How do you deal with the roller-coaster of being a creative? In today's show, I talk to Amber Rae about self-doubt, worry, envy, ambition, comparisonitis and more.
In the intro, I talk about Ready Player One (the movie), and the Exponential Wisdom podcast with Peter Diamandis about speaking in VR on High Fidelity, created by Philip Rosedale of Second Life. As I am off to Florida to speak at Novelists Inc, I am definitely a fan of the future of VR speaking!
I also talk about my personal writing update, working on final edits for Valley of Dry Bones, now available for pre-order.
Today's episode is sponsored by my own list of recommended editors, ranging from story editors, content and structural editors, copy editors, line editors, proofreaders and more. I still work with editors after 28 books and I continue to learn how to improve my writing. If you need help improving your manuscript, then check out the list which also includes my tutorial on how to find and work with professional editors: www.TheCreativePenn.com/editors
Amber Rae is an author, artist and speaker. Her latest book is Choose Wonder Over Worry: Move Beyond Fear and Doubt to Unlock Your Full Potential.
- On publicly exploring the big questions about life
- Working with Seth Godin on the Domino Project
- Mining journals for memoir material
- Balancing ambition and creative dissatisfaction
- Why envy is a powerful tool for creatives
- Naming and having a conversation with our difficult emotions
- On useful worry and toxic worry
- Launching a book with 100 interviews and 30 events
- The book launch marketing strategies that Amber found useful. And the ones she didn’t
You can find Amber at AmberRae.com and on Twitter @heyamberrae
Transcript of Interview with Amber Rae
Joanna: Hi, everyone. I'm Joanna Penn from thecreativepenn.com and today I'm here with Amber Rae. Hi, Amber.
Joanna: It's great to have you on the show. Just a little introduction.
Amber is an author, artist and speaker and her latest book is “Choose Wonder Over Worry, Move Beyond Fear and Doubt to Unlock Your Full Potential,” which is a message I know we all need to hear. So I'm very excited about today.
Amber, start by telling us a bit more about you and your background and how you go into writing.
Amber: My mom gave me my first journal when I was five years old and I was hooked. I like to think it was maybe because I was an only child and because I didn't have siblings to talk to, I began to talk to the journal.
That practice stayed with me for a long time until I found myself so trapped by the chase for success and the hustle for approval. And ended up thinking there's no way I could make a living out of my creativity you know, what am I gonna be, an artist?
Artists are suffering and struggling and all the stories that our society has about that the creative world. And so I thought that, okay, well, maybe I can apply that to the world of advertising and branding.
I worked with Apple and the brand world, then moved into the digital agency world working with big brands on their global marketing campaigns. Then hopped to Silicon Valley where I was working with a bunch of tech startups.
And while there, because I was in the world of tech, I began a Tumblr to document my own experiences. I had a lot of questions I was wrestling with at this point and maybe it was I was in my early 20s wondering who am I? And why am I here? And how can I express my gifts? And what's my purpose?
I was asking all those big life questions and thought, oh, well, I'll just use a blog, which was for me a personal journal to begin to feel into and write into those questions. And that's always been my process is that through writing I can reveal myself to myself and that's helped me so much and move through challenges, questions, and things like that.
So here I started this blog thinking that it was just a personal journal and was surprised to find that a lot of other people were asking the same questions, and began to build a following around these sorts of questions.
Joanna: How did the book happen, did that happen off the back of your blog?
Amber: Yeah, it happened but a decade later.
Joanna: So not quite off the back of the blog.
Amber: I ended up taking the blog and the following I was building there to quit tech and move to New York, and there I ended up working with Seth Godin to start a publishing company with Amazon.
I moved into writing but in a different way where now I was shepherding other authors. Worked with Steven Pressfield, and Derek Sivers, and Seth, on bringing their ideas into the world and really got an inside look at where publishing had been, how it was changing, and what we could do to really bring ideas to market in a faster way.
I'm documenting my journey, documenting my experiences, and I feel like that was around the time…and actually, Seth gave me the opportunity to write…we had 12 books in the Domino Project and he was like, “Amber, maybe you could write one of them.”
