007 — Paula Jean Ferri Turned Her Passion for Writing Into a Business

In this episode, Christina interviewed Paula Jean Ferri. After writing 4 books herself, she turned her passion of writing into a business that helps other people write their own books. 

Let’s look at how she did it.

Questions and Answers

  • 00:32 what do you do, who are you, how did you get into publishing
  • 01:25 what did the process look like
  • 01:40 what are the steps 
  • 02:47 what was the biggest challenge getting started
  • 03:48 why did you do a pen name
  • 05:07 how did that play into your books
  • 08:29 how did you promote your books
  • 08:33 when did you decide to turn this into a business 
  • 09:45 how did you promote and get good reviews 
  • 13:06 what are you doing to help people
  • 19:03 how do your coaching programs help
  • 21:30 any tips or advice

Links and Resources

Read Full Transcript

[00:00:00] Christina Hooper: Hey, busy business people. I'm here today with another entrepreneur taking action, Paula Jean Ferri. She has a passion as an author and has published four books so far, but she's also transformed her passion into a business where she helps others write their books. And I'm getting the scoop today on how she's doing it.

[00:00:30] To kick us off. Tell us a little bit about like what you do, who you are, how did you get into publishing books in the first place? What's the background of the story? 

[00:00:38] Paula Jean Ferri: So the background of the story, I'll try and keep it as brief as I can, because it's kind of long, but my senior year of college, I was diagnosed with Tourette's syndrome.

[00:00:47] And so I'd missed the deadline for an internship. I decided to do a research paper on how Tourette's syndrome affects communication, which was my major. My professors were very supportive, said, there's nothing like this in the fields. You really need to get this [00:01:00] published and publishing a college paper is difficult, even more difficult than publishing a book and having always been a bookworm.

[00:01:07] I opted for the book option. So I published it and the second I hit publish as a book, I never understood adrenaline junkies until I hit publish. And I'm like, oh my gosh, I get it. And I need to do this again. This is now my life. 

[00:01:23] Christina Hooper: Oh man. I love that. So what did that process look like? Cause I talked to people all the time. They're like, I want to publish a book. I want to be an author. I've got to get my book out on Amazon, but having that, that I want to do it. And then turning that into, it's done, like. 

[00:01:39] Paula Jean Ferri: It's a process, 

[00:01:40] Christina Hooper: right? So like, what are some of the steps on that? 

[00:01:44] Paula Jean Ferri: Um, the first thing I did, because I knew I had no idea what I was doing, I did a quick search for a self-publishing course, um, so that I could have someone kind of walk me through.

[00:01:56] Turns out. I still did so much incredibly wrong. That's actually what my [00:02:00] next book is going to be about. Cause it was all of the stuff that I did wrong. Hey, by the way, this is the stuff that self publishing courses aren't going to tell you. Um, so I, I kind of. It just kind of threw myself into it. I have a bull in a China shop approach to life, and I just kind of figured it out as I went, you know, Amazon will give you some really good guides.

[00:02:21] The course had some helpful insights. Um, but it's definitely been a process and I've learned more and more each year. I've, I've found new mentors. I've worked with, you know, new coaches that have been able to help me kind of build each step of that each step of the way.

[00:02:38] Christina Hooper: So you have to put a lot of research and a lot of effort into figuring out what all those steps are.

[00:02:43] Paula Jean Ferri: Yes. A lot.

[00:02:46] Christina Hooper: So like along that way, what do you think your biggest challenge was like getting started getting, especially that first book out, you know? Right. Cause that's always the hardest one. Right? The first one of anything is always the hardest one. Like what was the biggest challenge that got in your way and how did you overcome it?[00:03:00] 

[00:03:00] Paula Jean Ferri: Honestly, I think the biggest hurdle was trying to figure out how things would work with a pen name. Paula Jean Ferri Is a pen name. And we'll talk about that a little bit later if I'm understanding correctly. So I won't go too much into that now, but trying to figure out well, what if someone writes me a check at a book signing.

[00:03:19] For Paula Jean Ferri, like how do I cash that? How does the banking end work? How does the business end work? That's the thing is as an author, as a writer, you have this mindset of stories and writing and world-building, but you don't always understand how to translate into the business world. Like we are business owners and how to translate on, into the real world.

