“Block out the negative chatter” to become a bestseller, an interview with authors Sara Connell and Ania Jeffries
Block out the negative chatter and just GET ON with it. There will always be someone who will laugh when you say you are looking to write a book. There will also be someone who be inspired by your action too! part of my series on the “5 Things You Need To Know To Write A Bestselling Book” I had the pleasure of interviewing Ania Jeffries.
As part of my series on the “5 Things You Need To Know To Write A Bestselling Book” I had the pleasure of interviewing Ania Jeffries.
Ania is an Award-Winning Coach, a Confidence Generator, a licensed NLP Practitioner, no. 1 International Best-Selling Author, Founder of Women Work, Mentor for the Princes Trust and Radio Broadcaster.
Ania’s vision is to build the global platform for entrepreneurs to connect, communicate and collaborate with confidence by delivering powerful opportunities for you to use your voice, to build a better world. Her mission is to deliver powerful opportunities through radio broadcasting, workshops and events for you to USE YOUR voice, to build a better world. Millions of people from around the world have a story to tell, a purpose to fulfil but do not know where to start. Ania has created a platform that allows both men and women to use their voice, to discuss conversations that matter. Her platform sets the stage for you to transform your moments of adversity into possibility, to live your best life and inspire others to do the same. She believes that every voice counts, that each and every one of you makes a difference to this world. Ania is also a member of the Association of Transformational Leaders, Europe — leaders who come together to connect and collaborate for the world, to lead a movement of global change.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?
I was brought to this career path after an unexpected call with a phenomenal woman of contribution, Kezia Luckett who shares my vision of paying it forward for the next generation. The moment she told me about her Pay it Forward book concept, I knew I had to be involved. Our core values, visions for the next generation are very aligned and I couldn’t wait to write my chapter.
What was (so far) the most exhilarating or fulfilling experience you’ve had as an author?
For me it was the camaraderie formed with other coauthors. We worked together on promoting the book. We celebrated (and continue to celebrate) the success of our book together at our book launch (for some it was the first time they actually met face to face). We now support each other in business. We socialise too. Additionally, it was also wonderful to meet so many other interesting, amazing, inspirational individuals in the process. It’s fair to say that deep friendships have been formed through sharing our stories together. It’s a bond which will last for many years if not for ever.
What was the craziest, weirdest, wildest experience you’ve had as a bestselling author?
Given the fact that both best sellers were about finding beauty in moments of adversity and light in moments of darkness, I would say my experience has been more of a humbling one rather than a wild experience. Several times, especially in my town or at networking events, females have come up to me in a coffee queue or on the street and just whispered how my story changed their or their child’s life and instilled them with renewed hope and inspiration. I couldn’t ask for more. In one case a lady come up to me on the high street, simply said “I heard your speech at Women Work. I read your book. Thank you for changing my life,” and walked on.
What is the greatest part about being a successful, bestselling author?
The greatest part is knowing that your story makes a difference in other people’s lives, it creates an impact. It also gives you credibility, recognition and influence, acts as your business card and gives you the opportunity to share your message further afield. I have had the privilege of being able to share my story on both radio and TV. Happiness is an inside job and if my personal self-reflection, the self-awareness and lessons I have learnt from my experiences help just one person to overcome whatever they are dealing with, to find happiness, self-belief and inner strength again then I see that as my gift to them.
What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a bestselling writer?
Sharing my vulnerability openly at the risk of being judged I believe was key to becoming a bestselling writer. Putting pen to paper and sharing my story was the moment I grew exponentially. It was the moment I realised how far I had come since the crash without really having thought much about it before. It was also the moment I realised that my life purpose is to inspire both men and women, to inspire the next generation to dream, think and play big globally.
Which writer or leader has had the biggest impact on you as a writer?
Brene Brown — I think she’s amazing. I would love to interview her one day. She has inspired me to dig deep within myself, to understand that there is no shame in showing your vulnerability. It’s a sign of huge strength and not weakness. Other people’s behaviour towards you is not a reflection of who you are but a reflection of who they are and where they might be mentally at that given moment. I now only see vulnerability as a sign of huge courage.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in your journey to becoming a bestselling author? How did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge was telling my family that I had decided to share my moments of adversity in a book and then asking my husband to read my story. No one else read it prior to publication. I wrote from my heart and I didn’t want others to comment in any way which would make me rewrite it. I wasn’t sure how he would react and it was important to me, that he was ok with it. It’s one thing to share your thoughts and feelings with your friends and colleagues, but when you publish your life in a book the impact of your actions takes on a whole new meaning.
What challenge or failure did you learn the most from in your writing career?
Writing a book can impact differently on those around you, especially when many new doors open. It can sometimes create fear and uncertainty in others. It makes individuals uncomfortable when you are flying your wings. It unsettles them and makes them question the meaning of their own lives. On the other hand, it can also encourage others to rethink their lives in order to push themselves to take the first step towards creating more positive change in their own lives.
I learnt not to reflect on how others respond towards me but to stay focused on the big picture of what I am aiming to achieve in the future. To always surround myself with people who continuously challenge me, push me way out of my comfort zone, get me to think more creatively (I love this part best of all!) rather than spend my valuable time with those who do not share my vision of inspiring the next generation. You are only on this earth for such a short period of time, choose your friends, your network carefully because before you know it, you blink and your life is over.
