Author Interview: Judith Briles, The Book Shepherd

Judith Briles by Ashography Event Photography

Judith Briles by Ashography Event Photography

Name:     Judith Briles

Business name:   The Book Shepherd

Book Titles:

AuthorYOU: Creating and Building Your Author and Book PlatformsSassy Snappy Salty: Wise Words for Authors and Writers; The CrowdFunding Guide to Authors & Writers

… this spring: How to Avoid Book Publishing Blunders, Bloopers and Boo-Boos

PLUS 31 other books

Website URL:    http://TheBookShepherd.com

Social Media Links:

https://www.pinterest.com/Judithbriles/
Twitter   @MyBookShepherd
Facebook   Judith Briles – The Book Shepherd

Facebook Group (just starting)    https://www.facebook.com/groups/BookPublishingHelp/
LinkedIn   Judith Briles
LinkedIn Group: Author U

The Book Shepherd Daily:  bit.ly/BookShepDaily 

How did you come to do what you’re doing today?

Since the early ‘80’s, I’ve reached out to authors in helping them with their books. My first book was published with a New York publishing house in 1981. Since then, my attitude has been to “share it forward,” In 2000, after publishing 18 books via traditional New York publishing, I transitioned to start my own imprint: Mile High Press. Originally created just for my own books, I’ve published several other authors as well since then.

As the “Book Shepherd,” you offer a variety of services to authors—both published and striving to become published. In your experience, what’s the biggest hurdle today’s authors face in becoming published?

I call it the Rush to Publish Syndrome…RTP. It’s what too many authors do without learning what publishing is. To avoid RTP, get educated; learn what the hiccups are, who the predators are, and what red flags to look for. Then there’s the lack of professional editing, and not knowing who their audience is.

There is no excuse for a self-published book that looks self-published. Yet, too many look, feel, and read amateur across the board. Book selling and marketing are highly competitive. If an author’s book is going to have a chance, it’s got to come out of the gate with some TLC—not the “I’ve got a computer and can bang it out, drop it into a quasi-OK template, and click a button.” Authors need to care for their work and care for the reader who is their target market.

Can you describe a typical day in your life?

My day starts early, often around 4:30 AM…it’s just when my body says enough—it doesn’t matter what time I go to bed. I have a virtual assistant I start communicating with in the morning, so I may be doing blogs, or prepping social media for her to push out during the day. Or, I may be savoring the quite hours with my favorite British breakfast tea and working on content editing of a client’s book.

Most days, around 6:30 AM, I get a refill of tea and hit the hot tub—a time to warm up my joints and noodle the rest of the day, and then I’m off. Once I settle into dinner, I confess I love to watch some TV—and I get ideas from them. Writers who poo-poo TV make a mistake—their audiences are watching it. I have favorites that I indulge in. My day rarely ends before 10 PM. I’m a cook, so having friends over often is a must. And rarely do I actually take a “goof off” day.

Throughout the year I have events—Judith Briles Book Publishing Unplugged is three days in June; the Author U Extravaganza is three days in September; the How to Write a Book is four consecutive evenings throughout the year and one intensive week in the summer; the Publishing at Sea for Newbies and Publishing at Sea for Developing and Achieving Authors is in January.

Monday AM is what I call media time—I do a weekly free call in an hour where anyone can ask publishing questions. I call it Author Mentoring Mondays. I then have two radio shows on which I appear as an expert guest. The afternoons are usually dedicated to AuthorU.org matters.

Tuesday – Friday, I have office hours that start at 7 AM—either in person or remotely. I also will pretape my radio show, AuthorU—Your Guide to Book Publishing, or I will roll it out live at its regular Thursday afternoon timeslot.

Saturdays are author days—it could be an AuthorU event, a mastermind in my home once a month, or working with an author.

Sundays find me enjoying a few TV shows, a movie, family. And often, writing.

What do you most enjoy about what you do?

I love books. When a new client comes in, I can see what his or her book should look/feel like. I love the thrill of the book journey, from beginning to end. For me, the variety of authors I get to work with is a gift.

Are there any people and/or books that have inspired you along your journey?

First, always good writing. For fiction, I can’t tell you what one of my editions of Pat Conway’s Prince of Tides looks like; nor what Laura Hildebrand’s Seabiscuit does. Some of their lines just grab me and I want to chew over them again and again. For openers, John Grisham’s A Time to Kill has always been huge and as a 13-year-old, I remember devouring Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Recently, I’ve loved The Book Thief and The Boys in the Boat. Years ago when I was working on my MBA, The Lessons of History by Will and Ariel Durant was required reading. Not only did it become the favorite of my entire class, it’s one that I revisit every few years.

