Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Best-Selling Author Deborah Levine Herman Interviewed About Her Book On Spiritual Writing


1.      Why did you write this book?
I wrote the book's original edition to address an underserved population of writers that I named Spiritual Writers. Agents and publishers in the late 90s early 2000s didn't know what to do with the material they labeled "woo woo." The "spiritual writers" journey was familiar to me as I had been pursuing a spiritual path, teaching spiritual development classes, and knowing the struggles and obstacles these writers faced as they tried to straddle the fence between spirituality and mainstream.

The most encouraging experience was when I began teaching writing as a spiritual journey at writers conferences along with the nuts and bolts of publishing. I had the advantage of being in the industry and wanted to share my knowledge of how things worked to provide these new voices with a guidebook for navigating this path to publication.

Another aspect of the book was to share my spiritual beliefs regarding the journey to soul awakening. While I would never claim to know everything, I trusted the spiritual download I received while teaching classes as providing a viable blueprint for why we are here. It made logical and esoteric sense, and I have gained a greater understanding of this information over the years.

I call these the seven lessons of Soul Odyssey. I plan to continue exploring how these relate to our lives beyond writers who want to be spiritual messengers.

2.      What is it about and who is it really for?
The book is about navigating the spiritual path and becoming professional enough to bring your work to the publishing world. The book's first part challenges spiritual writers to become pure vessels for higher vibrational information while transcending the human ego. Ego, in the sense of the Seven Lessons of Soul Odyssey, is when someone wants to be the message instead of being a messenger.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be successful. However, the book stresses the need to pursue the exchange of ideas with an acknowledgment that it is a sacred responsibility. Words have energy. Many charismatic leaders have led people off their paths and have become the object of worship. The book tries to encourage readers to find their specific Divine inner voice to bring forth their unique message.

The remaining chapters provide a comprehensive look at all aspects of publishing. I have personally been on all sides as an author of thirteen traditionally published books, a literary agent curating titles, an indie publisher, and a bookseller. I share what I have learned and include alternatives to traditional publishing and how to build an online platform. The internet was not the tool it is now when I wrote the first edition so I hope this information helps writers find their audience.

3.      What do you hope readers will get out of reading your book?
My first hope is for the book to inspire readers to look at their lives differently. The Seven Lessons help us understand our vulnerabilities and how the same circumstances repeat as we try to grow our souls. They are like developmental stages we see in children as they learn to navigate the world.

I also stress that people on the spiritual path can't trick the system. The universe and our Spirit Guides provide the circumstances that will help us make the choices to learn the lessons. We also may not need to learn all seven. Perhaps some have been learned early in life or even during other incarnations. Whatever you believe. I know that when I read someone's lessons, only three may repeat for them. I call this a soul progression. It has gotten to the point where I can feel their spiritual vulnerabilities but rely on guidance for the exact answers to know I am objective.

I can't explain how I do the soul progression readings but I hope learning about the lessons will help raise awareness that there is a pattern to our lives and a benevolent Source guides us.

I also hope that people with a message can successfully find ways to become professionals. There are so many more challenges in the publishing world that many good writers will not find traditional publishers. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of scams. So, I have included alternatives to conventional publishing, how to find your reading tribe, and discern who to work with to meet your goals. 

Self-protection is one of the Seven Lessons, and it often comes into play when people are so anxious to be published that they choose to work with people who will gladly take their money and provide little in return. The best thing is for writers to learn how the industry works so they have more information to use during their due diligence.

4.      How did you decide on your book’s title and cover design?
The book is a long-awaited second edition of a book I first wrote in the early 2000s so I chose to keep the title. I had an original book cover I liked, but I wanted to shift the energy. I went through many incarnations of this cover and even had a different version in the catalog. However, it didn't feel right. So I worked with my cover designer until we developed a cover that felt like and conveyed the right energy. Color, image, and style are essential as they are part of the message.

5.      What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers?
I worked hard to include all the practical advice I have learned over the years into the book. However, writer to writer, I recommend not comparing yourself to anyone else. Focus inward and don't look at what other people are writing. When I was young and not yet published, I always sensed that time was passing me by. Learn to trust Divine timing but don't be reluctant to take on writing jobs for the experience even if they seem uninspired. If you are led to something, it can teach you skills and lead to something else. Become a working writer and recognize that there will always be a learning curve. Your spiritual path and writing path are linked and you will continue to grow.

6.      What trends in the book world do you see -- and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?
There are fewer opportunities for new writers to break through into what used to be called the midlist. It is not impossible, but to achieve these contracts, writers need to be professional and eliminate all the issues that would cause them to be dismissed out of hand. Writing may seem glamorous, but it is hard work, and publishing is a business. Even prominent publishers with the most visible books will rely on the authors to promote them. So as much as it is not as exciting, writers must also learn to be marketers or bring people on who can help them create "platforms."

I have provided a section on online marketing in the book to help writers understand how the internet can help them bridge the gap, show their book should exist, and has a readership they can reach. I don't think there have ever been as many opportunities for writers to compete with those who are household words. The pandemic changed things. Talk shows are not the only way to promote. Having an engaged tribe online can go a long way toward landing a deal. It is also a way for those who publish alternatively to sell books to their targeted audiences.