This is when I became paralyzed by worry and fear and I was not equipped to deal with it yet because I really let it get the best of me. I tried to come up with an idea, I shared something with him, and I was so sensitive to his feedback.
Who came up with this concept? She wrote the book. Tara Mohr came up with the concept that within every creative there is an artist, an editor, and an agent. And the artist is the sensitive part of us that is really important in the creative process.
And the editor thinks, “Okay, this is who it's for and I'm now going to shape the material to serve who I'm writing for.”
The agent is, “Okay, I'm going to promote it, I'm going to sell it, I'm going to get it out there.”
What I didn't know then that I know now is that when Seth was giving me feedback I was hearing it through the lens of the sensitive artist, not the editor or the agent. And so I then was like, “Oh, I guess I'm not good enough and this isn't worthy and I'm going to now shrink and not write a book.”
That was when I feel that planted the seed in me of I know I want to write books and I don't know what it's going to take to get there but I am setting an intention with myself now.
Another author that I went on this walk with in New York said to me that was really helpful, he said, “You're writing the book right now because your life experiences are the material.” And so even if you don't have a book deal or you don't have an agent or you don't know what the title of the book is or even what the structure is, right now you're living the writing.
I really approached my life that way of, okay, I'm living the writing.
Joanna: We're going to circle back to you, Seth, and the Domino Project and publishing. Steven Pressfield has been on the show three times. He's wonderful.
But I wanted to just to circle back on there life experiences in your writing because it was so funny I did the same as you out of college: I went into the business world and did a lot of the stuff you did back in the '90s.
And yet you've put some of that into the book that I certainly have not shared in my writing, we won't mention any examples, but I was almost like, “Oh, my goodness, I recognize this way of trying to get people to think I'm good,” or whatever, the stuff we do. That was really interesting to me.
It's a nonfiction book but it's also a memoir. I wonder now, because you've been journaling a long time and the book is so open, have you mined your journals from all those years?
Did you go through your past, because of course, who you are now is not who you were then, and use that?
Amber: I absolutely did mine my journals. So much of my process was going back and looking and thinking, because there's a point where you have distance from it and you forget that you struggled so deeply. But I was like, I wrote about this for like 19 journal entries.
It was like the small thing that took me 19 journal entries to have that aha, moment but like, “Whoa,” or like actually for years I struggled with body image. I knew that was a pain point in my life, clearly I experienced it, but when I was going back and reading through my writing I was like, “Whoa,” that was like really grabbing me by the throat.
It was really interesting just to go back and to identify those core threads of struggle and how I was able to move through it.
Joanna: Let's go into some of the common worries that people have.
What are some of the biggest ones that you covered and that you've suffered and that everyone listening will suffer too?
Amber: One that I found that was interesting where whether I was meeting with a billionaire who had access to all of the capital and the resources in the world to do what he wanted to do or whether I was meeting someone who fled a war, came into the country with nothing, was illegal, had to create their life all over again, lived in a tiny like house with a ton of people, there was this fear of, “Am I good enough and do I have enough to create the life that I want to live?”
It was mind-blowing to me that when I was sitting there with this person who has access to everything that that was still suffocating them. There's this all pervasive fear, which is just us as humans, where there's this fear of not being enough or not being worthy.
Joanna: I reflect on this quite a lot actually; we're told or we're encouraged to have a daily gratitude practice for where we are and I'm very grateful, I'm sure you are, for where we are.
But equally, as creatives, I feel like there has to be a dissatisfaction because if you are not dissatisfied…like I can't imagine that you feel this book is the end of you're creative life.
Amber: Oh, absolutely not.
Amber: I just started.
Joanna: Exactly. So to me, the not enough is really a struggle with balancing against ambition, like the good side of ambition and creative dissatisfaction.
You've worked with lots of authors, artists and speakers. How do you think we can balance both of those things?
Amber: Great question. There's a difference between, “Am I enough?” and “Have I expressed enough of or given enough of what I know I'm capable of giving?”
I think there are different frames, and so if it's the am I enough question often that will cause us to seek validation and approval outside of ourselves. It'll have us constantly hustling and striving and trying to do more to prove to ourselves that we are worthy and enough.
