Sunna Coleman On How To Grow Your Business or Brand By Writing A Book

Authority Magazine Editorial Staff
Authority Magazine
Published in
11 min readApr 15, 2024

Be yourself. Many authors I have worked with get too wrapped up in what their competition is doing. If you copy the competition, you won’t stand out. You want to be uniquely you to attract the audience that only you can best serve.

As a part of our series about “How You Can Grow Your Business or Brand By Writing A Book”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sunna Coleman.

An award-winning writing coach, novelist and Chief Editor/co-author of a series of international best-selling business books, Sunna has coached over 40 entrepreneurs in book writing. She has spoken on both live and virtual stages alongside the likes of the BBC, ITV, C4, Warner Bros and Disney, delivering talks for young writers and entrepreneurs on how to inspire with words.

Growing up, writing was an escape. From short stories to songs, Sunna used the power of words to transform pain into creativity. Combining expertise with real-life stories,, Sunna strives to inspire others to find their voice and write with confidence so that more diverse voices can be heard.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share a story about what motivated you to become an expert in the particular area that you are writing about?

My mission in life is to inspire others to share their stories. The reason I am so passionate about this is because there was a time in my life where I didn’t have a voice. Growing up in a South Asian household in the UK, I experienced a lot of conflict — from the passing down of unhealed generational trauma to battling for my true identity between two opposing cultures. I was the “good Asian daughter” — one who doesn’t question or talk back to her parents. So I turned to writing to release my thoughts and emotions, since I wasn’t safe to voice them.

In more recent years, after a lot of work on myself, and after difficult and confronting conversations with my family, I have found the confidence to speak out. This is so important in order to stop damaging cycles from repeating themselves but it also encourages others to do the same. When we suffer alone in silence, it allows for unacceptable behaviour to slip through undetected. Sharing stories is powerful and has the ability to positively impact thousands of lives.

Business is incredibly difficult and many entrepreneurs face adversity along the way. By sharing our experiences we can help many others who are going through similar. Although some mistakenly believe that showing vulnerability will hinder them in business, it actually shows strength and creates greater connection with your audience.

Can you share a pivotal story that shaped the course of your career?

Although I’ve been a writer for over a decade now, and have collaborated with celebrities and huge global brands, I had to fight for my place in the industry. I come from a creative design background so when I decided to pursue journalism I was overlooked as I didn’t have the “right qualifications” or experience. Problem was, even the internships (where you would gain the experience) were asking for experience in order to be considered.

Fed up of countless rejection, I took it upon myself to prove that I could write and started my first blog. Overnight, I taught myself how to set up a website, create a post and publish it. Working on my blog every day, I soon had a portfolio of articles to my name. That blog opened up so many doors for me as I had something tangible to show my skill. I learned a huge lesson that I still stand by today: if no one gives you the opportunity, create your own.

With so many free tools and content at our fingertips today, it is easier than ever to take matters into your own hands and start practising your passion before anyone else “officially” gives you the opportunity to do so. I am a big believer in taking control of your own outcomes.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Are you working on any new writing projects?

I have wanted to write fiction for a very long time — it was a pipe dream of mine. After years of working on my first novel in the background, I was finally driven to complete it after the birth of my daughter. It had to be now or never as my time will only become more stretched with a growing baby!

Her Empty Chair is a page-turner mystery novel that follows the story of young journalist in training, Sylvia Morelle, whose world turns upside down when she tracks down a missing friend. This book will take you through all the emotions from laughter and curiosity through to sadness and shock. Available on Amazon from early June 2024, it’s a great summer holiday read!

Thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. Can you please tell us a bit about your book? Can you please share a specific passage or story that illustrates the main theme of your book?

Outside of my novel, I have been Chief Editor and co-author of a series of books for entrepreneurs. The latest and fifth book in the series being, Can’t Break Me: 16 Inspiring Women’s Quest For Success In The Face Of Adversity. Each book focuses on a different theme when it comes to life and entrepreneurship, and for Can’t Break Me, we looked at resilience.

In my chapter, The Unconventional Road, I share: “When you’re in the thick of it, it’s anything but easy. There were hundreds of setbacks along the way where you would expect anyone to just give up. But the little girl who had been told ‘no’ one too many times had had enough. Instead of admitting defeat and letting my past define me, I chose resilience, and fighting against my natural instincts, societal pressures and obstacles, in order to achieve what I set out to achieve. Just because everyone else believes you can’t do it because it’s not normal or seems impossible, doesn’t mean it’s true. You just have to be creative and find your own path to the destination. You never have to follow what’s been set out before. Take the untrodden road and show them there is another way.”

You are a successful author and thought leader. Which three character traits do you feel were most instrumental to your success when launching your book? Can you please share a story or example for each?

  1. Determination: First you need the drive to complete something as challenging as writing a book. You won’t be filled with motivation every day, especially towards the middle when you’re in the thick of it. When those days strike, you need to be able to push through. The hardest part can often be just forcing yourself to sit and start writing something. Once you’ve got a few words down, even if they are no good, the rest does follow.
  2. Coachable: Being too precious and attached to your work will get you nowhere. You are too close to the project and it is highly advisable to get someone else — like an editor, writing coach or ideal reader — to review your work before you publish to ensure it makes sense and is engaging to read. Try not to take feedback personally, it is not a reflection of you, it is a work in progress.
  3. Brave: Promoting a book takes a lot of work. You need to get used to putting yourself out there again and again in order to make it a success, and it often requires going out of your comfort zone — especially when not everyone will be supportive. Success is rarely instant, so you need to put on a brave face and persevere before you start seeing real results.

