Turn Words Into Wealth With Aurora Winter

Can you have a business with a soul through writing? How does the business of fiction differ from non-fiction? What are some tips for pitching a book for film & TV? All this and more with Aurora Winter.

In the intro, 100 book marketing ideas [Written Word Media]; 25 indie authors tips to finding success [Self Publishing Advice]; BookFunnel for audiobooks; Bookfunnel as landing page for Facebook Ads; TIME signs licensing deal with OpenAI; ALCS AI licensing survey; my 2020 book on AI for authors and publishing.

Plus, Corfu on Instagram and proving I am human; In My Time of Dying by Sebastian Junger; Eruption by Michael Crichton and James Patterson; De-Extinction of the Nephilim on JFPennBooks; Other stores].


Today’s show is sponsored by Draft2Digital, self-publishing with support, where you can get free formatting, free distribution to multiple stores, and a host of other benefits. Just go to www.draft2digital to get started.

This show is also supported by my Patrons. Join my Community at Patreon.com/thecreativepenn 

Aurora Winter is the multi-award-winning author of nonfiction business books and teen fantasy novels, as well as a publisher, TV producer, and serial entrepreneur.

You can listen above or on your favorite podcast app or read the notes and links below. Here are the highlights and the full transcript is below. 

Show Notes

  • How writing can help people during difficult times
  • Actionable ways to turn grief into gratitude
  • Tips for pitching to producers
  • The importance of patience and connections in the film industry
  • How self-development can lead to increased opportunities
  • How and when to delegate tasks to a virtual assistant
  • The neuroscience behind effective pitches

You can find Aurora at AuroraWinter.com, and her latest book at MagicMysteryAndTheMultiverse.com.

Transcript of Interview with Aurora Winter

Joanna: Aurora Winter is the multi-award-winning author of nonfiction business books and teen fantasy novels, as well as a publisher, TV producer, and serial entrepreneur. So welcome to the show, Aurora.

Aurora: It’s so great to be on the show with you, Joanna.

Joanna: I’m excited to talk to you. First up—

Tell us a bit more about you and how you got into writing and publishing.

Aurora: Well, my life changed when I was just nine years old, and I first read the Narnia series by CS Lewis. As I reached for the last book in that series, I just felt such a thrill of anticipation, but also anticipatory grief.

I realized the moment that my little nine-year-old hand touched that book, that writers are kinds of wizards. That with just ink on white paper, we can transport the reader to another place in time, even somewhere that doesn’t even exist.

In that moment, my little nine-year-old heart decided I would do whatever it took to become a great writer, like CS Lewis, and I’m still working on that.

Then CS Lewis changed my life a second time after my husband died suddenly. He was only 33, and our son was four. I read CS Lewis’s book, A Grief Observed, which was later made into a movie, and that book so touched me because he was willing to share those mad midnight moments. It allowed me to feel like it’s okay, I can get through this. So two times, once when I was 31, and once when I was nine, CS Lewis changed my life, and he was already dead.

What better way to leave a lasting legacy and help other people than to write books? What better way to uplift, inform, and inspire others?

Joanna: How did you get from the nine year old who really wanted to write—we’re going to come back to the grief—but you have had loads of businesses. As I said, you’re like a serial entrepreneur. You’ve done loads. So was it a case like many of us, that it was just not a proper job to go into writing? How did you end up back in writing?

Aurora: When I went to university, my father who’s an economist, scoffed at me when I said that I wanted to major in English. He’s like, there’s no money in that, do something sensible. So I studied economics, I have an MBA now.

Yet, I always had this passion for writing. So I took a minor in languages and literature, and I never stopped writing. I was writing journals, or as a nine-year-old, I wrote little illustrated stories that never got beyond chapter three.

Then eventually, one thing leads to another. I actually got sick, to be honest. I was running a profitable business with my husband. We had launched a yacht sales company, it was a seven-figure business. We sold $3 million of boats in one week when I was pregnant.

I’m like, okay, this is a very lucrative business, and yet my soul was sick. I was missing writing. So after my baby was born, I got up at 4 a.m. to write, and then I looked after the baby, and then I did the accounting for the company, and I got sick. I got chronic fatigue syndrome, or Epstein Barr.

I realized I couldn’t put my soul aside forever, that there would be a price to pay. So I went back into writing screenplays.

