever, but it’s, you know, getting the book on Amazon is is the easy part. It’s what are you going to do with it from there? How do you get that book then into people’s hands?
And so, yeah, starting early and being strategic about, you know, who is going to read this book and how do I reach them and how do I reach the people who can reach them. It’s really important to keep in mind all throughout the process, and it’s an important you know, I heard somebody reach out to me the other day who said my book is launching in two weeks and. I’m lunging at myself and I don’t know what to do.
Can you help me? And I was like, well, if it’s launching in two weeks, it’s a little late to be asking this question. Mm hmm.
You know. Yeah. When would be the right time to think about it? When did you start thinking about the audience who did reach out to.
Well, you know, I started really early when I started my first draft. Wow. I started talking about it. And part of that was to keep myself accountable. And part of that was to. Have people know what I was I didn’t want to drop a book on the world and be like, guess what? Now I wrote a book, here it is. And and nobody’s heard anything about it yet. Right. But and one of the things that I was really frustrated about in twenty nineteen, I kept thinking, I’m going to start writing, I’m going to start writing as I had to caring bridge to start with.
Right. And I had to start writing the writing all around it, you know, the reflections and stuff. And I kept thinking carve out an hour here in an hour there and it just wasn’t happening. And I got super frustrated. And so finally in the summer of twenty nineteen, I said, you know what, August, I’m clearing my calendar. I’m not going to do any podcast episodes. I’m going to cancel everything I possibly can and I’m going to write a thousand words a day.
And I’m going to post about it on social media every day, and I’m going to say I wrote one thousand and two words today or whatever or today I wrote a twelve hundred and thirty nine words or whatever. Right. And and there were two purposes to that. Keeping myself accountable was a huge part of it because I didn’t want to. You know, I have to post and say, well, I didn’t read anything today.
And so they would know what’s it? I’m taking notes. I got to start doing this. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Well, and I said and here’s the thing. I had no idea if a thousand words a day for the month of August was going to be enough to much. Right. But I knew it would get me started and I knew that at the end of August, I would have. A bunch of words, and I would either say, OK, I need to do X amount more or I would say no, I’m done or whatever, but I knew that if I didn’t put a stake in the ground, I would never get started.
And so I got to say every day, except one I did do. And that day I just I was like, I can’t do this. And the next day I did two thousand words to improve. And then I posted on social media, OK, yesterday I did nothing. But today I did two thousand words and kind of like, forgive me if you respond to that.
The people like, oh, you know, keep those people were super supportive, super supportive. And this was then also part of talking about what you’re doing early. Right, is starting in August of twenty nineteen, I’ve had people who’ve been following along on social media saying, I can’t wait till your book comes out. I can’t wait to read it being supportive. And when I would post I wrote X number of words today and it was us and they’d be like, hey, way to go.
And I would post like oh my God, I get one thousand words. Exactly. And this is so awful. Then they would be supportive. And so knowing that these friends and colleagues and people were following along and being supportive was super helpful to the process. And like I said, has resulted in a lot of people who have been looking forward to reading it. And it’s been so great to have been hearing from a lot of these people by email or by text or by social media message.
Since the book came out last week. Um, people who I know, I remember we’re following along the year and a half ago and now I have said I got it. And I sat down and read the whole thing in one sitting. And I love this or that or whatever. And and congratulations. It’s been so great to hear. I close the loop a little bit like these early supporters to now see that like. I did finish, first of all, and then they read it, and we’re super kind and supportive, but it’s been really great.
OK, I got like so many follow up questions still to two, OK. When we say social media, I know we’re all on different platforms. And so Facebook usually is more friends and family. LinkedIn is more professional network. But which of the platforms and Twitter to probably not Twitter, I don’t know. Which of the platforms do you find most warm and fuzzy that people are most engaged in the context of what you just talked about writing your book?
Well, yeah, I don’t know if I’m a good example, but this not some people will say pick one platform or one or two platforms and hit those hard. I didn’t want to do that. I hit all of them. So I, I, you know, and you can copy paste stuff right across. But, you know, so I. And Facebook has been huge because a lot of my new friends, old friends nearby, friends, far away, friends, lots and lots of people that I’m connected with and lots and lots of ways are all on Facebook.