I think of this like top executive that I was referring to; oftentimes for him that actually came through a childhood story. There was a moment from his childhood where he took a situation to mean he wasn't good enough or worthy. And so he had spent his entire life trying to prove that that's actually not true.
Our work really began about, okay, well let's actually look at that story and find evidence to prove that it's not true. And begin to rewrite the narrative that you've been telling yourself your entire life that's actually suffocating your joy.
I think there's a difference whereas of course, there's a creative hunger, when we have a hunger and a desire to create and make for both like the joy of it and the desire to express something inside of us.
Or maybe there's some dissatisfaction, and that gets us moving toward creating more, I think that's different because it's not coming from a place so, “I am unworthy, I need to prove that I am.”
Joanna: I'm still pushing back against this one.
The funny thing is I listen to the Brene Brown books on audiobook over and over again because I'm trying to get to grips with this myself. I feel like I can talk to you because I know you've read all this same stuff and your book goes through it but it's so interesting.
Writing fiction, in particular, I feel like I read a book by Stephen King, and to me, to get to that point in my craft journey might take me another 40 years, or maybe 25 years, he's 25 years ahead of me.
So again, I am not enough, do you see what I mean? They call it the gap between where you want to be and where you are now.
I'm going to ask you again to go deeper on that answer.
If we are trying to become better craftspeople how do we balance that?
Amber: I'm curious for you, I want to dig deeper with you.
If for you what's coming up is, “I'm not enough, I'm not as good as Stephen King, and so I'm going to build my craft,” tell me more about the conversation or what you're telling yourself around that not enough.
Is it, “I'm an unworthy piece of shit and because I believe that my life sucks?”
Joanna: No, no.
Amber: Okay, so that's the difference.
Amber: When it's the actual internal conversation is, “I'm an unworthy piece of shit and I suck, and so I'm going to make destructive decisions as a result of that and those decisions are going to actually impact humanity in a way when I have so much power and influence because I actually don't care because I suck and everything I do is going to reinforce my suckage”.
That's different than like, “I want to grow and become the best creative that I can become.” And that hunger is going to drive me, and yes, I see that and I want to be like that or that inspires me and I'm envious of that and I'm going to use that envious inspiration.
That is coming from a different place, that's coming from a desire to grow.
Joanna: I do agree with you and I think it's something that is so difficult to manage. And it's almost a daily resetting of, “Okay, I am enough right now and I'm giving what I can right now but I know that my journey is still many, many years.” Which is great and we want it to be, it would be boring otherwise.
I want to come back on envy because I talk about comparisonitis on this show a lot. You know, “Oh, Amber just got this amazing book deal,” or whatever, “She's been on TV.” This kind of comparison of where people are, or even me going, “Oh, Stephen King,” when, you know, he's Stephen King.
I heard you mention the envy map on the “Being Boss” podcast, which is really interesting.
Tell us how can we deal with envy in a more positive way?
Amber: I think envy is such a powerful tool because envy illuminates. When we look at someone and we say, “Ooh, I want that,” it's because it's speaking to something inside of us that wants to be revealed so I feel like it illuminates our potential.
I know that for me that I have this exercise of an envy map and I like mapped every person that I was envious of. There's Elizabeth Gilbert because of her memoir style writing, Oprah because of her platform, Austin Kleon because he was able to take words and drawings and make that art and I'm like, “Wait this is art? Then I make art.”
Joanna: That's a good point on Austin.
Amber: And Chloe Wade because of her like poignant poems. Basically, as I began to map every single human, there were 12 of them that I was envious of, what I had is a unique blueprint to what makes me uniquely me because I was pulling something very different from every single person.
But what it was, it was just mirroring what wanted to come through me, the potential that I was stepping into, into me. And this is actually part of why I approached writing my book the way that I did because my intention with my book was not to be raw and vulnerable and have a lot of memoir kind of stories.
I was like, “This is going to be a guide to move through worry and doubt. I'm going to have a lot of client examples and not talk about myself at all.”
Why am I so like ravenously envious of every single female author who's written a memoir? Oh, because that's the kind of writing style that speaks to me, and that's how I learn, that's actually how I want to reveal my own self.