Then, this is a little mini miracle, can you believe it, a feature film came to shoot in Vancouver, BC, Canada, where I lived at the time. The production manager for John Badham, who directed the movie Stakeout and Bird on a Wire called and said, “Hey, we need to use a boat. Can we rent one of your boats?”

I heard my husband answering the phone, “We don’t rent boats. We’ve got brand new $200,000 boats for sale.” I’m like, “Wait a minute, hold on! Hang on a second. I’m a screenwriter. Yes, we do rent boats if it’s John Badham calling.”

So my husband skippered the boat and I crewed. I met Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn, and the first assistant director on that shoot Peter Marshall and I became friends. Later he hired me to write the first screenplay that I wrote for real money.

So what are the chances that the universe would actually bring that right to me? Then through various other miracles, my life changed and I ended up in film and television.

Joanna: Wow. Okay, we’re going to come back to that. I know it’s a difficult topic, but you’ve written about the death of your husband, and many people listening, I mean, everyone at some point is going to go through grief. Of course, for you, the very early tragic death of your husband.

You’ve also helped others with grief, which again, you turned your own trouble into helping others.

How can writing help people with difficult times?

If people are going through this right now or it’s something that they’re suffering, even if they don’t want to publish their words, I think that’s really important. How can writing help that situation?

Aurora: Well, you wrote about it so beautifully in Writing the Shadow: Turn Your Inner Darkness Into Words, which I highly recommend. I love this book, I have it right by my night table. It’s a beautiful addition that you did on Kickstarter.

What you just said about even if it’s not being published, I think that’s the first thing to lean into. Write for yourself at first. Don’t think about publishing at first, especially if you’re writing about grief. Writers pay attention. The act of writing is paying attention.

You would be surprised how you can alchemize pain into wisdom, grief into gratitude, if you take the time to first vent and just get all that stuff out on the page.

Then later, for example, my first published book, From Heartbreak to Happiness, which was endorsed by Dr. Wayne Dyer, my hero, was simply my diary of healing through grief.

When I reread my diary, I was floored to notice how many times my prayers had been answered, but I hadn’t been grateful at the time because the prayers were answered three months later, six months later. I hadn’t noticed, hey, I prayed for that.

There is value in writing and in reviewing what you have written. That will bring you greater wisdom.

So my 90-day challenge for the listeners is write every day, even for five minutes in your journal. Read every day, you can start with reading the book Writing the Shadow by Joanna Penn, it’s amazing. Then review what you have written once a week.

If you do that for 90 days, I promise you, your life will transform. You will start to notice the things that you are complaining about. If you’re still complaining about something 90 days later, you should do something about it, or you should just stop complaining.

You write in your book, Writing the Shadow, about how grateful you were that you were in so much pain working in IT that you finally shifted.

There’s value in pain, and if we’re complaining or suffering, either we need to accept, forgive, or release.

The past will never change, but we do have the present moment we can change. So there’s a great value in writing about grief or any kind of suffering that you’re going through.

Joanna: Yes, I mean, you said it before about “my soul was sick.” Sometimes we do have to be in those very difficult places. I’m not saying, obviously, that people should die, but people do die. That is the reality of life. Turning that, as you said, into gratitude is amazing.

I do just want to say there for reviewing what we’ve written, I do read back some of my journals from like 20 years ago, and some things never change, but we hope that other things move on.

Aurora: Yes. Well, I’ve studied happiness extensively, as you mentioned. I later launched a company called The Grief Coach Academy, which is being run by an amazing woman now, Audrey White. So it continues on, although I’ve gone on to focus on other things.

I created a systemized process for releasing and transforming grief into gratitude.

Anyway, one of the key things that everybody can do, you can do this starting now, and I did it last night, I do it every night, is just list three things that you’re grateful for.

You can write it down, or what I do is just as I’m falling asleep, I think about the day, and I acknowledge three things that happened during the day that I can be grateful for.

You can deepen this practice by acknowledging how your character trait or your choices helped lead to that happy thing. For example, last night, I was grateful that I’ve just bought a car for my son. He got a nice 2019 BMW i3, and he’s like all happy and skippy about it.

So I was grateful for the prosperity to be able to help him buy a car. I was grateful that he was so happy. Also, I noticed that it shifted his identity, which is the highest leverage thing you can do for another person, as Tony Robbins would say. So that is one of the simple things everybody can do. It’s a happiness hack. It takes like three minutes, and I recommend you do it daily.

