There’s a lot to learn and figure out in the publishing world. So how do you promote it and get readers to buy your products? Join your host Juliet Clark as she talks with Christy Stansell about building your publishing business and telling interesting stories for a target audience. Christy is an Emmy-nominated news producer and now content developer for a global life coaching institute. She shares people’s stories and, in her most recent book, Drive It!, shares about Dr. Arthur C. Bartner. Dr. Arthur taught about music and a lot of different things in fifty years. What kind of stories do you want to write? Tune into this episode to further discover your passion.
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Drive It! With Christy Stansell
We have another one of our authors that we’re going to interview. A lot of you are thinking, “Why do I want to hear the authors of Promote, Profit, Publish?” You want to because you never know. You may have been thinking about, “Is there a book that I’ve been thinking about writing? Will people listen? Am I passionate enough?” You get a little flavor for what people are writing out there and what’s selling. Before we jump into the interview, I want to remind you to go over to our YouTube channel, Superbrand Publishing, and subscribe. You can go over there and see the video of these people talking.
Also, remember to go over and take our Promote, Profit, Publish Quiz. You can find it at www.PromoteProfitPublishQuiz.com. There’s a whole lot to this publishing gig. It’s not just writing the book and publishing but you have to plan your marketing. There’s so much that you have to plan and build in advance. Go over there and find out. Are you ready or do you need to hire a professional to guide you along the way?
Our guest is Christy Stansell and she shares people’s stories. She’s an Emmy-nominated news producer and content developer for a global life-coaching institute. Christy earned her Broadcast Journalism degree Cum Laude from the University of Southern California while also performing in Hollywood’s Band. She’s published in a paper at ten and featured as a television sports anchor challenge at twelve.
Christy delivered her first live news report at sixteen. After fourteen years of reporting, anchoring, and producing news in markets from LA to DC, she landed in Idaho to publish magazine articles, lead workshops for small business networks, and was twice named Woman of the Year. She writes from home with three dogs underfoot, and one of them is seventeen years old, a husband in the kitchen, one daughter upstairs, and the other at USC. Welcome, Christy.
Thank you. It’s wonderful to be here.
I want to know how do you get that husband in the kitchen thing?
Necessity is the mother of invention. He had to if he wanted to eat.
Life is a rollercoaster full of different kinds of obstacles.
Mine would have to cook too because I’m like a three-meal trick pony.
He’ll clean up so either way, it works out well. He’ll have to cook for the kids and himself if he wants to eat. Otherwise, I cook and he’ll clean.
You came to me at the last minute. This book has been a rush to get out. Tell us a little bit about the book, what inspired it, and what’s going to happen with it. Let’s discuss all of it.
It’s one of those interesting woo-woo things that happened. A few years ago, I was having a birthday party for my daughter. She was turning ten and she had a rainbows and unicorns theme. I’ve always gone all out for the girls for their birthday parties. We have a fun theme and they invite all their friends. After the party was over, I sat down. I was relaxing and as a good mom does, you always post pictures on Facebook these days.
I posted the pictures and an old friend of mine from college happened to see them. She messaged me and we hadn’t talked in many years. They are your Facebook friends and you like them. She messaged, “Those pictures are so great. It reminds me of a favorite song of mine.” We chatted for a little bit and came to find out that her son was also in the band at that time. He was coming back after a brutal loss to another school that we won’t name names.
He was flying back and we got to talk. I said, “What in the world? Has that band director retired yet? Shouldn’t he be retiring? He was old when we were in school.” We laughed and she said, “He’s supposed to in about 2020.” I said, “Has anybody written his biography? What a story that man has.” As soon as I said it, I knew that I had to write this book. It was one of those, “What am I getting myself into?” That was years ago on my daughter’s birthday.
The awesome thing is after all this time, the rollercoaster, all kinds of obstacles and things, the release date is her 14th birthday, which is pretty awesome. It’s called Drive It! Life Lessons From Hollywood’s Band. “Drive it” is a phrase that the band director at the University of Southern California’s Trojan Marching Band used to say. He would say, “Drive it,” when you’re on the field practicing because how you practice is how you perform.
Drive It! is not just a marching style. It’s an emotion and a passion for what you’re doing and driving it down the field. That’s where the concept came from. It’s his life story and the history of the band all woven together with life lessons that he’s learned over 50 years. He was 50 years in the industry at USC and 80 years old when he finally retired in 2020. That’s where it all came from.
I would assume when you say, “I have to write this story,” you had to get Dr. Bartner onboard to write this book.
That’s important since it’s about him. That was an important part of the deal. Fortunately, because I was in the band and a couple of years ago, I had some friends who were still connected with the band. I reached out to them and I said, “I got this idea. How do I get in touch with him? What’s the process?” My friend happened to be the Alumni Director of the band at the time. She put me in contact with him. I’m in Idaho so I flew down to LA and a band camp was going on. I went to meet with him and proposed my idea. First, I sent him an email and an outline of what I was thinking.
