Manjula Martin is fearless.

She gets to the heart of the matter: why don’t writers get paid like other professions? Why does everyone expect to read content for free or very little money these days? Why don’t we value writing the same way we value other work? And why is making a decent living considered “selling out” in some arenas. Manjula has been exploring the topic of money and writing in numerous forums, from her blog “Who Pays Writers?” a collection of rates that writers can submit anonymously about writing jobs they have worked, to her anthology “Scratch” that collects thoughts from a who’s who of today’s writers on the topic.

This has been a taboo conversation for ages. People were expected to feel grateful to get their work published at all, whether or not they got money for it. But why is writing a career that is so undervalued? Manjula and I dive in to some of these topics and hopefully get you excited to read her book, which collects essays and pieces from both prominent and new writers on the topic of making money from the written word. It’s a must-read and this episode is a must-listen if you want writing to be a career, rather than just a fun hobby.

Listen up on iTunes | Scratch: the Book | Who Pays Writers? blog | Manjula’s Website | Twitter

Discussed in Episode 54 with Manjula Martin:

  • Day jobs and writing on the side
  • Finding the stories that aren’t getting told
  • The conundrum of the MFA
  • Why don’t Masters degrees talk about the money?
  • Class issues around money and career
  • The danger of only certain people being able to afford being storytellers and what it does to the stories that get told
  • The shift from being able to work full-time and still write on the side- how today’s society is eliminating this option
  • The shortness of cultural memory
  • How to create an anthology
  • Wanting to hear from a variety of voices and levels of experience in the book
  • What it’s like to edit 33 writers
  • The importance of false deadlines
  • Looking at debt as an invetment
  • The fact that even rich and really famous writers are still insecure
  • Working on a novel and a gardening book
  • The unicorn day job
  • Keeping the romance going in a less than ideal world.
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Jade Chang looked at the economic crash of 2008 and saw a novel.

This is just one of the many miraculous things about her. While the rest of us were running around like maniacs and freaking out, Jade started to see an idea come into form. What if a family lost everything in that crash? What would that look like? What if this character she had in her head was a self-made man who was crushed under the weight of what happened at that time? The answers to these and many other questions became The Wangs vs. The World, out in paperback this week and one of the most noteworthy books of last year.

I knew I had to speak to Jade after reading the book and laughing, feeling touched, amused, and heartbroken throughout reading it. It is a very special book for certain. So when I was lucky enough to meet her at a book event she led the q+a for, I grabbed the chance to invite her. I know I say all the episodes of the show are my favorite, but this one is absolutely my favorite as I share it with you. I had been dreaming about a discussion on character, and this one got so deeply into all of the aspects of character I find fascinating. I hope you all love Jade as much as I did. She’s a wonder.

Listen up on iTunes | The Wangs vs. The World | Twitter | Facebook

Discussed in Episode 53 with Jade Chang:

  • What people want to find in a book
  • What it’s like getting reviews on your book
  • From the inner world of Goodreads
  • How to avoid the inner critic when writing
  • Why it’s best to write for nobody
  • How writing is both fun and miserable
  • The strange difficulty of summarizing your book
  • Finding the voice of the characters
  • Writing a different kind of immigrant novel
  • How journalism prepared Jade to write fiction
  • Starting from an idea and an emotion
  • The outlining process
  • Why plot was not a big topic of conversation ever
  • The importance of Google maps
  • The beauty of writing about family dynamics
  • How your intentions change throughout a writing project
  • What authors ask of their readers
  • How to write in crazy times
  • Setting books in moments of crisis
  • The importance of flaws in characters
  • Showing characters as both amazing and vulnerable
  • Dreaming up the next book.

This episode brought to you by the Story Intensive. Sign up here.

author photo: Teresa Flowers

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Bari Tessler is all about shining the light on money, and books are no exception.

But first, a moment to celebrate! As we reach episode 52, we come back to the very first guest who ever came on the show, Bari Tessler. One year ago, I launched the Secret Library Podcast as Bari was preparing for the publication of her book, The Art of Money. Now, a year later, we’ve come back around and are talking to Bari again.

This time, we talk about what it takes financially to publish a book. Most would-be authors dream of making money right away from big book deals, but the reality is often different. With her usual generosity and candor, Bari shared the ins and outs of the book deal, the agreement she had with her co-writer, and what it took to get this book out in the world. This one is a must-listen.

Celebrate with us! Please do let us know what your favorite episode was this past year in the comments. It means so much to hear from you.