And so I wanted to make sure that I was keeping them up to date on what was going on. Instagram is for like the widow community and more broadly speaking, the grief topic and grief community. Instagram is huge for that. There’s a lot of posts and hashtags and people active there. So I didn’t want to leave Instagram out. In fact, I hadn’t been on Instagram at all until I started the podcast. So I had to really catch up and learn like what to do on Instagram.
But I really didn’t want to leave that out because there is a lot of important for my topic there. I do Twitter as well, because there’s a lot of good information there and I try to do like like re tweet, like three other people’s other posts that are really to the topic and then tweet one of mine. So I try to do a balance there and then LinkedIn as well because of all the professional connections. And it’s interesting because in the beginning my professional connections on LinkedIn were entirely people from my old life and corporate it.
Mm hmm. And I’m like, I’m posting all this like stuff and Tadcaster, and they’re not going to be interested in that. It felt a little weird at first, but over time I’ve still got all those people I was connected to. But more and more people I’ve met, like through the entrepreneurial world as well as people I’ve met through the grief world, people who are in grief centers and other people connected to professionally in the field. And I’ve come to realize that even all those people from my old life that I thought might not be interested.
Actually, a lot of this is relevant for them, too, particularly the allies piece of how they can be supportive. Right. And then now that we’re in a global pandemic and grief is so much more in everybody’s mind, you excuse me, you’re starting to see it more and more talked about on LinkedIn and other places as well. Anyway, I am on. And so you asked your question about social media platforms. I’m messing around a little bit here and there with Pinterest.
I haven’t really done a very consistent job with that, but it’s kind of lower on my priority list. But I do feel like since some of my stuff like quote, cards and interviews and the short audio, 30 second audio clips and things will be a good thing for Pinterest. But I haven’t really done too good of a job with that one. And then it is on my list to get on Tic-Tac. And as you know, I put out one short video and Tic-Tac, which is just like opening the box in my books.
It’s like, you know, like a little clip of my books unboxing like a ten second unboxing clip. I haven’t really decided, you know, which way I’m going to go. But I would just say for people who are listening, thinking, this is crazy, it’s all 15 year olds. There’s a whole like all these hashtags like Genex Tech and stuff. It’s bigger than you think, as you know. And I think it would be an interesting thing to experiment with and a fun thing.
So, I mean, that’s big show coming this year, right?
I mean, it wasn’t for you. I wouldn’t even think about putting Dr. B.J. Miller on Tick-Tock. I mean, even just you just said it during our get together. And when you said I, too, was thinking this is for 14, 15 year olds doing all kinds of dance moves only. But you said you said to me, it’s like, Faye, check it out, check out Genex, take talkers. There were like 60 some some millions of people there.
And we looked of hospice palliative care and there was a whole community, nurses, social workers, doctors. And there was like something called doctors. Ticktock, Doctor. So there is sort of like almost a subheadings, but they’re interested in it. And so I think it’s just wonderful, you know, that Dr. Miller’s account has only been around for two weeks. And yesterday we went over twelve thousand views and views on mostly surrounding a few videos. So and so wonderful.
That’s awesome. A book. Yeah. Thank you. I have a book related question, follow up question, because you talk about your routine, which is fantastic. You guys, if you’re thinking if you’re single or otherwise. But look, Jenny has two teenagers. There are so many, even though I’m so glad they’re kind of older now, you don’t have to babysit them and kind of create a schedule for them necessarily. But still, you know, you’ve got to other people other than yourself to care for.
So I can imagine once you finish writing the book, a drive, at what stage did you choose or realize, like, OK, let me hire a professional editor, because that’s like the stuff I’m struggling with because I don’t know what shape. So I think I’ll do a rough draft without criticizing myself, which means I’ll never finish criticizing myself. I’ll do a reread or edit self edit and then I probably will work with an editor at one point, you know, did that come about for you?
Like, well what was the timeline like.
Hmm. Yeah, well I always knew that. I thought that that was part of the plan to hire an editor. Eventually I didn’t want to not have it be as professional as possible. So I like I said, I did the first draft in August of twenty nineteen. And then for various personal reasons and podcast related reasons, I kind of let it sit until like spring of twenty twenty. And then I and also I get frustrated because I kept thinking, oh, I’ll squeeze in some time to work on some rewrites.
Oh I’ll squeeze in some time. And then the same thing is the year before I never was squeezing in time. Right. And then finally I decided like about. April, May, maybe I was like, you know what, I’m going to I’m going to I think I’m going to clear my like I did last year and try to just focus on this. And I decided this time I was going to make a YouTube video updates of status. Like the first time around I had done social media written posts.