I think of my book as both a memoir, a map, and a manifesto but I really decided to lean in around the storytelling and allow myself to be seen so that the reader can see themselves, which was the case for every author that really moved me.
Once I understand the point of envy, “Oh, actually, like if Austin Kleon is like this dope artist, like I'm going to start doing a lot more handwritten stuff because that's what I'm already doing anyway.” And so it allowed me to really weave the elements, like it's almost like a permission map, giving myself permission to be myself because I'm seeing it in other people.
Joanna: I really like that.
And coming back on your branding background, I wonder how much of that envy map ended up in your personal brand?
Were you then taking ideas from how all these other people have portrayed themselves in their branding?
Amber: Probably a little bit, the look/feel. I'd say there is only a couple of people on my envy map that actually thought of themselves as artists. That helped me realize that because I see branding, because I'm a visual person, I can use that more.
Most memoirists don't necessarily think about branding and visuals and the art behind the work. And so I was like, “Oh, actually that's a strength,” ding, you know, that's something that I can really weave into what I'm doing. It definitely helped me both identity what my sort of unique focus is as well as what I want that brand to look like.
Joanna: And then circling back on what you said right at the beginning around being an artist is not like a proper job and a proper career and you can't make any money, I'm wondering if some of these people on the envy map are people who are making really good money?
Amber: Oh, absolutely.
Joanna: On this show we do like to talk about art but also about the money side.
How are you doing everything as a creative entrepreneur, because we know that a book deal does not make a millionaire most of the time?
What are the different strands you are using in your creative entrepreneurship?
Amber: What's so interesting is that when I declared myself an artist, finally, after reading “The Artist's Way” five times. And really working through those blocks, working through those stories, I was telling myself about creativity and art.
On my 30th birthday, I was like, “I am an artist,” and had this whole gallery reveal, a bunch of art. I have made more money since then than my entire life before that and so I was like, “Oh, artists can make a great living.”
And so for me, it primarily comes through I do a lot of interactive public art so I've brought that public art and built custom experiences for brands.
Usually, I combine that with the talks, like Kate Spade, client of mine, I went in, I did an all-company meeting talk and then I had an interactive installation for their employees too. It was an end of year thing to name the curiosity that they wanted to step into, because that's one of their core values, in the following year.
And so it's really combining art with speaking has been a big part of it and then, of course, the book deal. I was fortunate to get a friendly book deal so that that definitely gave me space.
Now I'm looking into both physical products and online immersions and experiences so people can go deeper into the material because that's what people are asking for now, “I love the book, now I want more.” I'm like, “Great.”
Joanna: You mentioned Julia Cameron, if you look at her business model, that book, that was 25, 30 years ago now. And if you have a look at her website and what she does, she has obviously a lot more books around it but she also still does workshops.
That book has underpinned her whole career and it is so interesting how that can happen.
Circling back to the book, let's just get into the wonder because I think wonder is a really interesting word and we are writers here so the choice of word is very important.
Why choose the word wonder and what does it really mean?
Amber: So I chose it, one, for the alliteration. “Wonder Over Worry” because of how that flowed.
But also, how this all started is that as I was beginning to step into and really own my creative and my artist. I realized I had this asshole in my head shouting terrible things at me. And one day I was like, “Who are you, voice inside my head?” And the voice said, “I'm worry,” I was like, “Oh, great. Hi, worry.”
And then began to dialogue and so much of my work is actually being able to name, build a character and have a dialogue with our emotions or these characters that represent our emotions because so much of the problem becomes if we're trying to repress, push away, deny, not allow a feeling to be present or to have a voice, it can show up in really destructive ways. And I as a creative, I use all these emotions and these characters as fuel for what I create.
My perfectionist is a 30-something British woman named Grace who hails from London. And my grandma is British so I think that's maybe where it comes from. Grace wants everything in a very neat and tidy box, and so if I'm writing, Grace will get really loud like, “This is terrible, this is bloody stupid.”
And I'll be like, “Grace, what's going on, why are you here?” And Grace will tell me, “Well, I just want a really high-quality piece of book.” And I'm like, “Great, me too, we want the same thing, but here's the thing, I need to get messy in order to really be able to access that material so why don't you go get a massage while I get messy and maybe I'll invite you into the editing process.”
