Find Your Audience with Jyssica Schwartz
Jyssica Schwartz is a thirty-something with a husband, a cat, an apartment in Brooklyn, big dreams, and so very many words.
A full-time writer and editor, Jyssica is generally found posting pictures of food or cats on Instagram, pithy notes on Twitter, or discussing random thoughts on her Medium blog when she should be working. She is the author of nonfiction writing guide, Write. Get Paid. Repeat., available as an ebook or paperback.
Jyssica has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida, is a Gators fan, a Yankees fan, and unapologetically claims the Offspring as her favorite band.
You can check out her website and join her email list at jyssicaschwartz.com. Her latest project is a collection of stories of sexual assault and harassment from men and women around the world based on the #metoo movement on social media. It's called "You Are Not Alone. True Stories of Sexual Assault, Abuse, & Harassment from Around the Wold." and is launching on 3/14 as both ebook and paperback. It can be found on Amazon.
What inspires you and/or why do you write?
I write because I must. I’ve always kept a journal, wrote short stories, wrote songs and poems and papers for school. I have always been a very voracious reader, which fuels my love of writing.
And honestly, I’ve always been good at it. Writing comes fairly easily to me, as long as I have inspiration. I usually am inspired by the news or something I’ve read, and definitely by questions I get asked on Reddit, Instagram, and Quora. I love looking at often-answered questions and finding a new perspective or point of view.
Tell me about your current project based around the #metoo movement, if you can:
After the #metoo movement swept social media in October and then the news really became full of almost daily allegations against more people in the entertainment industry, it feels like women (and some men) are finally feeling safe to come out against their attackers. I have been the victim of harassment and forced touching and groping and it is incredibly scary - especially being physically smaller and often weaker than the other person. I once had someone I thought was a friend of mine follow me all the way home after a party and try to force himself on me. The fact that we teach young girls to dress more modestly, never accept drinks from strangers, don't stay out too late in certain areas, etc, instead of teaching men to "not rape" absolutely chills me. We are a society that makes it difficult for victims to come forward and also tends to blame them by asking "how much did you drink?" and "what were you wearing?" drives me crazy.
Because I am an author and have the contacts and ability to do so, I decided to put together a book, a collection of stories of sexual assault and harassment from men and women around the world. I am self-funding the project, it will have professional editing, cover, and formatting, and will be self-published. I've been getting stories from people as far away as Spain, the Philippines, the UAE, and all over the US. It is deeply moving and scary to read them. I feel it needs to be out there.
Describe your process as best you can:
My process is incredibly straightforward. For finding an idea, it’s all about reading, listening, asking questions, or even drawing from a list I constantly mess with of ideas.
Once I have an idea, I like to just ruminate on it for a bit. I might stare at the page, read an article or two on the topic, or go off and do a completely different task. But once the idea has marinated for a bit, generally a first line or several lines will pop into my head. I just put it down on paper and start writing.
For the most part, once I get started, it all flows out of me.
What is your favorite tool or resource? (Like Scrivener, Grammarly, a blog, etc?)
I use Grammarly. I run everything through it! It’s fantastic. I love the MSWord Grammarly extension because it allows you to change the format/style of what it is editing since different things are acceptable in different styles (for example, a fiction novel will allow for a lot more slang and contractions than a scientific technical paper).
Also, grammar and punctuation are a learned skill. Anyone can learn it, as I did. Being the grammar police isn’t why I do my job. I love the creative side of writing and editing, and I use Grammarly as a backup and a second pair of eyes, in case I miss anything while focusing on the creativity piece.
Biggest challenge for you, and how have you overcome it? (Or how are you working to overcome it!)
My biggest challenge was undervaluing myself. I was underpricing my services, which led to a few clients trying to take advantage of me and also me wasting some of my time.
I had this feeling that since writing came easily to me that no one would pay much for it. But I learned and overcame this by remembering that if it was easy - everyone would do it! I studied and spoke with other writers and editors and I did a lot of research, and I stayed far away from content mills and what I believe is their perpetuation of the lowest-bidder freelancing cycle.
What do you consider your biggest strength? (Don’t be shy!)
My biggest strength is my sales background. I spent 10 years in corporate sales and business development before quitting to be a full-time writer. I have significant business experience, so I fully understand how to get clients, signing contracts, creating service packages, dealing with clients and angry people, demanding clients, asking for their payment for my services, and straight cold-calling prospects.
I had no idea how rare this was until I started speaking to and even mentoring other writers.
It turns out that most writers are a bit more introverted and many have told me they “don’t get” or “don’t care about” sales and marketing, and I find that crazy! I am very outgoing and love jumping on a phone call with a prospect or a client. I’ve always done well building relationships over the phone, and I’ve wooed many clients with a great conversation and truly understanding what they want because I’ve been trained to ask the right questions, look for their pain points, and show them how I solve their problem.
I also have been extremely successful doing cold reach outs to potential clients through Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I find that 10 minutes a day of marketing keeps my pipeline full.
If you could offer one piece of marketing advice to a fellow author, what would it be?
Marketing is extremely important. No one knows who you are, you have to go find your audience. One way is to have a blog and have an audience already, another is to hire a book marketer to get your book out there in front of people. But really, write something great. That's what will have people coming back for more and wanting to learn from you.
Any other advice for authors, based on your unique experience?
Create an outline. Don’t write your book without an outline.
Use it as a living document. Write down all of your ideas, important notes, and big moments in the book. Use the outline and move things around until they are in the right order and combine topics that make sense. See exactly how much you have for a book.
If you have an outline, you won’t struggle with writer’s block. When you get stuck, you can easily jump to a different part of the book and write on a different topic or section to get a new perspective.
Think of your outline as the first draft of your book.
Where can other authors or readers connect with you, and where can your work be found?
I have a very active blog on Medium at medium.com/@jyssicaschwartz, follow me (please!) on Instagram at @jyssrocks, Twitter as @JyssicaSchwartz and my website, www.jyssicaschwartz.com.
My book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074LWW67Q