The Professional Writer

Laura Christianson

Whether you’re preparing to launch a writing-related business or you’re retooling the writing you’re currently doing, The Professional Writer podcast will help you do the right things in the right order so you can confidently plan, launch, and grow your business.

77 – Protect Your Creative Work: Copyright, Fair Use, LLC, Contracts, with Amy Nesheim
Jan 17 2022
77 – Protect Your Creative Work: Copyright, Fair Use, LLC, Contracts, with Amy Nesheim
What should I do if someone steals my content? Do I need to register a copyright for my book? How much of someone else’s content (such as portions of a book, blog post, poem, short story, or song lyric) can I safely reprint? Should I establish a sole proprietorship or an LLC for my writing-related business? Why are contracts essential for protecting my writing business? Even though I’ve owned a writing-related business since the mid-1990s, I still wrangle with these questions. Thankfully, today’s guest is a lawyer who explains (in plain English, noless!) the answers to our burning questions. Join Amy Nesheim and me and get an earful about: [5:05] The difference between copyright and trademark[7:35] 5 steps you can take if someone steals your content[12:43] The 4-Factor Fair Use Test[18:48] Business Entities for Writers (LLC vs. Sole Proprietorship)[23:07] Contracts: Rules for the Relationship Disclaimer: The information shared during this episode is intended for educational purposes, and is not intended as legal advice. Word Nerd Moment Intellectual property – the product of your imagination. Copyright – Creative works of imagination that have been put into fixed form (writing, recorded music), and could be reproducible. Trademark – An identifier of the source of a good or service (such as the Nike swoosh, McDonald’s golden arches, and words that identify a brand, aka, the source of goods or services. By creating something and putting it into a fixed form, the creator (author) owns the copyright of that material. You do not need to register the trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office or anyone else to own it. You automatically have ownership rights in the material because you created it. However, if you want to sue someone for infringeing on your copyright, you have to have registered it. 5 Steps you can take if someone steals your content Document the fact that they have copied your material. Create a record for yourself of when you first published your material and the fact that you wrote it, and where and when they published it. Take screenshots.Send them an informal letter, email, or blog comment asking them to take it down.Send them a formal “demand” letter via USPS and certified mail.Hire an attorney to send them a formal demand letter.File a
76 – Costs of Marketing and Promoting Your Book, with Amy Connell
Dec 13 2021
76 – Costs of Marketing and Promoting Your Book, with Amy Connell
“You can have the best product in the world, but if you don’t take the time to market it and to sell it, people are not going to be aware of it.”  Amy Connell, my guest on episode 76, says that marketing can feel like self-promotion. But it’s actually not. It’s letting people know, “Hey, I have this, and I feel like the message of the book will add value to your life.” A certified personal trainer and podcaster, Amy is the newly minted author of Your Worthy Body: Find Freedom in Health by Breaking All the Rules. (affiliate link) During the first half of episode 76, we drill down on Amy’s expenditures for marketing and promoting her book. You’ll learn: Exactly how much she spends to send her book to influencers, endorsers, and people she wants to connect with (she quotes $$ for everything from labels to shipping costs).The branded promotional products Amy created, which she sends as thank-you gifts and sells at speaking engagements (the show notes include info and links for creating your own). During the second half of the episode, we discuss the subject matter experts and sensitivity readers Amy worked with to ensure that her book is high-quality, valuable, technically correct, and honoring to readers of different races and ethnicities. We also talk about the “niche” consultants Amy hired to fine-tune her book’s title, sub-title, and back cover copy. Amy is committed to empowering her readers to take control of their health. During the final part of the episode, Amy explains how she created a free, interactive online resource library (in Thinkific) and how she embedded a QR code inside her book that directs readers to videos, printables, and journal prompts to help them apply what they’re learning. Amy’s Book Marketing Expenses Amy sent a paperback copy of her book to at least 50 people. These copies served as… …A thank-you to: People who helped with the book (consultants, friends)People who endorsed the bookBook launch team …An in
75 - Writers Conferences: The Best Investment an Author Can Make, with Sharon Elliott and Sarah Sundin
Nov 29 2021
75 - Writers Conferences: The Best Investment an Author Can Make, with Sharon Elliott and Sarah Sundin