Right. Like maybe this time I’ll make a YouTube that says, hey, guys, this is my relative date for May 3rd. And here’s what I did today that had mixed results. I think not as many people watched the videos because, you know, it’s easier when you’re scrolling by quickly to to read a little short update than it is to even if the video is only two minutes. But it was still building up some content from a YouTube channel.
And I embedded those videos on the the memoir page on my website so that if people were looking at that, they could see the latest rating update video for me, which I think was that part was a nice touch. But your question was about hiring an editor. So then I spent like May and June. I wanted my my kind of exactly what you said, get it as good as I can, get it on my own and then hand it off.
Right. And so I wanted to I did revisions. I interestingly OK, I think I’ve got it in this stack over here. I got to tell you guys this book, John Truby, The Anatomy of story. Can you see it? Yeah, this book was so, so, so helpful. Somehow I stumbled across it and. Well, actually, I know how I stumbled across it because from you I heard of Joy in a pen and firm.
And I’ve been listening to her podcast obsessively write and read some of her books from Joanna Penn. I learned about another other friend of hers, Nick Stevenson, who has a whole bunch of other other resources and stuff. And from him, I stumbled across some blog post which led me to this book. Oh, right. Look at this stuff and put it so. Anyway, the the book is called The Anatomy of Story. And it it’s a it’s a long, small print book that really has to be studied.
It’s not a quick read. Right. But it really dissects how you tell a story. And the one thing I didn’t want was for my book to be like, this happened. This happened, this happened the end. Right. I wanted it to somehow have been put from a big picture perspective. Makes sense. Tell a story. And one of his points is that he’s actually a filmmaker. But his point is that the principles of storytelling apply in filmmaking and in novels which make sense.
A novel is a fictional story, but memoir too. Even though memoir is true, you still have to tell a story. You don’t have the flexibility in a novel. You can make up a character or make up an action or something. Right. In the memoir, you have to stick to the facts, but you still have to tell it in a way that’s compelling. So I paused all rewrites, read this book, took all these notes and I’ve actually if I could turn my camera around and I think I can I’ve got on the wall appear crazy.
All these index cards, what is it called like a like a crazy wall.
Oh, it’s all that could be. I’ve got all these index cards because he’s got like twenty two storey steps or something and I made a card and I’m like, OK, this is the, you know, the battle and this is the self-revelation and this is the attack by the ally and the and so and I put them and I mapped like I thought about what do I already have in the book and mapped them to the cards and then what am I missing?
What have I forgotten to cover that would flesh out this aspect of this best picture to help me tell the story better? Right. So do things with the cards. And then I really then I picked the book, the manuscript back up really grappled with. Does the story hang together from a big picture perspective? Are the themes developed, you know, and all that stuff? And then I got so fed up with it. I wanted to do one more round of improving it, yeah, but I was like, this is again, you asked earlier about doubts.
I was like, I don’t know, maybe I should just scrap the whole thing. That’s a problem. And yeah. So then I was like, OK, you know what? If I don’t get an ED engaged right away, I’m at risk of scrapping the whole thing. Why don’t I just, like, get an Ed and I like even if I wish I could do X, Y and Z before I hand it off, because maybe there are still some things I could do to make it better.
I’m like, I’m not going to do that. I just need to give it to somebody else. Somebody else needs to get involved here. And I say send it to the ED. And then I was like, OK, but before you even start, like, is this even going to help anybody? Because if it’s not, then I don’t want to do it. And she was like, oh my gosh, yes, it’s definitely going to help people.
And so I was like, OK, so then then she then I started working with her on the editing process. And so that was I think we started working together last summer. I don’t know if it was like July maybe. Mm hmm. Proximately to give or take a little long or for her to return revisions. And what was like I guess my question is a lot of people are thinking there are a lot of editors out there how to actually find a good editor and works well with you.
And what is that process like at all?
Well, you know what? I think it’s terrific. Research is read redzone dot com r e d. S Wired.com. It is basically a I don’t know, portal is the right word. It’s a. A portal for finding and hiring freelance people who do different things related to books, so editors for one, also like if you need a proofreader, if you need a cover design, if you need somebody to do the interior formatting of the book, I believe there’s also a category for marketing kind of stuff.
