How can you prevent self-doubt and fear from blocking your creative expression? What if you've built an audience for your books, but then you want to change direction? I discuss these issues and more with Holly Worton.
In the intro, Draft2Digital introduce payment splitting; Long-term and ‘wide' thinking with Sarah Painter on the 6 Figure Author Podcast; the Alliance of Independent Authors downgrades ACX to Caution as a self-publishing service and The Authors Guild starts a petition to stop Audible's unfair exchange policy; and more on #Audiblegate at Fair Deal for Rights Holders and Narrators on Facebook. My thoughts on the UK's FutureBook conference including audio and unlimited streaming and subscription services, global, digital-first publishing, and more. Check out #futurebook20 on Twitter if you want to see some highlights.
Plus, Your Author Business Plan: Take Your Author Career to the Next Level is on pre-order for ebooks at some stores, and available on 10 Dec everywhere.
Today's show is sponsored by Draft2Digital, where you can get free ebook formatting, free distribution to multiple stores, and a host of other benefits. Get your free Author Marketing Guide at www.draft2digital.com/penn
Holly Worton is the author of 17 nonfiction and self-help books about business mindset and personal growth, as well as on walking and the wisdom of trees and nature. She's also the host of the Into the Woods podcast.
You can listen above or on your favorite podcast app or read the notes and links below. Here are the highlights and full transcript below.
- Common mindset issues that authors face
- How to move past the beliefs or fears that block our creative freedom and business success
- Building the ‘vulnerability' muscle
- Taking action on what we really want
- Making space to allow for a new direction
- Creating book assets from podcast transcriptions
- How do you know if you have an issue with money?
- How to use a ‘workation' to finish your book
- How to pivot your author career when you've already established a brand
You can find Holly Worton at HollyWorton.com and on Twitter @hollyworton
Transcript of Interview with Holly Worton
Joanna: Holly Worton is the author of 17 nonfiction and self-help books about business mindset and personal growth, as well as on walking and the wisdom of trees and nature. She's also the host of the ‘Into the Woods' podcast. Welcome, Holly.
Holly: Thanks for having me.
Joanna: It's great to talk to you.
Tell us a bit more about you and your diverse business career and how you got into writing and publishing.
Holly: I think in hindsight, it was probably obvious that I would always end up here but it obviously didn't seem like a straight path when I was doing it.
I've been self-employed since 1999. My first business was when I was living in Latin America, a business partner and I owned eco-hotels, in the jungle in Mexico. And so, that was my first business for about 10 years and then I quit and move to England and completely rebooted my life and didn't know what I wanted to do.
I trained as a coach and I started working with coaching, and then it moved into business mindset coaching. And I started writing my first books. And at the same time, I really got into walking here in England. And then it got to the point where I just realized, I just wanted to be writing. I really enjoyed writing and so I just quit doing client work and moved to writing full time. I do have author clients that I work with, but I'm no longer doing the business mindset work.
Joanna: Where are you from originally?
Joanna: Right. So, you've moved all over the place. What year was it when you finally said, right, I just want to write full time?
Holly: That was I would say a couple of years ago. I think it'll be two years in October, November thereabouts.
Joanna: I love that and we're going to come back to the development and pivoting and all that because I find that fascinating.
Let's start with the mindset stuff because you do have a book, Business Beliefs, which is all about how to upgrade your mindset, overcome self-sabotage, achieve your goals and transform your business and your life. It's a good one. So, I wanted to start because you do come from that background.
What are some of the most common mindset issues that authors, in particular, face?
Holly: I would say one of the biggest ones is value and self-worth. Am I good enough? Is my writing good enough? Is my writing good enough to sell? That's one of the biggest mindset issues I saw with business owners, and it's one of the biggest ones I see with authors as well.
A lot of people want to write, they love writing, but they may not press publish, or they may publish but not market it as aggressively as they could because they're scared of visibility. They're really scared of getting out there and really putting the book out there and getting it into the hands of readers who have no idea who they are.