[00:03:43] Christina Hooper: Okay. So like the pen name that made things a little bit more complicated for you. Why did she go that route? Why did you do a pen name. 

[00:03:51] Paula Jean Ferri: My given name is Jessica Smith and it's, it's just too common. There's just so many of us, I always call it my witness protection named [00:04:00] because there were just so many, I think at one point I tried to Google search myself and I couldn't find anything.

[00:04:08] I couldn't find myself. So if I wanted to have any kind of visibility, which I know I wanted as an author, especially because I have seen other authors with the name Jessica Smith who have published, I'm like, there's no way now. I'm not going to deal with that. So. I decided to find a pen name, which took a little bit to nail down something that was searchable and visible.

[00:04:31] If you Google Paula Jean Ferri, I've got like the first four or five pages of Google before it starts looking at other combinations like Paula Ferri or Paula Jean something or another. 

[00:04:43] Christina Hooper: That is an interesting approach. I think a lot of people, when they're looking at a pen name, they would want to find something that speaks to them and they wouldn't necessarily think about, you know, the business side of it.

[00:04:53] Like you've got to be searchable. They've got to find you on Amazon. They've gotta find you on Google. You're putting books out there. That's kind of the point. [00:05:00] 

[00:05:00] Paula Jean Ferri: Right. 

[00:05:01] Christina Hooper: And to love that approach. Now you invented a whole new person, basically a whole new name here. How did that play into your books? Like how, how did you keep your voice and keep your personality, even when you're using a different name in your writing?

[00:05:17] Paula Jean Ferri: I feel like I kind of cheated with this. I feel like I've got a little bit of an advantage. Um, I mentioned that I have Tourette syndrome, um, hence the paper on tourette's and how it affects communication. For those who don't know Tourette syndrome means that I make noises and my body moves in ways that I cannot control.

[00:05:37] And so, because they're called tics, these tics have their own personality. They ended up having a name several years before even considered writing a book, um, before I was even diagnosed, like these noises just have so much personality, you should name them Paula or something. And I said, okay, done. So the Paula was there and because [00:06:00] it still is very much a part of, of me.

[00:06:02] Like I don't separate it at all. It's still me. It's still my personality. It's still my brain. So, uh and I've been writing, I've been a journaler since I was like eight years old, I already had a very strong voice. I was not interested in changing that. Um, so it, it. I feel like I kind of cheated in a way, but it's not entirely a new persona, but it kinda is.

[00:06:27] Christina Hooper: I know I've heard that before. Like some people that I've talked to, um, they'll actually take their negative thoughts, you know, they'll take that little negative voice in their brain. That's telling them that they can't or that they shouldn't, and they'll give it a name and they'll be like, okay, Fred, shut up.

[00:06:41] And just giving it some name helps them be able to just go for it and deal with it and cope with it. And it sounds like, you know, for you, that was kind of similar, but it's like, I, you know, I think everybody's kinda got something about them that is like an intrusive interruptive thing. So I love that you've got that going for [00:07:00] you and that you actually, you know, managed to use it to do this, right?

[00:07:03] Paula Jean Ferri: Oh yeah. 

[00:07:04] That's actually a lot of the point of the books that I write. I mean, my book. Self-help in a way like personal development of how these weird, awkward things are tools that you can then utilize. I did that with awkwardness. I did it with tragedy. It did it with fear. So. 

[00:07:20] Christina Hooper: I think people always have something, right?

[00:07:22] I mean, like myself, I've got narcolepsy and there was a point in my life where it ruled everything. It became an excuse for being too tired to do things for sleeping in too late for, you know, staying up too late. It became my excuse for everything. And then I started realizing that it almost became my superpower, you know?

[00:07:40] Cause it's like everybody else, when they're tired, they can't function. I'm tired all the time and I have to function. So it's like, I have built coping mechanisms that nobody else can have, like, I'm here with an energy doing this right now. Most of it came from Java monster and I didn't even go to bed till like three o'clock this morning.

[00:07:57] So it's like, you build super powers [00:08:00] on the back end of your thing. 

