Thank you so much for joining us for 2Nimble’s Meet the Experts, a blog series where we explore, ask questions, and dive deep into the waters of the publishing industry. Today we’re talking with Stephanie Feger of emPower PR Group.
Tell us a little bit about you and your company!
Some people dream of writing and hope to someday become an author. Others have goals of running a business. And for me … well, I’m living proof that sometimes you dream of the future and other times the future finds you instead.
I didn’t dream of writing or publishing a book. And I definitely didn’t have intentions of running a business. (That was my husband’s goal, not mine! I was comfortable working my 9-to-5 job where I would one day retire.) However, I got the itch in the middle of the night while navigating pregnancy insomnia to write. I tried to ignore it, but no amount of self-control could make it happen. I gave in and for years found myself writing a book I told no one about. That is, until a coworker of mine gave me a challenge.
I had been working in a marketing position for a large, national nonprofit where I was leading marketing strategies and training for the organization’s two biggest fundraisers when I got the feeling in the pit of my stomach that our team may be impacted by the next wave of corporate layoffs. My coworker and I were discussing this potential when I asked her what she would want to be doing if our jobs were eliminated. She didn’t know so she asked me, and I, too, found myself without words (which is a rarity!). So, instead we flipped the conversation, answering for the other what we thought they could or should do if our jobs were impacted.
“Stephanie, I think you should blog.” I’ll never forget when she shared that single sentence with me because I remember thinking, “There’s no money in blogging!” I went home that night, a bit perplexed by what she thought I should do with my life and decided to take her up on the challenge. The next morning I proudly told her I had started a blog. Challenge accepted.
Through my blog I began to share pieces of the writing I had been doing for years in secret and I was surprised when someone asked me when my book was coming out. I had no intention of actually publishing the book, nor did I expect people to find my writing so riveting. But, as I’ve come to learn, I tend to have a plan and life has another.
Through a serendipitous series of events, I found myself with a book coach, a publisher, a manuscript, and a book launch day approaching. I had, indeed, been impacted by that corporate layoff I had feared and so my book became my primary focus. I was days away from its release and my book coach required me to virtually present my launch plan. I did so and immediately afterward, I received a call from my coach and my publisher. I must have had a guilty conscience because I thought I was in trouble. It was quite the contrary.
“Stephanie, how do you know how to do that?” I wasn’t sure what I was being asked. Didn’t everyone know how to market a book? (I realize now the answer is a resounding no!) When I told my book coach and publisher that I was a marketer by trade, they shared that there was a whole group of people with amazing stories who needed the skills I had to offer.
I was reluctant. My book wasn’t about marketing. It was about perspective. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go back to the field I had just left. But I knew that there were people who needed my skill set, and much like writing the book, no amount of self-control could keep me away from the oodles of authors who were finding me and begging for help.
The emPower PR Group was born in 2018, and since then, we have helped authors around the world write marketable books, promote their books to those who need and want them most, and build meaningful businesses around empowering messages. And I have to say, it’s been the most fulfilling “work” I’ve ever had the pleasure of doing.
What you say is your niche?
While I’ve come to realize that all authors benefit from book marketing support, I find that our sweet spot is nonfiction books. From leadership to self-help … memoirs to Christian reflections … journals and guidebooks … we love powerful messages, and our goal is to empower the authors wanting to share them (and their readers to want to buy them).
How long have you been doing this for?
I’ve been in the field of marketing, PR, and communications since 2005 (so nearly 20 years), but the emPower PR Group is a young 4 year-old!
How does your company help authors in the process of publishing and when should they start thinking about reaching out for marketing/PR assistance?
Originally, the emPower PR Group was designed to empower authors with the book marketing guidance they needed to be successful. I know that most authors have limited budgets, and I wanted to make the biggest impact for them and their budgets.
I’ll never forget, however, one of my first authors telling me: “Thank you, Stephanie, for empowering me. I don’t want to be empowered anymore. Can I pay you to do the work?”
I laughed and realized that there are three subsets of authors:
- Those who want to learn and do it themselves. (They are the “do-it-yourself” authors.)
- Those who want to be empowered and are seeking coaching and execution support while learning the tricks of the trade at the same time. (Those are the “do-it-with-me” authors.)
- And there are those who have no desire to do it on their own and just want it done. (Those are the “do-it-for-me” authors.)
The emPower PR Group is designed to help all three:
- We offer free resources, a monthly workshop, and podcasts where authors can learn and run with what they’ve learned.
- We also offer programs and services for those who want one-on-one coaching and execution support.
In the evolution of the business, I’ve done a lot of listening, and I’ve seen areas of opportunity in the book writing, publishing, and promoting process for authors that we work with.
- For instance, many authors come to us after the manuscript is written and handed off to publishers, but there is nothing worse than getting a book ready to market that isn’t marketable. We now offer a program to fill in that gap.
- We have many authors wanting help launching their book … and others who never launched in the first place. We offer a program to help authors launch or re-launch their book to success.
- And, probably my favorite, most authors don’t realize that the moment they publish a book, they are launching a business. We offer support for authors who embrace their authorpreneurship but need some marketing guidance along the way.
When is the best time to pull in marketing? Today. No joke. It’s never too early or too late!
What inspires you as someone who works with authors and in the realm of publishing/marketing/PR? What inspires you as someone who also writes and works with authors?
Oddly enough, I breathe, eat, sleep and dream book marketing. (Pathetic, right?!) I didn’t realize how odd that was until an author once told me, “Stephanie, I’d rather scrub toilets than market my book.” If she would have lived closer, I would have offered a trade because you can’t get me to clean toilets. Nope. Never!