And as we all know, well, online readers aren't always kind in reviews. And I think a lot of people are scared of bad reviews as well.
Joanna: Oh, you've just hit some good ones straightaway. You said a couple of things, you said ‘good enough to sell.' And this is huge because, I've read a number of your books and we all write because we have something we want to say and yet that might not sell. And some books that people love don't sell very many copies at all.
How does the value and self-worth aspect go into the good enough to sell versus the need to put it into the world?
Holly: You can very easily put your writing into the world for free by writing a blog post or a series of blog posts. And I think that's a really easy start for a lot of people because no one's paying for it. So, if they don't enjoy it, they haven't lost any money and it's easier to put yourself out into the world that way with your writing.
But I think something changes once you start charging for your writing because people obviously do expect a certain level of professionalism in the writing and a certain level of editing and quality. And that's where, again, that ‘I'm not good enough' belief can pop in and stop us from publishing.
Joanna: The other thing you said is being scared of visibility. And this is definitely something that I've come up against in myself. I was quite surprised when I looked at my own mindset around marketing my fiction, and that's what it came down to in the end.
I've always called it fear of judgment as in what if people can get inside my head if they read my fiction and that scares me because I feel like they will judge me. And that stops me and that has made me scared of visibility. And that ties into what you're saying around self-worth. What if I become more visible as my fiction sells, and then people don't like it?
How do we move forward on these things? Because I'm clearly not the only one who feels this way.
Holly: Absolutely. I think it's pretty common. It's very vulnerable to put yourself out there as a writer. Whether you're writing fiction or nonfiction, you're opening up and you're sharing a part of yourself, it's very intimate.
And I think for me, I had practice in vulnerability in terms of writing blog posts, and my podcast, I share a lot of really personal stuff in my podcast. So, I think I had some opportunities to build my vulnerability muscle, but it still felt like a much bigger leap when I started putting my books out there. I think we can start by practicing with smaller things to kind of build that muscle and then make it easier.
Joanna: That's a really good point. And in a way, I have been doing that with nonfiction. I look at the first things I wrote back in 2008 online and it was very businessy and there was nothing personal. And I didn't really share a personal introduction on this podcast for four or five years.
Maybe that is the thing with my fiction; I've started the Books and Travel podcast, which you're coming on to talk from a different angle as well. But maybe it will just be time and sharing in different ways that helps.
[Listen to Holly talk about Solo Long-Distance Walking on Books and Travel]
Holly: I think so because I think the more that we open up and the more that we share personal stuff, the easier that it gets.
I've just released second editions of all of my business mindset books this year, I'm still working on releasing the last two. But one of my problems with the first editions was that I wasn't sharing enough of myself, I didn't share enough personal problems and personal blocks, and personal fears.
In the second editions, I've been very mindful of adding lots of personal stories so people can see just how far I've come and how many problems I had myself, marketing myself as a coach despite having 10 years of solid business and marketing experience. So, I think that's really helped.
It got to the point where, because I had shared so much of my blog and my podcast, it was much easier to insert those personal stories into the second editions, but those stories weren't there in the first editions.
Joanna: And that is a key to writing nonfiction books that people love, right? Because anyone can write a how to do this, or how to do that and listicles but it's our personal perspective that will bring a book alive.
Holly: Absolutely. And it's a personal perspective that will help your authors to connect with you.
Joanna: And I feel as I talk about artificial intelligence a lot and the fact that you can't beat the machines at the end of the day. And there's a lot of discussion on how automation and all of this stuff is going to change the workplace even more, and we have to focus on doubling down on being human, and our flaws are what make us human.
So, people feel like well, I can't possibly share some of the things that I feel vulnerable about. How do people start in that little way? Is it blogging or podcasting? Or is there a way that they can do it in a non-threatening environment?
How do people start sharing in a small way?
Holly: I think absolutely practical experience helps. Because I was a business mindset coach and I worked with certain techniques that help you to reprogram your mindset at the subconscious level, I would say that stuff really helps too. It requires an investment of time and money, but using techniques like EFT or tapping, those things can really help you to reprogram your beliefs, which will just make it so much easier for you to take the action.
