Transcript Episode 171

Transcript Episode 171 – A Special Update: My Book-Writing Journey on The Prosperous Nonprofit

[00:00:00] Stephanie Skryzowski: Welcome to the prosperous nonprofit, the podcast for leaders who are building financially sustainable and impactful nonprofits and changing the world. I’m Stephanie Skrzewski, a chief financial officer and founder and CEO of 100 degrees consulting. My personal mission is to empower leaders to better understand their numbers, to grow their impact and their income.

On this show, we talk to people who are leading the nonprofit sector in new ways. Innovative, disruptive, and entrepreneurial ways creating organizations that fuel their lives, their hearts, and their communities. Let’s dive in.

Hey everybody. Welcome back to the Prosperous Nonprofit. I’m your host, Stephanie Skrzewski, and today I wanted to share a little bit of an update on something big, something huge, something epic that [00:01:00] I have been working on. So if you are on our email list. And you read my emails, then you probably know you may have seen a month or two ago, I announced that I’m writing a book.

Yes, I am writing a full length, real book that is going to be on shelves in a hardcover format. And I’m so excited. so excited, but I just wanted to share a little bit about how it’s going and what the process has looked like so far. And I’ll start by saying that I’m in the very early stages of this. So I, you know, I don’t have a date when this is going to hit the shelves and when this is available for you to buy.

Um, but I want to just share a little bit about the process, especially if anybody has been. interested in writing a book before. So it was funny, I have been thinking about writing a book for a long time and I think when I turned 30 years old, I had put together, no, not when I turned 30, like in my mid [00:02:00] twenties, I had put together this list of 30 things to do before I turned 30.

And I put all kinds of random stuff on there, like, I’m going to learn how to sail a boat and I’m going to run a marathon and I’m going to write a book and I’m going to learn a new language and visit a million countries or whatever. Um, some of the things were quite random, like, why, why do I need to learn how to sail a boat?

And some of the things were, uh, Um, things that I’ve actually done, like I’ve run seven marathons at this point and getting ready to run my eighth and writing a book has just been on my list for a long time. And then I was, I happened to be scrolling back through my Instagram a couple of weeks ago and saw that back in, I think it was 2018.

So six years ago I said, okay, I’m doing it. I’m writing a book. Well, you know, at that time I had a toddler and then the next year I had another baby and then I’m running a book. business and have 15 employees and all the things. [00:03:00] And writing the book just kind of got away from me. It just became less of a priority.

And my team always encourages me. Like if we’ve got one special project going on, that should be it. Right. We can’t have like. Five different special projects going on. And so the book just kind of got pushed to the back. And then, um, a couple of years ago I was on vacation in Maine with my family and I was like, you know what?

I’m going to write a book while I’m here on vacation this week. We were there for two weeks and so I just started writing and I was writing about sort of like my own relationship and story with money. Like what has my relationship and my journey been with money over the years? And so thinking about.

When I was a young child, what stories did I hear my parents telling about money and, and kind of what was my relationship as a kid? And just for the record, I was that kid that had literally every single business you can think of. I sold painted seashells. I sold lemonade. I I did odd jobs around the neighborhood.

[00:04:00] I walked dogs. I held summer camps for the neighborhood kids. Like I was that kid. And then I sort of wove into, you know, as a teenager, as a young adult, like super broke young adult working in New York city for basically pennies and what my journey with money has looked like. And I wrote this all out and I, it started sort of taking the shape of a book and I was like, okay, well maybe this is my book and I just kept calling it to myself, my money book.

And then as, you know, as I sort of. matured in my writing journey, if you could even say that, but really thought about like, okay, well, what is it that I want to be known for? And how does this, maybe even more importantly, how does this tie to my business? And as you all know, we sold the small business portfolio, all of our clients, we, um, we stopped working with small businesses and shifted to only work with nonprofits.

And then writing this book about You know, an entrepreneur and money. It just like, didn’t feel very aligned with the current business that I have. And [00:05:00] so the idea was still there and you know, I would pull up the draft every now and then, and maybe dabble in it a little bit, but it’s still just like, wasn’t landing.

