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What To Know If You’re An Oldest Daughter

Cover Art for the Book “Oldest Daughters” by Patricia Schudy

Patricia Schudy believes “Birth order is a fact, not a fateTM” and her book, “Oldest Daughters: What to know if you are one or have ever been bossed around by one,” features stories from in-depth interviews with more than 100 family members.

The book is the result of a random, online survey, which drew responses from several hundred individuals from diverse ethnicities.

Buy “Oldest Daughters” on Amazon.

The people interviewed share how the position of the first-born daughter impacts adult relationships from siblings to spouses.

I took the time to talk to “Pat” about how she wrote her book, about her career as a reporter and as a former nationally syndicated newspaper columnist (Universal Press Syndicate).

I even got her talking about self-publishing and how to promote her book, so let’s not dillydally!

Start reading all about oldest daughters below in this interview with Patricia Schudy.

Why were you inspired to write a book called “Oldest Daughters?”

Why do you think, Evan?

Because you’re an oldest daughter! (Laughter)

Oh my gosh he won! (Laughter) Yes and I’ve been one all my life, so I just had things that I’ve observed. I had various kind of unwritten, unproven statistic that oldest daughters tend to know, interact with, work with other oldest daughters. One of the stories in the book I wrote is a woman who’s been, I’m not going to mention her companies whatever, but she was … a big time corporate person in a big time company and she said it used to just amaze her, wherever she went, she’d find herself in conversations in work-groups in appointment committees with oldest daughters she said there’s just something at some level where oldest daughters recognize each other. I obviously hadn’t heard that story before I began writing but one of the things that I suggest in the book that I write is go back and look at how many people you know, and this again is for women, of your friends, of your close friends, of your college roommates, your high school best friends, people at your wedding, how many of them were oldest daughters and it is just amazing… so I’ve done a lot of observing. I’ve also observed family relationship, inter-relationships between, and I’m not saying among now, I’m saying between an oldest daughter and one or another sibling, and how the expectations of an oldest daughter in adulthood, and I should’ve said that right away, Evan, this book is about adult oldest daughters this is not a … this is not a book of parenting, this is a book about relationships and because I had observed that relationships, were often, very often, frequently most often, take your pick from the above or all the above, their relationships were so affected by the expectations of family members of the adult oldest daughter that the expectations were the same of her in adulthood as they’d been in childhood and everything in me said, “Woh, we are all adults now, come on!” you know. Let’s look at our relationships now, so long answer to your question of how I became intrigued by the topic that was it.

“… a columnist, is an observer of human nature and of what makes a good story and of being able to interview people to get that good story out and then to write that good story.”

Alright and what’s your background? You’re a psychologist and a journalist?

Not a psychologist! No! Wait a minute. What’s that commercial on television I just play one? I’m not a doctor I just play one on TV. No. I have a psychology minor… In my five children the oldest daughter is a clinical psychologist, so lots of conversational, years of conversations about psychology, plus study on my own academically, but no I am not a psychologist and nor I do I pretend to be in this book. I’m a reporter. A feature writer, which is what I was for 30 years and a columnist, is an observer of human nature and of what makes a good story and of being able to interview people to get that good story out and then to write that good story. It’s very different from writing a memoir because, well, we have to go back before the recent brew ha ha about news, but when I was trained in journalism it was that you are objective unless you are an editorial writer, so I was very used to telling other people’s stories and letting them tell the story.

Well, that’s interesting. Blogging seems to destroy everything that you’re talking about.

Oh, yeah.

Every time I read a blog post I’m 90 percent of the time not impressed.

I struggle with that, which is why I have very few blog posts and posts on my own blog because I don’t want to speak as an oldest daughter, which in marketing that’s what I should do if I want to promote my book, so looking for other stories that are truly relevant to the oldest daughters vision I don’t have a lot to say. In fact, I probably am going to start a new blog just under another website that I own, that’s my own name, and then I’ll write as myself and if somebody cares what I think as myself they can go to that.

When you interview these oldest daughters do you use their names in the book or do you stay away from that? What’s the formula for interviewing other people in a self-published book?

Good question. Well in the first place I didn’t know it was going to be self-published because I didn’t know it was going to take me 10 years to write it and I had just completed some things, which would’ve given me as I know you know the term “writers platform.” By the time I had finished writing and re-writing this book I no longer had an active writer’s platform, so I didn’t want to go through the explaining of all that to possible agents waiting for them to go through a 2 year process waiting 2 years to see — no, I’d written this book. I believed it had important things for readers to read and to know, and so I would self-publish, so that’s what I did. I also wanted to just elaborate a little bit… I did not just interview oldest daughters. This is a book about sibling relationships primarily and under the BISAC codes I think it goes family relationships and sibling relationships… so what I was saying is that I wanted to write a well-balanced book, that meant that I interviewed not only oldest daughters and told their stories, but I looked at the adult oldest daughters from the perspective of siblings brothers and sister and from spouses because these are the people with whom adult relationships function within a family and I could’ve expanded that because I’ve done a lot of corporate work. I could’ve expanded that to oldest daughters in the work place. Well, I didn’t want to write a three-volume book, so I just stuck to family relationships.