[00:08:01] Paula Jean Ferri: By the way, that was Paula. Sorry to interrupt.

[00:08:06] Christina Hooper: Oh no, that's totally cool. Um, so, okay, let's talk more about, so you, you got your book out there and I noticed that not only do you have four of them on Amazon. But you've also managed to get like four and five star reviews on them.

[00:08:20] And like, you're turning this into a business now where you're helping other people. So like once the books are done, you've done this next step. How did you get them out there? How did you start promoting them? Did you do anything special to get the reviews? And like, when did you decide I want to help other people and I'm gonna turn this into a business.

[00:08:40] Paula Jean Ferri: Um, the, the deciding to turn it into a business was the hitting published for the first time. And this is now my life and I have to do it again. Um, I've always been someone who's been incredibly insecure in myself, so I did a lot of personal development, hence why my books have a very personal development side note.

[00:08:59] And then if [00:09:00] it just kind of became a question of these people have questions about this, people ask me all the time. Well, how did you publish your book? How did you publish your book? I was trying to go this, you know, Self-help personal development, coaching route, but I got so many questions that I'm like, okay, let's just make a small pivot.

[00:09:15] Let's make this the actual business. And then I can do the personal development aspect as more of a, of a friend. It's something that I can do for people with Tourette syndrome who don't necessarily want to pay because they want to put all of their money into finding a cure and making it go away completely.

[00:09:33] Um, so. It was just a small pivot as far as why I decided to take it this route. What was the other half of the question? I talk a lot.

[00:09:43] Christina Hooper: How did you like promote your books and stuff? How did you, like you've got positive reviews on there. Did you do anything to get the reviews or did it just happen? 

[00:09:52] Paula Jean Ferri: Uh, there is some work behind it.

[00:09:55] And I was definitely more diligent about this part with my first one. I kind of slacked off and I'm [00:10:00] picking it up again. But when I was getting ready to publish my first book, all I did was really talk about it. People were so excited about it. Um, ooh, that's great. How can I help? And I knew that reviews were important.

[00:10:12] Uh, reviews, determined the visibility. So what I did is I said, Hey, if you leave me a review, I'll give you a free copy of the book in advance. It was usually just a digital copy. So I'm not out any money. Um, you know, cause at the time where I was still trying to build, I didn't really have much of a business, you know, I didn't really have much I could offer, but I'm like, you know what?

[00:10:32] I'll let you read it for free. If you promise me to leave a review, can I hound you about it after? So, um, and I was able to talk about it. Um, in the first one being very Trist and unfocused focused, I talked about it a lot in my Tourette syndrome Facebook groups that I was in, um, and so when the time came, granted not a hundred percent of people are going to leave a review.

[00:10:53] I feel like that's just common. We understand that in business. Um, so I just made sure [00:11:00] that I had more people committed understanding that I would get, you know, maybe half of them. I usually just kind of anticipate 10% is my default. Um, so I always go. 10 times more of what I'm actually hoping for. I didn't understand that quite then.

[00:11:14] I, I think I just got really lucky with that first book. Um, but...

[00:11:19] Christina Hooper: I think that's how a lot of business happens though, is it's like have kind of an idea and then a lot of luck. And then you go back and you reverse engineer. Okay. Wait, how did that luck actually happen? Can I do it again?

[00:11:33] I feel like we do a lot of like, what is, what is it they say, you jump out of the plane and you build a parachute on the way down, and then you reverse engineer how you landed safely, that's business. 

[00:11:45] Paula Jean Ferri: And it wasn't until I made that complete shift into a business owner that I really started to do that with my second book. It was more just kind of, I want that rush again.

[00:11:52] I was excited about that. The third one. I released very quietly. I didn't do much of a launch. Um, and [00:12:00] so the third one you'll actually see, doesn't have near as many reviews. Um, but I was in the middle of moving. I just gone some undergone, some personal trauma. Um, you're just a lot going on, but I just wanted it out and done so I could move on to the next thing type of a thing.

[00:12:15] Um, so it, you can definitely see by how many reviews a person has, how much effort they're willing to put into it. 