Joanna: Actually, on that, I can go even faster. I use Notes on my iPhone, and I just dictate. I have found that dictating just means it’s almost less repetitive.

Some days you’re grateful for the same things, and you think, is it worth being grateful for this again? But yes it is, and those are the things we don’t want to change. So yes, I found dictation actually makes a real difference.

So coming back to the film and TV because I find this really interesting. You had an interview recently on the Self-Publishing Advice site where —

You mentioned the importance of writing a book, not a screenplay, if you want to pitch for film and TV, which is something I also learned recently.

So can you talk a bit about this, why writing a book is better, because you have written screenplays as well. Give us any other tips for pitching IP to producers that don’t involve licensing boats!

Aurora: Yes, that’s probably not too repeatable, so here’s how I can help the listeners. I have a background in film and television, I worked for Canada’s largest film and television production company. I worked as a vice president of another production company in the States in Los Angeles.

Then I launched my own film and television production company. We raised $5 million to that and made eight films. So I have about, I don’t know, 300 hours of production that I was connected with in some ways.

My development budget when I was working in Toronto was one and a half million dollars just to develop projects, and I have never optioned the screenplay from a first-time screenwriter. It did not happen. It doesn’t happen. But so many times I would option books.

So there is a very common thing in film and television to option a book. So most of the listeners are authors, take advantage of that.

The second thing is I’m not a lawyer, but as far as I know, you cannot copyright an idea, you can only copyright a specific expression of an idea.

A book asserts your copyright.

I actually had the personal experience of pitching a TV series to a very large US broadcaster that you would know the name of, but I won’t say it. My business partner at the time signed the release that they make you sign when you pitch something, which basically says we might be pitched something similar.

Anyway, they basically stole the idea for the TV series, and they made it, but I didn’t see a dime. So there’s a risk when you’re just pitching a treatment or a screenplay that having a book helps mitigate.

Also with the book, you’ve got something. An unsold screenplay just gathers dust.

With a book that can be optioned as a screenplay, you can get awards, sales, proof of concept. You can make some momentum.

Joanna: There’s a great book called Hollywood Vs. the Author, which I always recommend. It tells people how to protect themselves.

I feel like sometimes we focus so much on protecting our work, we don’t actually get it in front of people. I think that’s kind of the opposite issue. So any tips on pitching, to get our books in front of people?

Aurora: Well, absolutely. I’m actually going to the Banff Media Festival in the beginning of June with two of my clients because I help people out with their books and help them pitch. So what you want to do is —

You want to get your pitch down to be really clear.

So for example, my fantasy series Magic, Mystery and the Multiverse, that pitch is it’s basically “Harry Potter meets Doctor Who.” So you want it to be that tight, and then you can go on from there. Then if somebody’s interested, you can tell them a little bit more.

So about Magic, Mystery and the Multiverse, in addition to saying it’s like Harry Potter meets Doctor Who, I can say it won the American Fiction Award for best preteen book, and it won the Reader’s Choice Award and several other awards. So, already that’s enough for somebody to go, “You know what, I only do thrillers. I’m not interested in YA fantasy,” or they can say, “Tell me more.”

So for example, I’m meeting with BBC again in a couple of weeks. They expressed interest in a 12-part half hour series. We’ll see if that goes anywhere. Interest is not a deal, interest is not a greenlight.

Now that I have interest from BBC, I can meet with Paramount or Warner Brothers or Universal or Netflix and say, hey, they’re interested, are you interested? Then we can perhaps get it get a deal.

Joanna: Yes, and it takes so long, doesn’t it? This is the other thing I feel people don’t realize is that it’s also about relationships. It’s interesting that you got into it because you met that person on the boat all those years ago. Then you got into it, and then things develop.

So I think that’s the other thing, if you really want your book and you want to see something on the screen—

Patience and connections make all the difference.

Aurora: There was an interesting story about the Banff Film Festival. So after my husband died, just shortly thereafter, maybe six months after, a friend of mine was trying to drag me to a party for people in film in Vancouver. I’m like, I don’t want to go, I don’t feel like it.

He’s like, “You are moping, and I don’t blame you for grieving, but you’re getting out of the house now. Get dressed.” So anyway, I went to the party and ended up sitting beside somebody I didn’t know.

He said, “Oh, what do you do?” So I told him I was a screenwriter. He said, “Oh, well, what are you writing?” Then I told him what I was writing because I got all excited about it. He’s like, “I think you should represent the province of British Columbia and pitch that at the Banff Film and Television Festival.”