Before my previous process was like all of these critical voices are the enemy and my job is to get rid of and demolish them.
But that didn't work and I realized that only caused me unnecessary pain. There's a book called “Radical Acceptance,” Tara Brach, and she talks about in her book this notion of inviting Mara in for tea.
There was like Mara the devil and he kept wanting to wreak havoc and finally the Buddha was like, “Well, no, just invite him in and let him be heard.” And so much of that we can have that approach with inviting our uncomfortable or difficult emotions in for tea.
So maybe anger is really pissed off, but what's the message that anger has? Or maybe anxiety is really nervous and there's something that anxiety wants you to know, so what is anxiety want to tell and reveal to us?
So then I started to turn toward and actually dialogue with worry and these different characters, all of a sudden another one popped up. And that one was like, “Ooh, I feel drawn there, I'm curious about that, hmm, I wonder why anger is saying that? Let's look toward it.”
And I was like, “Who are you, awesome character, inner guide, friend, and ally?” And she was like, “I wonder,” and I was like, “Ooh, I like you.”
Joanna: Did she have a special voice?
Amber: Kind of like that.
Joanna: Just because as fiction writers we cast our characters a lot; my main character is Angelina Jolie in “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”. That's who I picture when I write.
We know what Grace is like. Does Wonder have like a look and feel?
Amber: There's many, there's the goddess who is ethereal in all white in the jungles of Bali, and she's like, “Here's the feminine way to write the book.”
And then she has to be balanced by Mr. Moore, and Mr. Moore is like, “We got to get shit done and here's our deadline, da,da,da.” They fight but they actually love each other.
And then there's Mama Jenny, who's I think my Oprah, except 80 years old, and she's like, “Baby girl, here is why you're awesome.”
Joanna: I love this because the funny thing is on this show everyone's listening, they all know what you're talking about. My mum's a writer too and she just takes dictation she's one of those writes she'll just take dictate what her character say, you know, they just talk. So this is totally right.
Are you're going to write a novel?
Amber: It's funny, a lot of people have asked that. I think so. I feel really drawn there and I've started to play with different ideas.
I had a mentor, after he read my book he's like, “Take one of the threads of this book, build the character and I see it as a novel.” So I also have an idea for a one-woman show where I would act out and dress up every character.
Joanna: Oh, that would be cool.
Amber: And be the goddess and then be Mr. Moore.
Joanna: I do like that, and I like the idea of wonder. I had never really used that word before. I think many creators would use that would muse. The muse would be that creative side and the curiosity, I think all of these things come under wonder, don't they?
Joanna: I did want to ask also, you mentioned toxic worry and useful worry.
When does a useful worry become toxic?
Amber: I want to say one last thing to close what we just said.
I was on a podcast recently talking about the characters and it was more of a health focus podcast. And they're like, “Do people think you're crazy? Do you have multiple personality disorder?”
And my friend was like, “No, you have multiple personality disorder and you're creating order by like…” But anyway, it feels really good to be like,”Oh, yeah, everyone gets it.”
Joanna: Yeah, totally.
Amber: That was my worry voice taking.
Back to toxic and useful worry. Our brain is wired to worry and biologically worry really is here to protect us and keep us safe. And so we evolved, when we were getting chased by tigers and worry was like, “Run,” triggered the fight or flight response.
You're going to feel the sensation of fear in your body because you're going to outrun that tiger and you're going to survive.
The problem is that today an upcoming deadline or really meaningful project can be like that tiger in the bushes and so we can run from something that's actually meaningful and important.
So useful worry is the kind of worry that's like, “Hey, I have this deadline next week and it's really important.” So worry is chiming in to tell me to pay attention and get it done. Or I felt a rush of worry two days ago because I have a talk in about two weeks that I haven't written and worry was like, “Hi, time to write that talk,” just an FYI.
That's when worry is useful because it pushes us into action and it really has us move forward and make progress.
