Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed writer Debbie Elicksen about her career, what inspires her, and the writing of her latest book, Digital Public Relations For Business.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
Growing up, I wanted to be different and non-traditional. When I was 11, I wanted to coach the Boston Bruins, and when I was working in football, I dreamt of becoming NFL commissioner. I had no real-life role models to emulate as a kid.
Years later, after divorcing a bad marriage and being told I wouldn’t amount to anything, with no degree, except a broadcasting certificate, I gumshoed my way into becoming a paid professional writer and publisher.
I was told women couldn’t work in the National Hockey League, and I became an accredited NHL reporter, writing for NBC Sports, Associated Press, Hockey Canada, and others. I served 18 years as an administrator in Canadian junior football and was the first female president of a football conference in Canada,
When did you first WANT to write a book?
While working as a freelance reporter, I wanted to write a book about the NHL to elevate my credibility. But it couldn’t be just any book. It had to be something nobody had ever done before. It took me a while to figure out the angle: behind the scenes on the game itself.
When did you take a step to start writing?
Research first. I was fortunate that for the book I was writing, I had access to the people I wanted to feature. Sadly, though. I didn’t come up with the angle until AFTER the Team Canada training camp in Calgary, where every A-list NHL player congregated. I could have had the entire book’s interviews done in one weekend. It took a whole season (September to April) to compile. Organizing the research was probably the hardest part. I cut and paste and laid paper out all over the carpet so I could see it in front of me. Old school before I could put it into the computer.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
After I had all the interviews (one NHL season), it didn’t take long. I think the whole book took three weeks to write after that. But — editing. That took a bit longer. I read it so much that once it was published, I would throw up if I read it again. Once it went to layout, the printer, to in my hand, it was probably another three months after that, at least. I sold my baby, the love of my life: my 1990 Oldsmobile 88 to pay for the printing.
How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?
Subsequent books were a lot faster. Of course, my more recent books I did through KDP (Amazon) so faster, yet. Still, with writing, editing, and layout editing, my last two books took about a month once I got all the research together.
Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write Digital Public Relations For Business?
My latest release, Digital Public Relations for Business, is a bit of a follow-up from my traditionally-published book: Publishing and Marketing in the Digital World. Many of the platforms from the other book have disappeared. I wanted to write a more updated book, with my philosophy to using digital media as a public relations tool.
With my media and PR background, it’s about sharing the stories, not the book. I tried to make it as easy a step-by-step as I could, but someones it is hard when you are not on the outside looking in. I hired a business coach, who helped me with the 30-page whitepaper outline so it would make sense to business.
What were your biggest challenges with writing Digital Public Relations For Business?
Making the process I was talking about simple. I wanted a reader who had some computer literacy to be able to understand the concept and reasoning behind each step, even if they would never do that particular task themselves. The reasoning and some of the tasks would also translate to other media, so they would learn how to do their own SEO.
What was your research process for Digital Public Relations For Business?
Hordes of statistics. Whatever research I had done leading up to it, had to be updated right at the time of upload to press. Even though some of the platforms might become obsolete, it is the philosophy and how you SEO your business that I needed to resonate at the book’s end. I had interviewed people in the field all along, so their education never left me. That, coupled with my own, and the case studies I found — all of that culminated in the book.
How did you plan the structure of Digital Public Relations For Business?
Each topic is a chapter. I find that is the easiest way to write all my books. Even if I am featuring specific individuals, like I will in my next book, each of those individuals (topic) will be a chapter. I use the Chicago Manual of Style as my bible, and book layouts are described well in that book — or you can take a few books off your shelf to figure out the proper way to structure it.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Digital Public Relations For Business need?
I’ve edited over 150 books for other authors and over 100 annual reports (which are super anal — bring out a ruler to measure each table anal), so I figured I should be able to edit mine. Of course, editing is never perfect. Sure, as soon as it’s published, no matter how many times I read it, there is the damn mistake.
That said, I have a seven-times rule. You must edit your pages at least seven times, or more — until re-reading it makes you want to throw up. Then if there is a mistake, the reader will forgive you because they can see you did your job to ensure the words flow well.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a book?
Write. I usually say, just Nike. If you want to be a writer, write.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
I have a webcast I just launched in August, called Locker Room for Growth. The guests are amazing and have compelling stories. Many have lived through some incredible challenges that would crush other people. Their stories are inspiring. I want to keep their stories going in a future book. Other books, not sure yet. I do have a biography I have been dabbling with, however, I can’t seem to keep it going. I may need someone else to write it.
And, finally, are you proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
Absolutely. I am especially proud that I helped others make their own book dreams come true. It’s a piece of your soul. It’s personal. When those authors trusted me with their manuscripts, you can’t get any higher praise than that. I created that business out of thin air because everyone was asking me questions about publishing after my first book. I didn’t see anyone else answering, so I figured it will be me. And yes, I am proud of my own books, especially my first one. It did everything I wanted it to do and more. It’s always about showing the human side of things.
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