[00:12:23] Christina Hooper: Yeah, definitely. I know that's something a lot of people struggle with. So it's just kind of getting those reveiws, getting that promotion out there. And I think for a lot of people, they really struggled to find their tribe, is how I like to call them, like, who are your people?

[00:12:34] Who are you speaking to? Who are the ones that are going to support you? Who were the ones that you're going to help? And it sounds like actually with the Tourette's you kind of already had them, you just had to go and like, let them know, Hey, I'm doing something, come support me. And that helped. And I think that's true for almost anybody in business, right?

[00:12:49] Like there's always some group out there that is your people, they would support you. So finding them would definitely be part of that success. It sounds like. Um, so like, let's talk [00:13:00] about the business side of it. Then. I know I've been picking your brain for a few minutes now and I really want to get into your helping other people.

[00:13:06] What are you doing to help other people? What are your, what are your things. 

[00:13:11] Paula Jean Ferri: So another fun thing about when I was in college, it wasn't strictly a communications degree. I studied a lot about culture and the stories that we tell ourselves and the stories that we tell around us as a culture, um, in individual relationships and stories have just always been super important to me.

[00:13:28] They've been a coping mechanism through different traumas that I've had. Um, and so the more that I write, the more I realize I've overcome a lot of stuff just because I'm able to write things out and process. I saw a therapist for a little bit, and then I realized, I think writing just works better for me, you know, no offense to therapists.

[00:13:50] They're great at what they do. They're super important. I am a writer and sharing that story helps me to connect them with other people who may have gone [00:14:00] through the same thing. Um, even if it's fiction, I mean, this works for fiction and nonfiction, both. I mean, obviously I have a lot of my personal stories.

[00:14:09] In my books that are nonfiction, but even as fiction, we, it almost makes it easier to process and to cope because then you can put it outside of yourself. You can watch it unfold. You know, you've got this full picture. Um, so a lot of it is processing and healing emotionally. Um, sometimes it's just the fun and excitement and there's so many people, statistically, I think it's like 78% of Americans say that they want to write a book.

[00:14:39] Only 3% of those 78% actually do it, which is frustrating to me. Like if you want to do it, just do it. And so I want to help people with that.

[00:14:49] Christina Hooper: I'm in that boat. I'm working on trying to get my first book put together, which is really sad. Cause I've got 15 years of writing experience in business. I own a content marketing company.

[00:14:58] I have over 30 [00:15:00] writers on my staff that help write content for like my businesses and all of our clients. I still don't have my book put together. I've been trying to do it for like a year and a half now. So it's like, I know there's like a lot of barriers to overcome. And you said you were doing something, was it, there was a course.

[00:15:17] That you had. 

[00:15:18] Paula Jean Ferri: I have an online course. Um, my online course is specifically to help writer's block. So in those times where you just don't feel like you have inspiration or don't feel like you're creative. For years I didn't think I was a creative person. I've published three books and I didn't think I was creative because, oh, but they're, non-fiction, they're not artistically creative, but I have actually created something.

[00:15:40] Um, so I, I delved a lot into creativity. And where that kind of comes from and recognizing how common it is, was super exciting for me. So my course is called creating creativity, but basically what it is, is how to channel that process to make creation a little bit easier regardless of what you're trying [00:16:00] to create.

[00:16:01] And then, um, I also have writing retreats where we can actually just sit down and do it cause a lot of the time, the big excuses, I just don't have time to write. I just don't have time to write. Cool runaway, just get away from everything, all of the excuses. Um, so I have a writing retreat. I live right outside of Bryce canyon, national park.

[00:16:23] So there's a, an Inn nearby where I'll pay your hotel costs. You get to come and connect and network with other people. I actually have several speakers. My next one's in November, several speakers who are going to speak to this concept of writing as a business, because like I mentioned, it's usually such a problem with writers, um, of, yeah, I wrote this book, but now what, um, I think that's a huge gap with traditional publishing and self-publishing.

[00:16:53] With you just kind of assume that traditional publisher is going to take over and do all of it for you, but there's still a lot on the author. [00:17:00] Self publishing, it's 100% on you. Um, so self published authors, I think tend to have that idea a little bit better of, I have to do all of it, but it's still just that little flip of, this is a business, um, how to utilize that when it comes to taxes, how to utilize that when it comes to marketing.