I love marketing, but probably not the icky marketing most people think about. Instead, I love authentic marketing. I love helping connect people with something that they didn’t know they needed but they discover that they do. I love helping people with an amazing message spread it. The world needs more of that, and I love being a small part of that process.
I also love how much learning I get to do in the process. I tell authors regularly my belief that books build bridges and break down walls. Every book I read makes me a better person (and I read every book that comes through our business!). I feel honored to have that opportunity, and it’s something that inspires me on the regular.
If you could go back to impart some advice to yourself before you got started writing or working in this field, what would you tell yourself? Additionally, what’s a little bit of advice that you want authors who are new to this experience to know?
Be the tortoise not the hare.
In marketing, the industry is about speed. It’s about being the first to do something … the loudest in your space … the trend setter not the trend follower.
But in book marketing, I think it’s a different ballgame. In fact, I think that slow and steady is what will win the race. Consistency in a field of individuals who stop due to exhaustion trying to keep up with the Jones’ will make you stand apart. You don’t have to be the first to try something … you just have to be the one who did it right and used it to reach the right people at the right time.
Slow and steady.
What’s a common “oops” or mistake that you see in your area of expertise, and how can future authors avoid it?
Oh, good question! Unfortunately, I see lots of “oops,” but rest assured that almost all of them are fixable. Here are a few that we see regularly:
- Authors are just ready to be DONE with their book that they don’t take the time to make sure it’s a marketable book. They don’t get it edited. They don’t invest in experts to help them make sure their book is as amazing as possible. And if you don’t know the industry, this is a huge miss. No amount of marketing can create ongoing momentum if your book isn’t a marketable one.
- Authors dive into building a presence on all social media platforms and end up not building a following on any. I believe that it’s better to be on a few social platforms well than on all poorly. It’s all about knowing your target reader and being where they are (and where you enjoy!).
- It hurts my heart when I see authors invest high dollars in the wrong marketing elements. They have websites built that miss the mark. They invest in major courses, coaches, etc. when they aren’t ready. I always remind authors that the best way to hike up the mountain isn’t to keep your eyes on the mountain top, but rather to keep your eyes on your feet. Just focus on the next right thing. Get that done well and then go to the next. And, along the way, look for a guide who you trust and can help you make the right next move.
What’s the most exciting, rewarding, and/or best part of your job?
I love everything about what I do, but hearing my children tell others that I get to work with the coolest people on the planet reminds me that I get to do just that! My favorite part of my work is meeting people who are vulnerable enough to share their stories in the hopes of inspiring others along the way. That takes great courage, and I cherish that. I’ve met people all over the world – with way cooler accents than my Kentucky one – and I am constantly excited to help them be successful.
One author told me, “Stephanie … I’ve figured out your MO. When I win, you win.” She is so right!
Where can we find out more about you and emPower PR Group?
I would love for authors to connect with me. Here are a few places to do so:
- Visit www.empowerprgroup.com to learn more about the emPower PR Group. If you click connect and fill out our “help me help you” form, we will send you a link to my calendar and we can have a free 15-minute chit chat! I love those calls!
- If you want to learn more about me as an author, visit www.StephanieFeger.com.
- Every Tuesday, we release a new episode on The emPowered Author podcast, which is a free resource for non-fiction authors! (2Nimble tip: even if you write fiction, there’s a lot to be learned from Stephanie’s expertise!)
- Every Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. EST, I co-host a LinkedIn Live for authors called Beyond the Page in which my friend Jennifer Crosswhite, who is a book coach and editor, and myself answer in real time questions authors have. Follow me on LinkedIn to learn of the Live events.
- We have a robust content library on our YouTube channel for authors.
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat, Stephanie! We have a few quick-fire bonus questions to end the interview so we can get to learn more about you!
What’s been your go-to song or album to get you through the day?
Ooohhh, music is my love language, and secret fact about me … I tend to think in song! My all-time favorite when I’m looking for a little pick-me-up is Sara Bareilles’ Brave. And most recently, Phil Wickham’s Battle Belongs.
Last show you binged on streaming?
I just finished the Umbrella Academy this morning, and this year I’ve been loving Ozark, Stranger Things, and about any docuseries I can find!
Favorite book you’ve read of 2022?
Oh goodness … this is a hard one! But I’ll have to say that They Ask, You Answer has been the most profound. I love inbound marketing, and I love how simply the author writes about it!
On your ideal day, we can find you:
… with a camera in hand at Cave Hill Cemetery (which is nestled in the heart of Louisville, Kentucky) with my family, taking photos, feeding the ducks, and breathing in the fresh air. We tend to do that every year for my birthday. (Yes, I realize a cemetery is a weird place to hang out, but it’s peaceful and the architecture in the tombstones make beautiful photo opportunities).
I also love gardening. My family and I live on a 25-acre farm in Kentucky, and I love planting our garden and reaping its harvest!
Oh, how I love food! I’m a vegetarian, so to some this may be a bit silly …
… but my favorite homecooked meal is sauteed kale with fresh garlic, sauteed edamame with soy sauce and fresh garlic (hmmm… notice a theme?!), and hand-cut sweet potato fries with a spicy sauce.
… my favorite meal that I don’t cook is usually a benedictine sandwich, home-made cream-based soups, and Little Caesar’s crazy bread. Yes, I can make an entire meal just out of crazy bread.
Something you’re deeply grateful for right now.
As cheesy as it may sound … I’m most grateful for this moment. Right now. Because I realize that we aren’t promised another. I’m grateful for my health, which is something I’ve fought for. I’m grateful for my happiness, which is a decision I make daily. And I’m grateful for my family, especially my amazing husband and three children who are the light of my world.