And then, as you know, we shifted this podcast from 100 degrees of entrepreneurship to the prosperous nonprofit. And that got my wheels turning thinking like, Oh, Oh, well maybe The Prosperous Nonprofit is a book. And so that’s the idea that I had been going with. I created an outline, I created a whole framework, I basically like shaped the entire book and took a lot of what I had written in the money book, my money book, and sort of shifted it a little bit, edited it, and kind of came up with this concept of The Prosperous Nonprofit.

And um, and that’s a book I thought I was going to write. And so. I was pretty set on that and started exploring my options and what it looks like to actually publish a book. And there are a few [00:06:00] different options and I am no publishing expert by any means, but I’ve done a lot of research. I’ve read a lot of books.

I’ve read a lot of articles online. I’ve followed a lot of people in the publishing industry. I’ve listened to a lot of podcasts and anytime I do something, I really try and educate myself as much as possible. possible. Like when I started this podcast, I listened to podcasts about podcasts for months upon months upon months.

So that’s what I’ve been doing with the publishing industry. And so there are a few different ways that you can publish a book. You can self publish it right where you basically literally do everything yourself and anybody can put a book up on Amazon. So there’s that option. Then there’s the option of what they call sort of a hybrid publisher where, um, you pay them, uh, and I will just say a large sum of money, multiple five figures, you pay them and they will help you edit it and get a cover design and help you with the process of like getting it onto Amazon.

So it looks and feels like a traditionally [00:07:00] professionally published book. And that’s the direction. That I thought I was going to go, uh, for a long time. And so I explore different hybrid publishers and largely they provide the same type of services again, anywhere from coaching and helping you take your idea, um, along with developmental editing, which means like they’re making sure that, you know, it, it all makes sense, right?

A lot of times when. You’ve been living with, um, with this topic, with the subject in your head, you know, things just inherently, but they, you got to make sure your reader understands it. Right. And so they really help kind of make sure that the book flows and makes sense anyway. Then they also help with all of the actual like copy editing and designing it and again, making it into an actual book.

So the hybrid publishers do that and you pay them a lot of money. And then the third option is a traditional publisher, like one of the big five publishers. It’s crazy that all of these publishing houses [00:08:00] have all sort of, you know, merged together because there’s only five. So like Simon Schuster or HarperCollins or Penguin Random House.

Those are some of the big name publishers and largely the books that you’re seeing on the shelves of Barnes Noble are published by one of those big publishers and or their imprints. That’s what they call them. They’re like other little mini publishing companies under that big umbrella. And so in order to get published by one of those big name publishers, you cannot just send your proposal to Penguin Random House.

You need an agent. And so the first thing that you have to do is get an agent. And in order to get an agent, you have to put together a book proposal and a query letter and basically like this, it’s, it’s a massive document that outlines the entire. book, what you’re bringing to the table in terms of like marketing, how are you going to sell this book?

Because a publisher does not sell the book for you. Um, there’s a lot of work that is required of the [00:09:00] author. So anyway, that’s the traditional publishing model. You got to get an agent and basically, actually first you prepare the proposal and then you prepare a query letter and then you basically reach out to a bajillion agents and hope one will

And, um, and then once you get an agent, then they will shop it around to different publishers. And so that process is very long. Now, if y’all know anything about me, I’m not very patient. And once I get an idea, I’m ready to go, I’m ready to implement, I’m ready to do it. That has served me really well in many ways and also can really keep me from.

Doing my best work, honestly, because I am often anxious to get things out there, get a project out there. But there are some situations where I need to slow down and do things the right way, you know? And so [00:10:00] I looked at this process of traditional publishing and thinking like, Oh, this is going to take forever.

I’m, I’m not here for this. I just want to like do the book. I want to get it published this year and I just want to be done with it. And not because it was like a painful task, I actually really enjoy writing, but I was just like, well, I have this idea, let’s move. And so I sort of crossed traditional publishing out and so said, okay, well I’m going to do this hybrid publishing.

Yes, I understand it costs a lot of money to do, but like they’re going to help me through the whole process. So it seems like it would be worth it in the end. I’m going to have this beautiful book that I can take to speaking engagements and share with our clients and all this cool stuff. Um, and so I interviewed three different hybrid publishers and I actually, I really liked all of them.

