Written by JJ Barnes
I am delighted to share my interview with Melitta Campbell about her book A Shy Girl’s Guide To Networking. She offers an insight into the writing process, what motivated her to help others succeed in business, and advice she has for others hoping to write a book.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I’m Melitta Campbell, Business Coach, Speaker, Host of the Driven Female Entrepreneur podcast and now, also a Best-selling Author.
Before becoming a business coach, I spent more than 15 years working in marketing, communications and leadership for a range of businesses, before becoming an independent communications consultant in 2006, working with many fortune 500 leaders and UN agencies. Five years ago, I evolved my business to help small businesses, especially those lead by women, to achieve faster growth through aligned messaging, marketing plans that work for their resources, and a solid entrepreneurial mindset.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
I think the idea of writing a book as always been at the back of my mind. I used to write a lot of short stories as a child, and throughout my career I’ve written websites, speeches and a great many articles. But, for a very long time, I wasn’t clear on what I wanted to write. I wanted to produce something meaningful and that would have a positive impact.
When did you take a step to start writing?
About four years ago, I took a short course to help me outline my book. I spent a couple of months refining this outline in my pockets of time, mostly while taking my kids to their various sports and activities. I was really excited by what I had created, but somehow never took that first step to sit down and get writing.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
Last year I wrote a collaborative book with a group of amazing women I met through a business summit. We were all speakers giving advice on how to build and grow a profitable business. But we noticed that many of the audience hadn’t started a business yet as they felt nervous about taking that next step.
So we decided to share the stories of how we felt when we started our own businesses and what helped us move from idea to business. It was called ‘The Power of Why’ and within 48 hours is was a best-seller on all Amazon’s English-speaking websites. We were delighted. It was making a difference and it enabled us to get a taste for what it takes to write, deliver and promote a book.
That entire process took us three months of team work.
How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?
My latest book was a bit different.
I had my book outline already, sitting in a lonely folder on my computer, but still hadn’t moved forward with it. Then, through my networking, I met an amazing book mentor who I immediately hit it off with. I told her about my book outline and she offered to take a look over it.
Once we explored the actual content of each chapter, it became clear that I had a LOT of writing ahead of me to pull it off as I wanted. But, having seen the success of the Power of Why, which was a short book, we thought perhaps it would be more helpful to my readers, and easier for me to write, if I broke my mega book on how to confidently build a business your way, into a series of smaller books on specific business-building themes.
Once we made that decision, it was much easier for me to get focused on what needed to be done and to get writing. My mentor was a great help in keeping me moving forward. She also helped bring out my own voice and experience.
I started writing my book the first in January and the book, A Shy Girl’s Guide to Networking, was published on 17 May. So the process went quite quickly once I carved out the time and got into my rhythm.
Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write A Shy Girl’s Guide To Networking?
From my outline, we mapped out a series of nine books…and who knows, it might even grow into more.
I decided to start with Networking, as I felt that was a skill that has helped me most in starting and growing my businesses. It’s also the story that showcases my own personal growth journey, and my approach to business, the most.
I think this book really sets the tone for the entire series. It’s not just another book on networking. When I started and struggled to network with confidence and ease, I started reading books on the subject. But so many of them seemed to assume that you felt comfortable with the idea of going to an event and meeting strangers. Which was perhaps my biggest struggle. I developed what I’ve called my VICTORY Formula to help me build my vision, intention and confidence. It also prompted me to create my own rules of engagement, so I’m really excited to share this formula with all the other people out there who don’t (yet) love networking.
What were your biggest challenges with writing A Shy Girl’s Guide To Networking?
Until I broke my book into a series of smaller books, my concept was overwhelming which prevented me from taking the first step. Once I had a clearer vision, that felt possible, the biggest challenge was simply finding the time.
I run my own business from home and I have two young daughters and live abroad, so I don’t have a big support network to help out. However, I worked out where I could feasibly fit in writing time in my week, and set a schedule and (mostly) stuck to it. I wrote on Wednesday mornings when I had a two-hour window. And started early on Saturday mornings while the rest of the house was having a lazy breakfast. This gave me about six-hours a week to dedicate to getting my book written and doing the initial reviews and edits.
Did you plot A Shy Girl’s Guide To Networking in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?
I had an outline of my book, which gave me a framework and helped me stay focused on what I wanted the reader to feel as they progressed through the book, and the results and transformation I wanted them to achieve by the end.
After that I wrote freely. My words flowed quite easily once I had clarity around what exactly I was writing, for whom and why.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did A Shy Girl’s Guide To Networking need?
Yes! That’s one thing my collaborative book taught me, if you invest in nothing else for your book, get a great editor. If your readers can’t fully understand and follow what you’ve written, then they won’t enjoy it or gain any benefit, so your hard work will have been for nothing.
My book didn’t need much editing, after all, I’ve been writing in a professional context for more than 20 years. But what my editor was able to do was encourage me to go deeper, so my readers could really connect with my words and relate to my story. She found a few areas where my thinking wasn’t as clear as it could be, and where my order of points didn’t quite flow. Advice and feedback that was invaluable and has definitely improved the final book.
I asked a small group of people to read the book in advance of it being published to check they could follow the advice and engage with the story. Their feedback made me feel so emotional. They all told me how much they wish they had had this book earlier in life. While it’s a book about how to network with confidence and get results for your business, they could all see other areas of their life where they could apply my VICTORY Formula, and how my style of writing helped them feel understood, motivated and empowered. It’s exactly the response I was hoping for. I can’t wait to hear the feedback from my actual readers.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a book?
Get clear about why you are writing the book. Not just why you are writing it for your readers, but also why you are writing it for you. Then put this vision somewhere visible. It will help spur you on and keep you on track. It’s easier not to write, than to write, so having this visible motivation will help you get started and keep going.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
My book will be part of a series of business books covering the topics that introverts typically shy away from, but which I believe they can do extremely well, once they embrace their own way of doing things. The series will include topics such as: Marketing, Public Speaking, Sales, Social Media, Building a Business, Leadership, Mindset and more!
Speaking to my Driven Female Entrepreneur community about which topic I should cover next, Marketing has been the stand-out winner. It’s also something that I have been studying and working in for close to three decades, so I’m looking forward to condensing all my knowledge into one highly practical and easy-to-follow book. Watch this space!
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
Absolutely. Firstly, it feels great to have shared my story, and what has worked for me as a shy girl. It feels like I have already created a legacy.
As soon as the book was made available for pre-order, I was approached to speak to a number of business groups and networks on the topic, and to write articles on how introverts can succeed and can make positive change happen. So that was really exciting.
I was especially proud to see the book hit the #1 hot new release spot on Amazon within a week of the pre-order phase. It shows that the title alone resonated with a lot of people! So now I’m more motivated than ever to write the next book in the series before the end of the year.
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
I’m quite easy to find online as I’m on most social media platforms, have a website and I guest post for a number of platforms. You can type my name ‘Melitta Campbell’ into Google to find me.
But here are some of my core links:
PODCAST: The Driven Female Entrepreneur
FACEBOOK GROUP: https://www.facebook.com/groups/DrivenFemaleEntrepreneur