Please do share the podcast with others and leave us a review on iTunes so more people can find the show. 

Listen up on iTunes | Bari Tessler’s site | The Art of Money book | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Discussed in Episode 52 with Bari Tessler:

  • Money conversations around the book contract
  • Figuring out what phase of life and business you’re in when deciding to publish a book
  • Why Cheryl Strayed put over $50k on her credit card while writing Wild
  • The finances of working with a co-writer
  • Working with a street team to promote the book
  • The beauty of book selfies
  • How royalties work
  • How having a book out impacted the bottom line of her business
  • Tracking publication numbers and the advantages of a smaller press regarding reporting
  • The emotional experience of returns
  • The connundrum of Goodreads vs. Amazon
  • Pondering future books having had this one out for a year
  • June 6, 2017 - 15:43

    My book’s first birthday! The 30 reasons I’m celebrating … - Bari Tessler - […] 14. Getting a crash course on the finances of writing a book. As a first-time author, I had a lot to learn! I needed to pay my co-writer, Angela Raines, take into account photo shoots and marketing costs, negotiate my advance, and on and on. Thank goodness for Body Check-Ins! (I go into the full story about the financials in this interview with Caroline Donahue.) […]ReplyCancel

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Ruby Warrington is the force behind the Numinous.

I adored Ruby Warrington even before we spoke. I knew we would be kindred spirits because she admitted in her book that her power lipstick was MAC Lady Danger. So, of course I had to put my own Lady Danger on for our Skype call to record the session. And thus, magic ensued. I love Ruby because she comes from a journalist background, yet is pulled to topics that traditional journalism generally avoids, like astrology, spiritual topics, and Burning Man. I doubly knew I would love her when she admitted that Burning Man wasn’t the easiest sell for her when she attended.

For anyone who has ever made a huge transition in life and wanted to write about it, you will have something to learn from Ruby. Not only did she leave journalism as a full-time career to explore writing and living in the more spiritual arena, she also moved from London to NYC along the way. Ruby is the perfect spokeserson for those who want to explore topics like tarot, astrology, sound baths, yoga, and crystals while still dressing to kill (and wearing Lady Danger lipstick). I found Ruby’s book to be an excellent primer for the spiritual-curious, as it explores a wide array of topics under that umbrella with honesty and humor. I know you’re going to love this conversation just as much as I did.


Listen up on iTunes | The Numinous | Material Girl, Mystical World | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Discussed in Episode 51 with Ruby Warrington:

  • Ruby’s initial connection to a spiritual life
  • Astrology as her first topic of study
  • Going from fashion journalist to student of the spiritual
  • Trying to figure out how to fill the emptiness that crept up in her life
  • Moving from London to NYC and exploring a new way of writing during that transition
  • Balancing the old way of writing with new topics
  • The story of founding The Numinous
  • Learning to be the Editor in Chief of her new project
  • Getting a book deal
  • Making a positive impact through writing
  • San Francisco and all its wildness
  • The need to remember our humanity in the midst of technology
  • What it was like to record the audiobook
  • How writing the book was a bit like self-therapy
  • Ruby’s relationship to journaling
  • How the book was like writing her mother the letter of her life
  • The creation of the Moon Club
  • Looking at how vs. why
  • Taking a friendly approach to the spiritual
  • Thoughts on writer’s block and burning out
  • The nature of divine timing
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Natalie Obando knows how to get your book in front of the right people.

PR is one of those topics that seems to scare writers to death. It feels like the most extroverted part of writing, and the one that is the furthest away from writing your book. I was thrilled to have Natalie Obando on the show because she specializes not only in PR, but PR for books specifically. Her company, Do Good PR, promotes books with a message.

I had Natalie on for another reason: she doesn’t think every author needs to have a fancy PR firm backing them up to have a successful book launch. We dove into what good PR looks like as well as what you can do yourself for your book. We also got clear about when you might want to call in the pros in order to handle specialized situations that they are trained for. It’s a great primer in PR and one that you’ll need to listen to before you get your book out in the world. I’m so glad to be able to make this topic a bit less intimidating.

Listen up on iTunes | Do Good PR | Do Good Publishing | Twitter | Facebook

Discussed in Episode 50 with Natalie Obando:

  • The way PR works
  • Why is PR so intimidating for writers?
  • When you can do PR yourself
  • What building a platform actually means
  • Do Good’s new publishing imprint
  • What submissions they are looking for
  • How you can submit your work for publication
  • What makes for great PR?


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