The book is out into the world. My first book, How Are You, Really? is out in the world right now. I can’t believe I’m saying those words.
I have been clinging to the word release. The book is released. We could have held onto it for the rest of our lives. We could have done 18 rounds of edits. We could have nitpicked every sentence, but we have let it into the world and it feels like a huge release.
My teammate, Brooklyn Wagner, was the first person and the only person I let into this secret project outside of my husband and my daughter (who was 2-years old at the time and had no recollection of the big book secret). I let Brooklyn read my unfiltered, first-round words and become my accoutabili-buddy as well as my filter for crafting this piece of work that I’m so proud of.
In this episode of the podcast, Brooklyn herself is joining me to reveal the little-known, lesser-discussed pieces of my book writing journey. She’s leading me through questions about adapting to a long term project versus my usual immediate gratification work, what I learned during book launch season, and a whole heck of a lot more. Press play for the full episode and join us on this behind the scenes book journey, won’t you?
A Slow and Steady Process
Brooklyn: As someone who is more used to working on shorter timelines with the podcast, content creation, and even course launches, what was it like for you to transition your brain and workflow habits to something with a much longer creation timeline and slower progress?
Jenna: Yeah, it was so hard. I think I grew so much in the process of learning how to sit with work, because I think in our digital era, it’s so easy. We have an idea and then we maybe even get feedback before the idea becomes a thing, and then the thing gets created and published and then there’s more feedback. These ideas that you start with can really change and morph and evolve in a matter of hours even.
When I finished the first manuscript, it was December 31st, and I was like I want this out in the world tomorrow. I was like let’s just self publish and get it out there. It’s so good. I just want to get it out there and that was the digital side of me, in that immediate gratification, in that immediate feedback, in that desire of this needs to become something so it can mean something.
This process really cracked me open in a way of writing that original manuscript and caring about it, even if nobody saw it, not proclaiming it to the world, keeping it a very big secret.
What I Learned
Brooklyn: Now that you’re at the end of what can be called your ‘book launch season’, you’ve been able to see behind the curtain that few get to! What are some of the major takeaways you’ve learned in launching your first book? Any surprises?
Jenna: In any project that has a longer timeline, whether it’s building a house or starting a family or launching a career, starting a business or side hustle, it’s really hard to cling tight to the vision. There’s actually a chapter in the book where I talk about my relationship with my husband Drew and how there were a lot of moments where we needed to be reminded that the view would be worth it. We’re on the climb and it’s gonna be worth it.
I think we’ve, metaphorically or in real life, have experienced that. We’re on the climb and it’s like, wait, what am I climbing towards? Is this going to be worth it? I want to be the candle holder for you to say it’s going to be worth the view.
It’s been really interesting because throughout this entire process, I really went against all the grain, but I’ve done it in a way that has felt really grace-filled and also just really true to the pages in this book. I remember even when building the team of humans that would support me throughout this process, from my agent to my editors, the people that I’m letting into this process before anyone else sees it, I remember saying that I will do this and I will stay in full alignment. The only way that I’m going to do this is if I stay absolutely true.
How many times have we heard authors say that they wrote the book that they needed and I think that’s a beautiful place to write from, but I wrote the book that I live by, and I think that’s different.
Naked on a Stage
Brooklyn: You’re on the cusp of having your stories out there, experiences from your life people haven’t yet heard — how does it feel to know people are going to finally read these stories?
Jenna: It feels like you’re standing naked on a stage. I remember when my mom came over during the process and this was after I had fully committed to this whole thing and I gave her one chapter to read and she was sitting on my couch reading it, and I was like, pacing. I was asking does it suck? Is it good? What do you think, mom? Anything? Can you put a smile on your face? What do you think? It reminded me that this work matters regardless of where it lands.
I vulnerably share everything. I show up on the internet in my underwear, so it’s not like I’m someone that’s afraid to be vulnerable, but this feels like a different layer. This feels like a depth that hasn’t been touched.
It brings me back to the early days of entrepreneurship where you worry more about what the people in your life, the people who are supposed to support you, will think versus the strangers. When I think about my aunt reading it, or my neighbor reading it or whatever, it feels like I’m revealing a part of me that maybe they haven’t met in a while, or they have never met, or they entered my life at a different season and they never knew that version of me. And so it is different. It’s vulnerable, it’s exciting.
More from This Episode
It was such a gift to sit down with my teammate and friend to dig into the last few years of my life (crazy to think this was a project YEARS in the making!) Brooklyn asked some juicy questions, so hit play to hear me talk more about the transition from online marketing extraordinaire to author, how I’ve balanced book life and all other aspects of my life, and more.
And of course, don’t forget to snag your copy of my first book, How Are You, Really? out RIGHT now, like as we speak. Get it at howareyoureallybook.com or wherever you like to get your books, friends.