I’m like, what? Who are you? Turned out I happened to be sitting by the head of film for British Columbia BC Film Commission. Anyway, so then I had a moment of do I say no or do I say yes. This is a tip everybody can do.

When you are invited to do something outside of your comfort zone, take a deep breath and say yes.

I said yes. Then I got a phone call the next day from a producer. She’s like, “Well, would you mind if I followed you around and did a documentary film of you and a couple of the people who are pitching?”

I’m like, okay, yes. So then my shoulder went into spasm just before the pitch. So I’m like, oh, no, I’m going to pitch as a first-time screenwriter who has nothing produced, who has no momentum—who can sell boats, though—to 600 film and television executives. If they miss it because they’re not in the room, they can watch it later on national television.

Joanna: Wow.

Aurora: But anyway, that pitch for that screenplay created a bidding war, and my agent fielded offers from Spelling and Universal and other places. That basically ended up changing my life. So the right words, at the right time, to the right people can change your life.

That launched, initially, a six-figure deal, and then went on to create, basically, multiple-million dollar business creating film and television. So it was all because I was willing to say yes and step into something I was not comfortable about. Later, they used the documentary to teach the art of pitching in the Banff Film school, so that was kind of cool.

Joanna: That is cool. I also want to note that you are clearly someone who reads a lot of self-help books and is very into self-development. I think this is a very important thing, too. I feel like you’ve obviously invested in yourself. I used to listen to Tony Robbins audios back in the day as well.

By changing your mindset, you changed your actions, and that led to these opportunities.

I feel that so often people almost expect these things to happen. Even though you’re saying that it happened quite quickly, I feel like you put in a lot of work on yourself in order to be in that position.

Aurora: Thank you for acknowledging that. Yes, a lot of work on myself. It’s a never-ending process. I remember that at one point you said something like you wanted to be like the female version of Tony Robbins, and I think you’re doing a brilliant job.

Joanna: The quiet one!

Aurora: Yes, an introverted one. It never ends, you know, working on yourself is the most valuable thing you can do.

Joanna: Yes, and I noticed that we both have Learner and Strategic in our top five Clifton Strengths.

Aurora: Yes, we have a lot in common there.

Joanna: Which I thought was interesting, because I mean, we do love learning. I think this makes all the difference. Just going back to your business, so you have a book called Turn Words Into Wealth: Blueprint for Your Business, Brand, and Book. It has a lot of ideas about how to make more money with books. I’m interested because you’ve done so many different types of writing—

What do you see as the difference between the business models of fiction and nonfiction? How do these play out in your business now?

Aurora: I think fiction has so many opportunities for movies and merchandising. As I mentioned, BBC is interested in my fantasy series Magic, Mystery and the Multiverse. If that deal goes, that will be extremely lucrative.

Also, merchandising. That’s a YA fantasy, a young adult fantasy, so there’s so many things in that novel that could be t-shirts, cups, but also there’s like some cool magical cuffs, kind of like Wonder Woman cuffs that the protagonist Anna has. So those are merchandising opportunities.

Sometimes nonfiction can be turned into movies, like The Secret is an example of that. Or Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which shockingly became a Netflix special—I’m sorry, Netflix series—even though English is not her first language because people like to watch other people who are hoarders tidy up.

Joanna: I was just thinking, I watched that series.

Aurora: I definitely learned how to fold from her.

Joanna: Yes, how to fold. Exactly.

Aurora: So nonfiction is stronger at helping you get speaking engagements, or getting on podcasts, or consulting or training. In fact, nonfiction books can be used to build any business that has some kind of expertise.

Both fiction and nonfiction can help you put your hat in the ring for the highest paid profession, which is speaking. So in the book Turn Words Into Wealth, I go in depth into seven different models to create seven figures with your business.

Not all the models will work for you or for your particular book, but take a look and choose one, and then implement it strategically.

Joanna: Easier said than done, obviously. I’ve embraced who I am at this point, that I’m a multi-passionate creator. We’ll come back to the entrepreneurial side. I also like to do everything myself, which is a strength and a weakness.

So I feel like I have a lot of these streams, but I have to split my attention between the different streams. Thus, they each become, I guess, less effective.

Have you got any tips for people like me, perhaps who can do lots of different things and want to create lots of different things, but for whom focus is a weakness?