7.      Were there experiences in your personal life or career that came in handy when writing this book?
The book is a reflection of my life experiences. The first part is about my spiritual path and what I learned. Then, I share the challenges, inspirations, and obstacles I encountered. The rest of the book is based on all I have learned through experiences in the industry, my education as a lawyer/journalist and through the classes I took in a mini-MBA program at Rutgers in Social media strategy, digital marketing strategy, and entrepreneurship. I have also had the advantage of collaborating on a front-list top book with a major publisher. It allowed me to experience what a publisher will and won't do, even for their major titles. I also learned a lot about the film and documentary industry, which is essential to marketing certain titles.

My experience writing someone else's memoir showed me how to infuse spirituality into books that seem to have nothing to do with it. A spiritual writer doesn't need to write about spiritual subjects. Instead, it is a way of centering and assuring that the product reflects the highest vibrations and has some meaningful way to help those who read the work.

8.      How would you describe your writing style? Which writers or books is your writing similar to?
My preferred writing style is conversational and descriptive, with anecdotes and illustrations. I was trained as a lawyer and a journalist, so I tend to write in an organized manner. The training has helped me coach writers because I can see when their structure is not symmetrical. Writing needs to be logical, even when it is creative.

My favorite style is creative nonfiction. I have not entirely bridged into fiction, but creative nonfiction has many similar aspects. While in journalism school, I concentrated on what was then called literary journalism or "new" journalism. The style is well-suited for memoirs. The books I write tend to be memoirs couched in visible historical events, so they are combined with exposition and context of time and place.

I aspire to be like Truman Capote and Joan Didion. However, I think I have developed my own style. When I wrote Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside his Cult and the Darkness that Ended the Sixties with Dianne Lake, I learned about pacing and storytelling for this book. Dianne, the youngest member of the cult, did not participate in the crimes but testified against them. It was her story and mostly my writing, and it was highly gratifying to bring her voice to life. I would say this is the best example of my writing style. Fortunately, I am working on similar projects and hope they will serve as cautionary tales.

9.      What challenges did you overcome in the writing of this book?
I planned to revise the book over the years as it had become obsolete. However, when I sat down to rewrite, I realized I needed to change almost every word. It took much longer than expected, and I put my heart into it. This book is essential to me. I love the other books I write, but this one has the most of my true personality, philosophy, and legacy I want to provide for writers in the future.

10.  If people can buy or read one book this week or month, why should it be yours?
If a reader identifies as spiritual but not a writer, I believe they will still find a great deal that will resonate and inspire them. Writing a journal can help them connect to their Spirit guides and higher consciousness. I provide exercises at the beginning of the book regarding the Seven Lessons of Soul Odyssey. These lessons apply to anyone and are the most genuine reflection of my philosophy. 

Writers of any ilk will benefit from the book as it is comprehensive about the publishing world and how to succeed. I identify spiritual writers, but creativity comes from the Source of all creation, whether someone identifies it that way or not. I have worked alongside my husband Jeff Herman, a literary agent responsible for guiding over half a million writers' careers with his yearly tome, Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents. We have also co-authored the book Write the Perfect Book Proposal: Ten Proposals that Worked and Why, which has sold over 250,000 copies. It changed the way authors write this essential publishing tool.

This book is another addition to writer’s shelves, providing guidance and practical advice.  

About The Author: Deborah Levine Herman is a bestselling author, publisher, former literary agent, and intuitive writing coach who guides writers on their journeys. As a gifted spiritual teacher, an expert at author branding, and someone skilled in navigating the modern publishing world, Herman helps writers discover their spiritual writing path.  She has authored 13 books and has dedicated her 25-plus year career in publishing to writer education. In her latest book, Spiritual Writing from Inspiration to Publication 2nd Edition, she embarks on her own mission as a mystic to combine her spiritual journey with the writer’s path. Herman is the CEO of Micro Publishing Media (MPM), an indie publishing company. She is also a lawyer, a journalist, and wrote the number-one Amazon bestseller My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside his Cult and the Darkness that Ended the Sixties (William Morrow) which has received over 1000 five-star reviews. This book helped make Herman a memoir-writing expert. She’s appeared in documentaries as a cult expert. For more information, please see: https://www.soulodysseybooks.com


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About Brian Feinblum

Brian Feinblum should be followed on Twitter @theprexpert. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2023. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent.  This award-winning blog has generated over 3.3 million pageviews. With 4,400+ posts over the past dozen years, it was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby  http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs  and recognized by Feedspot in 2021 and 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. It was also named by www.WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” For the past three decades, including 21 years as the head of marketing for the nation’s largest book publicity firm, and two jobs at two independent presses, Brian has worked with many first-time, self-published, authors of all genres, right along with best-selling authors and celebrities such as: Dr. Ruth, Mark Victor Hansen, Joseph Finder, Katherine Spurway, Neil Rackham, Harvey Mackay, Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey, Warren Adler, Cindy Adams, Todd Duncan, Susan RoAne, John C. Maxwell, Jeff Foxworthy, Seth Godin, and Henry Winkler. He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America, and has spoken at ASJA, Independent Book Publishers Association Sarah Lawrence College, Nonfiction Writers Association, Cape Cod Writers Association, Willamette (Portland) Writers Association, APEX, and Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association. His letters-to-the-editor have been published in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Post, NY Daily News, Newsday, The Journal News (Westchester) and The Washington Post. He has been featured in The Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald. For more information, please consult: www.linkedin.com/in/brianfeinblum.  



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