As soon as I got the idea, all of these ideas are flooding. I’m brainstorming all these things that I could include. He’s a very remarkable person and it’s an incredible story with all that he’s developed and built with television shows, movies, world travel, Olympics, world expos, it’s on and on. All these ideas, I go down and share it with him. He’d been approached multiple times with something wanting to write a book about him and the band. He’s like, “No.” I was the first person that he finally said, “I feel good about this. Let’s do this.”
We made an agreement and then it began. I started researching. I would get on the phone with him pretty much once a week. I would research, write, get a chapter done, and send it to him. He’d read it, call me, and we’d have a couple of hours of feedback, “This is what happened. This is the story. These are some backgrounds.” I learned some amazing things about what a generous person he truly is. He’s rough and gruff on the outside but inside, he’s a genuinely caring person who always had the best interest of the students at heart.
He’s like a Peanut M&M.
My husband said that same thing.
You were writing along. I know this was a journey for you. I want you to hear this because somebody said the most remarkable thing to me about, “This is my plan. If I run into obstacles, I’ll know it wasn’t meant to be.” I was like, “Stop. You cannot put that into the universe or it’ll never happen.” We had this big, long discussion about if you run into obstacles, you will figure out what the proper path is to get around those obstacles. I’ve got somebody back on the right path. You ran into some obstacles that were pretty substantial.
There had been more than one. Originally, my intention was to go the traditional publishing route, do the whole querying route, get an agent and all that, which was pretty incredible because I knew that this was a fast-track project from the very beginning. When the idea came to me, it was two years until his retirement. That gave me two years to get an agent, write the book, and get it published.
Finding resources is challenging, but you can still make things happen.
In non-fiction, you’re not supposed to write the book until you have a publisher, which seems backward that you write a book proposal. I’d written a book proposal and done the querying. After fewer than ten queries, I got an agent, which was pretty amazing. They called me fifteen minutes after I sent the email on a Saturday at noon. It was mind-blowing. I was super excited, “Awesome. Let’s get this going.” He already had a publisher in mind. He’s like, “You start writing the book.” I’m like, “How am I supposed to work with the publisher? Okay, I’ll write the book.”
I started writing the book and that’s when Dr. Bartner and I had gotten to our routine. Time goes by and unfortunately, the agent was not doing the thing. I would reach out and there was no response. I finally come to find out that he was very ill. He had some health issues so we parted ways. This leads me to be like, “I’ve got a year left.” The reason was it was in target for Dr. Bartner’s retirement. He was going to be retiring in 2020. We wanted to have that be the book launch, with the most opportune time to reach the most people and a news peg. After 50 years, this guy is finally retiring. What a great news peg.
I wound up working with the publisher and we’re like, “We’re going to get this done. Let’s do this,” and then this thing called a pandemic happened. In finding resources and things to make it happen, it all fell apart, which is such a bummer because here I have this great book written and nowhere to go with it. The band wasn’t able to perform so there were no resources there for them, and I had no promotion plan. I can’t promote and sell a book when there’s nothing going on.
I could’ve done some things on social media but this is the story that needs to be in front of people live and where the band is active. That’s where you get the most intensity, most emotion, and potentially the most sales, which is always helpful. It stalled. Now the pandemic is through and campuses reopened. My daughter is at USC. I drove down to move her into her apartment. While I’m down there, I’m like, “This thing is going to happen.” I made a decision at the beginning of September 2021 and here we are and it’s done.
I have to throw a disclaimer in here. We usually don’t do books in six weeks. Don’t go out and think, “I read this interview. She did her book in six weeks.”
I do not recommend it.
We need 3 or 4 months, please.
You do want it to be longer because it was exhausting. It’s very stressful. There has been a lack of sleep. That’s why my husband is in the kitchen because I haven’t been there. I have been at my desk because I work full-time as well. I do my day job. Early in the morning and late at night when I was writing it, way back when, I have not left my desk and slept very little.
As you were talking about it, if you have obstacles and you want something done, you find a way around it. I could have said, “I worked full-time. There’s no way I’m going to get this done. Why even bother?” If you have passion for what it is that you want to do, you can get it done. You might have to make some sacrifices like sleep and eating regularly but it’s important. I’m like, “I am going to get this done.” It feels good to have it done but I don’t recommend it.
This is a good time. I’m going to teach you something here that hopefully, you’ll understand. Christy is the greatest that we got through this. This is self-publishing. When you get the manuscript back from the formatter, you have to go through it line item by line item and make sure it’s okay. This isn’t traditional. We had several go back and forths because this has images in it and there were captions. I have to tell you, even I was working weekends back there.