“I created an online survey and I’m a big believer in word of mouth and it just circulated and I eventually I had over 800 responses…”

How’d you find these people?

I had written a nationally syndicated column, a youth advice column. I was in, I don’t know, 80 plus newspapers, which is nice… I always point out that I think Doonesbury is in a thousand… but I was happy with my 80 and they were nationwide, and because I’d done a lot of work in 6 or 7 years with that column, with asking for opinions and working with different groups around the country, different high school and college groups, that I created an online survey, I knew how to do that, I created an online survey and I’m a big believer in word of mouth and it just circulated and I eventually I had over 800 responses to it and it is demographically valid, but not statistically valid, which means that through word of mouth people of absolutely every ethnicity responded to it, but not in numbers that would make it statistically valid. Far more Caucasians than say Native Americans and yet had responses from Native Americans, from Asians, from African Americans, from Hispanic, from… I eventually called one category melting pot… I used survey monkey, which is a well-respected survey instrument and that’s how I did it and then on that survey I asked, “Would you be willing” … Evan, I know that knowing me you would absolutely agree with this I am a person of integrity right? Say yes, Evan.

Yes.

Ah, thanks. So, I was, I should’ve said noble, because I did not want, I wanted people to express their feelings, so I did not to the horror later of marketing people I talked to, I did not collect any personal information. The survey was totally anonymous. However, at the very end of it… there was a question, Would you be interested in or willing to talk in a telephone interview about your experiences either as or with an oldest daughter? If so that will require you giving me your name and your phone number, so I had, oh golly, two to 300 of the 800 said yes… Well, I couldn’t do that. I eventually interviewed 125 and that was more than I could include in the book and you asked me about using their name, I always got (that). There’s only one person out of the, gosh, the huge notebook of the printed-out interviews that I have. Only one person that I get just a first name from. Everybody else gave me their name. Some of them, who wanted to be contacted after the book was published, of course when I did the interviews I had no idea how many more years it would take before I published, but they gave me their email addresses and their phone numbers and when I interviewed them, this is your choice. I’m only going to identify people by your first names because suppose your name is Bob Smith and it’s your real name and I publish this story about your oldest daughter and it’s a terrible story and there’s another Bob Smith with an oldest daughter. What are you going to do? So, I only used first names and if they were uncomfortable because the stories they were telling either had some embarrassing aspects to it. I only published one abuse story, but personal stories that the person telling me the story, knew their families would not want to have told, they used an assumed name and I explained that in the introduction to the book. If you see a name in quotes that means, it’s an assumed name.

“… a highly respected Philadelphia Newspaper, had done a series of stories on how juvenile kids were treated in the system including putting them in solitary and underground whatevers and I was just horrified by that. “

You were a journalist in Kansas City?

The very first story I had printed became an inside the magazine cover story… It was on the juvenile justice system and I had the Philadelphia Enquirer, which is not the National Enquirer, please note that, Philadelphia Enquirer, a highly respected Philadelphia Newspaper, had done a series of stories on how juvenile kids were treated in the system including putting them in solitary and underground whatevers and I was just horrified by that. Probably that was the oldest daughter in me, not to mention that I had for three years taught high school, so I took the story idea to a local magazine and asked if I could write a story for ’em. So you know the term Evan on spec? Yes, I could write a story on spec. Well it became a big deal story and that catapulted me into the Kansas City Star and I wrote features and columns for them, over 200 byline there, and I think I have over 300 byline stories, but in my resume I only say 200 because I was also in trade magazines. I was also in National Catholic Reporter and the Catholic Digest because I am by religious affiliation Catholic and so I went to them because I thought they’d be interested in some of the stories and editorials and they were, but my home base was Kansas City… I didn’t mention that kids wrote into us, young people, teenagers, they’re not kids and some of them, eventually we were responding to people in colleges, community colleges and it ran for several years.

How did working for the Kansas City Star result in a column?

In the national column? I was selected… in 1987 I was selected as one of I think there was 17 or 18 of us women who were selected, I don’t know if you even know this person’s name, senator Dale Bumpers was a prominent senator, united state senator, and his wife Betty Bumpers had formed an affiliation with the first Russian cosmonaut who was a woman… and together they felt that if we were going to get out of the cold war situation it would take women to do so. Kind of a precursor to what some of the senators and congressman and governors are now saying about the current situation, that we need more women as elected leaders, but so this group called Peace Links was the first group of American women invited to meetings after president, prime minister, whatever he was Gorbachev mandated glasnost and perestroika and so I was one of the ones selected to go because of my writing.