“A writers conference is the place I can find out how to get my book published, because my book is perfect, and everyone needs to read it.” That’s the mistaken assumption three newbie writers – Sarah Sundin, Sharon Elliott, and I – made before we attended our first writers conference. Oh, were we in for a surprise! In today’s episode, the three of us chat about our first-ever writers conference experiences, and how attending conferences has shaped our writing careers: We learned and fine-tuned the craft of writing for publicationWe learned about the publication industryWe connected with other writers, literary agents, and publishing house editors Sharon, Sarah, and I share a passion for teaching. We also have individual superpowers (aka, giftings, skill sets) of creating spreadsheets, dreaming up big ideas that work, implementing marketing plans, etc. After our early conference experiences, we tapped into those superpowers and began teaching and keynoting at writers conferences. Eventually, we began directing writers conferences. In fact, Sarah and Sharon are co-directing the 2022 West Coast Christian Writers Conference. During the episode, they share details about the upcoming WCCW Conference. If you’ve never been to a writers conference and are feeling curious (or anxious) about what to expect, this episode will assuage your fears. If you have attended a writers conference, and want to hear some of our favorite and weird conference stories, listen in! About Sarah Sundin Sarah is a bestselling author of World War II novels, including When Twilight Breaks and Until Leaves Fall in Paris (coming February 2022). When Twilight Breaks was a 2021 Christy Award finalist, The Land Beneath Us was a 2020 Christy Award finalist, and The Sky Above Us received the 2020 Carol Award. A mother of three adu
74 - Strengthen Your Writing and Editing With These 5 Robust Online Tools [Crowdsourced]
Nov 15 2021
74 - Strengthen Your Writing and Editing With These 5 Robust Online Tools [Crowdsourced]
Today, in our fifth episode in the series, Investments for Your Writing Business, we’re looking at five online tools that will help you become a more powerful writer and editor. I asked listeners of The Professional Writer podcast to share their favorite writing and editing aids, and they delivered! I’m sharing my listeners’ recommendations today. I haven’t used most of these tools, but I did research each of them and they all sound interesting and worth a closer look. I’m not getting paid anything to tell you about these tools and I’m not an affiliate for any of these services. I’m simply sharing information in hopes that you’ll discover a new tool that may be a great fit for you. If one or more of these tools catches your interest, I invite you to check out the informational videos and tutorials I’ve included below. Tool #1: ProWritingAid – Their goal is to help you strengthen your writing. A grammar checker, style editor, and writing mentor in one package. The AI (artificial intelligence) reminds you to: use strong verbsbe aware of passive voiceimprove the power and clarity of your writingeliminate spelling and grammar mistakes In-app suggestions, explanations, videos, and quizzes help you build your skills as you write. ProWritingAid integrates with MS Word/Outlook, Google Docs, Scrivener, Open Office, and Final Draft so you can edit wherever you write. Browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Edge and Safari let you check your writing on almost every website, including Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Medium, Wattpad and more. You can try ProWritingAid for free. “I bought ProWritingAid after using the free version of Grammarly for many years. I bought the lifetime version after trying out the free version. It was worth every penny for all the spelling and grammar checks, readability and style suggestions, and so much more. Now I do not have to worry about those missing commas and excessive glue words.” —Susan Hostetler Hales Tool #2: Jarvis – Another Artificial Intelligence (AI) writing assistant. This one makes it easy to write short-form cop
73 - Sensitivity Readers and Subject Matter Experts: Why Authors Need Them
Nov 1 2021
73 - Sensitivity Readers and Subject Matter Experts: Why Authors Need Them
“I researched my topic thoroughly, so it must be correct.” “I write fiction, so I can make everything up and readers won’t care whether it’s accurate.” REALITY CHECK! Readers do care. They do notice inaccurate, insensitive, stereotypical portrayals of culture, race, religion, and more. Your most valuable ability is your credibility. That’s why sensitivity readers, subject matter experts, and fact-checkers are crucial. In episode 73, five authors recount their thoughts about this important topic. I’ll share anecdotes from: Karen Barnett, historical romance novelist of eight booksJanet McHenry, award-winning speaker and author of 24 booksDeb Gorman, author of three non-fiction books and working on several fiction manuscriptsWendy Propps Casto, nuclear medicine technologist who is working on her