Joanna: As you say, working with an external person in whatever way. I found with this podcast, actually, even as we're talking I do things quite naturally on the show now. A conversation I had with Mark McGuinness, who's also a creative coach, earlier on in the pandemic just really helped me move forward. Sometimes it's just talking about it with someone else, isn't it?
[Check out the interview with Mark McGuinness on How to Stay Creative in Difficult Times, a pandemic lock-down special!]
Holly: It gives you a new perspective. Absolutely.
Joanna: Coming back to value and self-worth, because money and success and the value of our work are key issues for creatives and authors. Generally, people either want some kind of literary prize or critical acclaim and/or they want money, sometimes a little bit of money and sometimes lots of money. I also feel like people think they want it and yet they kind of resist it, if they don't do the marketing or whatever.
How can we decide what we really want and then take that action?
Holly: I think getting clear on what lifestyle you want for yourself, what do you want your ideal life to look like, and what do you need to do to get there? If you have another income stream that you're really happy with, whether it's a business or a job or whatever, and you're happy to keep on doing that you don't care if your books bring in money, that's important to know.
On the other hand, if you absolutely hate your job or your current business, and you really want your books to become your full-time income, you've got to start planning for that. And you've got to know what your goals are and what kind of lifestyle you want to live so that you can know what goals to create for yourself and how to create the action plan to achieve those goals.
Joanna: I feel like partly it's what will you give up to achieve that goal. You can't have everything, right?
Holly: Yes, you've got to know what your priorities are. Because there are going to be some sacrifices, there are going to be some things that fall away that maybe you can't do in the meantime, because you're working towards that goal.
You've got to know what you want, you've got to know how important it is to you. Because there are so many things that I would love to do, but they're really low priority because I just don't have the time because other things are more important.
Joanna: Earlier in the year, I was like ‘I could have a business talking to businesses about AI and creativity,' like, I could totally do that. I would fit in that world. And then I looked at it and went, no, I just can't, I just don't want to do that in exchange for the things I want to do. In terms of writing more fiction, but also more spiritual nonfiction, something. I don't really know what it is.
Holly: I like the sound of that.
Joanna: Maybe that's part of it.
Maybe you have to make the space to achieve something even if you don't know what that might be yet.
Holly: Absolutely. You have to give yourself the time and the space to let that come in and become a real thing and a part of your life. But I think that's hard as creatives because we're so creative.
We have so many ideas, there are so many things that we could do and you've really got to narrow it down to the things that you want to focus on and the things you want to make a priority because there are so many. I have so many ideas for things but I can't take action on everything.
Joanna: Exactly. We're recording this in August 2020, still, there's a global pandemic going on.
Do you think that the pandemic has shifted things for people in terms of what they want to achieve?
Holly: Absolutely, I think it's giving people a different perspective of what life might be like from now on. Obviously, I hope at some point, we're going to come out of this and come to the other side, but it's shaken everything up.
For me, it's really pushed me to create more income streams for myself in terms of my books. I've completely switched up my publishing calendar this year because some of my plans got canceled due to the pandemic.
But more than anything, I realized I just needed more options, more income streams to give people opportunities to give me money because I don't want to rely on just the one book or just one thing. I really felt the need to branch out with my writing.
Joanna: That's interesting because you talked before about turning off the income streams around coaching. So, how did you resist the call of what could be easy money in terms of just offering your services? You can you could make that money very easily. How did you make that decision?
Holly: It didn't even occur to me. And that's interesting because charging an hourly rate for coaching can be really good money. It's a big chunk of money. It's many, many, many books in one hour. But it didn't even occur to me.
My first thought was, okay, what can I write to get out there? What's easy for me to write? Because I'm just so focused on making a living from my writing. I didn't even think about going back to the coaching, that's really, really fascinating.
Joanna: You didn't think about until now when I suggested it?