[00:17:20] So I actually have mostly business speakers coming in November to address this topic. 

[00:17:26] Christina Hooper: Oh, that's cool. I love that you're focusing on the creativity aspect to me, even if you're writing a business book, like I'm a huge fan of weaving storytelling into stuff like I stopped Donald Miller religiously with building a StoryBrand marketing made simple, business made simple university.

[00:17:41] Like I consume his knowledge, just, immensely. Like, it's just part of what I have to get into because it applies to everything. When you're building, you know, sales pages, when you're writing books, when you're writing blog articles, when you're doing videos, like if you can't get creative, you can't pull someone into the story.

[00:17:59] Whether it's a [00:18:00] business story, whether it's for fun. Like, they're just not going to get anything out of it. They're not going to stay engaged. So I love that you're focusing on the creativity aspect. I know a lot of our audience is in the business space and a lot of them are looking to publish books that help position them as experts and authority in their industry.

[00:18:18] And creativity and storytelling is part of that. Nobody's gonna take you seriously if they can't even make it through the pages. If they don't read the book, if it's not like, the thing they recommend to everybody they know that it's interested in your thing. Um, so I love that. I love the retreats, man. I can think of so many business owners that like, they would just have so much value, even if they didn't get the whole thing written.

[00:18:38] If they just got it outlined. If they just got their thoughts down to hand off to a ghost writer from there, like if they could just get that much down.

[00:18:46] Paula Jean Ferri: Yeah, for sure.

[00:18:47] Like, 

[00:18:47] Christina Hooper: there would be so much value in that. So, yeah, I'm definitely going to get information on that and wherever you guys are watching this video, there will be links.

[00:18:55] So make sure you go check it out. Cause I can see value in doing that. Um, you mentioned [00:19:00] also that you had coaching programs. What does that do? How do you help people with the coaching programs? 

[00:19:06] Paula Jean Ferri: It depends on what aspect they're, they're wanting to look at. Um, a lot of them, I can go both directions. I feel like where I have the creative authors who just need to be pulled into the business and I'll just kind of walk them through, 'kay, this is what you need to be working on.

[00:19:20] Where are you doing business wise this wise, and kind of pull them into that business direction. Whereas with business people who already have that, I'll help them get the outlining of 'kay, what do I do next? How do I, get this outlined what's important to put in. What's just fluff. You know, how long does the book need to be?

[00:19:40] Um, and more of the business side of publishing, like how to get those reviews, because those are kind of important. It's not just the talking about it, but things like showing up on podcasts. Cause guess what? I may or may not have plugged my next book and a few things about my business.

[00:19:57] You know, I, I've been doing a ton of podcasts [00:20:00] as of late, I've been doing, um, I've signed up for, uh, a couple of press releases that I'm going to do. I've got, what else am I working on? I'm working on a book signing tour just throughout the state of Utah, where I live. Um, and maybe in my home town, outside of Las Vegas, into Vegas. Um, so up and down, I-15 type of a thing, but I'll do like a small little book tour.

[00:20:22] That'll be super fun and exciting. And the more that I talk about it, the more that I share with people, the more, it just kind of, grows, but that's my personal style. I'm a very, uh, girl next door type of personality. So yeah, I'm just doing this. It's so much fun. You should come and it's somehow just kind of works for me.

[00:20:42] Christina Hooper: Well, and I mean, I love that too. And from the coaching aspect, it's like, you're out there doing this for yourself. So I see so many coaches that they're not doing the thing they're teaching other people to do. It's not part of their day-to-day, but yet they're teaching other people to do it. You're doing it.

[00:20:59] You're doing it right [00:21:00] now. Like if somebody is trying to figure out how they're going to publish the book, how they're going to go on tour, how they're going to get reviews. You're literally solving that right now. In this moment, not 10 years ago, when the world was different before the internet, before social media, like you're solving it now.

[00:21:16] I think there's so much value in that. Um, so let's like your website is paulajeanferri.com. Again, I will have that link all over the place. People go check it out, go find her information. It's absolutely amazing. Um, is there anything else, like any tips or advice that you want to share with our audience before we wrap up?