And so as as the author, you can go in there and you create a fake profile, log in, whatever, and then you can get into their search tool and you say, I’m looking for an editor and someone who does memoir is also very important not to just be like. Oh, like your friend has an editor and they like their editor, but your friend wrote a business book and you wrote a memoir or something different like that, right?
You really want somebody who has experience and expertize in the genre you’re writing in. Right. And so you can say if you’re looking for, you know what? And then also there’s like US English or UK English because there’s variations. And then you can see all these profiles of people who are very experienced. Most of them have seemed to have prior experience and big publishing houses and things, and they put on there like these are some of the books I’ve edited and, you know, and so quick as your title.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Uh, yeah. And you probably won’t be able to get into the actual search tools since you probably don’t have a login set up right here as you’re talking. I realized. Well, look at all this designer’s publicists.
Marketers, right. Right. Yeah. I wonder if you can click on Fei Wu profile on some of those people if they’ll let you see it without being logged in.
Let’s check it out.
Yeah. So here when this person’s really newer because they only have two reviews, but if you scroll down, you’ll see they’ve written an overview of the kind of stuff they work on. So they see the experience in young adult fiction. Here’s some testimonials. If you scroll down, you can probably see some other books. They’ve worked on the genres, but this is a literary agent for some literary agency, right? Some of them you go through and this person looks newer, but some of them say, you know, I spent 15 years at this big publishing house, whichever they name it, you know, and then so they say, I’m a portfolio.
There are some other work. And you can then you can go through and you can say, OK, I would like to put in a proposal with I think you can pick five of them. Mm hmm. Well, so you pick it based on what you read in their profile and what sounds like the kind of person that might be a good fit for you. And you can look at some of their other work and you can pick I think it’s five and then you submit I think they call it like a brief or something.
And so you say like, here’s my book. Here’s the working title. Here’s what it’s about. Here’s who it’s for. You can upload like a sample, like your first chapter and then you submit it. And you can also say if you want to say, like, I have these requirements in terms of budget or timeline, you can put that in as well, or you can leave those out. I left those out because I did. I wasn’t sure what was realistic.
And you submit it and then the people get back to you over the next day or two. I think I got the first. I think everybody got back to me by the following day. Wow. Yeah. And like one of them. To two of them said. You know, they gave me a bid and they said they could do, you know, do the work and this is their process and how they work and what they charge and whatever one of them said, she wasn’t interested.
One of them, I think, didn’t get back to me. And I forget about the last one anyway. And then you can if if none of them work or whatever, you can go back and ask for more time.
Was it you know, your your book, I would like to say the the lengthwise is fairly standard. I would say about maybe sixty thousand words or so. Two hundred fifty pages.
I think it’s about fifty thousand words. Yeah.
Fifty thousand. OK, so what was it. I mean the draft was the draft much much longer were more or less the same.
And how about the Zoom. Yeah. And we didn’t working with the editor she didn’t like because I tried to have it in pretty good shape before. I brought somebody in because I wanted to be more efficient and more cost effective, right. I didn’t want to go to somebody with a draft that was like twice as long and then needed cutting down and needed more work and more time and more money. Like I thought, I know I ought to be able to get this in reasonably good shape.
And then I can use an editor who can help me bring it to the next level and of course, make sure everything was correct in terms of Chicago Manual of Style and all that stuff. Like so there’s different levels. So we did two passes through the through the work. The first pass was. And so this is like I sent it in Microsoft Word, by the way I wrote it, it was Scrivner, which a lot of authors like to use.
But then you export it to Microsoft Word from there. And usually when you work with an editor, you have it in word because you can do the track changes and the and the markup stuff. Right. So she went through and, you know. At that point, it was mostly like, OK, this part, I love this part, this is good. This part needs some more explanation, this part maybe I’m confused. Are you trying to say X?
You know, this part ties with this other part. So do you want to do blah, blah, blah, whatever? Right. So lots and lots of comments in the margin with either. This is great. Keep it like this or you might want to flesh this out. Or as a reader, I’m confused about this. Maybe you can rework the paragraph to make sure you’re not leaving the reader with questions, that kind of stuff. So then so then she handed it back to me.
And so then going through that. Acquired a lot of thinking on my part because and a lot of it, too, and then, you know, when you’re working with a writing a book, you’ve got the big picture and the detail at the same time, writing, I didn’t want to get lost in the detail of one paragraph and lose how that connected to the overall right. It took me a lot of time to and I’m just realizing it’s almost three o’clock.