I was at a book signing of yours recently. How do you set up a book signing as a self-published author?

It’s important to know if there’s a community relations person. If a store is big enough to have a community relations person, they want to bring in authors who will bring in or attract buyers who enter the store, so I cold called for the community relations person… When you’re dealing with a retail store like Barnes and Noble I believe things have to be win win, so if they’re going to give me the opportunity to come in I’m going to do my best and I ’ve learned more and more the more I do these things how to bring people into their store, how to make them glad they had me in their store and the tool I use… is that I look to see what’s on the calendar… I used National Women’s History month because in my book there’s a chapter on that. The Louisville presentation that I’m going to do, I’m going to do it May 2nd and May 2nd is Brothers and Sisters Day, perfect, so I try to find some kind of a link or a hook that the store itself can use in their publications.

Buy “Oldest Daughters” on Amazon.

You have your book on Createspace or Ingram Spark?

Well because Ingram Spark supports libraries and bookstores, Createspace uses amazon, which is a competitor to bookstores, so the first thing that, at least in my experience… that retailers want to know is what your ISBN number is…. and it’s really important. Early on I did this wrong, it’s really important when they get their ISBN number, IBS, well come on Pat, I-S-B-N number, and they look for that in their website, I mean in their system and find that it’s offered through Ingram Spark, what’s very, very, very, did I say very often enough? It’s very important that on your Ingram Spark account page you had checked that books can be returned.

Oh, okay.

That’s critical.

And what does a return look like? They just return it to you or do they return it to Ingram Spark?

Oh, no. There are choices at Ingram Spark in the way you want to do that. You want to have them returned in any condition, returned and sent to you, returned — it’s all off the top of my head Evan. I’m not looking at this.

Yeah. Yeah.

It’s just what I’m recalling or return and destroy and I just mark “return and destroy” … Who knows what kind of condition the books are in depending on the retailer or whatever. All the retailer’s interested in is that they can send these back that they’re not going to be stuck with them and have to pay for them, so if they send them back they get a credit on a bill and then the author gets that deducted from whatever the next month’s royalties are, for example.

Wow, okay cool. Yeah, I didn’t know any that so that’s why I’m asking ya. When I was there with you at your book signing you had some good advice on how to sell books to people, so let’s go over that again because that was realty interesting. Do you remember what you told me?

Oh heaven’s no. (laughter)

“Some of them are hysterically funny. Some of them are hysterically sad, but everybody has a story.”

Well you were like, “You look ’em in the eyes and if they look you in the eyes you can ask them a question?”

Oh, yeah, you read their body language first of all. If somebody’s rushing through the store, Barnes and Noble does it nicely, at least the two that I’ve done, they’ve put me right inside the door, so right away if I see a man on a mission, a person with a purpose and they are zeroing in on where they’re going to go, I’m not going to interrupt them, these people, whatever. A lot of customers are coming in ’cause they really like their bookstores and they want to look at some books that they’ve been interested in and it’s raining outside and a good day to go to Barnes and Noble, so those kind of people, who are more relaxed when they’re coming in, if they look over and they look over at the book signer near the entrance and they kind of, you can read their eyes and see are they reading, whatever, so then you can say “Hi, afternoon!” whatever it is, “I’d love to tell you about my book if you have a few minutes” and some of them say, “Well, I’ll come back later.” and some of them say, “Yeah, what is this oldest daughter stuff?” you know, so then I follow up with depending on what they said, “Are you an oldest daughter?” Obviously, you don’t say that to a man, a male customer. I used to have onetime slogan Oldest daughter: There’s one in everybody’s life. And there is. You cannot talk to anybody who doesn’t know an oldest daughter somewhere. What I learned when I wrote this book is that most people in the families, and this is a book for families, most people within a family had stories to tell about the oldest daughter. Some of them are hysterically funny. Some of them are hysterically sad, but everybody has a story. I mean you cannot mention the oldest daughter without someone going, “Yes, I can tell you that” or “Yee-Gods, yes I can tell you that,” so I kind of take my clues. I don’t have a scripted how you attract customers. I do that by intuition.

How much does it cost to make the banner for your table?

There was one that they created… I brought a table top poster with a built-in easel. I had that printed for a library presentation I did out in California earlier this year… I did bookmarks, those posters and I think I had author cards… I just called and asked to do a book signing… I wanted to be able to interact with customers who were coming in and for me the best way to do that is through a book signing. I’m going to do a presentation at the Louisville library and I’m creating the agenda for that. The way the program will be set up, and it’s definitely going to be interactive… I’m very pleased to be doing that.

Got anything else you want to talk about?

If you listen carefully through our interview, relationships were at the basis of everything, and the relationships are important.

Buy “Oldest Daughters” on Amazon.

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