But worry is toxic when it's those ruminating thoughts that spin, spin and spin and really prevent us from moving forward or taking an action. And those are the sorts of worries that maybe there is a meaningful project that we want to pursue but we get so caught in like, it's already been done, no one will care, I'm not unique enough, or whatever our story is and those are the sorts of worries that we want to tame, and invite in the muse of wonder.
Joanna: Yes, invite back to wonder.
I feel like balance is overrated. And that a lot of us, we get extremely into things, but there's that balance between letting worry help you get stuff done and then don't let it take over your life is just so important.
But you do talk about overwhelm, and time management and stuff like that. But you've also been through this book with this crazy book launch and I know how much you've done for this.
How did you manage the book launch process? Did you totally throw out the book and not do what you say in the book or did you manage to like keep all your good practices?
Amber: I like to think that the book was an initiation process, and so I mean, every step of the creative process of this book challenged me and brought my own worries to the surface and was like, “You're going to choose wonder, huh?”
Whether it was the moment when I got my book deal, my publisher said, “Can you write the book in two-and-a-half months?” And I was like, “Hell no, hell yes.” Which you know, Parkinson's law, if they had given me six months or a year, I think it would have taken the same amount of time.
I'm so glad that I really went in and went all in, and the process of writing in that period of time and feeling like I didn't have not enough time.
Actually, another character that created was this dog named Time, that when I was freaking out would jump on my lap and tell me to pet him. Taking breaths and petting time and reminding myself that it's fine.
And then, of course, the launch process and doing 100 interviews and having 30 events, there were definitely things that came to the surface for me.
I had an incredible team and I hear a lot of horror stories about the publishing world but my publisher was so involved, so active, and so engaged. I didn't really manage any details. If I had been managing the details, I probably would have fainted, fallen over, cried in a corner.
But instead, I just I was just in charge of showing up and being me, show up, be me, like do the stuff, and I actually got in a real flow with it. To the point where the thing I wasn't expecting was the post-publication blues.
So after tour, after it was all out, after I'm back in my apartment in New York, I was like, “Now what? I want to be with people again.” And there was sadness and also realizing that this book was such a big dream of mine and it actually happened and I was like, “I don't have to birth that dream anymore, what the hell am I going to do now?” And so that was an interesting space to be in.
Joanna: I'm glad you mentioned that because I've written a book on mindset called “The Successful Author Mindset” and in the second half I say, “Don't read this if you haven't published a book yet.”
I have a chapter on what happens after you publish a book. And it's so interesting because it does feel like that, it just feels like that. And I feel like, circling back, we talked about creative dissatisfaction, that's when you need to go create something else.
Joanna: But on the book launch, because many authors listening obviously some will have traditional deals, some are independent. But what have you found to be the best things for moving the needle?
Obviously, you won't be able to see your book sales but you can at least see your rankings and stuff like that.
Have you got a sense for what's worked or what was a complete waste of time in terms of marketing?
Amber: “High Impact” podcast definitely moved the needle probably more than anything else. TV and radio, I didn't see a huge needle but more it was good for credibility and that's important. And I had so many people tell me like, “Oh, I saw it at the bookstore, then I like saw three friends post about it, then I heard you on this podcast, and then I finally bought it.”
So it was like interesting because even when I could touch and feel and look at the book but then like see the friends buy it. And then it wasn't until they heard me on a podcast that triggered them to buy, so I thought that was interesting as well.
A complete waste of time was I was trying to build out a circle program, which would be like a book club method so people could gather community and the idea could spread beyond.
I just had way too much on my plate and didn't have enough to really allocate toward doing that the right way, but spent a good amount of time and hired someone specifically to do that so that was the one learning.
I had a number of friends who bought books, like 20 to 40 books, who were going to give them out to there teams or as gifts. I feel like bookstores might not like me for saying this. I went through indie bookstores to try to do this, which I thought would be better for rankings and whatnot but it ended up being a complete headache and I wish I would have just had people go to Amazon.
I love the indie bookstores. I support them, and the in-person events, while it doesn't scale, it was so important for meeting those super fans, for really engaging and having that live experience, and those definitely did move the needle and the indie bookstore events were amazing.
But in terms of like coordinating sales with friends who wanted to buy larger amounts of books to really push rankings forward: My Amazon numbers were one of the lowest of all the ways that I sold the book, which is so unheard of. But because I was pushing the bookstore so much, I wish I would have pushed Amazon a little more.