Joanna: That is fascinating because I think it's easy to reach people with services. But what you've done is doubled down on the products and the assets. So, you said, ‘What books would it be easy for me to write?' How do you determine what is easy for you to write and make money out quickly?
Holly: For me, nonfiction is easy because that's what I do. I've got a novel that's on the back burner because it's my first novel. It's not easygoing, and it's not pretty. So, that's been pushed to the back.
I had this idea earlier this year when I was looking at different categories for my books, I saw the Kindle short reads categories, and I was like, ‘Oh, it's interesting. What is that?' And they've got the Kindle short. It's 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 60 minutes, and I thought, ‘Oh, I wonder how I could create a series of short books.'
I grabbed my podcast transcripts, picked five of them, and made them into short reads books. Obviously, I did a ton of editing and I added a lot of things but those were really easy to write. And people have really liked them because they're short, they're easy to consume, they take about half an hour to read, and they get really solid ideas of things they can do to improve their lives. So, that was one thing that I really enjoyed doing, it was super easy for me to do.
Joanna: Is Business Beliefs one of those?
Holly: No. Business Beliefs is not one of those. Business Beliefs was my very first book, so that's the second edition of my first book. But that is a longer book now. The original one was quite a bit shorter, but I added quite a bit to it this year with a second edition.
Joanna: What are those short books?
Holly: They're called ‘Into the Woods Short Reads,' that's the series. I've got one that's called How To Add More Adventure To Your Life, How To Let Go of Toxic People in Your Life and Mind.
Things like, How To Practice Self-Care Even If You Think You Don't Have Enough Time, things like that. So, really easy self-help, personal development stuff, all based on podcast transcripts. So, that's what made it so easy. I was repurposing content that I already had.
Joanna: That is fascinating. I have thought about that so much with this podcast. I keep going, oh, I just can't face it. I cannot face going through the backlinks. You have like 350 episodes or something, right?
Holly: I think 369 went live this week.
Joanna: It's kind of crazy. But no, that's really interesting.
I did this at the beginning of the pandemic, in March when it hit the U.K. I did that ‘okay, I need more income streams,' and my first thought was to create some online courses for authors because they are a higher ticket. And I did shorter ones as well. So, similar in one way but different in they would sell to fewer people but they'd be higher ticket.
But equally, they only make money for the time that I run the courses. So, a lot less than the books over time. So, fascinating that you decided to go that way. I love that.
I do want to just come back on money because I still feel like this is such a big deal for creatives that almost people push away money because they feel like in some way it's not compatible, especially with fiction. I think fiction writers in particular maybe have an issue with money.
How do people know they have an issue with money?
Holly: You know you have an issue with money if the prices of your books are really, really low or you're giving them all away for free. If you feel sick at the thought of increasing your prices. If other people have said to you, ‘Why your books so cheap?' and you just can't even imagine raising the price.
Obviously, you don't want to be selling your books for crazy amounts. But if your books are consistently priced much, much lower than similar books of the same genre, I would say, you might have an issue with money because you're devaluing your work.
You're looking at other people's books and saying, ‘Oh, you know, those are worth X amount of money but mine, I've got to price like half that or lower because they're just not as good.'
Joanna: I was thinking about this earlier. I don't think I have a problem with money, I like money. I love money, I enjoy money! I can say all these things out loud because I've practiced over the years.
[If you want to change your money mindset, check out my list of books and podcasts about money.]
But it's funny because I feel like the pandemic has also brought a lot of these online summits and talks, the things that I used to charge for speaking as a professional speaker, and now everyone's asking it for free.
And at the beginning of the pandemic I did a couple of them because it was a pandemic and now it's like, is this the new normal?
I feel like that a lot of writers, a lot of creatives, are undervaluing their time in doing all these speaking and services for free.
Holly: Yes. Your time is your time. Obviously, if you're doing something online, you don't have to travel to get to the event and get home. As an introvert, it's less stressful but still, it's your time.