In my work, I have found that writing a book can be a great way to grow a brand. Can you share some stories or examples from your own experience about how you helped your own business or brand grow by writing a book? What was the “before and after picture?” What were things like before, and how did things change after the book?

Writing books has been a powerful move for my brand. My books have elevated my status by making me a multiple international number one best-selling co-author and have led to more people trusting me as an expert in my field. This helps potential clients choose me and has built my audience significantly.

Having people reach out to me to let me know how my story has resonated with them on a deep level is always so rewarding. And being asked to sign books is such a surreal feeling, even to this day.

The other thing to note is how becoming a published author opens up new opportunities. It’s not all about the audience but also about the business collaborations and media interest that you can gain. All of this is so key in building your brand and it all comes down to how much others can trust and value your expertise. A book is a fantastic asset to help you achieve that.

If a friend came to you and said “I’m considering writing a book but I’m on the fence if it is worth the effort and expense” what would you answer? Can you explain how writing a book in particular, and thought leadership in general, can create lucrative opportunities and help a business or brand grow?

There is something about being published and printed, especially in a digital age, that holds a sense of authority and importance. Many entrepreneurs secure online features and everyone can publish whatever they like on the internet. But not everyone can successfully publish a book — it’s not easy and it’s not quick. That accomplishment instantly sets you apart from the rest.

If you are serious about becoming a leader within your industry, I believe a book to be an essential authority asset. If you are worried about the expense, it is important to note that, yes, it may seem like an expense upfront, but the results it can build you over time (when you continue to promote and use your book wisely) are limitless.

What are the things that you wish you knew about promoting a book before you started? What did you learn the hard way? Can you share some stories about that which other aspiring writers can learn from?

I wish I had been more aware of how persistence in promoting a book, especially just after launch, can have a snowball effect on building your brand. With the first book I ever published, I was naive to the process and was just happy that I had the book out. I had no idea that this was just the beginning! If you don’t shout about your work, no one will know about it and those who do will forget about it quickly. After all, why go to all that hard work and then not talk about it?

With following books, I shared the news far and wide. But most importantly, I still share lessons and extracts from the books today. That’s the beauty of having a book — it is a lifelong asset that keeps giving if you allow it the opportunity to do so.

If you feel a bit “icky” about shouting about your book, know that it’s not just about selling it. That is obviously key during launch phase, but even then, the most effective way to promote a book is to actually talk about what the reader can gain, what lessons can be learned, how it helps solve a problem, rather than asking people to buy your book. They will make the connection to buy if they are inspired by your message.

Based on your experience, which promotional elements would you recommend to an author to cover on their own and when would you recommend engaging an expert?

I would recommend you reach out to the media yourself and share the story behind your book and why it may be of interest to a certain publication’s audience. Whether that’s your local newspaper, radio or online magazines, get your name and book out there.

When it comes to social media, you can create some of your own promotional videos where you talk about the project, what it was like for you and how your book helps your audience. People will want to hear from the author themself so it’s good to show your face.

If you have a background in or are very comfortable with marketing, you can certainly create your whole social media campaign. However, if this is not your strong point, I recommend reaching out to a marketing expert or publishing agency who will be able to put together the most impactful campaign and content for you.

Based on your own experience and success, what are the “five things an author needs to know to successfully promote and market a book?”

  1. Be yourself. Many authors I have worked with get too wrapped up in what their competition is doing. If you copy the competition, you won’t stand out. You want to be uniquely you to attract the audience that only you can best serve.
  2. Put the reader first. When marketing your book, try to avoid being too salesy. Instead, share relatable examples of where your reader might be right now (their current problem or challenge) and where they want to be instead (what does success look like to them?). Then present your book as the solution that will show them how to get there. That makes purchasing your book a no brainer.
  3. Tie into trends. To help your book become a success, it is beneficial to tie your launch to a trend — whether that’s a particular time of year (eg if you’re in the health industry, January tends to be the time of year that people are more health conscious) or an important time for your particular industry (eg if you’re in the fashion business, you may want to tie your launch to when Fashion Week is).
  4. Use storytelling. Get vulnerable and be honest about your story and experiences that got you to where you are now. What adversity have you faced? People will relate to the emotion behind your story and that creates a stronger connection that will pull them to you.
  5. Keep talking about your book. Don’t forget that a book is an asset. If it just sits on the shelf after publishing, it won’t be of any use. You need to find creative ways to keep talking about your book in order for it to do its best work in building your brand. A book is not just for the launch period. A book is for life. So utilise it for life!

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them :-)

I would love to sit down with Steven Bartlett. The way he thinks about marketing and data is so insightful, especially when it comes to books. He questions the norm and applies his knowledge in new and unique ways — not just following what’s done before for the sake of it. I think it’s so important to be creative in your approach and look at things with a new lens.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

For writing motivation and tips as well as my latest projects, please connect with me on Instagram @sunnacoleman

If you’re thinking of writing a book or are in the middle of one, I’d love to hear all about it! Send me a message and let’s connect.

Thank you for these excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent. We wish you continued success with your book promotion and growing your brand.