Are you running out of time here?
I know I was like getting into it. I’m like, I’m going to tell my mom is going to yell lunch in like a minute, but not with us. This part is really good. I’ll tell her I need like five more minutes. But please, OK, you go on for five more hours.
But I know the only part two guys are two.
Yeah. So where was I. Oh, just you know, I didn’t really want to just like dove in and start typing in changes without really like trying to get a sense of the whole of what she was saying and how maybe what she was asking here relates to what she’s asking 20 pages later, relates to something at the end and like how to you know, how to make sure that from a big picture perspective, it still works. So it took me a while to kind of like, yeah, let it marinate a little bit and then go through and start, you know, and kind of methodically know.
Every time I addressed one of the things that she raised, then I would sometimes I commented back we had kind of a dialog going in the comments. Right, because I sent her to send it back to her with, you know, with my changes and my comments. Right. And so then sometimes I would write like, well, I’m not sure about this and ask another question back or whatever, and sometimes I would go ahead and handle something.
So it’s that kind of level. And I sent it back to her and then. And then she went through and did a final like, you know, this part maybe needs some rewording because you use the word this word here and again, too soon later, like you don’t want to repeat the same or cleaning up the tag of being used, by the way, like the old the back and forth. I was wondering if you use Google doc instead of Microsoft Word with all the back and forth in real, real time exchanges, we use Microsoft Word.
The reason for that?
I think a lot of editors like to work at Microsoft Word, I don’t know and, you know, I didn’t really need to see, like, what she was doing in real time. Right. Like like I needed or whatever her process was for going through the whole thing. And then it would make sense. Like if I started looking at it while she was doing stuff, it might even confuse things more. Right. Like, you know, when she finished her piece of work and handed it back to me, then I could consider as a whole what she was sending back to me.
How long was that process like? I mean, again, your draft was really clean, very thoughtful, very organized. What was that back and forth? Final editing process, like three weeks. Three months.
I think all the way through the two rounds was about six weeks, maybe two, five, six, five, something like that in the first round was longer and part of that was my time to write. Maybe it was like I think the first round she got back to me in a week or so, but then I took some time to assimilate and figure out what I was going to do with it. And also as an author like, you know, you feel like, OK, you get through the draft and you hand it off, OK, it’s off my plate.
Then you get it back and you’re like, I had to get back in the right frame of mind for, like, you know. And as you said, it’s like a personal and deep topic that it’s not just like writing something that I could just dash off. I had to get in the right frame of mind to reengage with the text. Right. So that part of it, too, added some time to it. And then I feel like the the the second round she brought back pretty quickly, because professional editors, I mean, they can they know their Chicago style and they can go through and they can go boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.
And then I had to reengage with it again. So it was easier the last time because the changes were more I could see. OK, I like this wording she proposed or I don’t or I like it, but I’m going to tweak it a little bit. Right. And but still, I and I went through it multiple more times, top to bottom of like we kind of joke between us about how I was obsessing over every single word in the in the fifty thousand words of text.
But I was because I you know, I didn’t want it to if some word is wrong, it could change the whole vibe of everything. Right.
Yeah. This is definitely you’re mentally preparing me for it for this. I know some editors have very different styles and sounds like in your situations about probing and also kind of making you think differently, think more or reconsider certain scenarios where some editors, if they have ghost writing experience, you know, maybe they will they will come in and kind of revise it altogether. I’ve heard different styles of these editors and I’m trying to process like what will work better for me.
So this is a very, very helpful. And to kind of wrap up our hopefully part one of this conversation here, I would love for you to maybe share with us what you’ve learned in your journey just as a creator, whether it’s writing this book or podcasting that what is something that you learn? Perhaps there are often not talked about where some of the people who are just starting out don’t don’t realize that just yet in. You know, while you’re thinking about that, for example, like I to me, for example, is that there’s kind of no written path.
Like that’s something I realize even if both of us are running avert the widowed parent podcast or something of a similar genre still for me, like, you know, we have to kind of find our own path instead of following kind of this, that there’s this blueprint or following this compass all the way to success. Like, what was that? Something that you learned.
I think that it’s critical to keep in mind the big picture on all of these things and buy the big picture, I mean, like. Depending on what it is you’re working on, who’s my listener or who’s my reader, and why are they going to want to read or listen and. And then the big picture, like, how do I reach them like that then informs so much like if you if you’re in the details of, like, you know, should I invite this guest to my podcast or not or what contingent and make sure I include in my book or should I do a video on this topic or whatever.