Aurora: People like you? You mean people like us. I feel like I’m pretty much the same. I have the same strengths and flaws.

I want to acknowledge that the fact that you write both fiction and nonfiction really helped me give myself permission to start writing fiction again in 2020 because I had taken a pause from that. I wrote fiction when I was writing screenplays, and then I wrote only nonfiction as an author.

Okay, so here’s some tips for outsourcing. Firstly, bad mistake that I’ve made, don’t do this, don’t first delegate to your VA, “handle my email.” That is a difficult task and not easy to systematize.

Assign a repeatable task that can be systematized, tracked, and measured. Then allow some time to train the person and track and measure results.

Here’s an example. So like two months ago, I hired a new virtual assistant, but all I gave her to do is just one task. She only books me on podcasts. Then now that she’s got the system down, I could give her more tasks, but how do I measure her results?

Like most people have virtual assistants who are working remotely. It’s hard to know if they’re working ten hours, or one hour, forty hours. So I told her just track how many podcasts you book.

So I know how many she books per month, I know how many hours she’s charging, and we both know that is the criteria by which you will be judged. So that is useful, and now that she’s got that down, I could give her some other tasks to do.

Or another example, I thought this was a rather good use of the strategic. I’ve got strategic, activator, learner, relator, maximizer, and strategic in Clifton Strengths. So I use some of those skills.

When I wanted to hire a cover designer for Magic, Mystery and the Multiverse, I wanted to have a great cover. But what does it really matter what I think is a great cover? What matters is what kind of covers are actually selling in fantasy.

So I reverse engineered it, and you can do this too. I looked at independently published fantasy books that were best sellers, using K-lytics as the research to give me that data.

Then I looked at those books, and I looked at their covers, and I looked inside the ones that I liked the covers for the cover designer, and then I contacted that cover designer.

So that was more effortful than maybe going through Reedsy, or 99designs or DesignCrowd or Upwork, but the result is an award-winning cover that hit the market’s bullseye. So those are two little tips that I think listeners can find useful.

Joanna: How do you find people to help you? How did you find that VA?

Aurora: I asked my friends, who have you worked with as VA that that you’d recommend?

Joanna: Okay, so personal recommendations.

Aurora: I have had actually really good success. I have a great assistant that I found on Upwork who does a lot of behind the scenes. There’s so many formatting, reformatting, and re-uploading books and covers, and tweak this, and oh no, we won another award, put that on the thing.

So I have somebody that has done that for me. I’ve done many covers on Upwork. I have another cover designer I work with on Reedsy for a series of legal thrillers that I’m working with the client Michael Stockham on. You know, he’s a New York Times bestselling cover designer.

I think the best thing is not to try to find one person to do everything, but zero in on what is a repeatable task that you need done, and who is the best person to do it.

Joanna: This is definitely one of my weaknesses. I do have some people, and I have had other people over the years, but when it’s like, well, who’s the best person to do this? It’s often, well I am, clearly I’m the best person.

Aurora: I want to comment on that. Yes, we have to get over that. Like I noticed with myself, I am a recovering perfectionist, and still only partly recovered. So it does trip me up. Like I know I would be the best person.

I wouldn’t be the best person to do a cover design, but I would be the best person to book myself on podcasts. I wanted to be on Joanna Penn’s podcast, so I reached out to her personally because it mattered to me.

We have to get over that because there’s only so many hours in the day. If your time is worth $500 an hour or $1,500 an hour, as Joanna Penn’s is probably, then if you’re doing $20 an hour tasks, this is not a wise sacrifice.

We are sacrificing doing a great job at something, say Joanna Penn is the only one who can write her thrillers, nobody else can do that. So if she’s also, I don’t know, uploading audios to have her podcast broadcast widely, and she could delegate that, that would be better.

Joanna: That would be better. Actually, it’s really funny, as we record this, I have just finally outsourced my podcast production process, only after 15 years.

Aurora: Okay, okay.

Joanna: So I get a point for outsourcing. My cleaner was here today, so I mean, this is another point.

It doesn’t have to be that you outsource stuff around your author business. For me, paying for a cleaner means that I can spend that time working on my book.

So I feel like there are different things we can do in our lives to value the things that we can do. I mean, sometimes you do have to bootstrap things. People might not have the money.

One of the first things I did when I started out as an author is I did hire a bookkeeper. I was like, I am not reconciling all of these things, like that is not something I want to do.