What are the 5 things you would tell your younger self who was just starting out on their writing journey?
1. Don’t be afraid to share your story.
I was initially very scared to share my story for fear of being judged by friends, family, colleagues, by people who mattered in my life. Through coaching individuals, running workshops and events around the area of self-belief and confidence as well as working as a mentor with various organisations such as the Princes Trust, I realised how pivotal it was for someone’s self-belief and confidence to hear my story. To know that there is always opportunity in adversity, that beautiful sunshine comes from darkness.
I had never spoken about the train crash to my children and when the story was published I sent copies of the book to them all. It was a very emotional read for them. It gave them a better understanding of the person I was. Why it is so important to use your voice to impact change in this world. Life for me is not just about being a mum. It is about showing our kids, the next generation that life is full of daily challenges, ups and downs and how you choose to deal with them, defines the happiness you will bring into your life. With mental health affecting so many people these days any stories re overcoming adversity can only bring hope and inspiration to others.
2. Think outside of the box — this book could be the beginning of a series of books.
Don’t always think that you are writing ‘one’ book, especially when buying your ISBN numbers. Buy a pack of ISBN no’s even if you think you can’t afford to or it’s not on the horizon to write another book in the near future. Think about who you want to inspire in the future. Why you would like to write another book. Visualise the front cover. Create a mock up and then let your mind wonder.
The Pay it Forward Series: Notes to My Younger Self, released last year is now onto series 2. Transformation Lessons: 38 insights to Manifest the Best Life has only just been released. 2 daughters of ATL Europe Members have also shared transformational lessons in this book and have launched ATL Junior.
3. Write from your heart.
Stay true to your authentic self, show your vulnerability. Your book is part of who you are, how you feel so talk about your pain, your suffering, what makes you smile, laugh and cry. Use your own language. Don’t try and copy someone’s writing style. Choose words that identify with you, that friends who know you can paint pictures with. Put emotions into those words. Be descriptive, imaginative. Put yourself into your reader’s space, look through their lens. Keep constantly asking yourself how your readers feel when they read your book. What emotions do you evoke in them? Are these the emotions you are wanting to evoke? What would they be wanting to learn from you?
4. Think about why you are writing this book: your purpose for writing this book.
My mission is to build a global platform for entrepreneurs to connect, collaborate and communicate with confidence. The future generation is not about working a 9–5 job but about running businesses, working more creatively and we as parents have a duty to inspire them with the self-belief and confidence to believe that all and everything is possible in this crazy world of ours. This can come through a publication of a book.
My purpose for contributing to these books, to eventually write my own book, was based on my desire to leave my children with a ‘non-financial legacy.’ Happiness is not based on money. It’s based on how you make others feel, how you live your life. I want our children, every time they pick up my books, to pay it forward. I want them to think “Mum made a difference to this world. To reflect on how I made a difference? Why was it so important to her.” I want them to question whether they are living the life they deserve, how they are leaving their own footprint on this world, what are they doing to impact the next generation, how they are contributing, giving back to others?
5. Don’t let your own or others’ limiting beliefs stop you from writing a book.
Block out the negative chatter and just GET ON with it. There will always be someone who will laugh when you say you are looking to write a book. There will also be someone who be inspired by your action too!
So many times, for so many years I told myself no one would want to read ‘my’ book, ‘my’ story.’ That I wasn’t good enough or eloquent enough to write. I remember attending a writer’s club 15 years ago, walking away and thinking “OMG I will never write a bestseller like they will”and put my idea of writing a book on hold for several year. Just trust in the process, stay focused and work towards your own goal.
What are you most excited to work on next? Most excited to read next?
I have 2 books planned for this year. Both about inspiring the next generation of leaders. I am super excited about these!I have just ordered Becoming by Michelle Obama. I cannot wait to read about her roots, how she found her voice to inspire so many other women and about her time in the White House.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
My future direction is around mental health for both men and women. I feel that we as women have the key to create great change in this space. Too many women are solely talking about empowering other females and men are subsequently, being left behind and excluded from this conversation. It’s slowly becoming a silent crisis, one which needs to be changed and as a mother of 3 children, it fills me with fear to read the statistics around men and suicide. Just over 3 out of every 4 suicides are by men and suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under 35.
It was the main reason why I set up the Women Work events — to hear about 7 suicides in 11 months (all men) was horrendous but to then realise that people are slowly becoming immune to such tragedies due to the stresses of life, was even more horrifying. The success of our 2 events proved that there is a real need to raise awareness of mental health in the community and this led me to create an expedition of future female leaders to Malawi, to raise awareness of mental health, education, women’s empowerment in Africa. I have so much planned for 2019 in this area. I cannot wait to share it soon.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I am a great believer of the law of attraction. You manifest what you bring into your life. Everybody has a beautiful, bright light that shines within them. They just need to work out how to switch on that light and with the publication of positive articles by magazines such as yourselves you are giving others the ability to find the switch. Thank you!
Thank you so much for these great insights!
About the author: Sara is an author and writing coach with a private practice in Chicago. She has appeared in Oprah, Good Morning America, NPR, The View and Katie Couric. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Tri-Quarterly, Good Housekeeping, Parenting, IO Literary Journal, and Psychobabble. Her first book Bringing In Finn was nominated for ELLE magazine Book of the Year. www.saraconnell.com