Honestly. And I had narrowed it down to the one that I thought that I wanted to work with. And then my business coach, Rachel Rogers, announced that she was putting on a writing retreat and basically doing like a [00:11:00] little mastermind for writing. So I wasn’t going to do it. And then my friend’s peer pressured me into it in the best way possible because Rachel really sort of convinced me that like, listen, just because you think you’re not like an official writer or whatever doesn’t mean that you can’t get a traditionally published book and like, okay, okay, fair.

So I decided to pause on the hybrid publisher and take a massive leap of faith into this book retreat. And the traditional publishing model and just hoping for the best.

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I want to share this because it took a big shift in mindset for me. All along I was thinking, well, my idea is like kind of niche and who’s going to even want to read this? And I think it’s important for my clients and the people that I talk to, but like a traditional publisher would never [00:13:00] pick up my book.

That is just not true. That is just not true. And Rachel sort of helped me see that. And so rather than just sort of pushing through and doing this the fast way, I decided to do this what I feel for me is the right way. So I decided to go to this writing retreat, this mastermind in Puerto Rico in early March of 2024.

And at this retreat, there were, uh, there were like book writing coaches and agents and, and things in the whole point of the retreat. Uh, for me, my goal was to walk away with a. a clear idea of what my, you know, what my concept was for my book and hopefully a completed proposal. And at that point I’d already had like probably two thirds of a proposal done for the prosperous nonprofit, the book that I thought I was going to write.

So I was like, great, I’m going to like maybe get a little feedback. I’m going to finish it up [00:14:00] and, um, be ready to start pitching agents. That’s the next step. And what I got out of the retreat was something totally different. I got a whole new book, which is really interesting. And we got to meet with some agents there and I shared the idea for my book and they asked a couple of clarifying questions that I was like, Oh yeah, that doesn’t make any sense the way that my book is structured right now.

So I think that something needs to change. Um, in some conversations and taking walks, so many walks, I probably walked like, what did I say? Four miles, eight miles a day. I probably walked 30 to 40 miles in total when I was in Puerto Rico and I got a whole new idea of a way to shape and structure the book that makes so much more sense that is going to reach a much wider audience.

And I think it’s just like so much more [00:15:00] fun and so much more readable. And I’m. I’m so excited about it, but that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t created the space for myself to just think about it. And so I’m really excited right now and I’m at the point right now where I’ve now revised my proposal so that it is fully aligned with this new concept and I’ve been sending it to potential agents.

I think in total at this point I’ve sent it to maybe 12 different people. Um, two people have. Responded already and said, no will pass, which I have read is totally normal. I’m gonna get a lot of nos, I’m probably gonna get a lot of non responses and it just takes out one. Yes. Um, so I have a finished proposal.

I have pitched it to 12 different agents, and then as part of this amazing master. able to do a live pitch in front of, you know, half a dozen agents. And so we just did that yesterday and I feel like it went [00:16:00] well. I’m excited that I was able to just share the concept of my book out loud in front of a group of 30 people and got some really good feedback on that.

And so we’ll, I don’t know yet, um, if any of the agents will be interested in having a further conversation, but I’m super excited that I did it. Right? I did it. So that’s where I am right now. I don’t have a book deal. I don’t even have an agent, but I wanted to share this update with you because first of all, I know some of y’all have been waiting for this.

Following along since I’ve been talking about it to you on my email list. And also there were just a few lessons here that I want you to think about and encourage you if you’re in the midst of a big project or you’re thinking about embarking on a big project. So the first lesson that I will say I have learned from this entire book process is to do it the right way, not the quick way.

Right. Sometimes, yes, you do have to just get things done and I’m not, I would not consider myself a perfectionist honestly, [00:17:00] but you know, I, maybe, maybe the opposite. No, I don’t put out, I don’t put out crappy work, but I do feel, feel myself going for speed rather than perfection. And I’m not going for perfection with this, you know, deciding to go with a traditional publisher, but you know, it does feel like the right thing for me.

And so really. Um, and so sometimes for me, I just need to slow down. That’s been a huge lesson here. The second lesson I would say that I have learned in this process so far is to, uh, Go with your gut. You know, my gut was sort of telling me to take the leap of faith and do this writing retreat, this writing mastermind with my business coach.