She caught me between golf games. I’m sure it was very frustrating for me to say, “I’ll be home in four hours to help you.” We work an entire weekend going back and forth with the cover. We can’t do that cover work until the manuscript is complete because we need an actual spine. There’s a lot that needs to be done here.
I want to speak to that because that’s the frustrating part, where everybody hates their self-publisher like, “Really?” Because it’s a self-publish, as the publisher, I’m hands-off. I ferry the work back and forth for you but I don’t check it. Can you talk a little bit about that? I know you were like, “It’s Saturday. It’s 6:00. My family needs to be fed,” and you need this by 9:00.
It’s one of those things where, how committed are you? What kind of product do you want to put out there? There were a couple of times when I’m like, “Maybe I can let this part slide.” I knew that inside me, if I let those three little things and if I don’t get those fixed, they’re going to bug me. I can’t have that out there and I felt bad. The designer was doing a great job.
It was interesting because we had a conversation about some of the limitations on the programming that allows you to do certain things and not do other things, which I didn’t understand because I’ve never put it into that program. Making one change has changed a bunch of other things that I didn’t expect to have changed like, “I didn’t want that. I want this but I wanted it this way.” Once I had the understanding of how little changes can impact the rest of it, I got it a lot better.
Little changes can impact a lot of things.
She was great. We went back and forth and fixed those little things because ultimately, this is what’s going out into the world. I do love it. The designer, we found a fun way to capture a photo that is the highlight of the High Note, which is the life lesson for each chapter. It’s this little touch that we love. We wouldn’t have had that if we hadn’t had the back and forth. It can be frustrating and annoying. It’s like, “Seriously?”
This is one of the lessons. I had someone in 2020 who was very frustrated with the process like, “Why can’t I speak to the designer?” You were a huge exception. I remember when I first heard it I was like, “I made a huge mistake letting you talk to the designer.” Publishing has a whole language of its own. When you communicate what you think you want that change to be, they’re hearing something else because of that nature. That’s why in self-publishing, a lot of times, we don’t let you communicate with the designer because we’re not all speaking the same language.
That would be helpful to be able to speak that same language. Once we were, it was a whole lot easier. I don’t know what there is to be able to learn that earlier on but that was definitely helpful when we figured that out. The finished product is great and I couldn’t be happier.
She’s in groups in all those places and their band and alumni groups. She’s been able to effectively promote this, which is rare. She’s a rare person who came with an audience already with self-publishing. This did work out well. If we want to find the book, it is going to come out on November 2nd, 2021. That’s right after Homecoming. Your Homecoming is October 30th, 2021.
The book launches in Kindle on the 19th and then in paperback on the 26th. The Homecoming is on the 30th. We have some events leading right up to that with a jock rally and a bunch of band rehearsals. It’s a huge alumni event. There are going to be almost 900 band alumni. Anybody who’s ever been in the band over the years is coming back to honor Dr. Bartner, and finally be able to pay tribute to him for all of his dedication over five decades. That’s going to be a fun thing. People that are there can come and get an autograph.
We want to mention that part of the proceeds for this is going to the USC Marching Band. It’s not as if you’re just supporting Christy on this. She wrote the whole thing. That was part of her agreement with Dr. Bartner that a part of these proceeds would go to the USC Marching Band. Where do we find this book?
HollywoodsBand.com. There are some fun, little captions in there about little segments pulled out of the book and little teasers about some great stories that he shared over his 50 years.
The reason we are telling you where to go get it is you’re thinking, “I’m not a USC alumnus. I’m not going to be a guest at this event.” If you’re a high school band director or you’re the mother of the sixth-grade trumpet player trying to encourage, this book is inspirational about keeping your kid going in the musical world.
I was going to add as well, there’s world travel in there. There are all kinds of football stories too and coaches, players, and famous Heisman Trophy winners. It spans a full race so you think of a marching band in a football stadium and all the people that are involved there. There was also the Director of the Disneyland Band for 28 years. There’s something in here for everyone. It’s a pretty awesome story.
Thank you so much for sharing this with us.
Thank you so much for having me. Thank you again for all of your support in getting this thing done and driving it to the end zone at the last minute.
That’s what we did. We drove it to the end zone.
Drive it and fight on.
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- Drive It! Life Lessons From Hollywood’s Band
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About Christy Stansell
Christy Stansell shares people’s stories. An Emmy-nominated news producer, and now content developer for a global life coaching institute, Christy earned her broadcast journalism degree cum laude from University of Southern California (while also performing with Hollywood’s Band!). Published in the paper at ten and featured in a television sports anchor challenge at twelve, Christy delivered her first live news report at sixteen. After fourteen years reporting, anchoring, and producing news in markets from L.A. to D.C., Christy landed in Idaho to publish magazine articles, lead workshops for small business networks, and be twice-named Woman of the Year. Christy now writes from home with three dogs underfoot, husband in the kitchen, one daughter upstairs, and the other at USC.
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