So, if you're going to charge to speak live, why wouldn't you expect to receive compensation for speaking on something that's virtual or recorded? You're still giving your expertise.
Joanna: And obviously, this to me is marketing. But when it's to a group of just 100 people or something. This show goes out like 15,000 people, and so it has validity in a different way. But if you're just speaking at an event that is smaller, I agree, I think this is important.
And I think it's become more important with everyone thinking it's so easy to do these online talks. And I'm basically now saying I'm just not doing them because I burned out from pandemic speaking.
But I do want to get into the books. You did these books really quickly and you do have this great resource on your site called ‘The Definitive Guide to the Workation Weekend,' which I think is brilliant, where you achieve a lot in a few days.
If people do want to produce books more quickly, or they want to achieve something quickly with time management, what is this idea of a ‘workation weekend?'
Holly: Oh, it's my favorite thing. And the pandemic really messed me up with this because I couldn't go on workations for a while because accommodations were closed.
What I do on a workation weekend is I give myself the time and the space that is dedicated to writing. I go to a hotel, I used to always go to the same hotel, I stayed one night or two nights, check-in early, check out late the next day. And I just work on one project and I hyper-focus on that one project the entire weekend.
It is glorious, it's just so much fun. I really, really enjoy it. I mostly use workations for writing but in the past, I've used them to create online courses or rebrand my website or things like that. So, you can use them for anything but these days, I mostly use them for writing.
Joanna: Given that most people now are at home, how could they rejig that towards being at home?
Holly: For me, it's all about getting outside of my normal work environment. I can write from my office, I can write from my garden, but there's something magical about getting outside of my normal environment to somewhere else. And hotels are opening up now. Airbnbs, TripAdvisors, FlipKey website has places.
I find it really useful to just go hire a shepherd's hut or something and go somewhere outside of my normal environment. That's what works for me.
If other people can't do that, then I would say get out of your normal home environment and work somewhere else. If you normally work in your office, go work in your garden, go work from another room in your house, or go work from a cafe. That does not work for me because it would be just sensory overload for me, but it works for a lot of people. I know you used to work from cafes, I don't know if you still do.
Joanna: I went back the other day to my cafe and they used to open really early, well, so really early, but for British people, 7:00 a.m. is a kind of early opening. I used to be there when the door opened and by the time people would come in on their commute and pick up coffee and stuff. So, there weren't many people in there until about half-past 9 when people would turn up with their babies and stuff.
So, I normally got a couple of hours good writing there. But I went back the other day and they're opening later now because nobody's commuting. And I did one session and it wasn't right. It didn't feel right. I think, also, there's still this residual fear, probably, let's call it fear. But the idea of a hotel room, I think, is really interesting. And obviously, if people can't afford the budget there then, as you say, doing it within your own home.
Probably the key is just making sure you're not doing anything else, right?
Holly: Yes. To me, the key is, on one hand, finding a different place to work from a normal working place. But the other key is dedicating that time just to the project that I've selected, and not looking at anything else.
I don't look at my emails, I don't look at any other work, I don't write blog posts, I don't think about my podcast. It's just the project that I've chosen to work on. And I'm dedicating the time and space to that project. And there's something just magical about that. Because you're giving yourself the space to do this thing that's important to you.
Joanna: And also, like you said, the short pieces of work. For nonfiction writers, short nonfiction, the book that makes me the most money with nonfiction is How To Make a Living With Your Writing. That's 27,000 words. You can do that in a short amount of time.
And with fiction, it could be a short story, a novella, whatever. So, I think you're right. I have never done that. I have been more of a three to four hours a day consistently for the first draft period, and I've never tried that, but it's very interesting.
Holly: It works really well for me. I'm aware that I'm privileged in the sense that I don't have children. So it's easy for me to take a weekend a month or two weekends a month and do this.
And also, I have high-functioning autism, formerly known as Asperger's. So, my brain is really uniquely focused to hyper-focus on one thing for many, many hours in a row. I can work on one thing for eight hours and not be distracted by anything, and I think a lot of people can't do that. So, this is something that works for me. I think other writers need to find what works for them.
