Tuesday, April 10, 2012
The Writer's Block Interviews: Sophfronia Scott
1) How did you get started as a writer? Describe your body of work.
I've been writing since I was a girl, but it wasn't until I went to college, at Harvard, that I learned writing could be my career. One of my writing teachers said to me, in what became a life-changing moment for me, "You know you're good enough to get paid for this, right?" I was shocked! I was hired by Time Magazine right out of college and I learned my trade as a journalist. I worked in the company for 15 years. Then I sold my first novel. I've also published two non-fiction books (Doing Business By the Book and How the Fierce Handle Fear) and I've been published in Chicken Soup for the African American Woman's Soul and Forty Things to Do When You Turn Forty.
2) Do you specialize in any particular genre(s)?
I would say I specialize in fiction, especially novels about family.
3) What inspired you to write All I Need to Get By (St. Martin’s Press, 2004)?
All I Need to Get By is a family story about a woman who grew up idolizing her older brother. When I grew up I was particularly fascinated with the life of my older brother and as an adult I came to realize I knew more about his teenage life than he did because I watched him so closely. There aren't many books out there that talk about brother/sister relationships and I thought it would be interesting to explore that bond and what happens when a sibling dishonors that bond.
4) What will authors learn from "Doing Business by the Book"?
They will learn about how a business book really works. Many entrepreneurs want to write a book because they have a good idea and they think a book would be good for their business. But in order for the book to help the business it has to do so much more than just express an idea. It has to get a client to want to work with you, it has to move them to take the next step towards that. Those things won't happen unless you plan it into the writing of the book.
5) Tell us about The Done For You Writing & Publishing Company. What services do you provide?
It helps speakers, coaches and entrepreneurs to write books to promote their businesses. We have a range of services from classes and workshops that teach book strategy and writing to personal coaching to help people with their book projects, to ghostwriting services where we will actually write the book for the client.
6) How did Messenger House Books begin? Which genres do you publish?
Messenger House is a partnership we have with Advantage Media Group to produce books for our clients. The books we've done so far have been inspirational, self-help books.
7) Please share your other brands and how you manage them all.
I have a brand known as "The Book Sistah" that addresses the needs of non-business writers, "Business Book Bootcamp", which is the brand for the webinar class I teach and then "Business By the Book" is my blog. Each gets emphasized depending on what I'm doing and the time of year. For instance, with my focus on fiction these days, The Book Sistah brand will come to the forefront more as I launch a new blog around that. When I'm offering the webinar, Business Book Bootcamp gets a lot of play. It would be too hard to promote all at once.
8) What advice would you give to budding writers?
Be focused on what you want to accomplish as a writer and then bet on yourself. It's easy to get distracted by having to make money for a living but it's something most of us have to deal with, unfortunately. For the past few years I've been sidetracked by my business and raising my young son and my fiction has suffered for it. Last year I made a commitment to change that by going for my masters in creative writing, fiction. I'm now a student at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, one of the top MFA programs in the country.
9) What is your definition of success as a writer?
Writing the work you love to do in the way that only you can do it. The author Robert Vivian, one of my teachers at Vermont, taught me that--it's not just about awards and accolades. When you truly understand your unique voice and your gift as a writer, you will write amazing work that will stand the test of time. And that's also when you will feel the most alive when you're writing. I just love that. By the way, I highly recommend his excellent novel trilogy: Mover of Bones, Lamb Bright Saviors and Another Burning Kingdom. Reading great work is absolutely essential if you're going to grow as a writer.
10) What do you plan to accomplish in 2012?
As part of my masters work I'm currently writing short stories at a clip of about one a month. I'd like to see what I have at the end of it and whether or not it will all come together as a collection. But I may be focusing on my novel in the fall semester, I don't know yet. We'll see. I'm also undertaking a major publishing project for a client that will result in an important book coming out in January. I can't talk about the details on that just yet, but it will be a tremendous book.
When she published her first novel, All I Need to Get By with St. Martin’s Press in 2004, one prominent reviewer referred to Sophfronia as potentially “one of the best writers of her generation.”
Sophfronia holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Harvard. In her current position as executive editor of The Done For You Writing & Publishing Company, and publisher of Messenger House Books, Sophfronia helps entrepreneurs and speakers to write and publish books to market their businesses. She is also the author of the bestselling award-winning book, Doing Business By the Book: How to Craft a Crowd-Pleasing Book and Attract More Clients and Speaking Engagements Than You Ever Thought Possible and How the Fierce Handle Fear: Secrets to Succeeding in Challenging Times. Sophfronia has published essays in Chicken Soup for the African American Woman’s Soul and Forty Things to Do When You Turn Forty. She is currently pursuing her Masters degree in Creative Writing-Fiction at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.
Sophfronia will be teaching a live workshop, "How to Write & Publish Books That Change Lives", at the University of Connecticut, Stamford, on May 19. For details go to http://www.BookPublishingEvent.com.
The Done For You Writing & Publishing Company, LLC
261 South Main Street
Newtown, CT 06470
Our hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
866-834-3942 office (toll free)