Joanna: That's really interesting, especially because traditional publishers often do want you to push things to bookstores but specific stores because that's how you get on the “New York Times” list. It's got to be sales at the stores that report and that type of thing. So it's not really surprising that a millennial author would find the online channels to be effective.
Amber: But here's the thing, they didn't count toward the lists.
Because what happened is one brand bought $10,000 of books in exchange for me to speak. And it ended up the sale went through a distributor and even that was through indie bookstore it was through…it's like, these things I didn't know.
Joanna: It's a game.
Amber: Like nearly 1,000 books did not count and like we won't know until like 9 months from now. My week one sales, I love, but they're likely double of what was actually tracked.
Joanna: I was on the “New York Times” list five years ago now when they actually still have the digital list and then they changed it all. They changed the rules because people like me were doing these things. Sorry about that.
But it's just one of things, the games that people play at book launch are really interesting.
It's good to hear that what you felt was effective, things like podcasting, and it's evergreen, right? It's evergreen content marketing so people might be listening to this who knows when.
Instagram was big for me but that's because I have a super visual Instagram and a core audience there and that actually was more successful, Instagram, than my e-mail list.
Amber: Which I thought was insane, but I think that's because of how even Gmail is putting e-mails in. I just I feel like most of my audience that's on my e-mail has transitioned to follow me on Instagram because I get more ongoing content there.
Joanna: That's really interesting.
Tell us what you are on Instagram so everyone can go follow you.
Joanna: We're almost out of time but I did want to ask you, going back to Seth Godin and the Domino Project.
I'm obviously a Seth Godin fan, have been for many years, and I bought books through the Domino Project and it was an interesting experiment and then it stopped. And Seth has done other publishing things, like I've got that massive heavy book, “Whatcha Gonna Do with That Duck?” which is huge.
What do you think you learned about publishing both back then in Domino Project but also through what you've gone through now?
What will you do differently next time and any thoughts on publishing?
Amber: With Seth, to be honest, I didn't learn as much about publishing. I learned more about how we get ideas to spread and how to create ideas that have a long tail. That was really what Seth was pushing as well as how can he take us so far outside of our comfort zone.
Everyone had a breakdown at some point during the six months of the experience. It was more like us stepping into and moving past our own fears, which you know, honestly, was what a lot of the content that we were pushing was about.
It was so new, it was with Amazon. Amazon was just I think like pretty early in the publishing game. It was a total experiment there and so I didn't really get my understanding of the traditional world until I was now working with my publisher because when I worked with Seth, he had fully transitioned out.
The learning with them is that they're incredible at distributing books and getting them in the right places; that is what there are best in the world at. I do feel lucky that my publicist was able to get me 40 radio spots on live TV, she was able to lock into speaking engagements for me, she went above and beyond.
And so I think actually the big learning for me is that I wish I would have trusted my publisher more. I had to tell this to them at one point because I went into it thinking that…this will sound terrible…that they don't know what they're doing.
Not to say that Seth said they didn't know what they were doing but he was like, “We're gonna try to do another experiment and create something new.” I had heard so many stories. Will the editor actually be there through the editing process? Will the publicist actually try to lock anything? How involved will they be?
I thought I had to hire my whole team, and they were way more involved. So I think having that partnership and collaboration from the beginning and getting really clear on how we together are going to really blow this up, that's going to be my biggest learning for next time.
Joanna: That's great, so you have another book it's starting to bubble?
Amber: I do, I do. I can't tell you about that though.
Joanna: No, exactly, but it's that I think and that's the important thing about that creative dissatisfaction because like the only way through it is to create something new, which is very exciting. Okay, so we are out of time, where can people find you and everything you do online?
Amber: So as I mentioned, on Instagram I'm @heyamberrae, and you can learn all about the book at choosewonder.com, and my personal website/blog is amberrae.com. And again, that's R-A-E.
Joanna: Fantastic. Thanks so much for your time, Amber, that was great.
Amber: This was so fun.
[Rainbow photo courtesy Todd Cravens and Unsplash.]