Joanna: I am reading your Alone on the South Downs Way book at the moment. And, obviously, you're going to come on my Books and Travel Podcast to talk about long-distance walking, so we're not going to talk about the topic right now.
But I am interested because I know many people want to write travel. It is a travel book, it's obviously walking a particular way in the U.K.
How do you write those as you travel? Are you dictating?
Holly: No, I don't like dictating, it doesn't work for me. What I do is I bring my iPad Mini with one of those little keyboard things, a portable keyboard. And every night after I have my dinner, I sit in the pub or the restaurant or wherever I'm staying, and I just type up that day's chapter.
I write as much as I can about what happened that day, I make notes of stuff I want to add. And by the time I get home, I've usually got at least 20,000 words written. And so, I've got a really good starting point for the book.
Joanna: I love that. I totally want to do that. I'm going to model you on these books. Because I was reading it going, how do you remember all the things that happened during the day? Because I think that would be my fear, it's like you're walking past all these things, how do you remember it by the end of the day?
Holly: Well, I remember it because I sit down with my iPad and my guidebook and I look through the route that I walked that day and I think, ‘Oh, when I turned that corner, I saw that thing and then when I walked past that field, I saw that thing.' And so, I use the guide book and the maps from the guidebook to refresh what it was that I experienced that day.
Joanna: Aha, yes, and taking pictures, I guess, as well.
Holly: Yes, absolutely. I take so many pictures, pictures that I don't ever use, except to jog my memory of stuff that I saw. Whether it was something weird or a cute sheep or, I don't know, just all kinds of stuff.
Joanna: I've always thought, oh, I can't possibly do this because I never know the names of plants and things. I've discovered that you can use Google Lens on a plant. Do you do that?
Holly: I'm actually really good with plants. When went to university, before I changed to an English major, I went in studying horticulture. So, plants have always been my thing. But there are apps that you can use. I think one of them is called PlantNet. It's like Shazam for plants. You scan a photograph of it and then it uploads, and then it tells you what plant it is. So, yes, so there are all kinds of apps and things.
I also take a lot of photographs of wildflowers so that when I'm describing the trail later, I can be like, ‘Oh, there were these wildflowers and those white things and these purple things.' And I can name them because I remember what they are because I've got the photographs there to jog my memory. So, I take tons of pictures of just little details as well.
Joanna: Good tip. And I think that is the key to any kind of travel writing is detail, isn't it, really?
Holly: Yes. I just take loads of pictures, I don't ever upload them online, no one ever sees them, they're just to jog my memory.
Joanna: Coming to nature, you write now a lot about nature and self-care. And your most recent book is about the wisdom of trees, which is quite an unusual topic, I think, given your other business books, and mindset, and things. And obviously many writers tend to lose themselves in the computer and much of our work is even more of our work is online than ever.
How can we balance the connection with nature with getting work done?
Holly: Get outdoors. I know that's not everyone's thing but give it a try. So, whatever you like, just find what you love in nature, whether it's cycling, walking, hiking, backpacking, camping, whatever, even if it's just working in the garden.
One of the things that's been an amazing change about the lockdown for me is that we've had so many beautiful days with the exception of last week, which was hellish. But I've been working in the garden most days and I love it and I don't have the biggest garden. It's very small, but it's just been so lovely to be outdoors and I've got my tomato plants next to me, and I've got flowers, and things and just being outdoors makes work so much easier.
Even if I've got to plow through my inbox because I've been ignoring it for a couple of days, everything's easier from the garden. Find what works for you but try to get outdoors. It really transforms everything.
Joanna: Even just the air. Sometimes I say to Jonathan, ‘I just need some fresh air,' and it makes a real difference. I do hope that people have been managing to do that a lot more. Tell us about If Trees Could Talk. How did that book emerge?
Holly: That book is a complete and total departure from everything else I've ever written.