Like if you if you really have a solid understanding of the bigger picture of, like, who’s listening or watching or reading and why, then it helps you make those decisions. Like, yeah, this guest would be a good fit for my listeners or this topic, even though there’s a gap. I haven’t covered this topic yet. And I know that because I know who I’m doing this for. And I think it’s easy to get lost in the in the weeds of even like, you know, people reach out to me for advice about starting a podcast.
Right. It’s very easy to get lost in, like, what kind of microphone should I get and who should be my hosting provider and how do I send my emails? And those are all important things that have to get decided. But if you don’t have the the fundamentals of, like, how you’re approaching this and for who and why, it’s really hard to then make those other decisions. And I think they’re not losing sight of the big picture is is critically important, whichever type of content creation you’re doing.
So well said. And that’s something I notice about your big picture as I’m reading part of your bio. You know Jenny’s passion about helping Whitall parents increase their family’s well-being. You know, I feel like that is kind of your North Star, right? And you think there’s a different big picture North Star that you have in mind?
No, I think that hits it right on the head. And in fact, I’ve I’ve got that tape right here on the edge of my monitor. Right. I mean, because that is it does is kind of the umbrella for everything that I’m doing. And then then there’s something that I’m doing fits or doesn’t fit in that it makes it easy to decide. Right. As opposed to like stressing about. A lower level decision in the absence of that bigger vision isn’t exactly the right word, but, you know, direction, if you have that direction set, then it’s easy to evaluate if things do or don’t fit in that, whereas without missing direction, it’s it’s easier to think flail about.
This is awesome. I, I have a number of stickers, but I almost feel like in front of know on my iMac, but I’m already thinking about revising some of that and, and just having that to me, like having that North Star understanding what I’m doing and for whom. And that is super helpful. So thank you so much Jenny. I really hope people who are watching this, whether you are publishing something where you know someone who is working on that, many of us are writing books, especially people were watching Feisworld Media in general, definitely think about reaching out to Jenny and figure out which part of the process, whether it’s finding your big picture or maybe it’s live streaming related.
She’s really become a pro. And also just so not just self publishing, but self promoting marketing. Your book The Right Way in twenty twenty one. Please reach out to Jenny there just so, so much she can really teach you and kind of mentor you through.
Can I just. And thank you by the way, add one thing because it is still January and I’m doing a lunch month special offer because I really want this book to get into as many people’s hands as possible. And it’s a BOGO offer which in this case is buy one. Give one. Yeah. And so for anybody who buys the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble Independent Bookstore, e-book paperback, whatever. Yeah. I’ll say I can you can request a free download.
Yeah. Actually I think if you click on that buy one. Give one circle there. Yeah. Right here. Right there. Yeah. You can request a free e-book download that you can send to any friend, anybody you want. You don’t have to give me their email address. You just fill out this form that Fais showing here and I’ll send you a code that you can forward. And I really wanted to I feel better about this and a lot of people like drop the price to ninety nine cents or something for a lunch special.
And I thought, you know what, I think my listeners are going to want to be able to share this with people in their lives that they think might learn something or might might enjoy it. I hate using the word enjoy because it’s a book about grief, but people have told me they enjoyed it. So I guess I can use that word. I don’t know. I mean, I want to make sure people know that I’m doing this for the for the whole month of January.
It was going to be a lunch week special initially, but there’s been so much happening in the world. In the during my lunch break, I would recommend, by the way, not launching a book during a national insurrection because it’s not a great week to be launching a book. But anyway, I extended it for the whole month because I want to make sure people do have a chance to share it with them, with others.
This is so awesome. Thank you. Thank you so much for joining me. And I have so many more questions, but hopefully I’ll have you back on my love to any time. Any time. Thank you so much. This has been so fun. A great way to start my start my day here.
This episode of the First World podcast is brought to you by Fey’s World LLC, our marketing service agency created for independent creators and businesses. We offer website development, video production, marketing, mentorship to people who want to tell better stories, level up and create a profitable brand phasor podcast team. Our chief editor and producer, Herman Silvio’s associate producer, Adam Lefort, social media and content manager, Rosta Leon transcript editor Allena Almodovar. And lastly, myself, the creator and host of Face World.
Thank you so much for listening.
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