Stefanie Newell is an author, writing coach as well as the founder and CEO of Write One Publications where she leads young authors through their first manuscripts to the final draft. Like most of us, Stefanie found her way towards her dreams slowly, and yes, even painfully. Originally a financial analyst, Newell worked for several of the biggest banks in America, before she changed gears and began helping writers realize their dreams. We had the opportunity to talk to Stefanie and get her wisdom on becoming a published writer.
You were a successful financial analyst at a young age, how did you do it?
Determination. I pounded a lot of doors…called a lot of places and never took no for an answer. Even before I graduated from college I was working in really good roles in good companies. I showed them who I was, my work ethic…and that I was hungry and able to perform. I made good relationships with people who could speak up on my behalf and give me references, and I always made sure to be willing to step in and learn, even if that meant coming in early and staying late. Just being willing to show who I was. College obviously helped, but I had already done that prior to college as well.
Was it scary for you to leave your 9-5 job behind and start your own business?
Absolutely. Yes. I was scared scared scared. Now, it all happened right when the economy was tanking, and I got laid off from my job at Merrill Lynch. I loved the company, and when I got laid off it was like a crossroads. Do I go ahead and pursue my passion and my dream? Or do I find another job? It was very scary. I tell everyone faith pushed me the rest of the way. I needed something to shake me up and make me do it. It has been an incredible ride.
What advice would you give to young writers?
I’d tell them to continue to write. Especially very early on you can get discouraged because you feel like the momentum isn’t there. You look at other writers who are more established who sell more books and have bigger audiences than you. It is very easy to get discouraged. I would encourage them that they continue writing. In many ways writing is the easy part. The challenge is marketing your book and making people aware that you even have a book and that your book is worthy of being on those amazon lists with the traditionally published people or other people who are more established. Just keep writing. That’s probably my number one tip.
What is some advice you give in your book, How to Write Your First Book?
As a new author there’s so many different aspects of writing that you don’t understand. You think it’s just the writing that matters. But there’s other things that you have to take into consideration. When I first started writing I would come up with an idea, write the book and then put it out there. But experience taught me that this approach is backwards. The first step you should take is to do the research to make sure you’re writing in a marketable niche, and that there are people who actually want to read this book and that it can be profitable for you. Because that’s how you get discouraged – writing a book when there’s no market for it.
What advice would you give to people who want to start their own business?
I would say go for it. I mean, I think we are living in a world right now where there’s going to be so many more entrepreneurs. Social media gives us the opportunity to watch different people who are working in situations similar to us, and watch how they grow their brand. There are so many different opportunities out there like Facebook and YouTube. I take two hours out of my day each day to continue learning how to better grow my business, whether that is my email list or my marketing or social media or whatever. So my suggestion to new or young entrepreneurs is to follow your dreams and to give yourself time to let it work out. Sometimes we are so close to having it happen, but we give up. We stop prematurely. My son is an entrepreneur, and I tell him to continue working. If you give up, you will never know whether or not success is waiting right around the corner.
In your opinion, what are important skills for college graduates today to have?
I would say the first thing is a good work ethic. Because you know one thing that everyone is going to have as a college graduate is a college diploma. So that’s the level playing field but what sets you apart is work ethic, determination, being open to learning, and developing relationships with mentors. That was one of the things that propelled my career was really developing relationships with my managers, upper management, and just making myself available and them seeing what my strengths were and helping me with my weaknesses as well.
Do you regret getting a finance degree or has that really paid off in starting a business?
I ask myself that often just because I am not necessarily doing what I went to school for. Outside of the finance there were other benefits of going to school and that whole process. Would I do it over again? Maybe…I’m not entirely sure. There was so much to be learned from going to school . I don’t know if I regret it…but I definitely think it had benefits in the way my corporate past has benefits. Sometimes you don’t know where your passion is going to take you. You could say “no I wouldn’t do that again” but maybe that was a part of your journey. I might not have gone to as a big a school because obviously my education was very pricey. But I definitely think I would have gone because there are certain things you just can’t learn unless you are in that environment. And a lot of why I’m able to have a successful business right now is because of my college education as well as my work career.