I have shelf loads of publishing related books. A personal favorite is Stephen King’s On Writing. 

What is your latest book about, and what inspired you to write it?

The CrowdFunding Guide for Authors & Writers was birthed from the work and advice I had given to many of the authors I’ve worked with in strategizing and implementing their crowdfunding campaigns. All have been successful and overfunded. I didn’t want it to be, nor does it have to be, long and complicated. It’s a mini guide to get it done; what is needed to be successful and includes a cheat sheet for fast tips.

As I write this, I’m finishing How to Avoid Book Publishing Blunders, Bloopers and Boo-Boos. It includes 101 major snafus that will capsize the author’s speaking boat with fixes and tips with each. 

Are there some basic tips for crowdfunding that authors, in particular, should be aware of?

It’s work, pure and simple. You must have a solid social meeting strategy; you must have family and friends in place to seed your campaign; you must be committed to it (i.e., you don’t go on vacation in the middle—stay put); you can’t be shy—stay connected, communicate with those who have committed to you via the platform you chose; do updates on all your social media; make your video short (less than 90 seconds); make sure your rewards are compelling and if you have a skill to offer, include it in one of them—they often go for higher ticket amounts.

You write in a variety of capacities, but can you describe your writing process when writing a book?

All my books are in GamePlan mode from the get-go. I’m highly visual. Out come the sticky notes—I always start with WHO I am writing for, WHAT is their “pain” that I want to relieve, and WHAT BENEFIT the book will create. I then dive into a variety of other components—together, I “feel” the book to come.

I’m a binge writer—I don’t do an hour a few hours every day. It doesn’t work for me. What does is blocking an entire day, or several days, or a week…and just start grinding. With the GamePlan laid out, whatever backup material I need to support what I’m writing about, I move into underground mode.

Now, I need my “things” around me. Peach ice tea or hot tea. My muse—sun and water. If it’s winter, I go to it. Any entertainment is removed from my list—it’s focus, focus, focus. Family and friends are told that I’m off limits during this time. They can, though, bring in food and drink. 

Can you share something that people may be surprised to learn about you?

Oh my. Well, few know that I was the speaking coach for several years for Miss America (and there are stories here!); that I didn’t go to college—I challenged and tested out and then enrolled for my MBA, and later went on to earn my DBA (doctorate in business administration); that I only intended to write one book (no one told me that books breed books); and that the reason I decided to write a book was because another author/columnist/screenwriter took several of my ideas and got paid to publish them. It was my “come-to-book moment”—the moment I realized that if I didn’t start taking my own ideas and publishing them, others would.

I hired a sports writer who wrote novels on the side to “teach me writing” so I could create my book in 1979—I did have an idea. Seven months later and $7,500 less in my bank account, The Woman’s Guide to Financial Savvy was sold to St. Martin’s Press, the winning bidder. The advance far exceeded what I paid out to “learn about writing” and start my long-term affair with publishing. And then books started breeding.

I think it’s also important to say that my most successful book, the one that garnered massive media attention (from Oprah to CNN and every local show in between; from Time, Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal to People and the National Enquirer) and spun off seven books, and altered my professional life in other major ways, was rejected by 28 major publishers. I was too ahead of myself. But with persistence, it paid off.

What’s next for you?

Adding to the AuthorYOU Mini Guide series, and taking many of my programs that I’ve done and converting them into online trainings this year: How to Create a Book Launch; How to Create a Million-Dollar Speech Around Your Book; How to Create a CrowdFunding GamePlan for Your Book: How to Create the GamePlan to Write Your Book; How to Create and Build Your Platforms for the Author and the Book; and How to Write a Book in 4 Weeks.
That, along with writing multiple blogs a week and supporting authors in general with webinars and the free coaching I do each Monday.

What’s best said is I love what I do. Little thrills me more than cheering with the author as his or her book is finally in hand.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I love creating quotes—to goose me; to goose others. I put 250 of them together in Snappy Sassy Salty: Wise Words for Authors and Writers. One that I make all my clients write up and keep visible is:

Don’t do well what you have no business doing.

Another is:

Wake up, kick ass, repeat.

… don’t you love it?

For authors to be successful, they must remember: if book success is to be, it’s up to me.



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