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JJ Barnes The Table Read

Written by JJ Barnes

I interviewed author Karen Arrington about her work with women and girls, what inspires her, and the writing of her new book; Your Next Level Life.

Tell me a bit about who you are.

I’m Karen Arrington, an award-winning author, women’s empowerment expert, philanthropist and winner of a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work. My coaching, mentoring, and philanthropic work spans over 100,000 hours of service — including her position as a Goodwill Ambassador to Sierra Leone, my work as the co- founder of the first Diabetes Awareness Day in West Africa, and my role as the founder of The Miss Black USA Pageant.

When did you first WANT to write a book?

Karen Arrington, author of Your Next Level Life, interview on The Table Read
Karen Arrington

I am passionate about helping women rise into their next level lives. Over the past 20 years, I have personally mentored over a thousand young women, helping them land life-altering scholarships, step into powerful careers in media, business, medicine + law — transforming their lives + communities. In 2019, members of my network kept asking when I was going to write a book. 

I took that as a sign, it was time.   It truly  was a natural next step to write a book that would reach and empower more women.

When did you take a step to start writing?

I didn’t start to write until I wrote my first book in late 2019.

How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?

It took seven months.  My goal is always to help and empower women, so the idea was etched in my head and heart.  It took about six and half weeks to complete my manuscript.  Immediately after completing my manuscript, I secured a book deal which delayed the release of my book five months.

What made you want to write Your Next Level Life?

I just wanted to do good. I wanted to reach more women and provide them with seven simple rules of success that could help them level up and step into their next level lives.  I’ve mentored over 1,000 young women, and have secured over $500K in scholarships, grants, and life-changing career opportunities for young emerging leaders. 

While my work has taken many forms over the years, my goal is always the same: to help women claim their power, redefine their destinies, and defy expectations. This was my main motivation for writing Your Next Level Life: 7 Rules of Power, Confidence, & Opportunity for Black Women in America. So I wrote Your Next Level Life, secured a book deal, and released it to the world.

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What were your biggest challenges with writing Your Next Level Life?

Imposter syndrome. I never considered myself a gifted writer. I had the belief that writing was a superpower, a gift, or innate talent. While it is true that many great authors are gifted, writing is a skill that can be learned.

What was your research process for Your Next Level Life?

I’ve personally mentored over 1,000 young women – helping them secure life-changing scholarships, pursue global travel opportunities, get into top medical schools, land major modeling contracts, launch multi-city speaking tours, and transform their lives & communities. 

How did you plan the structure of Your Next Level Life?

Self-help books can really help you re-evaluate your life and see things from a different perspective.  Your Next Level Life is unlike any other self-help book.  The  award-winning guide outlines seven rules of power, confidence, and opportunity for black women—showing readers “how to create all the money you need” through grants, scholarships, awards, sponsorship deals, and entrepreneurial projects, “how to position yourself like a star” featuring tips from a makeup guru whose clientele includes Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey, “how to find your Next Level friends” and connect with powerful women you’ve always dreamed of meeting, and more. It is an inspiring quick-read, only 108 pages that will get women everywhere asking, “What’s my Next Level Life?”

Karen Arrington, author of Your Next Level Life, interview on The Table Read

Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Your Next Level Life need?

First, I hired a writing coach.  Think:  personal trainer for a writer.  She held me accountable and helped me stick to my weekly deadlines.  I created a draft outline of the book which included 7 rules of success.  I  set a goal to write one rule (or chapter) a week. After I completed writing a rule, I sent it to my editor for feedback. By the time I finished writing the last rule, I had a fully edited manuscript.

What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a book?

A good writer cares about the craft and will work consistently to be good at it.  The 10,000-hour rule. Malcolm Gladwell popularized the concept. It’s the idea that the secret to mastery & success — in any field — is to practice your craft for 10,000 hours. That’s a long time. A massive commitment. The key word is practice. The more you practice your craft, the better at it you become, and the more confident you will be in your skill.

Every day,  set a goal to write 1,000 words. The more you  write, the more confident you will  become as a writer.  And read everything.  I can’t stress enough how important reading is to be a great writer. Your writing improves tremendously when you read more.

Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?

I signed a 4 book deal with my publisher.  I plan to release my next book in 2022. 🙂

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And, finally, are you proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?

Absolutely!  I have never written a book before. My first book, Your Next Level Life: 7 Rules of Power, Confidence And Opportunity was nominated for and won a 2020 NAACP Image Award, which was an over-the-top blessing! 

Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:

Instagram:  @karen_arrington

Twitter:  @karen_arrington


My Book:  Your Next Level Life is available at Amazon over here.

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