And I wasn’t sure if it was right for me. I wasn’t sure what I would get out of it, but I’m so glad. That I did it because I got so much out of that [00:18:00] experience. And so if you feel like there’s something that you’re just like, Oh, I feel like I need to be in that room, get yourself in that room. And so the next sort of lesson that I have pulled from this is to give yourself space.

Um, the other, the, the main thing that I got from going on this writing retreat was space. And like. Blank time to think. So I don’t know if you are anything like me, but I’m busy, right? I wake up at six o’clock in the morning. I’m immediately getting my children ready for the day off to school. Then I’m, you know, on calls, I’m doing my client work and I’m, Helping lead my team and then the kids are home and I’m making dinner and taking them to activities and then I like crash into bed at 9 p.

m. and that’s it. That’s my day. That’s pretty much every day of the week. And so there’s not a lot of white space in there that is dedicated to thinking. And I would imagine that [00:19:00] as, you know, I move into different phases of life and my children are at different phases of their life, that’ll change. Um, but right now that’s my reality.

And so. Um, you know, I don’t have like time to walk four miles in the morning and walk four miles in the evening and just, you know, look at the ocean and the sunshine and just have a blank mind to just be open to what ideas might flow in. That’s not my reality right now. And so creating that for myself.

Self in this container of the retreat was, dare I say, life changing. I mean, it was incredible. It was just so beautiful to have that, that time and space to think. And that’s where almost all my ideas came from, that I walked away with. And I basically just, I had my phone with me and I just opened the voice memo and I just talk to myself for like two of the four miles of the walk.

And that ended up turning into some really good ideas. So that was, that was great. So give yourself space. And the last lesson [00:20:00] that I have learned so far along the way is to just be open to change. Like I felt like I am so confident in my book idea, in my book title. It’s freaking brilliant. Like I’m just going to blow everybody away with this.

And the whole thing changed and it’s so much better now. Like it’s so much better now. And so I think that is such a good lesson for us, right? Like sometimes we’re just kind of going through and we’re in our own little world and we’re feeling so good about something. And then at the end of the day, like, you know, there’s something so much better that we couldn’t have even imagined.

And so being open to that, you know, I took that. Uh, those agents that gave me that feedback and asked those clarifying questions, I was like, Oh yeah, they’re right. I could have said. Oh, they just didn’t get it. Like they just didn’t understand my concept. So whatever. I’m still going to move forward [00:21:00] as it is.

I could have done that and there’s nothing wrong with that. But I was able to sort of be receptive to their questions and just shaped their the whole book concept into something that I think is much better than it was before. So anyway, that’s it, friends. There’s, there’s so many lessons to be learned still along the way, and I will 100 percent continue to keep you posted.

And trust me, when I get an agent who is As excited about this book as I am, I’m going to be shouting it from the rooftops. So the other thing I just want to share with you all before I sign off is I’m sharing the most stuff the most frequently with my email list. If you’re not on my email list. It’s time to get on it, my friends.

Okay. So the way that you can do that is if you go to our website, 100 degrees, consulting. com, if you just go to 100 degrees, consulting. com slash resources, there’s a whole bunch of [00:22:00] stuff on there that you can download. If you want a freebie, if you want a template for managing your cashflow, you can certainly go grab that.

But if you just go to our website, 100 degrees, consulting. com, So, um, and scroll all the way to the bottom. There’s just a box where you can drop your first and last name and your email address, and then you’ll just be on our list. So, if you don’t need a freebie or if you’ve already gotten all of our freebies, just go to 100greesconsulted.

com, scroll to the bottom and you can drop your info in there, and then you’re on our email list. You’ll be the first to hear com. When I get an agent, when I get a book deal, and I used to say like, oh, if, if maybe this happens for me, like, no girl, I am putting it out into the universe, it is happening. It’s not if, it is when.

So just wanted to share that little behind the scenes update with you all. I hope that was interesting for you to hear about, and please stay tuned because I will definitely be sharing as soon as I get an agent. All right, y’all. Thanks for listening as always, [00:23:00] and I will talk to you soon. Before you go, I just want to thank you for being here.

To access our show notes and bonus content, visit 100degreespodcast. com. That’s 100degreespodcast. com, and I’ll see you next time.