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Interview with Karin Abarbanel, Author of Birthing the Elephant

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When did you decide you wanted to become an author? Do you have another job besides writing?

I knew from the time I was small that I wanted to become a writer. I always loved reading and always felt that I wanted to touch people and help them through my writing. All my jobs have involved writing in one way or another.

Were you an avid reader as a child? What type of books did you enjoy reading?

Yes, I was the kid reading at night under the covers with a flashlight! I loved reading fantasy and stories set in the past. Some of my favorite writers were Dickens and
Willa Cather. Very different styles, but full of humanity and longing.

Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story.

My latest book, Birthing the Elephant: The Woman’s Go For It! Guide to Overcoming the Big Challenges of Launching a Business, is coauthored with Bruce Freeman. We set out to write an engaging, inspiring guide to starting a small business. It’s filled with stories and helpful advice. Part portable success coach, part launch guide to the ups and downs of starting a new venture, it takes women step by step through a small-business launch, showing them smart moves to make and pitfalls to avoid.

We were inspired to write the book because of the huge numbers of women launching new businesses, the explosion of the Internet, and the need for an action guide for women that tackled the emotional aspects of making the move from employee to entrepreneur, from isolation and image anxiety to money styles.

How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline?

The book is based on a proposal that we submitted outlining 10 chapters. Some of the chapters changed dramatically as the book evolved from our interviews. The creative process really focused on capturing the voice of the many different women interviewed for the book.

Are you a disciplined writer?

I’ve become much more disciplined about my writing. I used to wait for the muse to arrive – now I realize that when I show up, so does the muse!

Technically speaking, what do you have to struggle with the most when writing? How do you tackle it?

I find rewriting very challenging and have to be very focused about it so that I push through my initial draft to make the changes I know need to be made.

How was your experience in looking for a publisher? What words of advice would you offer those novice authors who are in search of one?

We found our publisher, Ten Speed Press, by working with an agent. I think that novice writers in search of a publisher need to put a lot of energy and creativity into their proposal if they are writing nonfiction. Our proposal was rewritten several times until it
was very crisp and compelling. This really helped sell the book’s concept.

What type of book promotion seems to work the best for you?

We are pursuing all forms of promotion – online and off-line – in order to market our book. Our book is just out so it’s a little early to say what’s working best. We’ve had some print articles and spoken on radio shows and have contributed articles to a number of web sites in order to attract attention to the book. I’ve found that one of the most effective approaches is just to ask friends and even media people for advice and leads. I’ve gotten many helpful contacts in this way; they’ve led to radio interviews and stories.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

The best writing advice I ever received about nonfiction writing was to write the introduction last after you’ve written everything else. Another tip: Writing the first chapter can be tough because it’s the gateway to your book. If you’re having a hard time, then tackle your favorite chapter in the middle. It gives you an anchor and makes it easier to move forwards and backwards to complete the other chapters.

In terms of writing in general, the best piece of advice I ever received is to write about what’s most dangerous for you.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

You can read more about Birthing the Elephant by visiting our website

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About Mayra Calvani

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. Represented by Serendipity Literary.
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