[00:21:37] Paula Jean Ferri: Um, there are definitely better when things are written. I'm a writer, so give me like two seconds to process and get those words to come this way.

[00:21:48] Christina Hooper: Put you on the spot to just like, take all of your expertise and distill it down into a couple of sentences. 

[00:21:55] Paula Jean Ferri: Um, because there was definitely more about doing [00:22:00] things as I'm doing them.

[00:22:01] Like, it's, it's more just kind of me being willing to step up and make the mistakes because I do, I make a ton of mistakes. That's actually, my fourth book is all of the mistakes that I did with the first three. Hey, by the way, when you jump in, watch for this, this and this, because. I need to redo them. I really want to redo my first book so much.

[00:22:22] I love the content. It's probably my favorite content, but I didn't understand so many things about a buck. Um, and so being able to share as I learned and sharing it as a process. I've also learned that something super helpful for me is that information is free. So I'm totally fine with sharing my book with sharing, ya know, content on social media.

[00:22:48] I write a lot on medium.com, but it's my time. You know, I will share everything I want, but if you want an hour of my time to go over it, it's going to cost you. Um, and the more that [00:23:00] I'm willing to share, the more that people are drawn. Ooh, she gives so much good information. How much more will she give if I'm actually willing to pay her type of a thing.

[00:23:10] Christina Hooper: Oh yeah.

[00:23:10] Paula Jean Ferri: That's how I tend to like draw people in is because I'm so willing to, 'kay, here's what I can do to help. Here, let's sit down and talk it out, flesh it out, um, and kind of draw that out so that we can look at those individual peices. 

[00:23:25] Christina Hooper: Well, and there's so much value into that. And I see all these gurus talking about like, I just got done sitting through Project Next Summit over the last three days with Dean Graziosi and Tony Robinson.

[00:23:36] Like all of their words are coming to mind for me. Like, turn your mess into your message. Fell forward. You know, perfection is, you know, the enemy of getting things done. Like you can't wait on it to be perfect. You've just got to go down. You just echoed all of that kind of stuff. It was all in there.

[00:23:52] Paula Jean Ferri: Funny how that works. Considering I follow them. You know, I do all of those too. Ya know, so yeah. 

[00:23:59] Christina Hooper: And I said, don't be [00:24:00] afraid to share your messy middle, I think was one. They kept talking about a lot, like people are waiting until they get there to talk about the journey and it's like, talk about the journey. There's somebody else going through it right now that's two steps behind you.

[00:24:13] Paula Jean Ferri: Yeah.

[00:24:13] Christina Hooper: There's somebody else who's sitting here and it's like, they're, you know, trying to get their first book out the door and they're there 10 steps behind where you are right now, this whole point of this whole podcast thing I'm doing, there's somebody that's done that already pick their brain, you know, like.

[00:24:28] Paula Jean Ferri: The image, yeah the image that comes to my mind. I mean, I grew up in a very small town. I still live in a small town in the middle of nowhere in Utah. Um, but I picture, if you're, you know, I'm an adult. And if I'm helping a kid across like a Creek that I can straddle, but they can't because their legs are a little bit shorter. Like, all I have to do is straddle that Creek and like help them hold their hand as they jump over so that they don't get wet.

[00:24:52] Christina Hooper: Yep, exactly. That is a perfect visual for that. It's like, don't wait, don't assume you're not good enough. Go ahead and do it [00:25:00] and just learn, share the journey, move forward. Like I love that advice. It's absolutely awesome. All right, guys, this was amazing. Thank you for coming on and doing this with me. Again, I will have this published all over the place.

[00:25:12] So I'm sure you're gonna find it somewhere, but entrepreneurs, this is your call to take action. To join our community at etatoday.zone and learn how to build a business that enables your lifestyle instead of taking over your life. Thank you again for doing this with us Paula, and we'll see you guys next time.
About Christina Hooper

I help you turn your Superpowers into Sales so you can build a business that enables your lifestyle instead of taking over your life. I'm also StoryBrand Certified Guide, BMS Certified Coach, and DigitalMarketer Certified Partner.

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