memoirMichelle Ule, bestselling author of historical novellas, an essayist, blogger, and biographer You’ll learn: What a sensitivity reader isHow much it costs to hire a sensitivity reader or subject matter expertFour ways to find sensitivity readers, subject matter experts, and fact-checker The transcript at the bottom of this page includes today’s Word Nerd Moment and Massive Action Step, plus two shareable graphics. More episodes in the series: Investments for Your Writing Business Episode 70: 5 Quick, Easy, and Free Ways to Gain Visibility as a Writer Five basic, FREE things authors can do right now to find great deals on writerly tools, interact with prospective readers and book buyers, and earn bonus income. Shareable infographic included. Episode 71: Things I Spend Money on to Run My Writing Business What I spend to run my business, how much to budget for essentials, and three things to do before investing in a service or tool. Transcript and loads of links included. Episode 72: Costs of Self-Publishing a Book, with Lisa Baldwin Debut memoir author, Lisa Baldwin, shares how several publishing professionals helped her shape her manuscript into an award-winning sel
72 - Costs of Self-Publishing a Book, with Lisa Baldwin
Oct 18 2021
72 - Costs of Self-Publishing a Book, with Lisa Baldwin
“I wanted to complete my really great manuscript and hand it off to an agent and a publisher as a gift to the world.” That was Lisa Baldwin’s assumption as she was writing her memoir, She’s Still In There: Healing the Wounded Child Within. But, as Lisa went through the editing process, she learned that “an unknown author wanting to get an unknown manuscript published by a traditional publisher is akin to an 18-year-old showing up in Los Angeles with a 6-string guitar, wanting to get a record contract.” During our chat, you’ll learn how several publishing professionals helped Lisa shift her expectations and shape her manuscript into an award-winning book. We discuss three types of investments Lisa made along the way: Pre-publication costsPublication costsHidden costs Pre-publication costs: Writing classes, books, retreats, and conferencesCoachingDevelopmental editingGraphic designer (logo, brand identity)Website design/development Publication costs: Photographer for promotional and head shotsBook cover artist/designerCopy editorProofreaderInterior book design and formattingE-publication conversion Hidden costs: Bowker for ISBN numbers and bar codesSpecialized fonts you may want for your book cover or website (loads of free fonts at Google fonts)USPS for post office boxRoyalties paid to other artists for permission to reprint their work (Lisa paid for song lyrics)Writing contest entry feesBusiness card design and printingAdvertising and other types of book promotionsAudible (audio) version of your book About Lisa Baldwin
70 - 5 Quick, Easy, and Free Ways to Gain Visibility as a Writer
Sep 20 2021
70 - 5 Quick, Easy, and Free Ways to Gain Visibility as a Writer
One day, my husband came home and announced, “We’ve earned a million dollars!” In today’s episode, I’ll reveal what he really meant by that statement. Whether you’re an aspiring author or a multi-published author (or, like me, you serve in a supportive role to authors), money is often tight. We learn to live frugally and spend cautiously and wisely. While pinching pennies, we simultaneously struggle with guilt, because there’s a constant pressure to attend conferences, buy programs, invest in training, coaching, and equipment, and to buy books – lots and lots of books. We’re not sure whom to trust or which tools of the trade we should invest in and how much they should cost. We worry that our investments might not pay off if we don’t achieve our hoped-for goals. When you launch a writing-related business or ministry, you are stepping into the unknown – stepping out in faith. As a long-time business owner, I can assure you that you will make mistakes – expensive mistakes that result in little or no return on your investment. You will also be delighted when some of your investments reap lifelong benefits you never expected. Series Overview In this series that kicks off today, I’ll acquaint you with investments you can make in your writing business. In the next episode (episode 71), we’ll talk about three types of expenses you need to budget for: One-time expensesAnnual expensesMonthly expenses I’ll tell you about the tools I spend money on, how much I budget for them, and why I love these tools. Then, I’ll do a series of crowd-sourced episodes where my listeners share their favorite tools. We’ll look at: Professional Development ToolsWriting AidsPublishing ToolsProject Management ToolsPromotional ToolsProductivity Tools I want these episodes to be a safe place where you can learn about tools of the writing trade, try them out if you wish, and discover new tools that will make your job or ministry less stressful and more enjoyable. Share Your Favorite Writerly Tools As you begin hearing about all these tools of the trade, I know it’ll get your creative juices flowing and you’ll want to make sure that I include your favorite tool in an upcoming episode. I want to hear from you! Join The Professional Writer Podcast Community (private Facebook group for listeners) and post in one of the threads, or email me directly:
69 - Bookkeeping Tips for Your Biz, with Vanessa Butler
Sep 6 2021
69 - Bookkeeping Tips for Your Biz, with Vanessa Butler
When I hear the phrase, “business finances,” I shudder. I’m not a numbers person (I’m a word person, in case you haven’t noticed). I can’t tell you how grateful I am to be married to a mathematician who also happens to be my business manager! I realize that most entrepreneurs don’t have the luxury of living with a skilled money manager. That’s why I invited Vanessa Butler to guest on The Professional Writer podcast. Vanessa is a bookkeeping expert who understands the pressure of wearing all the hats when scaling a business. Her goal is to help business owners take back their time to increase their bottom line. (You gotta love a bookkeeper who has a tagline that rhymes!) Vanessa and I discuss all things money: Assessing the current financial health of your business (eek!)Why “just get it done” accounting isn’t an efficient way to run your business.Two important documents that form the financial foundation of your business.Why mixing business and pleasure bank accounts is “a headache waiting to happen.”How to create a realistic monthly budget. And after we create that budget, why we should actually look at it daily. Vanessa also provides tips for: Easy invoicingHelpful accounting softwareEfficient receipt organization Crack open your Excel spreadsheet, friend, because you’ll want to take notes! (Okay, you’ll probably want to take notes on a Word doc, but I couldn’t resist saying “spreadsheet,” because that word makes me think about budgets, accounting, and money). About Vanessa Butler Vanessa is a bookkeeping expert who strategizes with small and medium-sized businesses to maximize their profit. Her specialty is creating and implementing accounting systems and identifying ways to improve existing processes. Vanessa grew up in Los Angeles and has been on the road with her husband, son, and two fur-babies while building a successful remote business. She is rapidly closing in on the fin
68 – Why You Need Contracts
Aug 23 2021
68 – Why You Need Contracts
Today we’re starting off with a sing-along! If you haven’t listened to “Another Brick in the Wall” by Pink Floyd, go here for a quick refresher. “We don’t need no education…” Got the tune in your head? Good. Now grab your air guitar and sing along, replacing the first line with these lyrics: “We don’t need no stinkin’ contracts…” I hear that phrase (not necessarily those exact words) on a regular basis. Recently, one of my friends called to tell me she’d been invited to teach at an online event. The event coordinator made some rather vague and sketchy promises that sent red flags flapping wildly. When I asked my friend about the terms of the contract, she replied, “Contract? They didn’t send a contract. They told me they don’t ‘do’ contracts.” (“We don’t need no stinkin’ contracts!”) For the record: If a “professional” tells you they don’t “do” contracts, run away!If you own a business or are a public speaker and you don’t use contracts, give yourself a gentle head-smack. Starting today, commit to using contracts for all your business transactions. I’ll help you understand why contracts are a MUST-HAVE if… … you work with clients … you hire people to work for you … you are selling or enrolling in a service or program … you are organizing or speaking at an event I’ll share several personal examples (and a couple of horror stories). I’ll recommend important items both parties need to agree on, in writing: Scope of workProjected timelines, project milestones, and deadlinesClient responsibilitiesFees, payment plan, and schedulePrivacy and non-disclosure stipulationsCopyright policiesIntellectual property ownership I’ll tell you about some superb legal agreements, prepared by an intellectual property attorney, that are much, much more affordable than paying attorney fees and court fees, should someone decide to sue you because you are doing business without a contract. A transcript of this episode is at the bottom of this page. Let’s change the lyrics to our sing-along. Sing with me: “We do need those stinkin’ contracts…” Yeah, I know. It doesn’t have the same ring as the original. But if it sticks in your head and reminds you to use contracts, I’m good with that. Massive Action Step: Invest in contract templates You need to be equipped with legal templates to protect your business dealings. I recommend Bobby Klinck’s Template Library. Bobby is a
67 - The Problem with Vanity Numbers, Half-Truths, and Swollen Egos
Aug 9 2021
67 - The Problem with Vanity Numbers, Half-Truths, and Swollen Egos