So my first virtual assistant was a bookkeeper. So I feel like we do this one thing at a time, but as you get more into practice, you can do it more.

Aurora: Another quick little tip, like I find myself sometimes feeling annoyed and resentful when I’m uploading a book, again, to KDP because the cover art designer, I don’t know, had a typo or something.

Then I catch myself, I’m like, “Aurora, you’re choosing to do this yourself because you love this fantasy project. It really matters to you, and you want to baby it along until it gets a little bit more life.” So like I coach myself to be grateful in that moment.

If I notice a pattern of ongoing, “Ugh, I can’t believe I’m doing this,” it’s time for me to look for somebody else to do that.

For example, my son totally made my day because he did a whole bunch of art for the fantasy series on NightCafe, and the images blew me away.

It gave me this surge of creativity about the project. He’s got a bachelor in Game Art and Design, so Bachelor of Science, so he knows how to do cover art and to do much more quickly than I do. It gave me such a surge. So there can be a lot of value in in delegating as well.

Joanna: Yes, I definitely outsource my cover design. Although I am having fun with AI art as well. I think NightCafe has a lot of AI tools. Super fun.

Just coming back on that, the kind of outsourcing, returning to the screenwriting and pitching things.

Now, I think most authors, like 99% of authors, would like an agent to pitch their projects, even if they’re an independent author. That can be a difficult sell because with most literary agents, you’re pitching them for the whole book, for all the publishing and things like that. How are you managing that as an independent author?

Aurora: Like you, I have freedom as one of my top values. Actually, it’s my top value. I think it is for both of us. So in the book, Turn Words Into Wealth, I go in depth about why I believe that independent publishing and independent pitching, and getting over this whole thought that you need a big publisher or you need an agent, is the best strategy.

So in my experience, it’s harder for you, or for anyone, to pitch an agent than to pitch the project. So I think, in my experience, the most valuable skill is to learn how to use your words, so that the right words, at the right time, can change your life when you say them to the right people.

Rather than get caught up in the like 1990 mindset that you need an agent or you need a big publisher, why not learn how to pitch.

Then maybe you’ll join me next year at the Banff Film and Television Festival, or join me at Napier, or join me in Cannes, and pitch it.

Nobody is going to be better at pitching your project than you are, but you do need to practice and decide that it’s worth your time. Just really quick on that, it is worth your time.

There’s a really great book called Significant Objects. They put one hundred different objects on eBay, with or without story that added significance. It wasn’t a pitch, it was a significance. For example, “These are my grandmother’s pot mitts. I remember coming home from school and she would bake us chocolate chip cookies, and it was amazing.”

There’s no value to me in buying those pot mitts because you had cookies from your grandma, but it added significance, and the value increase was 27-fold. So adding a story adds value to the listener. I mean, I’ve shared a few stories today with Joanna Penn. Probably one of them is going to stick with you, I don’t know which one.

If it’s worth the time for somebody like Steve Jobs to practice his Apple launch pitch and presentation for three weeks when he is running a huge company, then I think it’s worth all of our time as authors to get good at pitching what we’re up to.

Joanna: Do you have any resources that you recommend, in terms of books or courses around pitching particularly?

Aurora: I really like the book Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff. I also like what you just said about gratitude and you recording it on audio. Record yourself on video or audio, and you’ll kind of notice if you pay attention that, oh, I talked too long about that. Then get it tighter and tighter.

It’s one of the things I do with my clients. Like one of my clients yesterday, he’s got a 10-minute meeting with Universal or something, I think it was a big company anyway. So he’s practiced what is he going to say in that 10 minutes.

So when you learn about neuroscience, I studied neuroscience, you want to understand the process of how to pitch something. So there’s basically three steps because you need to address the three different brain portions that we have.

So he rehearsed this with me yesterday. You can rehearse with yourself or with a friend. Basically, the first thing to do is address the croc brain. Then second thing to do is address the midbrain. Then the third thing to do is you can then address the cerebral cortex.

Most people, especially educated people, try to just address the cerebral cortex. It’s the verbal equivalent of sending a complete stranger an Excel spreadsheet by email. They’re not going to open it.

So the simple analogy is the croc brain is the ancient reptilian brain. It’s looking for, is this sexy? Is this exciting? Is this glittery? Is it something to mate with or snack on? Is it attractive? So that would be the equivalent of your subject line in an email.