And it might be a bit woo-woo for your audience. I was given the idea by a yew tree. I talk to trees, and they talk back.
I was on this forest bathing meetup a couple of years ago, and one of the things we had to do was go find a yew tree and hang out with it. I went up to the yew tree and I'm touching its bark and I'm looking at it and it says, ‘You're working on this novel and it's really hard' and I'm like, ‘Yeah, I've realized that.'
And it says, ‘We have another idea for you. We have a book that's going to be a lot easier for you to write. The trees have stories, and people need to hear them. And this is a book that you could write, and it would be a lot easier for you.' And I thought, ‘Okay, I'll give it a try.'
I spent almost a year collecting stories and then turning them into a book, which is now my best selling book. So, that's where it came from.
Joanna: That is fascinating. And you say that's your best selling book, which means that however it came to you, whatever people would like to think how that came to you doesn't matter. It came to you and people are resonating with it. Do you think that that is related to this time of pandemic? Are people just desperate for connection with nature?
Holly: I honestly do not know. I think people are desperate to have a connection with nature. We've seen, at least in the U.K., at least where I live, so many more people going outdoors, especially when we were during lockdown. And the only thing you could do to get outside of your house was to go outdoors for exercise, walking in the woods or walking on the trails.
I saw so many more people than ever before and I loved it. I think that a lot more people reconnected with nature this year. And perhaps that's made them curious about other ways they could connect with nature, and what they can learn, and how they can benefit from connecting with nature.
Joanna: I must say I find that there are these five plane trees in the middle of The Circus in Bath. And they definitely have some kind of thing going on. In my book Map of Shadows, they are a portal into another world.
I've walked there at night with the wind and I just feel like whoa, this place has something and in fact, it was constructed in the same dimensions as Stonehenge. Talking woo-woo, there's all kinds of strange things in the world far more than we can see. But I do, I definitely feel something with those plane trees. I know yew trees are spiritual, aren't they, in many cultures, but what about plane trees? Do you know anything about plane trees?
Holly: I don't know anything about plane trees from a spiritual perspective, and I don't have any in my area. So, I don't know.
Joanna: It's interesting because I also love what you've done with your career. Obviously, you have made decisions along the way and you've pivoted. And I'm interested with your podcast because you had this more businessy focus, and then you've pivoted into this more nature focus.
I know that many people listening, authors, feel that they become trapped by a brand. Like, maybe they have written 10 sci-fi novels and then they go, ‘You know what, I just don't want to do this. I want to write romance or I want to write nonfiction about trees or whatever.'
How do you pivot your brand but continue to serve an audience while also moving forward?
Holly: I've done this so many times. I feel like I'm a master of pivoting right now! Because before it was a business mindset podcast, I podcasted about social media.
Joanna: Whoa, that is crazy.
Holly: My thing used to be social media. Social media for authors, social media for coaches, and holistic entrepreneurs. Then I changed a mindset, then I changed to the nature stuff.
So, for me, it was almost like letting go of an old identity and stepping into a new one.
But the problem was each time that I pivoted, I didn't know what that new identity was. I didn't know where I was going. I just knew that the old thing was not my thing anymore, and I needed to do something differently.
And honestly, it was my podcast that helped me to do that. Each time I just thought, well, I'm going to talk about whatever I want to my podcast and we'll see where this goes. And the last time when I was shifting from business mindset to the nature stuff, that was what I did.
I remember changing the intro to my podcast and saying, ‘Look, guys, this is changing, I don't know where it's going. I'm just going to talk about stuff and I hope you join me for the journey.' And I've pivoted so many times, and people stick with me.
Obviously, some people drop off because they're not interested in the nature stuff, but I'm shocked by the number of people who have been following me from my old social media days, and they're still with me today and they followed me through all these changes.
But it's the podcast and just allowing myself to talk about whatever I wanted, and seeing where that went and being willing to see where that went. And just taking it one week at a time. That was what made it easier.