I’m going to share a portion of my author bio with you: Award-winning author, Laura Christianson, wrote her first novel at age 11, and she’s been cranking out prose ever since. A child prodigy, Laura taught herself to type on her mom’s manual Olympia typewriter. By the time she took her first typing class in ninth grade, she could accurately type 40 words per minute. Dedicated to educating others, Laura has spent 30 years in the classroom. You may be thinking, I didn’t know that about her. That’s impressive! I’m going to run out and buy all Laura’s books! Or, you may be thinking, “What a stuck-up, self-absorbed braggart! I’ll never buy any book she writes, ever.” I see this kind of author bio – which I fondly refer to as a “swollen ego” bio – on more than a few author websites and on the backs of their book covers. The bio I just shared with you is full of half-truths that inflate my skills and experience. Here’s the full truth: That award I won? It was a national award for an essay I wrote… when I was in 11th grade. The first novel I wrote at age 11? It was four pages long, and through that experience, I learned that I am not a novel writer. I’ve never attempted to write another novel since. Yes, I have been cranking out prose – which, means “ordinary written or spoken language,” since age 11. As for calling myself an “author”: An “author” is defined as someone who writes books, articles, or reports. While I have published three books, most of the prose I’ve gotten paid for writing consists of articles (for me, article-writing pays the bills far better than book writing). Touting myself as an “author” might be stretching the truth just a tad. I did teach myself to type on my mom’s manual typewriter so I could write that first novel – the four-page one. And I was the fastest and most accurate typist in my beginning typing class in high school. But I’m not sure the child prodigy accolade would hold up in court. My final line: Dedicated to educating others, Laura has spent 30 years in the classroom. Yes, I am dedicated to educating others. And I have spent a lot of time in the classroom. Nineteen of those 30 years were as a student, K-12, followed by four years of college, followed by two years for my master’s degree. Then I spent 11 more years teaching English and Journalism. If you add all those years up, they equal 30 years in the classroom. Plus, I’ve taught at several writers conferences per year since 2004, so if I really felt like stretching the truth, I could throw in 17 more years “in the classroom.” Laura has spent 47 years in the classroom! Impressive, huh? Sure, my swollen ego bio packed with half-truths makes me sound somewhat impressive, but stretching the truth is rarely a good idea. Ok, it’s NEVER a good idea. Stretching the truth may cause someone to take a second look at you, to offer you a book contract, or to hire you to work for them. But then what happens? This person begins working with you, and they discover that your swollen ego bio is mostly a pack of lies. This may cause them to distrust you or even, to fire you. In this episode, I’m going to share my thoughts about three additional swollen ego half-truths writers are promoting – and that publishing industry professionals often recommend writers do as a means of building their platform. This is an important conversation to have, because vanity metrics are a big thing in the publishing industry. At the very least, we
66 - Debunking 7 Email Marketing Myths
Jul 26 2021
66 - Debunking 7 Email Marketing Myths
I am about halfway through leading a 7-week group coaching program in which I’m teaching and mentoring a small group of writers as they create four items essential for growing an email list: a lead magnet, signup form or landing page, welcome message, and content calendar. Since email marketing training is one of my core service areas, I am diligent about keeping up-to-date with the latest, greatest. I listen to podcasts, read blog posts, and follow Facebook group discussions pertaining to email marketing. I have discovered – not surprisingly – that misinformation and bad advice about email marketing abounds. During Episode 66, I’m going to give you some tough love. I’ll debunk 7 myths about email marketing, all of which I’ve seen during the past few weeks. Myth #1: No one reads emails anymore. Massive action step: Open your email marketing platform (such as MailChimp, ConvertKit, AWeber, Mailerlite, etc.). What percentage of your subscribers opened your most recent five messages (aka, newsletters, broadcasts, campaigns, emails)? If fewer than 25% of your subscribers opened those messages, that’s means it’s time to clean your email list. Learn how to clean your list in episode 24: List Cleaning Gets Rid of Deadbeat Subscribers. Myth #2: You must have a website before you can start building an email list. Massive action steps: Don’t have a website yet? I will help you craft the core content that’ll go on each page of your website.Get started with my FREE cheatsheet and video training: The 7 Biggest Website Turnoffs.Begin planning the content that’ll go on each page of your site with my FREE Website Page Planner.Learn about our custom WordPress website design & development. Myth #3: Never attempt to market or sell anything via email. Massive action step: List three specific ideas for