So for Magic, Mystery and the Multiverse, that equivalent to that is, you know, it’s like Harry Potter meets Doctor Who. Those are two of the very best fantasy bestsellers of all time. Doctor Who was the longest running TV series, just as an aside.

Or with the book, Turn Words into Wealth, the title is addressing the croc brain. It’s kind of like, what is this about? So people who are interested in turning their words into wealth were like, okay, tell me more. So your first step addressing the croc brain should be very quick, a couple of seconds.

The second step is to address the midbrain. Human beings survived for so long because we were not alone. We survived as tribes, as communities, as families. We are hyper vigilant for social status.

So for example, even being on this podcast with Joanna Penn, it creates social status because Joanna thinks I’m worth talking to. Conversely, if you happen to know me, I think Joanna is worth talking to. So that enhances both of our social status.

When you’re pitching your book, you want to address the second thing next, the social status.

So for Turn Words Into Wealth, I say that it’s won Outstanding Nonfiction Book of the Year in its category, which is publishing.

For Magic, Mystery and the Multiverse, I say that it won the American Fiction Award Best Preteen Book in 2023, and it also won the Reader’s Choice Award in 2023. Then in 2024, it was a finalist in the UK Wishing Shelf, which is really cool because they have 150 kids actually read the books.

Okay, so for whatever your project or book is, what is the second step for you? How could you indicate that other people who are awesome think it’s good?

For example, my first published book, From Heartbreak to Happiness, Dr. Wayne Dyer endorsed it. He said, “I read every page of this beautiful diary. It touched my heart, and I’m sure it will impact yours.” Okay, so each of those is an example of doing the second step around the midbrain.

Then the third step, now that you’ve got people listening, then you can go into more depth. Either give them the synopsis or the plot summary, or whatever you’d like to do with that.

So for Magic, Mystery and the Multiverse, it would be: Anna is a 13-year-old girl who wants to be an actress. She grew up in Los Angeles. Her father is a very busy and distracted film producer who’s off to shoot a movie in Africa.

So he sends his daughter Anna and his son Zachary to London to be with his brother and to go to boarding school while he’s busy shooting a movie. So they arrived in London, they’re all excited. They want to see the Tower of London, but there’s something even more interesting in their uncle’s garage.

It’s this experimental car. He says, “Just stay away from the experimental car, I’ve got to go out for a bit.” Of course, that’s like a magnet. The kids jump in the experimental car, and Anna, who is an optimist and a little bit reckless, fiddles with it and pushes the button to go on a random joy ride.

This takes the kids off the planet Earth to another planet entirely in the multiverse. When they land, they get into trouble immediately because their vehicle is out of fuel. And oh, no, they happen to land on somebody and apparently kill her.

This gives them instant friends because the person they killed is notoriously evil, and instant enemies because other people are out to get vengeance. So then the rest of the story is about will Anna be able to get back to planet Earth?

Her brother gets kidnapped, will she be able to save him? Will the forces of evil on Telesora be overcome by Anna and her brother? Or will the reverse happen, and we will never see the kids again? So that’s what Magic, Mystery and the Multiverse is about.

So the third step is the longest step, where you give a bit more detail about whatever you’re up to. So between each one of these three steps, you want to pause so that the other person has a chance to say something so that it’s more of a conversation.

So I go into more detail in Turn Words Into Wealth about how to use the neuroscience of communication, but hopefully that made sense.

Joanna: Yes, I think it’s so important. As you say, this is a preteen book, and then someone says, well, actually, I’m looking for horror books. Then that’s probably not a good match.

Often I feel people are pitching and pitching, but they’re not thinking about the person on the other side.

So as you say, even you can say one line. Then are they actually interested or do they completely blank?

I want to come back on social status.

Have you found at all that being an independent author has meant that you have a lower social status?

Or has it just not even been an issue with this?

Aurora: I used to really worry about that and fretted that that was the case. I’m over it now. It’s whatever it is, right? I feel like I have status for other things, but I’m not a Colleen Hoover, I’m not a New York Times bestselling author. There’s things I don’t have.

For all of the listeners, there’s things that you’re strong at. I have launched multiple seven-figure businesses from scratch. That’s pretty kick ass. I’ve got a background in film and television, and that’s pretty kick ass. I have success knowing how to start something from scratch and make it work, that’s awesome. Plus, I have written ten books. That’s quite a few.