Joanna: That's interesting because, obviously, I've started this second podcast, Books and Travel, because I felt like it's such a different angle that it needs to be separate. But like you said, it's about allowing yourself to do something. Is there a thread? I guess the thread is you. Even when you talked about social media, was there a through-line?
Holly: I was doing social media for business and then that changed into business mindset. And so, that was kind of logical. I think the only illogical shift that I did was from business mindset to personal development through nature and outdoor adventures.
However, I'm still talking about personal development and mindset stuff. So, that was kind of the common thread that helped me shift from business mindset to personal mindset and personal growth but from a nature perspective.
Joanna: What do you think will happen next? Do you see where you will go next? Obviously, this audience is very interested in books. You've managed to write books in these very different niches under the same name.
Do you feel like you have more to write in trees and nature niche or are you looking towards a different future?
Holly: That is an excellent question. And this is something that I keep going back to all the time and I know I asked you about using different names for fiction and nonfiction. I feel really uncomfortable that I'm moving much towards the nature niche and outdoors and walking and outdoors and adventure niche, and I've got these four business mindset books.
It feels like a disconnect. I know I'm going much more into a nature and outdoors focus. So, that's definitely where things are going. And I feel like I'm leaving the business mindset stuff behind. I don't know what to do with those and I just updated them.
Joanna: Stick an initial in the middle and put them into something else. Have you considered that? I think you started off saying you didn't necessarily want to do that but that might make sense.
Holly: It might make sense. But then I feel like I'm going to have to market that pen name. And I'm not sure how much effort I want to put into those books anymore, because I really am shifting my focus.
At this point right now where I don't know what to do with those books. And it's a strange point to be at because I had this plan this year to relaunch all four of them and I've already relaunched three out of the four. So, it's kind of like, what do I do with that project?
[Holly has since started repositioning with an initial, Holly E. Worton]
Joanna: I know what you mean. My book Career Change, which was my very first book in 2007, and then rewrote it in 2012, and I have still not recorded the audiobook for it because every time I look at it, I go, ‘I have to update it.' And I don't want to because that's not me anymore. What I would say is I don't market that book at all and it sells five copies a year.
So, in the end, if we don't take care of our backlist, it dies anyway.
Holly: It does. And the interesting thing was, Amazon ads have been doing so well for my tree book. So, I thought from a business perspective if I update all these business mindset books, and I get Amazon ads going for them, I have a guy now that does my ads for me, it's really affordable and he does great work, he can make those sell and then I won't have to do too much and they can just sell.
They're not selling. They're not selling as well as the first additions were five years ago when that was the focus of my business. So, I don't know, they might just go away at some point because…or they might just go on the archive list of my backlist. I don't know, but that's definitely not where I'm going and my focus is very much on nature and outdoor adventures and travel in the outdoors.
Joanna: I think sometimes, especially with nonfiction, because a lot of it does date much more than fiction really, it's like, do I want to continue with that? Because again, we talked about putting personal stories into our books, you have also changed and suddenly what was a personal story a decade ago is no longer the same person.
Holly: Absolutely. So, the updates that I did this year are very relevant because I just updated them this year, but five years from now, if I don't touch them, I'm going to be a totally different person, especially the pace I'm changing and evolving. Who knows where I'm going to be in five years?
Joanna: Perhaps the message for people is really to sometimes you just let it go and move on. And that can be hard, especially if people are making money but it's like you said about not choosing to do any coaching when that was the easy money, you've let that go, right?
Holly: I did. Which is why I don't know why I persisted with this project of releasing those books this year.
Joanna: Oh, it's funny. Well, it's good. It's interesting. I love hearing about the way you're exploring things and changing things. So, tell people where they can find you and your books and your podcast online.
Holly: My website is hollyworton.com and that's Holly like the tree, hollyworton.com, and that's got everything. It's got kind of the central hub for my podcast, I've got links to my books, links to my social media. I mostly hang out on Instagram.
Joanna: Brilliant. Well, thanks so much for your time, Holly. That was great.
Holly: Thank you for having me.