So I am not willing to care more about what other people think of me than what I think of me. For me, I’m a very independent, very entrepreneurial, freedom focused person. Why would I want to have a publisher to dilute or mute or change my message? I don’t.

In fact, in the book Turn Words Into Wealth, I give a number of examples, but the one that I liked the most is David Goggins, who wrote the book Can’t Hurt Me. He’s a Navy Seal and a long-distance runner, a pretty amazing athlete.

He met with an agent in New York who told him that if he self-published his book, he’d be lucky to sell 5000 copies. He decided to self-publish, and he’s dyslexic, so he had to hire a ghostwriter to write it.

Then he went on over a thousand podcasts to market it, and the result is he probably made $20 million from his book and his audiobook. He sold over a million copies of the book in the first year and 600,000 copies of the audiobook.

If he had gone with traditional wisdom, he would have seen a fraction of that, and maybe he wouldn’t have been able to afford to spend so much time doing the podcast.

Why give up 90% of the revenue when you still have to do 90% of the work?

Joanna: Yes. I mean, there are pros and cons for everyone. I didn’t know David Goggins had gone indie. That’s really interesting.

We’re almost out of time, so I do want to just come to a final thing. So in Turn Words Into Wealth you say, “There is more opportunity and more danger than ever before due to exponential technological, social, and economic change.”

Now, obviously, I talk a lot about surfing this wave of change. AI, in particular, direct sales, and all of this. So given you’re always learning, always changing direction—

What are your recommendations for making the most of this extraordinary, but also difficult, time?

Aurora: Well, I have a couple of tips. First tip, keep listening to The Creative Penn podcast.

Joanna: I didn’t even pay you for this!

Aurora: It’s true. It’s a godsend for leaning into this with excitement instead of terror.

Secondly, have fun. For example, those NightCafe images that my son did yesterday for Magic, Mystery and the Multiverse, like they made my day. They were so much fun, and now they’ve sparked a bunch of things that I’m going to write, just by seeing the images. I also put them on TikToks.

Allocate time for learning.

This is something I needed to coax myself into because I would get impatient. When I shifted my mindset and leaned into my learner Clifton Strengths and allocate time for learning, then that helped me reframe it.

Instead of a frustrating thing that I had to learn, like a good thing that I had to learn. So a couple of things that I am playing with, pick one of these maybe, and do them. There’s Authors.ai, PickFu.com, Descript. Joanna has talked about ChatGPT, and SudoWrite, and ProWritingAid, or NightCafe. Like pick one, and maybe spend a little time playing with it.

Joanna: I feel like leaning into that curiosity, there are so many things to look at. I mean, for example, music. I’m not into music at all, but a lot of authors are, and there’s so many music discovery tools and creation tools that I know people are playing with. That’s not my bag. I don’t do that.

I play with the image stuff as well, and of course, the various writing tools. It’s really listening to your curiosity. If you hate something, don’t force yourself.

Do the things that are interesting to you. It might be a challenge at first, but you might discover things you really enjoy.

Aurora: Exactly right. The same thing with marketing. Don’t try to do all kinds of possible marketing. Double down on the ones that make sense for you.

Like I love talking on podcasts, so I do podcasts. I do TikTok, and I do Kickstarter. That’s it. Those are my three things. I can’t do everything, so I picked the three things that are the most fun or interesting for me.

Joanna: Absolutely.

Where can people find you, and your books, and everything you do online?

Aurora: Oh, thanks for asking, Joanna. Well, I am launching the second book in my Magic, Mystery and the Multiverse series. I would love, love, love if people would follow me on Kickstarter.

You can go to MagicMysteryAndTheMultiverse.com, and it will redirect you to Kickstarter when Kickstarter is live. Otherwise it will give you other goodies when Kickstarter is not live. Just a little tip. If you do a Kickstarter, do a redirect so that you can take advantage of sending people to somewhere else after the Kickstarter is not live.

My book Turn Words Into Wealth, which we talked about today, is available on Amazon. If you’d like some gift videos and the gift Thought Leader Launch starter library, you can get that on my website AuroraWinter.com. Thanks so much, Joanna. It was really fun to do this podcast with you.

Joanna: Thanks so much for coming on, Aurora. That was great.

The post Turn Words Into Wealth With Aurora Winter first appeared on The Creative Penn.

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Author: Joanna Penn

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  • June 30, 2024